By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, the Alabama Senate passed Senate Bill 366 sponsored by Senator Tom Whatley (R) from Auburn. SB366 would update the district lines of the Auburn Board of Trustees. The bill would also stagger trustee terms. Sen. Whatley said. “Our goal is to ensure consistency and stability on the board and by bringing district lines up to date and staggering trustee terms, we are doing just that.”
The bill is a constitutional amendment to the Alabama Constitution so it will still have to be approved by Alabama voters if it comes out of the Alabama legislature. The Auburn University’s Board of Trustees district lines are currently based on nine Congressional Districts drawn nearly 50 years ago. Over the last 50 years, Alabama’s congressional delegation has decreased from 9 to 7 Congressional Districts and population has shifted from rural counties to suburban counties like Shelby, Baldwin, St. Clair, and Madison Counties. Senator Whatley’s bill would change the composition of the board to seven predefined districts consisting of groupings of whole counties based on Congressional Districts drawn by the Legislature in 2010. The bill also increases the number of at-large positions from three to five and staggers trustees’ terms so that no more than two or three BOT positions are vacant in any one year. Last year nine trustee appointment positions were up at the same time.
Sen. Whatley said, “The Auburn Family recently selected several highly-qualified nominees to serve on the University’s board of trustees. This proposed structure will not interfere with those nominations and I am proud to support each of them through the confirmation process.”
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said, “Our first priority is to make sure the most qualified individuals have the opportunity to serve on Auburn University’s Board of Trustees.” “Senator Whatley’s bill allows the people of Alabama to vote on a plan that streamlines the selection process, guarantees constant rotation of board members and creates two additional at-large seats so anyone can serve on the board, based on their qualifications, regardless of where they live.”
SB366 passed the Senate with unanimous support and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Education Committee. If the Committee in the House passes it and the full House passes it before the legislative session is over then the bill will appear on the ballot for the people of Alabama to vote on.
Senator Tom Whatley represents the 27th District of the Alabama State Senate. Sen. Whatley’s district includes Lee, Russell, and Chambers Counties. Sen. Whatley is an attorney and is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Alabama National Guard.