Alison believes that the purpose of holding public office is to provide Kentuckians with exceptional public service. She challenges herself and her staff every day to deliver the service and leadership that all Kentuckians need and deserve.
In 2011, Alison received more votes than any other candidate on her party’s ticket on her way to becoming Kentucky’s only female elected constitutional officer and the youngest female Secretary of State in the nation. Since then, Alison has tackled every promise – Grimes’ Goals – she made in her groundbreaking campaign. Alison has met and will continue to build upon Grimes’ Goals – guaranteeing all Kentuckians have access to the ballot box, generating excitement and interest in our elections, growing our economy and giving the green light to small businesses.
Her highest priorities in a second term as Secretary of State are to build upon the foundation of her remarkable record of achievement as the Commonwealth’s chief business officer and top election official.
Small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups are the biggest job creators in Kentucky’s economy. They will continue to have no stronger partner in state government than Alison. Since Alison took office in 2012, more than 99,000 new businesses have opened their doors for business!
Kentucky’s Business One Stop Portal:
Alison has already proven herself a forceful champion for Kentucky businesses. Because of her leadership and innovative ideas, Kentucky’s Business One Stop Portal has thrived as the Commonwealth’s online, unified point of entry for business owners and their delegates. Kentucky is leading the way nationally as one of 12 states offering an online portal.
Alison has collaborated with the Finance and Administration Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Commonwealth Office of Technology to improve and expand the portal. The portal has proven a valuable tool for business creation in Kentucky, offering businesses a 75% time savings in beginning their business.
Last April, the portal received the 2014 Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations Award at the Kentucky Digital Government Summit in recognition of the agencies’ coordinated partnership and accomplishments.
Alison’s innovative, business-friendly ideas have helped usher in new laws and services, ensuring that the Commonwealth is truly open for business.
Commonwealth Business Identifier:
Alison has taken the lead on developing the Commonwealth Business Identifier (“CBI”), a unique identification number a business may use to navigate and maneuver through state government. Rather than managing multiple, agency-specific identification numbers, businesses will save time (and headaches) with the new, enterprise-wide CBI.
Occupational License Tax Portal:
Alison implemented a portal for occupational license tax forms. While the Commonwealth has more than 180 taxing districts, this portal centralizes the occupational license tax filings forms, making them more accessible and streamlining how businesses interact with government. The portal also saves businesses time and money often spent gathering returns from each taxing districts in which they operate.
Tax Incentives for Farmers:
Alison champions the cause of solving Kentucky’s hunger issues and was instrumental in passing a law that creates incentives for Kentucky farmers who donate to food banks. The law allows farmers who donate their produce, beef, poultry, fish, pork or other edible products to be eligible for tax credits. Our farmers now have the tax incentive to help feed the 750,000 men, women and children across Kentucky who don’t know where their next meal will come from.
New Generation Cooperatives:
Alison ushered in new business entity laws allowing agricultural business owners to have a new option when selecting a business structure. The Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act permits the formation of new generation cooperatives, in which patrons can bring in outside capital to pursue modern projects while maintaining many of the hallmarks of traditional cooperatives. The Commonwealth is one of only 12 states to implement new generation cooperatives.
Nonprofit Business Laws:
Alison will continue to work tirelessly within the executive branch and with legislators from both parties to reduce – and wherever possible, eliminate – the red tape that businesses and entrepreneurs encounter in state government.
Recognized in 2014 by the Kentucky Nonprofit Network as a non-profit advocate, Alison is committed to updating Kentucky’s nonprofit business laws.
Kentucky’s current nonprofit laws were adopted in 1968, well before modern technology conveniences, such as email and conference calls, became prevalent. Much confusion exists about what is and is not permissible when conducting day-to-day nonprofit business. Upon taking office, Alison created a task force to make recommendations to update Kentucky’s nonprofit laws, and she continues to work with the Kentucky Nonprofit Network to address the issues that nonprofits face because of outdated laws by which they are governed.
Alison will continue to work the halls of our Capitol and criss cross the Commonwealth to encourage registration and voting and remove obstacles that hinder participation. As chief election official, Alison strives to improve the election process for not only Kentucky’s voters but also our 120 county clerks. The Dwayne Bunch Act, the first piece of legislation Alison pursued upon taking office, saves taxpayers money with respect to special elections in which only one candidate seeks office by allowing voting to be conducted in the county clerk’s office, saving the county clerk valuable time and resources.
Alison knows that Kentuckians’ voices matter every day—not just on Election Day. On the heels of the 2012 General Election, Alison conducted Election Advisory Meetings across the state to hear the concerns and seek suggestions from citizens about how our registration and election processes work. The five town hall-style forums focused on ways to ensure Kentucky’s elections remain free and fair, with all eligible voters having a meaningful opportunity to participate in elections.
Ensuring the Integrity of Kentucky’s Elections:
Since taking office, Alison has expanded Kentucky’s Election Integrity Task Force to include local, state and federal election and law enforcement officials. Alison’s leadership on the Task Force led to the passage of bipartisan legislation in 2013 to prohibit the disclosure of absentee voter information until after 6 p.m. on Election Day, protecting absentee voters from attempts to buy or influence their votes.
Backing our Military Voters:
Alison pledges to continue to push relentlessly to ensure that the servicemen and women who risk their lives to protect our freedoms face no barriers to voting.
Following a trip to the Middle East in 2012 to visit with our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard and assess military and overseas voting procedures, Alison recommended legislation to ensure that no Kentuckian serving our nation in uniform will ever again have to ask, “Does my vote actually count?”
Working with members of both parties, she was instrumental in passage of Senate Bill 1, which strengthens absentee voting protections for military and overseas citizens and extends them to members of our National Guard, preserving their right to vote in all Kentucky elections.
Pursuant to Senate Bill 1, Alison created and implemented an online portal that military and overseas voters can use to register to vote, update their registration information, and request and receive absentee ballots. The portal has been praised nationally for its effectiveness.
Enhancing Voter Registration:
Electronic voter registration is a reality in more than half the states, and Alison believes deeply that it should be here in Kentucky, too. She points to electronic registration’s tremendous success with our military and knows that it’s time we offer it to all Kentuckians. If it can work for our voters in Iraq, it can work for our voters in Inez.
Fighting for Voters with Disabilities:
As chief election official, Alison has worked hard to ensure that all voters are able to vote independently and privately, regardless of disabilities. Alison chairs the Help America Vote Act Advisory Committee, which consists of community leaders and disability rights advocates and convenes annually to ensure all eligible Kentuckians have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the election process.
Alison enjoys a strong relationship with disabilities advocates, including Protection and Advocacy. Alison partnered with Protection and Advocacy to produce a video to train precinct election officers how to preserve independence and privacy in voting for voters with disabilities.
In 2013, Alison received the Kentucky Rehabilitation Association’s Gerald N. Williams Accessibility Award in recognition of her advocacy for individuals with disabilities.
This year, Alison recommended legislation to the General Assembly that would allow in-person absentee voting on the basis of age, disability or illness. Under current law, individuals who are unable to go to the polls on Election Day for these reasons are permitted to vote only via mail-in absentee ballot.
Restoring Voting Rights for Non-Violent Offenders:
Alison will continue to champion restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their sentences and paid their debts to society. She is proud to be a leader on this issue, which should be non-partisan. It is sound policy supported by key members of both parties. It is the fair and just thing to do, and it is time.
Although the economy has shown encouraging recovery from the Great Recession, unemployment remains higher in Kentucky than nationally. Alison is committed to programs that create job growth and provide working Kentuckians with livable wages.
Raise the Minimum Wage:
Alison believes that Kentucky should not wait for Washington to act on this important issue. She supports raising the minimum wage in Kentucky to $10.10 an hour.
The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is inadequate to allow workers to provide for their families. In many cases, it does not provide enough income to raise a family above poverty levels.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy has projected that an increase to $10.10 an hour would lift the wages of more than one in four Kentucky workers, increase by almost $2,400 on average and more than $860 million in total annual earnings for the nearly 30 percent of Kentuckians who make minimum wage or just above, increase Kentucky’s GDP by hundreds of millions of dollars and create about 2,200 jobs.
Equal Pay for Women:
Alison will work tirelessly in Frankfort and across the Commonwealth to end workplace discrimination and achieve pay equity for women in Kentucky.
Alison is passionate that equal pay isn’t just a gender issue; it’s a family issue. Women make up nearly half of Kentucky’s labor force, and they are the heads of more than 200,000 households. Yet they make barely more than 75 cents for every dollar paid to men, creating a yearly wage gap of almost $9,000.
Equal pay for women will provide them substantially more earnings with which to pay for food, rent or mortgages, utilities and gasoline.
Alison strongly supports programs that reward employers who make special efforts to hire unemployed or wounded veterans. Alison has made it a mission for her office to be a vital part of veteran and military family outreach throughout the state. From deployment ceremonies, military freedom festivals and the Kentucky State Fair to veterans’ parades and jobs fairs. Alison backs those who have fought for us.
She is a strong supporter of initiatives that provide job training and educational opportunity to our veterans.
Our veterans have laid their lives on the line to protect our liberty. Alison believes deeply that we have a solemn obligation to repay them in some small measure for their sacrifice by going the extra mile to provide for their health and economic welfare.
Protect Fort Knox and Fort Campbell:
Alison is a strong advocate for the men and women in uniform and their families serving at Kentucky’s military installations.
Alison is and will continue to be a vocal opponent of cuts to Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell recently recommended by the Department of Defense and the United States Army. These proposed cuts could result in an economic impact of $2.8 billion at Ft. Knox and $4 billion at Ft. Campbell. Alison and her office have participated in listening sessions at both installations to fight against these proposed cuts. Alison has also urged the General Assembly to pass resolutions voicing the Commonwealth’s unwavering support for Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell and opposition to the Department of Defense’s proposals.
Highlight Kentucky’s Playground with “Adventure Tourism”:
A life-long Kentuckian, Alison knows first-hand the beauty this Commonwealth has to offer the world. That’s why Alison has urged the General Assembly to initiate a study of existing and potential adventure tourism opportunities in Harlan, Knott, Letcher and Magoffin counties. From zip-lining to hiking to horseback riding – the region is full of adventure and economic opportunity, and the study will help turn Eastern Kentucky into “Kentucky’s Playground.”
Alison understands that education is the key to developing the skilled workforce that Kentucky’s future economy requires. A good education is pivotal to creating a strong middle class.
Early Childhood Education:
Alison eagerly supports partnerships between the state and local institutions, as well as between the public and private sectors, to expand access to preschool education and quality daycare.
The importance of early childhood education cannot be exaggerated. Repeated studies have shown that once children fall behind, they rarely catch up.
A state screening in 2014 showed that 51 percent of the Kentucky students about to enter kindergarten were not prepared. The problem is particularly acute in economically lagging Appalachian and rural areas and in low-income urban neighborhoods.
Alison believes that this is a tragedy. She knows that Kentucky does not have a child to waste.
Alison firmly advocates state government partnerships with the federal government, universities and private lenders to rein in the soaring cost of a college education and to make college loans more affordable to pay off.
At a time when young people have difficulty finding good jobs, Kentucky students are graduating from college with average debts of more than $20,000. And, in many cases, the amount is much more.
Alison is committed to placing our future generations ahead of partisan politics.
Alison takes seriously her role as Chief Advocate for Civic Engagement. During her first year as Secretary of State, Alison released Kentucky’s first-ever Civic Health Index and initiated a statewide series of roundtable discussions at Kentucky’s universities and colleges to improve Kentucky’s overall civic health.
Following the 15-stop civic health tour, Alison issued an assessment summarizing the problems and solutions identified and calling on Kentuckians to continue the conversation about the common good in the Commonwealth.
As part of her ongoing effort to increase civic participation, Alison has asked the General Assembly to create a Task Force on Civic Education and Engagement to study the current state of civic education in Kentucky, identify best practices in civic education and engagement, and recommend to the General Assembly methods for increasing the civic literacy and capacity of our students, enabling them to be informed citizens of our Commonwealth.
Additionally, the office sponsors an annual essay and slogan contest, focused on election-related issues. The contest is open to students in middle and high school, expanding civic awareness among young Kentuckians who will soon be eligible to vote. Each year Alison also honors leaders in civic education, highlighting their work and commitment to improving civic health in the Commonwealth.
And since taking office, Alison and members of her staff have participated in numerous Naturalization Ceremonies where she’s helped hundreds of new citizens register to vote!
Protect Victims of Domestic Violence:
As an attorney in private practice before entering public office, Alison was committed to representing in court victims of domestic violence.
Alison strongly endorses state legislation that extends to women and men who are in dating relationships the protections available for other victims of abuse. Such a law will provide a long-overdue shield to these domestic violence victims, similar to the one already offered in the cases of couples who are married, live together or have a child in common.
Alison’s leadership led to passage of legislation in 2013 to establish the Secretary of State’s Address Confidentiality Program for victims of domestic violence. The program encourages participants to vote, secure in the knowledge that their addresses are shielded from publicly available voter registration information. Their abusers cannot learn their victims’ addresses from these records.
Eliminate Illegal Drugs:
Alison believes that all Kentuckians deserve to live in communities that are free of crime and the scourge of illegal drugs.
Heroin use, which is particularly severe in Northern Kentucky, has multiplied rapidly since 2008. The severity of the epidemic cannot be overstated, and it must be curbed.
Alison understands that any successful campaign against drug addiction and abuse must stand on three legs: prevention, treatment and law enforcement. She supports state legislation to toughen penalties on heroin dealers, particularly those whose customers die, and also backs increased funding for treatment programs and drug education efforts.
Alison applauds the crackdown undertaken by state officials against the Florida-to-Kentucky pipeline for pain pills and against illegal prescription practices at some Kentucky pain clinics. But pill addiction and overdoses remain serious problems that demand our attention and resources.
Similarly, recent laws have limited the availability of some ingredients for making methamphetamine. Alison favors further steps to prevent individuals from obtaining the ingredients through small purchases from multiple locations.
Alison knows Kentucky is blessed to have some of the hardest working people anywhere, and she seeks ways to help our citizens overcome obstacles so they can accomplish their goals.
Following the tornadoes that devastated much of Eastern Kentucky in 2012, Alison established a mobile office that traveled to some of the hardest-hit counties to address residents’ business needs and provide assurances prior to the Primary Election.
Likewise, throughout the weeks of severe winter weather that crippled most of Kentucky this year, Alison established a Winter Storm Business Services Hotline to ensure that Kentucky’s businesses had constant access to vital services.