Understanding amendments

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 29, 2000

important in election


Managing Editor

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Alabama voters will be facing a list of amendments to the state’s constitution that’s longer than the Bill of Rights that adorns the U.S. Constitution when they head to the polls on November 7.

There has been a lot of energy behind some of the amendments – like Amendment 1 which has been endorsed by numerous professional and state organizations and agencies – while other amendments have not often been brought out in open discussion.

Amendment 1 is a proposition to establish the "County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund and the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund to be administered in accordance with the provisions of this amendment, to redistribute a portion of the Oil and Gas Capital Payments now being paid into the Alabama Trust Fund under Amendment No. 450 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901."

The amendment will be used for "making substantial capital improvements to the state dock facilities at the Port of Mobile, promoting economic development and industrial recruitment in this state, providing local governments match monies required to issue federal grant revenue bonds for road and bridge improvements and providing the funds to municipal governments for infrastructure; and to appropriate monies to the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund for the payment of debt service on General Obligation Bonds authorized by the amendment."

What does all of this mean for Pike County voters?

According to experts it means that roads and bridges in many rural areas of the state will get facelifts, and that state docks will see improvements as well.

The money will come from revenue created by state oil leases in the Gulf.

Amendment 2 is less complicated.

It simply seeks to abolish the prohibition on interracial marriages under state law. Currently there is a federal law that prohibits the refusal of marriages based on race, meaning that current state law contradicts a federal statute.

Any probate judge in Alabama who refuses an interracial marriage will be in violation of federal law. The result is that by complying with state law, probate judges must break state law.

The state has not sanctioned a probate judge for allowing interracial marriages since the federal statute was written. The amendment will make Alabama’s Constitution consistent with federal law.

Amendment 3 is another funding amendment.

It would allow municipalities and counties in Alabama to receive a minimum of 10 percent of the trust income from the Alabama Trust Fund when the Trust Fund income in the preceding fiscal year exceeds $60 million; and to provide that the funds distributed to the counties and incorporated municipalities shall be expended as provided by general law."

In essence, the amendment proposes that 10 percent of the interest earnings of the Alabama Trust Fund will be distributed throughout the state based on a formula to counties and cities. The remaining 90 percent of the interest income will remain in the fund, essentially causing it grow annually.

Amendment 4 would "repeal the provision that no district ad velorem tax shall be voted upon or collected except in those counties that are levying and collecting a special countywide ad velorem tax."

This repeals the prohibition placed on counties to collect ad velorem taxes if they are not were not collecting at the time the previous law was written.

Amendment 5 would provide that the Board of Trustees of Auburn University "shall be composed of one member from each of the congressional districts in the state as constituted on January 1, 1961, one member from Lee County, the current State Superintendent of Edication who upon leaving office shall be replaced by an at-large member, two other at-large members, and the Governor; to specify the method of appointment and service duration; and to provide for limited seven-year terms of office."

Amendments 6, 7, 10, 12, and 13 related to the phasing out of supernumerary in specific counties in Alabama including Chilton, Clay, Lowndes, Marion and Sumter counties.

Amendment 8 requires Fayette County to levy taxes to support fire and rescue squads within the county.

Amendment 9 authorizes the state Legislature to fix, alter and regulate court cousts in Greene County.

Amendment 11 authorizes the town of White Hall in Lowndes County to operate bingo games by non-profit groups "for charitable, educational and other lawful purposes."

Amendment 14 applies to Winston County and would authorize a three-mill ad velorem tax for maintenance of public roads and for volunteer fire protection.