December 8, 2002
So who's not on the bandwagon
for constitution reform, outside of a few fringe groups and special
interests that want to protect their low-tax status?
Alabamians have elected a governor who has promised that
fixing some of the most grievous flaws in the 1901 Constitution is at
the top of his agenda. The leaders of the Senate (Lt. Gov.-elect Lucy
Baxley) and House (Speaker Seth Hammett) have voiced support for reform.
Public opinion polls show that most Alabamians want a rewritten state
charter, a sentiment they expressed on Election Day when 81 percent
of voters said yes to an amendment ensuring that the people have the
final say on a new document.
With the Legislature going into session in March, Alabama
is reaching critical mass on finally changing a century-old document
that has throttled this state's potential. A big reason why is the Alabama
Citizens for Constitutional Reform, a grass-roots effort that has nurtured
the cause for a new constitution like the best green-thumb gardener
grows prize-winning roses.
At 4:30 p.m. today in Auburn, as part of its final public
meeting, ACCR's Citizens Commission on Constitutional Reform is holding
a special session for the public to allow citizens on a nonwork day
to discuss issues on constitution reform. Monday, at 9 a.m., the commission
will meet to discuss debt and taxation as they relate to the constitution.
Howard Walthall, who heads the State Constitutional Law Project at Samford's
Cumberland Law School, will direct. Advisers include Susan Hamill, a
University of Alabama Law School professor; Bruce Ely, a lawyer with
Bradley, Arant, Rose & White; and James White, of Porter, White
At 1 p.m., members of the public will have a chance to
offer their thoughts to the commission.
After the commission completes its deliberations, it will
recommend to the governor and Legislature the best way to approach constitution
reform. Its recommendation will be based on input from Alabama citizens
and best-practices research on how other states have handled issues
such as taxation, home rule and individual rights.
Citizens who would like to voice their opinion about the
constitution can do so today and Monday in Auburn at the Haley Center,
Room 2352. For more information, call ACCR at 334-834-5495 or e-mail
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