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Constitutional Amendments on Ballot Today

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Voters not only go to the polls today to elect candidates, but also to consider whether or not we need to further lengthen the Alabama Constitution of 1901, already the longest such document in the world.

There are five constitutional amendments on the ballot today in addition to the local and statewide elected officials.

The Fair Ballot Commission wrote the following wording. And since this is supposedly clear enough for almost anyone with basic schooling to understand, the Alabama Political Reporter is not going to confuse the issue by complicating it any further.

Amendment 1 proposes to add “the American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” to the State Constitution. Amendment 1 would prohibit courts and other legal authorities from applying foreign law if doing so would violate rights guaranteed to citizens of Alabama. This Amendment does not apply to the laws of other states but applies only to “any law, rule, or legal code or system used outside of the United States or by any other people, group or culture different from the people of the United States or the State of Alabama.”

If Amendment 1 IS PASSED, Alabama will have in place a Constitutional provision that says Alabama citizens will not be subject to foreign law if application of the foreign law would violate Alabama law or result in a violation of their rights.

If Amendment 1 IS DEFEATED, courts and legal authorities may choose to refuse to apply foreign law if the foreign law would result in a violation of Alabama law and/or deprive a citizen of his or her rights, even though there is no statute or Constitutional Amendment requiring them to do so.

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Amendment 2 proposes an amendment to the State Constitution to allow the State to borrow up to an additional $50 million to provide plans, construction and maintenance of National Guard armories in Alabama.  The cost to the State may be matched by the Department of Defense. The State would raise the funds by issuing bonds that must be repaid within 20 years. These funds would be distributed to the Armory Commission of Alabama for Alabama National Guard armories. Proceeds from the Alabama Trust Fund would be used to repay the bonds. The Alabama Trust Fund is funded by revenues generated by oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

If Amendment 2 IS PASSED, the State may borrow up to an additional $50 million in bonds to be repaid within 20 years in order to fund plans, construction and maintenance of Alabama National Guard armories.

If Amendment 2 IS DEFEATED, the State will not be authorized to borrow up to an additional $50 million in bonds for construction and maintenance of Alabama National Guard armories.

Amendment 3 provides that every citizen has the fundamental right under the State Constitution to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the State. Amendment 3 also provides that this right would be entitled to the highest protection of the law. Amendment 3 also protects a citizen from being compelled by any treaties or laws of another country to take an action which would prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with his or her right to bear arms if that treaty or law would violate the United States Constitution.

If Amendment 3 IS PASSED, the right to bear arms will be elevated under the State Constitution to a fundamental right and given the highest possible protection. This right will also be provided with additional protection from potential interference by international treaty or foreign law.

If Amendment 3 IS DEFEATED, the right to bear arms in Alabama will still exist in the State Constitution, but will not be declared as a fundamental right and may not be subject to the highest possible protection. The right to bear arms will also not be protected from potential interference by international laws and treaties.

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.

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If Amendment 4 IS PASSED, it will require more votes for the Alabama Legislature to pass unfunded mandates on local school boards, except for legislation that addresses compensation, benefits, or due process rights of any employee of a board of education.

If Amendment 4 IS DEFEATED, the Legislature could continue to pass bills that impose unfunded mandates on boards of education by a simple majority vote of the Legislature.

Amendment 5 proposes an amendment known as the “Sport’s Person’s Bill of Rights.”

If Amendment 5 IS PASSED, it would clarify that the people of Alabama have the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, including the use of traditional methods. This right would be subject to reasonable regulations to conserve wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Amendment 5 would not affect current laws relating to eminent domain, trespass, or property rights. It would also make hunting and fishing by the public the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife in Alabama.

If Amendment 5 IS DEFEATED, the people of Alabama would still have the right to hunt and fish using traditional methods, but that right may be limited by existing or future laws and regulations.  Also, the State Constitution would not state that hunting and fishing by the public is the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife in Alabama.

Some counties also have local amendments on the ballot.

In Cullman County there is an amendment:

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Relating to Cullman County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to phase out the supernumerary system for certain public officials and allow elected or appointed county officials including the sheriff to participate in the Employees’ Retirement System. (Proposed by Act 2014-84)

In Franklin County there is an amendment:

Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Franklin County Water Coordinating and Fire Prevention Authority to provide sewer services and broadband Internet services in the county. (Proposed by Acts 2014-283 and 2014-285

In Shelby County there is an amendment restricting the office of Probate Judge to just attorneys:

Relating to Shelby County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the Judge of Probate of Shelby County would be required to be an attorney licensed in this state. (Proposed by Act 2013-260)

In Elmore County there is an amendment:

Relating to Escambia County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the trustees of the Escambia County Oil and Gas Severance Trust to loan funds to Escambia County specifically for economic development and for roads and bridges and other capital projects in the county and to authorize other investments as otherwise provided for by local law. (Proposed by Act 2013-259)

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The county amendments will only appear in the county in which they pertain.

Polls open at 7:00 am and close at 7:00 pm.

Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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