Alabama bill would allow tax refunds to fund border wall

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabamians would be able to donate part of their state income tax refunds to help build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, according to a bill the state Senate advanced Thursday.

Senators voted 23-6 Thursday to approve the bill that would allow residents to check a box on their state income tax form and donate to We Build The Wall Inc., a nonprofit started by a veteran. According to the group's website, the organization is focused on privately building portions of a border wall with Mexico.

"I think it's a way for Alabamians to say to the president and to the nation that we think strong border security is important. We want to promote that. We want Washington to build that wall," said Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, who sponsored the proposal and is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2020.

President Donald Trump last month controversially declared a national emergency in the hopes of steering $3.6 billion more to border barriers than lawmakers have approved.

The Alabama Senate voted along party lines Thursday. The bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, called the proposal a Republican "feel-good" bill.

"What about the Northern border? More people are crossing over the Northern border but you don't want to pay them any attention," Singleton said.

Alabama currently allows people to donate to about 20 groups and programs, such as cancer research and an organ donation awareness program, on their tax forms. The border wall organization would join those groups if the bill wins final passage.