FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 ACCRs 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.
ACCRs 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 states 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,
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, ACCRs
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 ACCRs 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 conventions end.
Alabamas 1901 constitution, with 706 amendments,
is the nations longest. Critics denounce the document for its
racist origins and for the way it ties governments 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 todays 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 ACCRs
web site at www.constitutionalreform.org.
here to download the ACCR Model Resolution for Calling Constitutional
Click here to
download the ACCR Model Constitutional Convention Legislation Details.
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