Legislators shoud vote for convention

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2002

Proponents and opponents both made their case on Wednesday, and the decision now rests with the House Rules Committee.

The committee held a two-hour public hearing on proposals to rewrite

Alabama’s 1901 Constitution. The panel plans to vote Tuesday on whether to

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send to the House floor a resolution to allow Alabama residents to vote

during the November general election on calling a convention to write a new constitution. If voters approve, an election for delegates would be held in June 2003 and the convention would convene in the old House chamber at the state Capitol on Aug. 5, 2003. And whether or not that will happen is anybody’s guess.

In a politically charged election year, the issue of constitutional reform is

a hot-potato that few want to handle. And, despite public pressure by

statewide organizations and the media, legislators may still choose to avoid

stepping into the controversy.

That would be a shame. Because we believe the people of Alabama deserve the

opportunity to vote – to have their say in the ballot box – on the issue of constitutional reform.

Our cumbersome document is long, tedious and, yes, in many ways outdated.

Revision would in many ways bring welcome change, from eliminating offensive language to allowing home rule. And, yes, reform likely would also bring changes in the tax structure, a thought which frightens many Alabamians.

Regardless of which opinion you may hold now, you should have the right to express that opinion. The taxpayers and voters of this state deserve the opportunity to vote on the issue of constitutional reform; if we choose to reform, good. If we don’t, then we don’t.

But it’s not a decision that lawmakers can keep to themselves. We urge our state legislators to let the people vote on this issue.

Put constitutional reform on our ballot.  

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