ANSC Spring Convention features workshops on voting issues

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Spring Convention featured workshops on a variety of voting issues.
This was in keeping with the convention theme that Every Issue Is A Voting Issue.
In the morning, prior to lunch, there were three workshops. The first was on Education with Dr. Daniel Boyd, State Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and former Lowndes County Superintendent of Education and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, Greene County School Board member and Chair of the Greene County ANSC Chapter.
Dr. Zippert mentioned her concerns with the recently passed Alabama Literacy Act, which requires that third graders not reading on a third grade level, not be promoted to the next grade, but held back until their reading meets the proper standard. Dr. Zippert expressed concerns about whether the state would provide resources for reading tutors, coaches and other support necessary for third graders to meet these goals.
Dr. Boyd commented on his work at the State Department of Education, saying, “Education is based on three pillars – the school, the home and the community – all three are important to the full development of the child. In some cases the schools will have to supplement what the parents can do and motivate the community to do more for the education of our young people.”
The second workshop was on Medicare Expansion and its critical impact on health care for people, hospitals, especially small rural hospitals and the general welfare and economic development of the state. John Zippert, who is the current ANSC President and Chair of the Greene County Health System reflected on the importance of expanding Medicaid to provide insurance coverage for 300,000 working poor Alabamians who currently lack health care insurance coverage.
Presdelane Harris, Organizing Director for Alabama Arise pointed out that despite claims by Governor Ivey and legislative leaders that funds were unavailable for Medicaid expansion, there was a source to fund Medicaid Expansion, prison reform and taking the sales tax off groceries. This would require Alabama, which is one of a small number of states that allows the deduction of Federal taxes paid from State income taxes, to end this deduction, which mostly benefits the richest taxpayers.
Harris said closing this tax loophole would generate over $700 million a year in new revenues for the state of Alabama, which would pay for Medicaid Expansion ($168 million first year, decreasing thereafter), prison reform and allow for taking the state sales tax off groceries.
Martha Morgan reported on the work of ANSC, SOS, Poor Peoples Campaign and other organizations rallying each week at the Legislature to urge the adoption of Medicaid Expansion. Zippert suggested that ANSC chapters and other groups may need to meet with their state legislative delegations to educate them and advocate with them on eliminating this regressive tax deduction to allow for progressive changes.
The third workshop was on voting rights. The presenters included Faya Rose Toure of Selma, Robert Avery of Gadsden and Jessica Barker of Huntsville. They spoke on a variety of concerns to register, educate and prepare voters for the 2020 elections, the Presidential Primary on March 3 and the general election on November 3, 2020. The group is planning a “Freedom Ride to Revive Section 5 of the VRA” from August 3 to 7, 2019 to push for restoration of the Voting Rights Act and ending voter suppression tactics across the nation.
At the luncheon in place of a guest speaker, twenty ANSC members spoke, each for a minute, about the voting issue that most concerned them. These issues included: gerrymandering, police misconduct, climate change, voter apathy, substance abuse, waste water treatment, involvement of young people and many others. This was a very spirited discussion.
After lunch, ANSC members held Congressional District meetings to elect members to the ANSC Board and to discuss local priorities.

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