Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Stand: Alabama voters have plenty of amending to consider

  Since having the longest and most amended constitution in the world just isn’t good enough, Alabama voters will get to delve into the mire again Tuesday, as 11 statewide amendments will appear on the ballot. Here we offer our take on each:

Amendment 1: Yes. The benefits of the Forever Wild Fund are something most Alabamians should agree upon. Voting ‘yes” would extend the program for another 20 years. This land preservation program utilizes a sliver of interest earned from oil and gas leases to acquire and protect land for public use. First approved in 1992, it’s a wildly popular program and benefits hunters, fishers, and taxpayers in general who simply want to preserve our lands, protect them and enjoy them.

Amendment 2: No. Approval of this amendment would allow the state of Alabama to continue doling out corporate welfare in the guise of “incentives” to line the pockets of businesses, all at our expense - specifically by the issuance of additional bond issues that we will be forced to finance. If – as many Alabamians believe – businesses should sink or swim on their own or that “government doesn’t create jobs,” then we should stop subsidizing private, non-profit businesses via tax giveaways at the expense of hardworking Alabama taxpayers. Our state should not be in the business of facilitating corporate welfare.

Amendment 3: This amendment only affects an area in Baldwin County and would prevent the annexation of the historic Stockton Landmark District. We believe this issue should be decided by voters in Baldwin County.

Amendment 4: No. Though many leading conservatives insist this amendment would solely remove embarrassing racist language from the Alabama Constitution, most legal experts insist the move is little more than a way to shake the foundation of public education being treated as a right for all children in Alabama. These same conservatives have never expressed concern with the old racist language in question and which legally has long since been negated by federal law anyway. And considering their long-standing, poorly-veiled hostility toward public education coupled with their incessant efforts to undermine it by way of private school vouchers and other measures, they simply cannot be trusted on this matter. It’s little more than a sneaky attempt to chip away at public education in Alabama. We should not enable our lawmakers to more easily target public education in our state.

Amendment 5: This amendment would facilitate the transfer of liabilities from Pritchard Water Works and Sewer Board to the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System. Voters in that area should decide what’s best on this matter.

Amendment 6: No. This is yet another knee-jerk attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act. As evidenced by the number of Alabamians living in poverty and unable to afford health care in our state, we need it – desperately – and voting ‘yes’ would amount to shooting ourselves in the figurative foot. Some Alabamians’ unabashed blind hatred for our president doesn’t justify further endangering our fellow citizens who are in need. As this is a federal law, however, one’s vote will have no impact regardless, and instead amounts to little more than petty chest-thumping.

Amendment 7: No. The state shouldn’t dictate to unions how their internal, private voting for their own leadership and on other matters should be handled. This amendment would dictate that union organizing be handled via secret ballot. Alabama’s government shouldn’t be in the business of meddling in private actions such as these. This measure is nothing more than a clumsy, overreaching, hypocritical attempt to undermine unions in Alabama.

Amendment 8: Yes. This would repeal the pay raise Alabama legislators voted from themselves several years ago and would institute a system through which their compensation would be tied to the median income for Alabama’s households. It would also require lawmakers to start submitting itemized requests for expense reimbursements and end the practice of giving legislators automatic cost of living increases.

Amendment 9: Yes. This is purely a modernization effort that would update the Alabama Constitution’s verbiage in regards to listing the various types of corporations recognized under Alabama law.

Amendment 10: Yes. Like Amendment 9, this, too, would update language in the Alabama Constitution, only involving banking practices and related verbiage.

Amendment 11: This measure would only affect Lawrence County by prohibiting a municipality from outside the county to annex or exert any type of control on any area inside Lawrence County. Voters in that area should make the decision on their own.

     Montgomery County:
     Amendment 1: Yes. Despite its confusing language, this amendment would enact a shorter term for Montgomery County Board of Education members. Note: The ballot language does not specify BOE members, but this is in fact the case. Currently, these individuals serve a six-year term. Approval of this amendment would change the terms to four years, which is in line with members of the Montgomery County Commission, Montgomery City Council and mayor of Montgomery.

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