10 constitutional amendments on Tuesday’s ballot
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Election day is Tuesday and, along with candidates, there are 10 statewide constitutional amendments for Alabamians to vote on, including one to reorganize the constitution itself.
While some of these amendments are getting pushback from different groups, a majority made it to the ballot with unanimous support from state legislators.
Amendment 1 is also known as Anaiah’s Law, named after Aniah Blanchard, who was murdered in 2019, allegedly by a man who was out of jail on bond at the time.
“She just loved to laugh. And she loved life,” said Angela Harris, Blanchard’s mom.
Amendment 1 would allow judges to deny bail to a wider class of people charged with crimes. Mayors from the state’s 10 largest cities, as well as Alabama district attorneys, overwhelmingly supports the measure.
“Get involved and be able to send a message that we are against all of this violent crime that is taking place,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey.
Support is not universal, however. There is opposition to the amendment.
“There are people all across the state of Alabama who are sitting in jails on bond revocations and no bonds who are not charged with capital offenses,” said state Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.
A “yes” vote will allow counties to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to recruit broadband companies to build broadband infrastructure in their communities.
Amendment 2 has support from county officials.
“Better access, whether it’s virtually, whether it’s making adjustments in the times that we meet, utilizing social media better,” said Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
The measure is meant to strip the governor of the ability to commute a death penalty sentence without appropriate notice. The amendment will require the governor of Alabama to notify the state attorney general and the victim’s family prior to doing so.
“They’re trying to avoid situations where the family in the future does not have to go through this excruciating pain,” said state Sen. Steve Livingston, sponsor of the amendment.
“This will prevent that from happening again, before another governor can do what he [Gov. Fob James] did [in 1999],” said Janette Grantham, Executive Director of Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, which advocates on behalf of victims and their families.
One political action committee that backs Alabama Democrats is opposing the amendment.
According to the Alabama Democratic Victory, “This would limit the power that the governor currently holds to reduce a death sentence to life in prison sentence. Voting ‘no’ on this amendment will allow the governor to maintain the power that they currently have…”
If passed, Amendment 4 would prevent the Alabama Legislature from changing state election laws in the six months before a presidential election.
Secretary of State John Merrill supports this amendment.
“People need to have time to process that and know what changes are occurring and why they’re important and significant,” said Merrill.
Opposition says this is unwarranted and could have a negative impact if there were to be another health crisis.
“All of these election laws basically came about as a result of the “Big Steal”, as they call it, the 2020 election,” said state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Jefferson County, “for which there was no fraud in Alabama.”
A “yes” vote on Amendment 5 removes the term “orphans’ business” from the probate judge section of the Alabama Constitution, though it has no practical implications.
“There’s nothing in Alabama law that deals with orphans,” according to Montgomery County Probate Judge J.C. Love. “So there’s no orphans quarter, no orphans law here in Alabama, as it exists.”
The amendment, while making its way through the legislative process, was widely supported.
Voting “yes” on Amendment 6 will allow cities to use taxes they already collect to fund capital projects and repay bonds. Currently, some municipalities are only allowed to pay for capital projects by borrowing money. Voting “yes” on this amendment will remove that restriction.
County leaders say Amendment 7 will increase economic development by changing the way that municipalities and counties are able to spend money on economic and industrial development projects.
This amendment enjoys wide support from nearly every county commission in the state.
“So that every county in Alabama has an equal chance to attract new industry to improve jobs and to enhance the quality of life,” said Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
These amendments will bring some privately-owned sewer systems under the control of the public service commission in Shelby, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.
Amendment 10 will place any new amendment to the Alabama Constitution in the correct reorganized location.
Representative Merika Coleman spearheaded this amendment.
“I’ve been in the legislature for a very long time. How often do you see something that the NAACP, and also The Eagle Forum are supporting?” said Coleman.
A “yes” vote on Amendment 10 will reorganize the state’s constitution, making it easier to understand and removing references to slavery and other racist language from the document.
“This gives us an opportunity to rebrand our state as a welcoming state to all people,” said Coleman.
Each amendment as it will appear on the ballot is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
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