2008 Archived Articles and Editorials

Experts: Local tax increases underline need for constitutional reform
From Today's Anniston Star
11-23-2008

This month, the Calhoun County Commission and Oxford City Council each increased sales taxes by one cent to raise more money for schools in hard times.

The state's constitution gave them few options.

Alabama's 1901 Constitution, which limits local taxing authority, reared its head again, constitutional reform advocates say.
learn more »

A crazy constitution
The Huntsville Times
Monday, November 17, 2008

The November vote puts amendment flaws in the spotlight.
learn more »

Constitutional reformists to host mock convention
From the TimesDaily
By Trevor Stokes
Staff Writer

Published: Friday, November 14, 2008 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thrusday, November 13, 2008 at 10:46 p.m.

FLORENCE - Alabama constitutional reform advocates Thursday discussed 2009's mock convention, a non-legally binding reworking of the 1901 state constitution supporters hope will relieve the state from what they call an outdated political framework.
learn more »

Amendment votes show absurdity
From the Montgomery Advertiser
November 10, 2008

learn more »

Alabama voters having to decide on
amendments that don't affect them
and that they know very little about is
anything but euphoric
The Birmingham News
Sunday, November 09, 2008

Five days removed from an historic Election Day, the euphoria continues.

Alabama voters flocked to the polls in record numbers and made monumental decisions, like whether to raise court costs in Russell County, whether to expand the number of people who can elect two members of the Utilities Board of Tuskegee, and whether to prohibit cities outside Blount County from annexing any part of the county without voter approval. Does it get any bigger, any better, than that?

OK, we'll dial down the sarcasm. Yes, those things are important to the people who live in those areas, but that's the point: Those things are important only to the people who live in those areas.

Why should any voter in Alabama who doesn't live there, doesn't care a whit, have to confront those issues on the Election Day ballot as proposed constitutional amendments? For that matter, why should those sorts of issues even have to go before voters, rather than letting local governments decide them?

It's because of the 1901 Constitution of Alabama.
learn more »

Once again, voters see firsthand the problems
the 1901 Constitution creates
From the Birmingham News
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome to the end of your ballot, that part filled with obscure proposed constitutional amendments few voters have even heard about, much less studied enough to know whether to approve them.

Don't mistake that criticism for condescension. If it weren't part of our job, we'd be just as befuddled (some would argue we still are).

Voters aren't to blame. Blame the 1901 Constitution of Alabama.
learn more »

Outdated constitution binds county leaders
From the Press-Register
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ELECTED OFFICIALS in Washington County have two big worries about taxes.

First and foremost, the county doesn't collect enough taxes to adequately fund basic services. Second, the state's archaic constitution tethers local governments like a ball and chain, limiting their ability to raise money to take care of local needs.
learn more »

Again, it's the Constitution: Another example to ponder
Editorials from the Anniston Star
In our opinion
10-17-2008

Have you noticed that when problems arise in Alabama, somehow either the cause of the problem or the lack of a solution can be traced back to the antiquated, oft-amended 1901 state constitution?

Consider the mess Jefferson County is in.
learn more »

A point proven
From the Anniston Star
In our opinion
09-02-2008

Just imagine what the authors of the 1901 Alabama Constitution would have thought.

Last Thursday, Alabamians were talking about undoing their evil schemes. The occasion was the 2nd annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon, which was sponsored by the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation.
learn more »

Poverty's roots lie in state constitution
The Press-Register
Monday, September 01, 2008

REPORTS THAT Mobile County and the rest of Alabama continue to have unreasonably high rates of poverty — despite considerable economic growth — should energize citizens and government alike to work for a new Alabama Constitution.
learn more »

The tale of two Alabamians
The Anniston Star
By Kristina Scott
08-31-2008

The naming of Auburn University professor Wayne Flynt, Alabama 's preeminent historian and social reformer, as this year's recipient of the Bailey Thomson Award surely symbolizes the best of times in Alabama.
learn more »

From the PRESS-REGISTER
Friday, August 29, 2008
By JILLIAN KRAMER
Staff Reporter

Supporters of efforts to reform Alabama's 1901 constitution met Thursday to honor a former Press-Register editor and advocate for rewriting the document.

More than 250 people gathered at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center in Mobile - and another 150 people participated via telecast at the Harbert Center in Birmingham - for the second annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon.

The Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation, which Thomson helped form in April 2000, hosted the event.
learn more »

Dog Days of Summer
The Birmingham News
Monday, August 04, 2008

THE ISSUE: Eventually, Alabama's constitution reform movement will overcome the Legislature's lethargy, inactivity, indolence

Random House Webster's College Dictionary tells us "dog days" are the "sultry part of summer when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun." A second definition: "a period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence."

There is no doubt, by either definition (or by walking outside), that we're in the midst of the dog days of summer. It is fitting, then, that a grass-roots group this past week, in the midst of dog days, announced awards honoring those who have distinguished themselves in the effort to reform the state's fundamental charter. Fitting, because of the thousands of dog days of legislative "lethargy, inactive or indolence" over rewriting Alabama's 1901 Constitution.
learn more »

Close, but no cigar
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
07-16-2008

Alabama did not win the Volkswagen plant. The state gave it a good try, and right up to the last moment rumors flew heavy that Alabama's offer had prevailed and the German company had picked a site near Huntsville. But that didn't happen; Tennessee won, and Europe's biggest automaker will build its plant near Chattanooga. Gov. Bob Riley expressed disappointment at the announcement, but he went on to say that he was pleased that the site chosen was close to Alabama. This page feels the same way. The governor's economic development team now needs to assess the Tennessee offer, compare it to what our state was willing and able to provide, and learn how to do better next time, if Alabama indeed can do better. In this case, it may be that Tennessee simply had more to offer. Alabama also needs to consider how the state's constitutional limits played into the bidding war. Had Alabama been picked, the governor would have had to call a special session for the Legislature to approve many of the incentives the state had offered. In addition, lawmakers would have needed to pass a proposed constitutional amendment so the state could use money from trusts funded by natural gas royalties. Then that amendment would have gone to the voters in November. The Legislature likely would have approved the incentives and the amendment — and it's almost certain that voters would have fallen into line. But the possibility that the Legislature, or the voters, might not have approved the plan always existed. That may have bothered the Volkswagen leadership,
learn more »

The need for a new Constitution
The Randolph Leader
Thursday, June 5, 2008 - Roanoke, Alabama

By passing the education budget in a five-day special session last week, the Legislature, specifically the state Senate, did what it couldn't, or wouldn't, accomplish during the regular session that lasted from Feb. 5 until May 19. This cost us an unnecessary $110,000, but it could have been worse had the special session lasted longer.
learn more »

Try Again
Times Daily
Published: May 13, 2008

THE ISSUE

The Legislature killed a bill that would have allowed voters to decide whether to hold a constitutional convention to replace Alabama's heavily amended governing document.

Once again, voters have been denied the opportunity to decide whether to hold a constitutional convention to replace Alabama's much-amendment constitution.
learn more »

Our view: Scare tactics don't justify constitution vote
The Daily Home - Covering Talledega, Pell City and Sylacauga
05-04-2008

Boo! No, it’s not Halloween. It’s the time when the Alabama Legislature is in session, and it annually blocks the effort to have the people of this state decide whether they want to call a convention to write a new constitution.

And instead of goblins and ghouls, lawmakers employ the scariest of tactics around these parts – the mere mention of taxes and gambling – to ensure that the bill never quite comes to a vote.
learn more »

New hope for reform
The Huntsville Times
Saturday, May 03, 2008

House backers actually got more votes than their opponents

What happened to constitutional reform this week in the state House of Representatives could not, by any stretch, be called a victory. But even in a lopsided loss, reform advocates saw a glimmer of possibility.
learn more »

A Broken Legislature
The Huntsville Times
Thursday, May 01, 2008

The 2008 session points out the need for constitutional reform.
learn more »

Constitution and budget woes
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
04-21-2008

A budget crisis has revealed just how our state Constitution makes it difficult, if not impossible, to respond to state needs in an effective and efficient manner. Even more evidence of why a new Constitution is an urgent matter.
learn more »

State House leader confident in constitutional convention bill
The Anniston Star
By Markeshia Ricks
Capitol Correspondent
04-20-2008

MONTGOMERY — The question of calling a convention to overhaul Alabama's 107-year-old constitution soon will be before state lawmakers.

But getting it passed will be the ultimate test of political muscle and of a grassroots constitutional reform movement's ability to change the minds of legislators.
learn more »

Is this evidence?
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
04-07-2008

Opponents of constitutional reform argue that there is no clear evidence that the people of Alabama want it.

"Evidence" is in the eye of the beholder. However, it is safe to say that until now opponents have felt they could safely ignore cries for constitutional reform because there was little, if any, evidence of statewide support.

That may have changed.

A recent poll conducted by the Capital Survey Research Center found that a majority of Alabama citizens want the Legislature to pass pending legislation that would allow the people to vote on whether or not to hold a constitutional convention.
learn more »

Alabamians clearly want to vote
click here to read the poll
Editorial
Montgomery Advertiser
April 2, 2008

Maybe most Alabamians want to see a constitutional convention held to draft a new constitution to replace the 1901 document that still forms the organic body of law for our state. Maybe they don't.

What they plainly do want, however, is the chance to decide whether to hold a convention. A new statewide survey indicates widespread support for holding an election on the convention question. The survey shows levels of support throughout a broad demographic range of Alabamians that, if cited as election results, would be seen as landslides.
learn more »

The people of Alabama want to vote on whether a citizens convention should draft a new constitution, but will the Legislature let them?
The Birmingham News
Thursday, April 03, 2008

If there's a popular groundswell rising, many Alabama lawmakers will knock each other out of the way to be the first to catch the wave.

So here are some poll results that ought to make lawmakers break out the surfboards: Almost two-thirds of Alabamians surveyed say they want their lawmakers to vote for a bill that would let voters decide whether they want a constitutional convention to draft a new state constitution.
learn more »

Return power to state voters
Tuscaloosa News
Published Friday, March 7, 2008

There are arguments to be made for and against a convention to draft a new Alabama constitution. The only certainty is that the current document, enacted in 1901, needs to be replaced.

Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform wraps up all the major arguments: The 1901 Constitution restricts local democracy; it locks in an unfair tax system; it hinders economic development; it limits budget flexibility; it is the longest known constitution in the world; and it has undemocratic origins.

At long last, Alabamians may have a chance to vote on whether to call a convention to draft a new state constitution. The Constitution and Elections Committee of the state House of Representatives voted 9-4 this week for a bill for a statewide referendum concurrent with the 2010 primary elections.

The bill has a long way to go. It faces a vote in the full House, approval by the Senate and endorsement by the governor.
learn more »

Our view: House should let people vote
Daily Home
03-07-2008

It’s easy to agree with state Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, when he talks about the call for a rewrite of Alabama’s constitution.

As a House committee on Wednesday considered letting voters decide whether they want a convention to rewrite the state’s constitution, Newton asked members a question.

“Whether you agree we need a new constitution or vehemently disagree, it boils down to one simple thing – do you trust the same people who elected you to the Legislature to make the decision?,” Newton asked the House Constitution and Elections Committee.

On a 9-4 vote, the answer was in the affirmative.
learn more »

Experts: Local tax increases underline need for constitutional reform
From Today's Anniston Star
By Dan Whisenhunt
Staff Writer

11-23-2008

This month, the Calhoun County Commission and Oxford City Council each increased sales taxes by one cent to raise more money for schools in hard times.

The state's constitution gave them few options.

Alabama's 1901 Constitution, which limits local taxing authority, reared its head again, constitutional reform advocates say.
learn more »

A crazy constitution
The Huntsville Times
Monday, November 17, 2008

The November vote puts amendment flaws in spotlight.
learn more »

Constitutional reformists to host mock convention
From the TimesDaily
By Trevor Stokes
Staff Writer

Published: Friday, November 14, 2008 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thrusday, November 13, 2008 at 10:46 p.m.

FLORENCE - Alabama constitutional reform advocates Thursday discussed 2009's mock convention, a non-legally binding reworking of the 1901 state constitution supporters hope will relieve the state from what they call an outdated political framework.
learn more »

Amendment votes show absurdity
From the Montgomery Advertiser
November 10, 2008

learn more »

Alabama voters having to decide on
amendments that don't affect them
and that they know very little about is
anything but euphoric
The Birmingham News
Sunday, November 09, 2008

Five days removed from an historic Election Day, the euphoria continues.

Alabama voters flocked to the polls in record numbers and made monumental decisions, like whether to raise court costs in Russell County, whether to expand the number of people who can elect two members of the Utilities Board of Tuskegee, and whether to prohibit cities outside Blount County from annexing any part of the county without voter approval. Does it get any bigger, any better, than that?

OK, we'll dial down the sarcasm. Yes, those things are important to the people who live in those areas, but that's the point: Those things are important only to the people who live in those areas.

Why should any voter in Alabama who doesn't live there, doesn't care a whit, have to confront those issues on the Election Day ballot as proposed constitutional amendments? For that matter, why should those sorts of issues even have to go before voters, rather than letting local governments decide them?

It's because of the 1901 Constitution of Alabama.
learn more »

Once again, voters see firsthand the problems
the 1901 Constitution creates

From the Birmingham News
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome to the end of your ballot, that part filled with obscure proposed constitutional amendments few voters have even heard about, much less studied enough to know whether to approve them.

Don't mistake that criticism for condescension. If it weren't part of our job, we'd be just as befuddled (some would argue we still are).

Voters aren't to blame. Blame the 1901 Constitution of Alabama.
learn more »

Outdated constitution binds county leaders
From the Press-Register
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ELECTED OFFICIALS in Washington County have two big worries about taxes.

First and foremost, the county doesn't collect enough taxes to adequately fund basic services. Second, the state's archaic constitution tethers local governments like a ball and chain, limiting their ability to raise money to take care of local needs.
learn more »

Again, it's the Constitution: Another example to ponder
Editorials from the Anniston Star
In our opinion
10-17-2008

Have you noticed that when problems arise in Alabama, somehow either the cause of the problem or the lack of a solution can be traced back to the antiquated, oft-amended 1901 state constitution?

Consider the mess Jefferson County is in.
learn more »

A point proven
From the Anniston Star
In our opinion
09-02-2008

Just imagine what the authors of the 1901 Alabama Constitution would have thought.

Last Thursday, Alabamians were talking about undoing their evil schemes. The occasion was the 2nd annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon, which was sponsored by the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation.
learn more »

Poverty's roots lie in state constitution
The Press-Register
Monday, September01, 2008

REPORTS THAT Mobile County and the rest of Alabama continue to have unreasonably high rates of poverty — despite considerable economic growth — should energize citizens and government alike to work for a new Alabama Constitution.
learn more »

The tale of two Alabamians
The Anniston Star
By Kristina Scott
Special to The Star
08-31-2008

The naming of Auburn University professor Wayne Flynt, Alabama 's preeminent historian and social reformer, as this year's recipient of the Bailey Thomson Award surely symbolizes the best of times in Alabama.
learn more »

From the PRESS-REGISTER
Friday, August 29, 2008
By JILLIAN KRAMER
Staff Reporter

Supporters of efforts to reform Alabama's 1901 constitution met Thursday to honor a former Press-Register editor and advocate for rewriting the document.

More than 250 people gathered at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center in Mobile - and another 150 people participated via telecast at the Harbert Center in Birmingham - for the second annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon.

The Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation, which Thomson helped form in April 2000, hosted the event.
learn more »

Dog Days of Summer
The Birmingham News
Monday, August 04, 2008

THE ISSUE: Eventually, Alabama's constitution reform movement will overcome the Legislature's lethargy, inactivity, indolence

Random House Webster's College Dictionary tells us "dog days" are the "sultry part of summer when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun." A second definition: "a period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence."

There is no doubt, by either definition (or by walking outside), that we're in the midst of the dog days of summer. It is fitting, then, that a grass-roots group this past week, in the midst of dog days, announced awards honoring those who have distinguished themselves in the effort to reform the state's fundamental charter.  Fitting, because of the thousands of dog days of legislative "lethargy, inactive or indolence" over rewriting Alabama's 1901 Constitution.
learn more »

Close, but no cigar
The Anniston Star
07-16-2008

Alabama did not win the Volkswagen plant. The state gave it a good try, and right up to the last moment rumors flew heavy that Alabama's offer had prevailed and the German company had picked a site near Huntsville. But that didn't happen; Tennessee won, and Europe's biggest automaker will build its plant near Chattanooga. Gov. Bob Riley expressed disappointment at the announcement, but he went on to say that he was pleased that the site chosen was close to Alabama. This page feels the same way. The governor's economic development team now needs to assess the Tennessee offer, compare it to what our state was willing — and able — to provide, and learn how to do better next time, if Alabama indeed can do better. In this case, it may be that Tennessee simply had more to offer. Alabama also needs to consider how the state's constitutional limits played into the bidding war. Had Alabama been picked, the governor would have had to call a special session for the Legislature to approve many of the incentives the state had offered. In addition, lawmakers would have needed to pass a proposed constitutional amendment so the state could use money from trusts funded by natural gas royalties. Then that amendment would have gone to the voters in November. The Legislature likely would have approved the incentives and the amendment — and it's almost certain that voters would have fallen into line. But the possibility that the Legislature, or the voters, might not have approved the plan always existed. That may have bothered the Volkswagen leadership.
learn more »

The need for a new Constitution
The Randolph Leader
Thursday, June 5, 2008 - Roanoke, Alabama

By passing the education budget in a five-day special session last week, the Legislature, specifically the state Senate, did what it couldn't, or wouldn't, accomplish during the regular session that lasted from Feb. 5 until May 19. This cost us an unnecessary $110,000, but it could have been worse had the special session lasted longer.
learn more »

Try Again
Times Daily
Published: May 13, 2008

THE ISSUE

The Legislature killed a bill that would have allowed voters to decide whether to hold a constitutional convention to replace Alabama's heavily amended governing document.

Once again, voters have been denied the opportunity to decide whether to hold a constitutional convention to replace Alabama's much-amendment constitution.
learn more »

Our view: Scare tactics don't justify constitution vote
The Daily Home - Covering Talledega, Pell City and Sylacauga
05-04-2008

Boo! No, it’s not Halloween. It’s the time when the Alabama Legislature is in session, and it annually blocks the effort to have the people of this state decide whether they want to call a convention to write a new constitution.

And instead of goblins and ghouls, lawmakers employ the scariest of tactics around these parts – the mere mention of taxes and gambling – to ensure that the bill never quite comes to a vote.
learn more »

New hope for reform
The Huntsville Times
Saturday, May 03, 2008

House backers actually got more votes than their opponents

What happened to constitutional reform this week in the state House of Representatives could not, by any stretch, be called a victory. But even in a lopsided loss, reform advocates saw a glimmer of possibility.
learn more »

A Broken Legislature
The Huntsville Times
Thursday, May 01, 2008

The 2008 session points out the need for constitutional reform.
learn more »

Constitution and budget woes
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
04-21-2008

A budget crisis has revealed just how our state Constitution makes it difficult, if not impossible, to respond to state needs in an effective and efficient manner. Even more evidence of why a new Constitution is an urgent matter.
learn more »

State House leader confident in constitutional convention bill
The Anniston Star
By Markeshia Ricks
Capitol Correspondent
04-20-2008

MONTGOMERY — The question of calling a convention to overhaul Alabama's 107-year-old constitution soon will be before state lawmakers.

But getting it passed will be the ultimate test of political muscle and of a grassroots constitutional reform movement's ability to change the minds of legislators.
learn more »

Is this evidence?
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
04-07-2008

Opponents of constitutional reform argue that there is no clear evidence that the people of Alabama want it.

"Evidence" is in the eye of the beholder. However, it is safe to say that until now opponents have felt they could safely ignore cries for constitutional reform because there was little, if any, evidence of statewide support.

That may have changed.

A recent poll conducted by the Capital Survey Research Center found that a majority of Alabama citizens want the Legislature to pass pending legislation that would allow the people to vote on whether or not to hold a constitutional convention.
learn more »

Alabamians clearly want to vote
click here to read the poll
Editorial
Montgomery Advertiser
April 2, 2008

Maybe most Alabamians want to see a constitutional convention held to draft a new constitution to replace the 1901 document that still forms the organic body of law for our state. Maybe they don't.

What they plainly do want, however, is the chance to decide whether to hold a convention. A new statewide survey indicates widespread support for holding an election on the convention question. The survey shows levels of support throughout a broad demographic range of Alabamians that, if cited as election results, would be seen as landslides.
learn more »

The people of Alabama want to vote on whether a citizens convention should draft a new constitution, but will the Legislature let them?
The Birmingham News
Thursday, April 03, 2008

If there's a popular groundswell rising, many Alabama lawmakers will knock each other out of the way to be the first to catch the wave.

So here are some poll results that ought to make lawmakers break out the surfboards: Almost two-thirds of Alabamians surveyed say they want their lawmakers to vote for a bill that would let voters decide whether they want a constitutional convention to draft a new state constitution.
learn more »

Return power to state voters
Tuscaloosa News
Published Friday, March 7, 2008

There are arguments to be made for and against a convention to draft a new Alabama constitution. The only certainty is that the current document, enacted in 1901, needs to be replaced.

Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform wraps up all the major arguments: The 1901 Constitution restricts local democracy; it locks in an unfair tax system; it hinders economic development; it limits budget flexibility; it is the longest known constitution in the world; and it has undemocratic origins.

At long last, Alabamians may have a chance to vote on whether to call a convention to draft a new state constitution. The Constitution and Elections Committee of the state House of Representatives voted 9-4 this week for a bill for a statewide referendum concurrent with the 2010 primary elections.

The bill has a long way to go. It faces a vote in the full House, approval by the Senate and endorsement by the governor.
learn more »

Our view: House should let people vote
Daily Home
03-07-2008

It’s easy to agree with state Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, when he talks about the call for a rewrite of Alabama’s constitution.

As a House committee on Wednesday considered letting voters decide whether they want a convention to rewrite the state’s constitution, Newton asked members a question.

“Whether you agree we need a new constitution or vehemently disagree, it boils down to one simple thing – do you trust the same people who elected you to the Legislature to make the decision?,” Newton asked the House Constitution and Elections Committee.

On a 9-4 vote, the answer was in the affirmative.
learn more »

Alabama House panel votes for plan to let voters decide whether to call a convention to draft a new state constitution
The Birmingham News
Thursday, March 06, 2008
DAVID WHITE
News staff writer

MONTGOMERY - State voters would decide whether to call a convention to draft a new state constitution, under a plan that took an early step toward approval Wednesday.

The Constitution and Elections Committee of the state House of Representatives voted 9-4 for the proposal. Democrats voted for it. Republicans opposed it.

State Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, sponsored House Bill 308 and said he hopes the full House will vote on it within three weeks.

Newton, the second-ranking House member, tried but failed the past two years to get the House to pass a convention bill. "I hope we have the votes this year," Newton said.

If his bill is approved by at least 53 of the 105 House members and at least 18 of the 35 senators, state voters would decide in June 2010 whether to call a convention.
learn more »

Key decisions should rest with people
Montgomery Advertiser
Editorial
March 2, 2008

There is room for disagreement as to whether a constitutional convention is the best way to develop a new state constitution to replace Alabama's flawed 1901 document. However, it is hard to argue against allowing Alabamians to decide whether a convention is what they want.
learn more »

Seeing the 'groundswell'
Anniston Star
Editorials
In our opinion
02-29-2008

Alabama is locked in convention detention, a prison saying the right thing and doing the right thing are miles apart.

Amid considerable fanfare and high expectations, a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to allow Alabamians to decide, by vote, if we should hold a convention to rewrite the state's antiquated and inadequate Constitution.

Once again, legislators lined up to testify about their belief in the will of the people — and how the only way the people's will could be known was to let the people vote on such issues.

As you can expect, that's when the back-peddling began. Listen closely and you can hear how legislators can turn democracy on its head.
learn more »

Annexations? Look a little deeper
The Huntsville Times
Sunday, February 24, 2008

A newspaper prides itself on reporting issues in its community. In many cases, nobody else covers what we cover - local city councils, the county commissions, the Alabama Legislature.

And not everyone who reads the paper pays attention to the details. I think that's what is happening with regard to a proposal before the Legislature to keep outside cities - namely, Huntsville and Madison, but Decatur, too - from annexing land in Limestone County without the voters in that county having the final say.
learn more »

At least we have progress in the Legislature
The Tuscaloosa News
Monday, February 18, 2008

Believe it or not, there are some good bills making their way through the Alabama Legislature.

Last week, the Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee approved a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers. The bill contains loopholes, but it’s a start.

At the same time, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to implement a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that bans capital punishment for people with mental retardation. The court ruled six years ago but Alabama has failed to respond by setting appropriate guidelines. Even though it’s long overdue, the interest is welcome.

The same committee also passed a bill to let Alabamians vote on whether they want to rewrite the state’s 1901 constitution. The full Senate now will consider the proposal, but its chances are not considered good. It has died year after year.

One of the major goals of constitutional reformers is decentralizing the power that the framers of the 1901 Constitution placed in Montgomery. Despite their protests that they are not interested in micromanaging local governments, lawmakers have been extremely reluctant to let go of any of their authority.

That’s what makes a bill that won the approval of the Senate elections committee last week so interesting. It would increase the number of legislators needed to force a statewide vote on a local constitutional amendment.
learn more »

What could be more patriotic?
The Birmingham News
Monday, February 18, 2008

THE ISSUE: The Legislature should let Alabama voters decide whether they want a citizens convention to write a new state constitution.

In a burst of patriotism (opportunism?), the state House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow homeowners to fly the American flag, even if neighborhood covenants or rules ban such displays.

The bill now goes to the Senate, and even that bickering bunch seems unlikely to turn down this bill. After all, what could be more patriotic? (Opportunistic?)

Well, how about letting the people of this great state vote? We saw on Feb. 5 what happens when Alabamians are motivated to go to the polls. They turned out in record numbers to have their say in presidential primaries that, for the first time in more than two decades, actually mattered.

The Legislature has a chance to show some real patriotism with a bill that would let Alabama voters decide whether they want a convention of citizens to draft a new state constitution.
learn more »

Again, constitutional reform advocates face an uphill fight
The Huntsville Times
Sunday, February 17, 2008

For those who believe that government can be made better and that reform is one way to do it, in this state such beliefs require persistence and patience. Fortunately, the citizens who recognize the crying need for a new state constitution are in possession of both qualities, and year in and year out, they are willing to act on them.

Even so, making things better is never easy.
learn more »

Why they are afraid
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
02-15-2008

Once again, bills that would allow the people of Alabama to vote on whether to hold a convention to rewrite the state's antiquated Constitution have been introduced in the House and the Senate.

Once again, convention opponents are preparing their defense. Expecting this opposition, Speaker Pro Tempore Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, who introduced the bill in the House, remarked, "my problem has been that I don't know what they are afraid of."

It's obvious that Newton is not being serious, and that he knows those who oppose a vote on a constitutional convention are afraid that if that vote is held, they, the opponents, would lose.

And if they lost, they are afraid that a constitutional convention might draw up a document that would take from them the historical advantages that have made their special interests so special.
learn more »

State constitution on agenda
Reform proposals include rewriting articles or allowing voters to call a convention
Mobile Press-Register
Thursday, February 07, 2008
By BRIAN LYMAN
Capital Bureau

MONTGOMERY -- In what is close to becoming an annual tradition, bills and amendments that would give the public a chance to change the state's 1901 Constitution began stirring this week in the Legislature.

An amendment introduced by state Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, to rewrite the document's banking article passed the House Constitution and Elections Committee Thursday. A second amendment that would rewrite the article regarding corporations was held up over technical concerns about its language.

Also, Speaker Pro Tempore Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, and state Sen. Ted Little, D-Auburn, have reintroduced legislation that would allow voters to decide whether to call a convention to overhaul the constitution.
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A bill that would give county commissions in Alabama the power to regulate quarriesdoesn't solve the real problem: the lack of home rule for county governments
The Birmingham News
Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quarries ought not be the quarry of a bill being proposed for this legislative session.

The correct quarry of any bill that would affect quarries ought to be the Alabama Constitution.

Confused? So, too, are the well-meaning people pushing for a bill that would require quarries to get approval from county commissions or town councils to locate in areas that don't have zoning. In other words, most of unincorporated Alabama. Just three of Alabama's 67 counties have the power to zone in unincorporated areas: Jefferson County and parts of Shelby and Baldwin counties.
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