Jones works to support farmers, expand ballot access

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, signed on to a pair of bills that would expand access to the ballot box and provide relief to farmers suffering financial difficulties.

The Family Farmer Relief Act, backed by a bipartisan contingent of senators, was introduced in response to increased bankruptcy filings among American farmers and would expand debt reorganization tools for family farms across the nation.

Specifically, the bill raises the operating cap outlined in Chapter 12 of the U.S. bankruptcy code $10 million, allowing more family farmers to apply for relief.

“Our farmers are struggling with a debt crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in almost 40 years and that’s why I support expanding access to Chapter 12 bankruptcy,” Jones said in a press release. “We need to do everything we can to help Alabama farmers succeed, especially at a time when the business of farming is becoming increasingly difficult.”

In the press release, Jones cited “several years of low commodity prices, stringent farm lending regulations and recent retaliatory tariffs” as reasons for the current strife being endured by American farmers.

The release also noted that farm bankruptcy rates are at a 10-year high in some farming regions.

Jones also signed onto the For the People Act, a reform package aimed at removing barriers to voting, exposing the influence of money in American politics and ensuring that elected officials are working in the public’s best interest.

“We should be making it easier for eligible Americans to vote, not harder,” Jones said in a press release. “Voting is a fundamental tenet of our democracy and too often folks in power want to make it more difficult to fulfill this civic duty.”

Jones has been an outspoken advocate for restoring voting protections and previously sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which takes aim at voter suppression.

“The For the People Act would not only help expand access to the ballot box, it would restore ethics and integrity to our political system by tackling the lack of transparency around dark money in politics and addressing the disproportionate influence of special interest in Washington,” Jones said.

A companion bill has already cleared the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation aims to increase ballot access by tackling “institutional barriers” to voting, such as “cumbersome registration systems” and “limited voting hours,” as well as prohibiting voting roll purges and combating “discriminatory voter ID laws.”

In relation to exposing the impact of money on the democratic process, the bill requires all political organization to disclose donors and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The legislation would also hold public officials accountable by expanding conflict of interest laws and divestment requirements, while simultaneously overhauling the Office of Government ethics and requiring the U.S. Supreme Court to create new ethics codes.