The 14 amendments on Alabama's Nov. 8 ballot - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

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The 14 amendments on Alabama's Nov. 8 ballot

(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo) (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

When Alabama voters go to the polls Nov. 8, they will have the opportunity to decide whether 14 additional amendments will be added to the more than 900 that already have been added to the Alabama Constitution over the years. It already is the longest such document in the nation.

I write "opportunity to decide" for a reason; far too many Alabama voters will make their choices for political candidates but pass up the chance to decide these constitutional decisions. That's unfortunate, because while some are routine or mundane, others address serious issues which can affect the lives of voters.

Below are descriptions of each of the 14 proposed amendments. I have attempted to summarize the ballot measures as best I can. Also included is the ballot language on each amendment. 

I also recommend the "plain language" description of the measure as written by the state's Fair Ballot Commission, made up of  various elected officials or their designees and others nominated by university public policy departments. This website also provides a link to see the full text of the legislation setting up the amendment.

If you would like to see the Fair Ballot Commission report, go to: http://www.alabamavotes.gov/statewideballotmeasures.aspx?sm=voters

Amendment 1 

This amendment  would require that no more than three members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees have terms that end in the same year, which proponents say would make for a more orderly transition of board membership. It also would add two more members to the board, supposedly to allow for additional diversity.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish procedures to ensure that no more than three of the members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees shall have terms that expire in the same calendar year and to add two additional at-large members to the board to enhance diversity on the board.”

Background: Amendment 1, titled House Bill 551, was introduced by Rep. Victor Gaston. It was approved in the House with 99-0.  The Senate passed it 27-0. 

Amendment 2

This amendment would prohibit the Legislature from using revenue generated by state parks (entrance fees, concession revenues, etc.) for purposes other than maintaining state parks, unless guest revenues exceed $50 million (adjusted for inflation in future years) in a budget year. The amendment also allows the state to hire private companies to operate hotels, restaurants and golf courses at some state parks that are now subject to contracting restrictions because they were funded by certain bond issues. Some parks already use private companies; this amendment would make the use of private companies more uniform.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.”
“Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year. The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold. The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.”
“Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama.”

Background: Passed Senate 29-1, House 87-8, introduced by Sen. Clay Scofield.

Amendment 3

This would give the Legislature the final authority to decide if proposed constitutional amendments are voted on locally or statewide. That decision would occur in a separate vote after the Legislature votes to pass an amendment. If any legislator objected to a local vote on an amendment, it would appear on the statewide ballot. In essence, it would give individual legislators the power to prevent a local amendment from just being voted on by those who are affected.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to revise the procedure for adoption of local constitutional amendments to provide that a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature determines without a dissenting vote applies to only one county or a political subdivision within one or more counties shall be adopted as a valid part of the constitution by a favorable vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the affected county or the political subdivision and county or counties in which the political subdivision is located, who vote on the amendment.”

Background: Sen. Linda Coleman sponsored the bill. Passed Senate 28-0, House 102-0.

Amendment 4

This would expand the home rule powers of county governments and remove some of that power from the state Legislature. But it would apply only to public transportation, county personnel, emergency assistance, safety on public roads, and other limited powers. 

Ballot Language:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize each county commission in the state to establish, subject to certain limitations, certain programs related to the administration of the affairs of the county.”

Background: Introduced by Rep. Randy Davis. Passed House 76-17; Senate 25-0.

Amendment 5

This would rephrase constitutional provisions relating to separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. The ballot language states that it will make no "substantive change." That, of course, raises the question of why do it? Cleaning up outdated language in a constitution filled with other outdated language seems a stretch.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal and restate the provisions of Article III of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to separation of powers to modernize the language without making any substantive change, effective January 1, 2017.”

Background: Sen. Greg Albritton sponsored measure. Passed Senate 28-0, House 99-0.

Amendment 6

The amendment would require a two-thirds vote of the Alabama Senate to remove an impeached state official from office. Even though this proposed amendment passed the Legislature well before the efforts to impeach Gov. Robert Bentley, the Bentley impeachment process has focused attention on the fact that there is no clear provision for how many senators are needed to vote for removing an official from office.

The amendment also adds members of the state Board of Education to officials subject to impeachment and removes the state Superintendent of Education -- who is hired by the state BOE, not elected -- from  those who can be impeached.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments.”

Background: Introduced by Rep. Juandalynn Givan. Passed House 79-2; Senate 29-1.

Amendment 7

This would place most employees of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County beginning June 1, 2017.

Ballot Language:

“Relating to Etowah County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the employees of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County, except for the chief deputy, chief of detention, chief of administration, chief of investigation, director of communications, and food service manager, shall be under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County.”

Background: Passed House 66-0, Senate 30-1, with Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile County opposing.

Amendment 8

Alabama is a “right to work” state in which employees cannot be forced to join a union. This amendment would put that standing into the constitution, where it would be more difficult to change.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to declare that it is the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an agreement to deny the right to work, or place conditions on prospective employment, on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an employer from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment; and to provide that an employer may not require a person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization.”

Background: This amendment passed the House 69-33 and the Senate 25-9.

Amendment 9

This would allow someone to be elected or appointed as probate judge in Pickens County until age 75, up from the current age limit of 70. 

Ballot Language:

“Relating to Pickens County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person who is not over the age of 75 at the time of qualifying for election or at the time of his or her appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County.”

Background: Introduced by Sen. Gerald Allen. Passed Senate 27-1; House 66-0.

Amendment 10

This amendment would bar a city or town not in or partially in Calhoun County from exercising police or planning jurisdiction over any territory in Calhoun County. This amendment largely affects voters in Calhoun County, but also could conceivably affect voters in portions of neighboring counties. 

Ballot Language:

“Relating to Calhoun County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that any territory located in the county would be subject only to the police jurisdiction and planning jurisdiction of a municipality located wholly or partially in the county.”

Background: Passed House and Senate unanimously.

Amendment 11

This would allow municipalities and counties to sell property they own within a certain type of development zone for less than fair market value. Current state law allows cities and counties to buy and redevelop private property in such zones by pledging projected property tax increases in those areas for those purposes. Cities and counties then can sell that property to a private entity, but current law requires the sale to be for no less than fair market value.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51.”

Background: Passed House and Senate unanimously.

Amendment 12

This would allow the Legislature create a toll road and bridge authority for a city or town in Baldwin County using local legislation.

Ballot Language:

“Relating to municipalities in Baldwin County; proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature by general or local law to provide for any municipalities in the county to incorporate a toll road and bridge authority as a public corporation in the municipality for the construction and operation of toll roads and bridges in the municipality and to authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the projects.”

Background: Passed House and Senate unanimously.

Amendment 13

This would eliminate maximum age restrictions on the election or appointment of any non-judicial public official and bar the Legislature from an age restriction in the future without changing the state constitution.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal any existing age restriction on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official, with the exception of persons elected or appointed to a judicial office, currently imposed by a provision of the Constitution or other law; and to prohibit the Legislature from enacting any law imposing a maximum age limitation on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official.”

Background: Passed House 84-7; Senate 27-0.

Amendment 14

This would require local legislation passed between 1984 and Nov. 8, 2016, to be deemed approved as long as it was passed in accordance with legislative rules in place at the time. 

Since 1984, the state constitution has said that approval of a budget isolation resolution (BIR) is required before lawmakers can vote on a non-budget bill before passing the state budget.  The constitution  requires the approval of 60 percent of legislators who are present. However, House rules have allowed BIRs to pass under  “local courtesy” rules that did not guarantee that the resolution passed  with the approval of 60 percent of House members who were present during the vote.

Ballot Language:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 71.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to ratify, approve, validate, and confirm the application of any budget isolation resolution relating to a bill proposing a local law adopted by the Legislature before November 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either body of the Legislature at the time it was adopted.”

Background: Passed Senate 25-4; House 94-0.

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