2013 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Protection of the Children First Trust Fund
In the next legislative session, the General Fund budget will face shortfalls as it did in 2012. As a result, we must continue to diligently remind our legislators that as they look for revenue to offset the cost of government, the Children First Trust Fund must remain intact. It is a highly accountable fund that has to report exactly how many children and families are served by its dollars each year. No other budget in Alabama upholds those strict standards.
Advocate for Sufficient Funding for Agencies that Serve Children
The twelve state agencies that benefit from the Children First Trust Fund are also funded by either the General Fund or the Education Trust Fund. As budgets in Alabama become tighter, it is important to continue to educate lawmakers on what proposed cuts could do to the well-being of Alabama’s children.
Introduce a Children’s Health Care Package that will:
Decrease teen smoking and raise needed state revenue by increasing tobacco taxes to slightly below the national average ($1.46/pack of cigarettes). Currently, the state is in desperate need for some sort of revenue measure to give relief to the General Fund budget which funds numerous state agencies that affect the well-being of Alabama’s children and families. It has been estimated that this tax would generate $215 million dollars annually and would prevent teen smoking by 20%.
Fight childhood obesity by advocating for the removal of taxes on fresh fruits and vegetables so that children and families can benefit from a healthy diet. Alabama remains one of only 2 states left (with the State of Mississippi) that does not offer any offset, rebate or break on sales tax on food and groceries.
Strengthen Alabama’s mandatory reporting law.
Currently in Alabama only a select group of individuals are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
> Expand the current list of mandatory reporters to include college personnel
> Require all mandatory reporters to have training on their obligation and on child abuse and neglect
> Edit current language to insure that mandatory reporters must report suspected cases of abuse themselves and cannot tell their supervisor who then decides if it is reported
> Provide protections to individuals who report abuse from being disciplined by their employer for doing so
Advocate for continued funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (ALL KIDS)
ALL KIDS is a low-cost, comprehensive healthcare coverage program for children under age 19 who are not eligible for Medicaid. Families contribute to the cost of their child’s premium based upon their family income. As the state budget continues to tighten the already underfunded ALL KIDS program could be in danger of being cut yet again which would impact the health care benefits of over 80,000 children.
Call for increased funding to prevent child abuse and neglect
by proposing that any residual remaining amount left in a common fund after a class action law suit be distributed to the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. This will provide the dollars needed for more community based programs to combat this issue.