It is the policy of The Trussville Tribune not to endorse candidates
. Due to so many inquiries from our readers requesting information and clarification on the amendments, we have chosen to offer a condensed version of each amendment and our recommendation for a yes or no vote. We asked Michael Ciamarra to prepare a condensed version of each amendment. Michael is a Trussville resident and serves as Director of Policy, Senate Majority Leader & Republican Legislative Conference. It should be noted that Michael did not participate in the vote recommendations. The recommendations are simply a suggestion by The Trussville Tribune based on our opinion of each amendment.
1. Forever Wild Reauthorization –Ratification of this amendment would reauthorize distributions from the Alabama Trust Fund to the Forever Wild Land Trust for the next twenty years, ending in FY 2032. Under current law, ten percent of the income earned from the invested assets of the Alabama Trust Fund is transferred to the Forever Wild Land Trust to purchase public recreational lands. The authorization for this transfer, however, is due to expire soon. For your information, total transfers from the Alabama Trust Fund are capped at $15 million annually, and equaled approximately $10 million last year. Additionally, the provisions of the Constitutional Amendment that created the Forever Wild Land Trust, Amendment 543, would not be changed, meaning trust-owned land would continue to be purchased only from willing sellers, and the program would continue to have no condemnation powers.
We recommend a NO vote on Amendment 1. Forever Wild has proven to be an asset to the state and our local region. However, legislators have already borrowed from the trust fund this year and plan to draw money from the savings account for the next two years to balance the budget. Until state government has been reduced and the budget balanced without borrowing, this money should go to the general fund. We hope that the Forever Wild commitment can be revisited in a few years and the program resumed.
2. Clarification of Bonding Authority – Ratification of this amendment would clarify the amount of general obligation bonds that could be issued by the Bond Commission already established by Constitutional Amendment 666. Currently, the maximum amount of bonds this commission is authorized to issue is $750 million. To date, only $720 million has been issued, leaving the commission with an additional $30 million of authority. The way that Amendment 666 was written, however, inadvertently prohibited the commission from recalculating their issuance limitations after paying down any principal debt. In other words, the commission does not get to take advantage of the equity it is building: the commission has paid back approximately $127 million of the $720 million it owes bondholders, yet its authority is still limited to $30 million because of how much bond debt was issued rather than how much is actually owed. By ratifying this amendment, the maximum amount of bonds that the commission would be able to issue would depend on the amount owed rather than the amount issued; their authority would instantly increase from $30 million to approximately $157 million, and would continue to grow as principal debt was repaid.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 2. This money will be used for industry recruitment. Alabama has proven that it can be a serious player in this area. We need jobs and it takes money to recruit the Mercedes of the world.
3. Baldwin County Annexation – Ratification of this amendment would prohibit municipalities in Baldwin County from using a local law to annex property inside a portion of the county known as the Stockton Landmark District. This amendment concerns Baldwin County only, making this amendment local in application. A local Constitutional Amendment such as this is placed on a statewide ballot if it receives one or more No votes in either the House or the Senate. This amendment is on the statewide ballot because it received one No vote in the Senate.
We recommend that you do not vote on Amendment 3. This does not have any impact on readers and our area and we suggest sitting this one out.
4. Repealing Outdated Constitutional Language – Ratification of this amendment would delete obsolete and outdated language from our Constitution, specifically language related to segregated schools and the payment of poll taxes, activities that have long since been declared unconstitutional.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 4. When the Democrats tried to remove racist language a few years ago, the Republicans claimed it would raise taxes. This time, the Republicans want to remove the ridiculous language and the Democrats are claiming it will end public education. Common sense tells us the language is long overdue to be removed. Knowing there are politicians on both sides have objected is just the icing on the cake. Take it out.
5. Prichard Water Works – Ratification of this amendment would transfer the assets and liabilities of the Water and Sewer Board of the City of Prichard to the Water and Sewer Board of the City of Mobile. This amendment concerns the Cities of Prichard and Mobile only. Such a localized issue would normally appear only on a local ballot. This amendment is on a statewide ballot, however, because language in the enabling legislation specifically requires the issue to appear on a statewide ballot.
We recommend that you do not vote on Amendment 5. This does not have any impact on readers and our area and we suggest sitting this one out.
6. ObamaCare Amendment – Ratification of this amendment would prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system. This amendment was approved by the Legislature during the 2011 Regular Session, long before the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in the ObamaCare lawsuit. Because of that ruling, it is unclear of this amendment’s practical impact. Yet, Alabama is one of several states to include or attempt to include this language in their state constitution, and its approval could have non-ObamaCare implications.
No opinion- This is probably largely symbolic. If you like the Affordable Healthcare Act aka. Obamacare, vote NO. If you oppose the program, vote YES.
7. Secret Ballot Amendment – Ratification of this amendment would provide citizens with the “fundamental right” to vote by secret ballot for public office, public referenda, or votes of employee representation. Several states have included or attempted to include this language in their state constitutions as a response to labor unions trying to advance their membership in the state. Some of the unions want to use open ballots, which could possibly lead to anti-union employees feeling intimidated when it came time to decide on unionizing. Thus, the justification for this amendment.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 7. Labor unions would like to see this amendment go down in defeat because they would prefer to know which workers support them and which oppose them. We don’t think it’s any of their business. A secret ballot should be the right of all.
8. Legislative Pay Amendment – Ratification of this amendment would, once and for all, decide the issue of compensation for members of the Alabama Legislature. Under the current format, legislative compensation is based on a three-part scheme authorized by the Alabama Constitution, the Code of Alabama, and several legislative resolutions. Through this amendment, Alabama voters can decide if they prefer the current system or would rather see legislators’ pay tied to a system that is easier to understand, impossible to modify, and based on the state’s economy. In short, this new method, if approved, would set the basic compensation of the Legislature at the median household income in Alabama and would allow for certain expenses to be reimbursed in a manner similar to public employees. The new method would become effective beginning with the 2014 elections and would result in a pay decrease for the entire Legislature, based on the current payment amounts and the current median household income levels.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 8. This actually cuts the legislative pay from it’s ridiculous current amount by about $8,000 per year and requires accountability for expense accounts. The pay is still too high for part time work, but it’s a start.
9. Constitutional Revision of Article XII – Ratification of this amendment would merely revise and update the otherwise outdated Article XII of the Constitution, which deals with private corporations, railroads, and canals. Changes included in this proposed amendment were suggested by the Constitutional Revision Commission as a way to streamline this portion of the Constitution.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 9. This amendment cleans up some outdated corporate law language in the state constitution.
10. Constitutional Revision of Article XIII – Ratification of this amendment would merely revise and update the otherwise outdated Article XIII of the Constitution, which deals with banks and banking. As with Statewide Amendment 9, changes included in this proposed amendment were suggested by the Constitutional Revision Commission as a way to streamline this portion of the Constitution.
We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 10. More language housekeeping, this time regarding banks, from the outdated language currently in the constitution.
11. Lawrence County Protection – Ratification of this amendment would prohibit municipalities located outside of Lawrence County from imposing a tax or regulation on any police jurisdiction located inside Lawrence County. Although only the citizens of Lawrence County are impacted by this amendment, it is on the statewide ballot because it could indirectly impact decisions made by non-Lawrence County municipalities, and any amendment affecting more than one county is always placed on a statewide ballot.
We recommend that you do not vote on Amendment 11. This does not have any impact on readers and our area and we suggest sitting this one out.