Corts Releases Citizens’ Commission Report
on Constitutional Reform
ACCR Chairman Thomas E. Corts today released the final report of the Alabama Citizens’ Commission on Constitutional Reform and presented it to Governor-Elect Bob Riley and members of the Alabama Legislature. The independent Citizens’ Commission, chaired by Secretary of State Jim Bennett, has been considering changes to Alabama’s antiquated 1901 constitution in a series of meetings held around the state over the last year.
“Jim Bennett and the diverse group of Alabamians on the Citizens’ Commission have done an outstanding job of studying and recommending reforms for our outdated constitution,” said Corts. “Their report is an invaluable resource for serious proponents of reform. ACCR has always maintained that substantive constitutional reform must address the issues of local democracy, debt and taxation, education, government organization and economic development. The commission’s work on these areas provides a solid foundation for future reform efforts.”
In a letter presenting the report to Governor-Elect Riley, Corts said, “while ACCR has not adopted a formal position on each item within the independent Commission’s report, we strongly urge you to consider these recommendations in pursuing constitutional reform.”
Among the reforms offered for consideration by the Commission are:
• Granting counties, cities and towns the necessary authority to decide local matters of governance without requiring prior approval of the State Legislature
• Requiring that a majority of the voters affected at the local level approve proposed local taxes when delegating the general authority to local governing bodies to impose taxes
• Strengthening the governor’s veto powers, including item vetoes in budget bills, and requiring more votes for legislative override
• Addressing Alabama’s immoral and unwieldy tax structure
• Requiring the governor and lieutenant governor run as a team, much like the president and vice-president of the U.S.
• Granting legislative and executive branches the power, unfettered by the Alabama Constitution, to promote economic development
Corts added, “For too long we have languished under a state charter that keeps us from adequately addressing the needs of our state, and we urge Governor-Elect Riley and all our elected officials to work to make reform a reality. Until we comprehensively reform our constitution, Alabama will never achieve its potential.”