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SPLC Action Fund seeking social justice in Southern statehouses

As Southern lawmakers return to state capitols in 2023, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lobbying arm, the SPLC Action Fund, will be there advancing progressive policies and opposing harmful legislation.

“We’re in the halls of state government because legislatures exert tremendous power over people’s lives,” said Shay Farley, SPLC Action Fund regional policy director. “Lawmakers’ response – or lack of response – to pressing issues can impact communities for generations. We work alongside those directly affected and organizational allies to ensure the voice of these communities is heard in statehouses.”

• Policy priorities during the118th Congress

The SPLC Action Fund will address issues affecting states where the SPLC has a presence: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Decriminalizing and decarcerating Black and Brown people

The SPLC Action Fund will continue work to reform the criminal legal system by reducing the number of people entering the system and increasing the number exiting. It will tackle fines and fees, prison overcrowding and understaffing in states such as Alabama. It will seek policy reform to keep juveniles out of prisons and promote structural and policy changes in law enforcement, sentencing practices and parole reforms to address mass incarceration.

Protecting voting rights

The SPLC Action Fund will work to restore the citizen-led ballot initiative process in Mississippi and aggressively seek opportunities to expand ballot access throughout the Deep South. It will advocate for voting rights restoration reform to ensure access to the franchise for people who have served their sentences. It will continue opposing legislation that will disenfranchise voters.

Fighting extremism and white supremacy

The SPLC Action Fund is dedicated to opposing anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, especially amid growing efforts to erase Black history from schools and target the transgender community with hateful rhetoric and policies. Other efforts include opposing the politicization of education through bills designed to prevent teaching an honest account of U.S. history and the nation’s diversity of races, cultures and sexual orientation.

Eradicating poverty

With poverty a longstanding issue across the Deep South, the SPLC Action Fund will pursue economic justice on several fronts. It will fight to end the racial, economic and geographic disparities in health care access. It will also fight to ensure federal and state funds reach resource-starved communities of color. For example, the SPLC Action Fund will work with Mississippi lawmakers to ensure federal funding is appropriated to prevent another water system failure in Jackson. Finally, it will oppose unconstitutional fines and fees by local governments.

At top: SPLC illustration