Limited Home Rule Established!

Because of your help, four amendments that bring reform to Alabama’s Constitution were passed in the 2016 election year. Thank you for working so hard all these years to bring reform to our Constitution.

Alabama finally has some home rule.

This work would not have been possible without the leadership of former Governor Albert P. Brewer who chaired the Constitutional Revision Commission that authored these amendments. ACCR is saddened by the recent loss of this great statesman and thankful for his lifelong championing of constitutional reform. His passion for walking the service road of life lives on in many Alabamians.

Amendment 4 gives county commissions the authority to establish certain programs relating to the administration of the affairs of the county. It does not authorize taxes or tax increases. Jefferson County is exempt because of sewer tax issues.

Amendment 6 changes Article VII on Impeachment concerning State officers who are elected. It removes the Superintendent of Education from being impeached since that job is appointed by the State Board of Education. It allows impeachment of the State Board of Education since they are elected.

Amendment 5 changes the way we identify our three divisions of government.  Previously, the Constitution referred to them as Departments.  This Amendment identifies them as Branches: ie: the Judicial Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch.

Amendment 3 revises the way local constitutional amendments are sent to statewide vote. Each local amendment must receive an initial vote by the House or Senate on the merits of the amendment. Then, if the amendment passes, the House and Senate must vote on whether the amendment should receive a local or a statewide vote. One legislator can send it to a statewide vote.

In 2003, ACCR established the Alabama Citizens’ Commission on
Constitutional Reform under the leadership of the late Dr. Thomas Corts in 2002 when he was Chair of ACCR. It was chaired by then Secretary of State, Jim Bennett and made several recommendations. But none of the recommendations immediately became law.

Governor Riley praised the Commission for their work and then in 2003, set up a commission to study parts of the Constitution with a goal toward reform. It was called the Alabama Citizens Constitution Commission. It was chaired by then Secretary of State, Jim Bennett, with Vice-Chair, Lenora Pate.The Commission studied recompilation, limited home rule, excessive earmarking, line item veto, a higher vote threshold for tax increases and recompilation. A very limited home rule law was approved by the legislature and recompilation was carried out by Legislative Services.


Click here to view the full Report.

The Passing of our Founder

Bailey Thomson, chairman and founder of ACCR, passed away November 26, 2003 after suffering a heart attack. His death at the mere age of 54 leaves ACCR, as well as many throughout Alabama, shocked and saddened. Not only was Bailey the state’s leading fighter in constitutional reform, but he was also a father, husband, friend, teacher and writer who affected countless lives.

Though he may be gone, his passion for helping the people of Alabama lives on. The fight will be hard and lonely without him, but we will continue what Bailey began.

About Bailey Thomson

Bailey Thomson was born a farm boy in Aliceville, Ala., the youngest of eight children to Bill and Becky Thomson. Thomson’s father died when Bailey was only 14, and to make ends meet, he began working at local newspapers. And so the newspaperman was born..

Thomson’s journalism career spanned 25 years, during which he worked for the Huntsville Times, Tuscaloosa News, Shreveport, La. Journal (folded in 1991) and Orlando Sentinel in Florida. In 1992, he became the associate editor of the Mobile Register.

It was at the Register that Thomson first became involved in constitutional reform. While there, he directed a special investigation of Alabama’s antiquated constitution, titled “Sin of the Fathers,” an editorial series he and two colleagues wrote. The series linked current problems in the state to the 1901 constitution, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 1995.

In 1999, an editorial series Thomson wrote for the Mobile Register about Alabama, titled “Dixie’s Broken Heart,” won the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Another editorial series, “Century of Shame,” won the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association’s Carmage Walls Distinguished Writing Award.

Thomson continued his fight for reform and served as editor and contributor to a book of essays published by the University of Alabama Press titled “Century of Controversy: The 1901 Alabama Constitution.”

After holding a rally in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2000, Thomson founded the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform as part of a grass-roots movement for civic renewal and constitutional revision.

Thomson held a B.A. and an M.A. in American history and a Ph.D. in communication history, earning all three from the University of Alabama. After receiving his doctorate in 1995, Thomson became an associate professor in 1997 and full professor in 2003.

Thomson is survived by his wife of 26 years, Kristi, a Brookwood Middle School teacher, and their daughter, Sarah, a sophomore theatre major at UA.

For more information about Bailey Thomson, click here.

(Photograph by Photograph by Michael E. Palmer; Courtesy of

ACCR was Founded.

Journalist and educator Bailey Thomas (1949-2003) founded the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) in 2000 with the help of others, including lawyer Tom Carruthers, Sid McAnnally, the Honorable Jack Edwards, Dr. Thomas Corts, Gov. Albert Brewer , Brunson White, Odessa Woolfolk, Judge Gorman Houston, Professor Wayne Flynt, Odessa Woolfolk and others.

His efforts along with those of Gov. Albert Brewer and with the help of the late Dr. Thomas Corts, President of Samford University, resulted in a movement for reform that began in Tuscaloosa with a rally attended by hundreds.

The first board consisted of Dr. Thomas Corts, the Honorable Jack Edwards, Sid McAnnally and Odessa Woolfolk. The first president was Dr. Corts, followed by Bailey Thomson.  Sid McAnnally became the third president and in 2005 stepped down and asked Lenora Pate to succeed him.

ACCR Foundation, the 501 (c) 3 education organization was incorporated 18 September 2000.  ACCR, INC., the 501 (c) 4 advocacy organization was incorporated 13 February 2001.  They were operated as one agency with one board until 2003 when they were separated with separate boards

In 2001, ACCR had an office in Montgomery.  Kathy Bowden became Executive Director and served until 2003.  It was largely funded by businesses including Business Council of Alabama and money recruited by Brunson White.

Anne Kilgrow, David Perry and Kevin Garrison worked with Kathy in Montomery  Anne was Executive Assistant, David and Kevin were outstanding grassroots workers.  Bill Smith did Public Relations and Media as an independent contractor.  Four statewide conferences were held in 2001, and 2002 in Huntsville, Birmingham, Mobile and Auburn.

Many in ACCR stopped working for ACCR in 2003 and switched over to help get Governor Riley’s tax overhaul called Amendment One passed.  Funding for ACCR began to dwindle as corporate donors including the BCA, shifted their contributions to the Amendment One campaign.  At this point, ACCR could no longer afford to operate a full time office and Kathy shut down the Montgomery office.  She moved all files to Birmingham into the hands of Brunson White, at Energen in Birmingham.  Brunson chose Sandra Behel, his assistant, to manage ACCR affairs.

One of the things Governor Riley did, in 3003, was to set up Alabama Citizen’s Commission on Constitutional Reform to study parts of the Constitution with a goal toward reform.  The Commission studied recompilation, limited home rule, excessive earmarking, line item veto and a higher vote threshold for tax increases.  Very limited Home Rule and Recompilation were the only items approved by the Legislature and passed by voters.  It was created by legislation and not a constitutional amendment so it did not rise to the level of actually legally changing the Constitution.  Legislative Services Agency in 2005 published the results in the Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 with Amendments.

The untimely death of founder Bailey Thomson, (Pulitzer Prize winner, who taught journalism at the University of Alabama) in 2003, deeply hurt the movement.  But Huntsville volunteers gave the organization a shot in the arm by starting a movement in 2004 to get signatures on a petition to allow a constitutional convention.

Because the 1901 Constitution does not allow initiative, the petition had no legal authority. Bit it had considerable public significance.  Members gathered 70,000 signatures and presented them to the Legislature at a rally on the steps of the Capitol in 2005.

In the beginning, we all worked for reform, but in 2005, we started working for a citizens’ convention.

In 2004, ACCR Ind. began using a lobbyist, Cary Page, who volunteered and attended all sessions during the Legislative Session.  When she stepped down, Nancy Ekberg took her place.

Throughout our effort, Gerald Johnson, who was with AEA, conducted polls which always showed that a majority of citizens would vote in favor of holding a constitutional convention if given the chance.

Throughout the years, Greater Birmingham Ministries had been a leader and key player in education and support for our advocacy.

ACCR Inc. has held rallies on the steps of the Capitol most years.  Some were organized by the ACCR College Council, some by ACCR Inc. and some by Greater Birmingham Ministries.

During all the years since it was incorporated, we in ACCR Inc. have gone through the state speaking to groups, schools, community and civic organizations and churches on the need for a new constitution.  We held forums in Birmingham and Huntsville inviting the public to come and let their voices be heard.

Beginning in 2005, ACR Inc. began working with then Senator Ted Little and Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton of the House to sponsor legislation to allow a convention.  Each year the number of co-sponsors increased.

The closest we came to success was in 2008 with HB308 and SB3243.  However the legislation failed either on the floor of the House or by never getting from the Rules Committee to the floor of the Senate.

ACCR In. has been the advocacy group, working with the public, the legislature and the media.  The Foundation focuses on education and was reactivated in 2006 with Mark Berte  leading its educational activities.  Both remained separate entities with separate boards.  The Foundation was funded by the Babcock Wilcox Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.  ACCR Inc. was funded by member dues.  Under the leadership of Mark Berte, the Foundation held a Mock Convention beginning in 2008.  It was presented to the public at Constitution Hall in Huntsville in 2009.  Mark also created a student essay contest and the Bailey Thomson Award luncheon.  During the Mock Convention, 105 citizens from throughout the state wrote a new constitution. It was a good one but never became law because it was not done through a constitutional amendment as a constitutional convention.

In 2018, the Foundation and ACCR Inc. again merged into one group under the leadership of Lenora Pate.

Some reform has been successful.  In 2012, the Banking Article and the Corporation Article were reformed.  In 2016 as a result of a Constitutional Revision Commission established by Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard in 2011, four amendments passed.  The Commission was chaired by former Governor Albert Brewer, and successfully brought Limited Home Rule, a revision to the names of the three forms of government, clarification that the superintendent of education could not be impeached because he or she was appointed not elected and a revision of what it would take to fore a local amendment to a statewide vote

In 2019 ACCR together with the Legislative Services Agency, was successful in getting the Legislature and the voters to pass a chance to recompile the Constitution through an amendment in 2020.  In 2022, that job was completed and passed by the Legislature to become the Constitution of 2022.  It will appear on ballots in November of 2022.

And voters approved the Constitution of 2022  in November of 2022 so that the Constitution of 2022 has NO amendments since all of the 990  amendments replaced the words in the Sections they amended or deleted  words such as all racist language.

This is a new day for Alabama, making our Constitution the Constitution of 2022 and not the Constitution of 1901!

1901 Constitutional Convention

Alabama State Constitution was ratified by the 1901 Constitutional Convention leading to the disenfranchisement of the poor, concentration of power in Montgomery, and the creation of what was to come on of the  most regressive tax systems in the country. Read more here

Alabama Department of Archives and History, The Constitution of the State of Alabama and Amendments, Historical and Patriotic Series No.14 (Wetumpka Printing Co., 1943).