FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2002
Contact: Kathryn Bowden
BIRMINGHAM The Alabama Citizens Commission for Constitutional
Reform will hold its second meeting on Monday, September 9, at the
Linn-Henley Research Library in downtown Birmingham.
Topics for the morning session will be the legislative,
executive, and judicial articles of the Alabama Constitution. A panel
of technical advisors will make presentations.
The public is invited to attend the morning session
and to make comments during the afternoon. Those wishing to speak
may begin signing up at 8:30 a.m. Citizens may also purchase a brown
bag lunch at the event and join the commissioners during the noon
Secretary of State Jim Bennett, a long-time advocate
for constitutional reform, is the commissions chairman. Joining
him is a diverse group of 22 members. Among them are an associate
Supreme Court justice, as well as business owners, educators, pastors,
lawyers, civic leaders and retired military personnel.
The commission is considering 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.
The longest state constitution, the 1901 document has been amended
Directing the morning event will be Howard Walthall,
who heads the State Constitutional Law Project at the Cumberland Law
School, Samford University. Joining him as advisors will be Dr. Jesse
Brown, Athens State University; Dr. Bill Stewart, emeritus at the
University of Alabama; Dr. Brad Moody, Auburn University Montgomery;
Dr. Bob Schaefer, University of Mobile; and former Associate Justice
Janie Shores of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The commissions first meeting in Huntsville
on July 15 drew nearly two hundred participants. Its focus was increasing
local governments ability to make decisions at home, rather
than having the Legislature direct their affairs. About 40 citizens
addressed the commission, which also heard presentations from several
leading authorities on home rule.
After Birmingham, the commission will meet at Mobile
on Oct. 21 and at Auburn-Opelika. on Dec. 9.
When the commission concludes its deliberations,
its members will make a recommendation to the governor and the Legislature
on how to approach constitutional reform issues. The commission also
will report on what citizens around the state say about their constitution.
Financial and logistical support for the commission
is provided by Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR).
Inspiration for the commission came from several
sources, said Kathryn Bowden, ACCRs executive director.
Governor 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,
Governor Albert Brewer persuaded the Legislature to create a commission.
It actually drafted a model constitution, but the Legislature failed
to act on it.
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.
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
Donald Brown - retired newspaper editor,
Gary Burton - minister, Pintlala
Lisa Christopher - civic leader, Vestavia
Sallie Creel - business owner, Birmingham
Scott Douglas - Greater Birmingham Ministries,
Johnny Green - professor and minister,
Madeleine Hill MSW, civic leader,
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, Gurley
Lynda Malone guidance counselor,
education activist, Grove Hill
Jake Mathews attorney, community
John Nixon businessman, Birmingham
Jerry Pow - probate judge, Centreville
Morris Savage - attorney, Jasper
Alex Sierra restaurant owner,
Karen Stanley vice president
of family-owned business, civic leader, Huntsville
Eddie Thomas minister, retired
high school teacher, Dothan
Julius Thrower minister, retired
military, retired educator, Mobile
Claudia Turner high school teacher,
college professor, Prattville.
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