By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, October 16, Ken Freeman spoke to the Rainy Day Patriots at Hoover Tactical Firearms about the five amendments on the Alabama ballot. Freeman denounced Amendment Four and urged everyone to vote No on the controversial measure that would limit the legislature’s authority over education issues in the state and require a super majority to pass legislation affecting school boards.
Rainy Day Patriots Chair Ann Eubank said that she and others have been conducting talks about Common Core across the state and have been winning the debates that they have had with proponents of the controversial new Alabama College and Career Ready Standards that are based on the Common Core.
Steve Johnson said that Amendments to the Alabama Constitution are sometimes purposely written so you can’t understand exactly what they mean. Johnson introduced Ken Freeman to the Fair Ballot Commission to explain the five amendments to the gathered members.
Johnson said that Ken Freeman is a cattle rancher and the Chairman of the Alliance for Citizens Rights. He has spoken out against the United Nation’s Agenda 21 and has focused on repealing common core.
Ken Freeman said that he was born in Georgia, but his family has property in Guntersville. Freeman said he moved to Alabama after he came back from Vietnam.
Freeman said that confusing or misleading amendments on the ballot have been an issue since 1973. To address that the legislature passed the Informed Voter Act. Freeman was an advocate of the bill. It was sponsored by State Representative Steve McMillan.
Freeman said that the Informed Voter Act creates the Fair Ballot Commission. The average Alabama voter has a reading level that is 8th or 9th grade. The bill requires that amendment writers use common language that the people can understand
Freeman said there are five amendments on the ballot, but of the five Amendment Four is the worst.
Freeman said that the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and the President Pro Tem of the Senate are all on the commission or their stand ins. Each of these then appoint two persons to also serve on the Fair Ballot Commission, “Six lawyers appointed by politicians and six real people.”
Freeman is one of the six non-lawyers serving on the commission
Rainy Day Patriots Chair Ann Eubank said that people should pay close attention to Amendment Four
Freeman said, “This thing the more you look at it the uglier it gets.” At the meeting on the Amendment four language the meeting was stacked with lobbyists from the school board. Freeman said that Speaker Mike Hubbard’s (R) Chief of Staff Jimmy Entrekin insisted that they pass the wording of amendment four like it appears on the ballot.
Freeman said, “I did everything I could to try to cloud the language,” in amendment four so that the voters would vote it down. “There are several things in this bill that are probably bad news”
Freeman said that the amendment as written would put school boards on same level as municipalities and Freeman feared that an activist judge could interpret the wording in such a way as to give school boards taxing authority. As it is school boards have to go to city councils or county commissions and often the state legislature and a vote of the people to raise taxes. Freeman feared that Amendment four could be an end around those constitutional protections.
“I believe it is working its way toward giving school boards taxing authority.” Freeman warned that State School Superintendent Tommy Bice has talked about building 2000 new school rooms, but has been cryptic about how he would pay for it. Freeman said that this is where he may be looking for the money.
Freeman said that Amendment Four prohibits the state legislature from passing anything that might be an unfunded mandate for a school board of over $50,000, unless a 2/3s vote of the State legislature votes to pass. The bill speaks of it as an aggregate accumulation
Freeman said if Amendment Four passes, “The state legislature is giving up any pretense of controlling the school boards.”
Freeman said that Common Core is why this amendment passed the legislature, “Parents realize what it happening.” There is a lot of pressure to undo Common Core. If the people of Alabama vote yes for amendment four then it would take a two thirds vote to pass a new curriculum. The legislature is tying their own hands.
Freeman warned that pro-Common Core school board member Mary Scott Hunter (R) and the people traveling with her are strongly in favor of Amendment Four. Freeman said, “Since they want it so badly I want them not to get it.”
Freeman said that the legislature knows that there is going to be kick back against Common Core as parents learn more about it. “There will be a big backlash.”
Freeman warned that the State legislature is giving up its power to the State school board.
Freeman accursed pro-Common Core corporate interests of stacking the school board. They, “Go out and find someone who is attractive and photogenic who looks good on a poster and then they dump a $ half million into the (state school board) race.”
Freeman warned that Common Core is being pushed on the State by the Chamber of Commerce, Pierce, and Microsoft. “AEA did not push for Common Core and did not push for this.” The school boards are, “Owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Chamber of Commerce.”
The official ballot title of this measure appears as follows:
Statewide Amendment 4
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit a general law, whose purpose or effect is to require a new or increased expenditure of at least $50,000 of local funds annually, from becoming effective with regard to a city or county board of education without enactment by a 2/3 vote. (Proposed by Act 2014-185)
The full ballot summary reads as follows:
“Amendment 4 would increase the requirement to a two-thirds vote (over 66 percent), rather than a simple majority (over 50 percent), of the Alabama Legislature in order to pass a law that would require local boards of education to cumulatively spend over $50,000 in local funds without providing the funds to pay for the increased expense. Separately, Amendment 4 would continue to provide that a majority vote would be required for unfunded mandates that address the compensation, benefits, or due process rights of any employee of a board of education.”
Freeman and all the Rainy Day Patriots members spoke in opposition to Amendment Four.
No one spoke in favor of the amendment.
The voters will decide on November 4.