Convention could be planned

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2000

to reform constitution


Staff Writer

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A couple of Alabama State Representatives are introducing legislation which calls for a Constitutional Convention.

Reps. Todd Greeson, R-Ider, and Jeremy Oden, R-Eva, have introduced the legislation which would call for voters to decide whether or not to call a Constitutional Convention.

"This proposal has been called ‘a radical change’ by some. Drastic, perhaps, but necessary," Greeson said.

He said Alabama’s Constitution is "littered with outdated and contradictory" amendments.

"A Constitutional Convention would provide for an immediate and complete reform of our constitution, rather than a slow process which would be subject to delays and politics of time," Greeson said.

"House Bill 121 is a way for the Alabama House of Representatives to make a lasting, positive change for our state. Momentum exists for constitutional change. Constitutional reform is too important to miss this opportunity."

Oden believes in the Constitutional Convention because a constitution "should be the foundation for government.

"It must be flexible and broad enough to make basic amendments unnecessary," Oden said. "House Bill 121 is a step towards a more progressive, efficient system of government."

The proposed legislation details six things:

· Like the Legislature of 1900, the current one has an opportunity to change a constitution that is "grievously defective and antiquated in that it reflects the conditions, frustrations and prejudices of a long past century that do not exist today."

· The Constitution of 1901 is too long. "…a simpler, more modern document, like that of other states, would provide a more efficient and effective fundamental law."

· Problems with the constitution are evident by the number of amendments made to it. Over 660 amendments have made to the 98-year-old document.

· Efforts to revise the current constitution have failed because of the cost and lack of authority by a vote of the people.

· The constitution "is long overdue for a revision and, if necessary, a complete replacement with a better constitution for this century."

· Giving the people of Alabama "an opportunity to move forward with a document that is more appropriate for the times in which we live."

The proposed legislation would call for an election, giving Alabama voters the opportunity to decide whether or not to call a constitutional convention. If the majority agrees a constitutional convention should be called, the legislation provides for the election of delegates to the convention, provides for holding the convention and provides for an election to submit the proposed constitution, once it is prepared by the convention, to the voters for ratification.

Although State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, believes the constitution needs a facelift, he isn’t sure a Constitutional COnvention is the way to go.

"I think you have to be extremely careful when you’re dealing with the Constitution," Boothe said.

"The Constitution needs revision. It’s antiquated. But whether a Constitutional Convention is the best way to do that, I don’t know."

When the consitution was approved in 1901, leaders had to have a convention because communications wasn’t the same as it is today, Boothe said.

"I think it’s something tht needs careful consideration," he said of pulling together people for a Constitutional Convention.

House Bill 121 is currently awaiting review by the House Elections Committee.