Alabama Citizens' Commission on Constitutional Reform
wants to hear what you have to say!
Join us on Monday, July 15, 2002, for the first of
four public meetings to be held around the state to allow citizens
to voice their opinions on constitutional reform.
July 15, 2002, 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Alabama Constitution Village, Huntsville, AL
meeting on Constitutional Reform
8:30 a.m. - noon:
Presentations on methods for constitutional revision and local self-government.
Noon - 1:00 p.m.:
Brown bag lunch (Dutch) with members of Commission
1:00 - 4:30 p.m.:
Citizens comments to Commission* and Deliberations by Commission
DIRECTIONS TO CONSTITUTION VILLAGE:
109 Gates Avenue, Downtown Huntsville
I-65N to Exit #340 (I-545). EAST on I-565 into Huntsville (19 mi).
Take Exit 19C (Downtown Huntsville). At bottom of ramp, turn RIGHT
on Jefferson St.
which becomes West Side Square, then becomes Madison St. Alabama
will be on your left, 1 blk past town square @ Madison St &
Gates Ave. Turn left on Gates
Ave. Street parking is available on Gates Avenue. Enter Constitution
Hall from an entrance on
the corner of Franklin and Gates.
Village spans the entire block along Gates Ave. between Madison
If coming from Noth of Huntsville, use Exit 19A, and turn left on
to Jefferson at the end of
the ramp and follow the rest of the directions from above.
*Any citizen interested in making public
comments on constitutional reform may sign up on the day of the
meeting for a 5 minute time slot during which he or she may address
the Commission. Although comments relating to the specific issues
of local control and methods for constitutional revision will be
given first priority, comments on any issues regarding constitutional
reform will be welcomed and permitted.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kathryn Bowden (334.834.5495)
HUNTSVILLE The Alabama Citizens Commission for Constitutional
Reform will hold its second session, September 9, in this historic
city, where a convention drafted the states first charter of
fundamental laws in 1819.
The modern group will consider changes for Alabamas 1901 Constitution,
the sixth such document since statehood. Almost since its adoption,
citizens and leaders across the state have been calling for the revision
for Alabamas current constitution. Now the nations longest
state constitution, the 1901 document has been amended 708 times.
Sec. of State Jim Bennett, a long-time advocate for constitutional
reform, is the commissions chairman. He will be joined by a
diverse group of 22 citizens. Among them are an associate Supreme
Court justice, as well as business owners, educators, pastors, lawyers,
civic leaders, and retired military.
The commission will meet four times in different locations
around the state to listen to citizens express their views about reform,
as well as hear from leading experts on constitutional matters. After
its deliberations, the group will then make a recommendation to the
governor and the Legislature on how to best approach constitutional
reform issues. The non-partisan panel will not be attempting a rewrite
of the 1901 constitution; rather it will compile and present the thinking
of Alabamas citizens along with best practices research to provide
a foundation for further reform.
Financial and logistical support is provided by Alabama
Citizens for Constitutional Reform. The grassroots organization, with
offices in Montgomery, has close to 2,000 members statewide.
Inspiration for the commission came from several sources,
said Kathryn Bowden, ACCRs executive director.
Gov. Thomas E. Kilby recommended such a group in 1923,
when he asked the legislature to call a convention to replace the
1901 Constitution. He envisioned that a commission would lay the groundwork
for reform, while soliciting citizens views. In 1969, Gov. Albert
Brewer persuaded the Legislature to create a commission. It actually
drafted a model constitution, but the Legislature failed to act on
The new commission is closer to what Kilby had in mind,
Bowden said. ACCRs board decided it would work best if it was
independent of state government. ACCR solicited nominations and suggestions
from many people and organizations.
We now have a genuine citizens commission whose
members bring open minds and open agendas to the process of fixing
Alabamas government, Bowden said. They will take
our state one step closer to deciding whether its time to draft
a new constitution for a new century.
The group will begin its deliberation at Huntsvilles
Constitution Village at 8:30 a.m. All events are open to the public,
and those in attendance may purchase a brown bag lunch at the event.
Comments from the public will begin at 1 p.m.
Topics for this session will be local democracy and methods
for constitutional revision. Alabama also is one of the few states
that fails to grant local democracy to its countiesa condition
that accounts for about 70 percent of the amendments.
Prof. Howard Walthall of the Cumberland School of Law
at Samford University will lead a panel of technical advisors who
will appear before the commission during the morning. Others advisors
will be Dr. Anne Permaloff, Auburn University in Montgomery; Dr. Randolph
Horn, Samford University; and James W. Williams Jr., executive director
of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
Topics for other sessions will include governmental organization,
taxes and debts, education and economic development.
Places and dates for the other sessions are Birmingham,
September 9; Mobile, October 21; and Auburn-Opelika, December 9.
For further information, please call ACCR at 334-834-5495
or send e-mail inquiries to email@example.com
The following is a list of the commissions members:
Valerie Barnes communications director, Dothan
Donald Brown - retired newspaper editor, Tuscaloosa
Gary Burton - minister, Pintlala
Lisa Christopher - civic leader, Vestavia
Sallie Creel - business owner, Birmingham
Scott Douglas - Greater Birmingham Ministries, Birmingham
Johnny Green - professor and minister, Auburn
Madeline Hill MSW, civic leader, Tuscaloosa
Steve Holt - Chamber president, Florence
J. Gorman Houston - Associate Justice, AL Supreme Court, Montgomery
Robert Huffaker - attorney, Montgomery
Hartwell Lutz retired military, retired judge, civic leader,
Lynda Malone guidance counselor, education activist, Grove
Jake Mathews attorney, community leader, Anniston
John Nixon businessman, Birmingham
Jerry Pow - probate judge, Centreville
Morris Savage - attorney, Jasper
Alex Sierra restaurant owner, Arab
Karen Stanley vice president of family-owned business, civic
Eddie Thomas minister, retired high school teacher, Dothan
Julius Thrower minister, retired military, retired educator,
Claudia Turner high school teacher, college professor, Prattville.
Reforms Next Move ~ The
Huntsville Times July 7, 2002
Citizens Commission ~The Birmingham
News, July, 2002
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