Reform need not be ‘lobbyists’ free-for-all’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 17, 2002

What will the rules be? That’s the question state Sen. Wendell Mitchell says the "thinking person" will ask when he endorses a vote to call a constitutional convention.

It’s a legitimate question, and one we believe lawmakers should work harder to answer.

Throughout the state, voters are backing calls for changes in Alabama’s 1901 Constitution. Those changes ­ whether in the form of specific bills addressing issues or a major rewrite ­ are necessary to address issues as varied as tax reform, educational funding and home rule.

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And, while most lawmakers seem to agree that reform is necessary, they raise some valid questions about how to approach that reform ­ most pressing, how to keep a constitutional convention from becoming a lobbyists’ free-for-all. The concerns are legitimate, but they need not preclude lawmakers from the

main objective, which is addressing the outdated and inefficient laws in Alabama’s Constitution.

Sen. Mitchell is right; the thinking person does question how to best go about reforming our state’s constitution. But he also thinks its a reform that is long overdue in coming, and that our elected officials must provide the guidance and answers to that solution.

And, he’s probably right in his second prediction: That it will take a new Legislature, a new slate of lawmakers who are willing to take the political risks, to bring about the much-awaited constitutional reform. Ultimately, though, we believe that reform will ­ and should ­ take place.  

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