ACCR asks Legislature
to let people lead way to a new
constitution for Alabama

January 30, 2002
CONTACT: Kathryn Bowden (334.834.5495)

MONTGOMERY — Dr. Thomas E. Corts, president of Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, today asked the Legislature to “let the people lead” the state in rewriting its antiquated 1901 charter.

   Under ACCR’s plan, voters would decide on Nov.5 — the day of the general election— whether to call a constitutional convention. Then in June 2003 voters would elect 105 convention delegates, chosen from House of Representatives districts, to write a new document.

   ACCR is a non-partisan, independent group with a grassroots philosophy. It grew out of a series of rallies around the state demanding a new constitution.

   Corts also announced that Secretary of State Jim Bennett would head a new Citizens Commission for Constitutional Reform. This group will lay the groundwork for a convention, while seeking citizens’ views on how best to write a new document.

   Corts hailed Bennett as a respected leader and statesman “who puts principle above politics.” The commission will be a diverse and outstanding group of Alabamians, Corts said. Its members will present its findings and research to the convention to assist in its work.

   ACCR’s proposal joins several other convention plans now before the Legislature, including one by Gov. Don Siegelman. The Legislature must approve any effort to rewrite the state’s constitution.

   Corts cited recent poll results that show a majority of Alabamians now favor a new constitution and want a convention to do the job. “Clearly, the people of Alabama are leading the way, and in an important turn of events, the leaders are following,” he said.

   “The people of Alabama believe that a constitutional convention is the best way to achieve a constitution that speaks directly to their values and needs,” added Corts, who is also the President of Samford University, a private Baptist institution.

   To reduce the influence of special interests, ACCR’s plan would go beyond current law and limit contributions to delegate candidates to just $100 from any source. Also, the proposal would prohibit lobbyists from contributing anything of value to delegates. Candidates would have to report all their contributions in advance of the delegate election.

   Legislators and other state office-holders could not run for delegate. The 12 elected members of the Legislative Council, however, would be seated as delegates. The council has six House and six Senate members. They are elected by their legislative peers.

   Under ACCR’s proposal, the delegates would begin work on Aug. 5, 2003, in Montgomery. The legislative staff would provide the necessary support. Elected delegates would be compensated at the same rate as legislators, but their pay would be limited to 120 calendar days. Members of the Legislative Council would not draw compensation for serving as delegates.

   Once delegates had written a new document, the governor would call an election for ratification. The vote, however, could not occur sooner than 90 days following the convention’s end.

   Alabama’s 1901 constitution, with 706 amendments, is the nation’s longest. Critics denounce the document for its racist origins and for the way it ties government’s hands in the face of mounting problems. The constitution also denies counties the ability to plan and write their own laws. Instead, local officials must beg the Legislature for the power to perform even mundane tasks, such as animal control.

   “Until we fix the constitution,” Corts said at today’s press conference, “we will never be able to fix our schools for our children, attract and keep higher paying jobs for our workers, and provide a fairer tax structure for our families.”

   In calling for a convention, he said Alabamians “will continue to make their voices heard session after session until they are given the right to vote on this issue.”

   The proposed legislation may be found at ACCR’s web site at www.constitutionalreform.org.

Click here to download the ACCR Model Resolution for Calling Constitutional Resolution.
(pdf format)

Click here to download the ACCR Model Constitutional Convention Legislation Details.
(pdf format)

Return to: Constitutional Reform ~ in the News

Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 34
Montgomery, Alabama 36101-0034

E-mail: accr@constitutionalreform.org
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