House passes rewritten articles

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 8, 2002

BNI Newswire

Although state Sen. Ted Little, D-Auburn, voted in favor of the passage of one of the state House’s rewritten articles of the Alabama Constitution, he is also in favor of holding a Constitutional convention.

Little said his two beliefs do not conflict in any way because he "understood that those six rewritten articles were not controversial."

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"But I’m continuing in favor of a Constitutional convention where we incorporate those six articles," he said.

But there was another reason Little voted on the article. In his own words, it is "time to get moving, and this bickering between legislators over whether to rewrite it article by article or to have a convention has to stop."

But each article that is rewritten has to be voted on by the public, and while some legislators wanted that vote to be included on the general election ballot in November, others, like Little, wanted that process sped up.

"The House has passed seven or eight (rewritten) articles, and we want to have a special election that also calls for a constitutional convention. The public can vote then whether or not to have it," he said.

Little said the Legislature has been talking about constitutional reform for 18 months and that it is time to move on it, but some legislators do not want it on a ballot that includes a long list of those running for state office.

The public can vote for a rewritten article 90 days after the House and Senate pass it, and Little said that because elections are held on Tuesdays, the first chance the public will get to vote in the special election will be July 23.

In order to do that, however, the state must shell out $3 million from the General Fund budget, one legislators in both the House and Senate say is running low on revenue. Little’s answer to this $3 million being taken out of the GF is that although it is obviously tight, to his knowledge it is not in proration.

"It’s got a lot more stable revenue coming in than the Education Trust Fund," he said.

Aside from Constitutional reform, the Senate has been focused on both the GF and ETF, both of which must go into their own tax and finance committees before they take the floor.

Little said two bills came up Thursday in floor debate, one which would have waived out-of-state tuition at Troy State University and one that would put a women’s health office in the state health department.

A bill calling for the waiving of out-of-state tuition for Troy State University was defeated this week. Little did not support it, saying it was unfair for Alabama taxpayers to "subsidize" students paying tuition.

Because the HOPE scholarship is provided to Georgia students through its lottery, TSU has seen decreasing numbers of out-of-state students, and hoped the bill would pass so it could attract them.

"That bill died on a 19 to 12 vote. It’s not right," Little said.

House bill 60, which would put an office for women’s health in the state health department, also passed the today. Little was pleased with its progress.

"I stood in support of it on the Senate floor. One thing made evident of its need is ovarian cancer. I think it’s a real plus," he said.

House bill 60 was in danger of defeat after the entire Republican caucus of the state House staged a walk-out in January.

State House Rep. Betty Carol Graham, D-Alexander City, sponsored the bill, and although its passage was delayed, there were still enough support for it and it did successfully pass the House.