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Constitutional Amendments on Ballot Today

Brandon Moseley

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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:

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)

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.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus

Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine. 

Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said. 

“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response. 

The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval. 

“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations,  we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said. 

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines. 

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In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain. 

“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily

While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.

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“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.

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News

Tuberville looks forward to public service “probably for the rest of my life”

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

Brandon Moseley

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Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville during an interview with Sean Spicer on Newsmax.

U.S. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, told Newsmax’s Sean Spicer that he looks forward to the opportunity to give back to this country.

“After winning this and after being up here a couple of weeks and seeing how much of a difference we have made just to this point in the Senate has been gratifying,” Tuberville said. “I look forward to doing public service probably for the rest of my life.”

Tuberville said that he was 18 years old when the Vietnam War was coming to a close and then got into coaching so never served in the military and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to the country.

“As I went around the state of Alabama for those two years though I learned the respect of the people and how much that they want this country to remain the United States of America that we know and grew up in to go by the Constitution and those things. As I went through the campaign I got more and more fond of that I want to give back,” Tuberville said.

“I never served, I never gave back, but God was so good to me and my wife my family,” Tuberville said. “Giving back means so much to me after I was given so much for many, many years.”

Tuberville said that education will be a priority for him, getting education back to fundamentals like reading, writing, history and math. Tuberville said that unless the country gets back to fundamentals in education, “This country is not going to make it. We have got to get back to fundamentals and we are getting farther and farther every day.”

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Tuberville was the only Republican on Nov. 3 to defeat an incumbent Senate Democrat when he unseated Sen. Doug Jones.

“I want to be the voice for the people of Alabama,” Tuberville explained. “The previous Senator was a voice for his party, the Democratic party.”

Tuberville, a career college football coach, reiterated his position that we should play sports and send kids back to school despite the coronavirus global pandemic.

“I think we are doing a lot better in sports than we are doing in a lot of other areas,” Tuberville said. “I was keeping my fingers crossed back in August that we would let our young kids go play high school sports, number one, and then we get into college sports. There are so many people throwing negatives on why we should not do that. But I can tell you, you can see many more positives if we go back to school and we play sports. It’s important that we attack this virus as it has been attacking us. If it gives us an inch, we gotta take it.”

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Tuberville reiterated his opposition to shutting down restaurants, schools and businesses to fight the virus.

“We have to get back to everyday life,” Tuberville said. “You can’t keep shutting people down. Freedom is a power that we have. A power that we have earned because of our forefathers. We can’t give that up.”

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He was the head football coach at Auburn University where he won an SEC championship, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. Prior to that, he was a national championship defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. He was also the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

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National

UAB cancels third game

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The UAB Department of Athletics on Thursday announced that it is canceling its final home game of the season. UAB was scheduled to play Southern Mississippi on Friday at Legion Field, but the game was canceled due to continuing problems with COVID-19.

UAB has said that it will “continue to work with Conference USA on the remaining regular-season schedule.”

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

UAB currently has a record of just four wins and three losses.

A win at Rice would guarantee the Blazers a winning season, but in this COVID altered season, a four and three or four and four record is probably good enough to be bowl eligible.

Southern Miss has had a dreadful season. They are two and seven and have two remaining games, against UTEP and Florida Atlantic. Both of those games were postponed from earlier in the season.

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Unless the season is extended a week to the 19th, there is no way for UAB and Southern Miss to make up the canceled game.

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News

Official state Christmas tree was delivered

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

Brandon Moseley

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The 2016 state Christmas tree in front of the state Capitol.

Alabama’s official Christmas Tree was delivered to the state Capitol this week.

This year’s tree was donated by Robbins Taylor Sr. It is an Eastern Red Cedar that was grown in Letohatchee, Alabama.

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

The tree will be adorned with lights and decorations ahead of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 4. Gov. Ivey’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Capitol in Montgomery.

Alabama became the first state in the nation to make Christmas an official government holiday in 1836. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

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