‘Old guard’ discusses reform

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 31, 2002

BNI Newswire

While many in Alabama’s current political leadership have weighed in on the issue of constitutional reform, those who held office in the past agree that change is necessary even though they are split about the method to reach that objective.

During an informal luncheon gathering in New Site on Wednesday, former members of Alabama’s executive, legislative and judicial branches of government talked about the push to revise the 1901 Constitution.

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"Reform will have to come, but the method of getting there is puzzling,"

said former state Rep. Pete Turnham. "I’m sorry that the Legislature didn’t pass the resolution that would have allowed a vote on the issue."

A House joint resolution, passed by the House Rules Committee, would have allowed voters to decide whether to call a convention.

"The big problem with the Constitution is that say any county wants a two-mil tax increase to support the schools," Turnham said. "It has to go to the Legislature, which has to pass the bill and then it has to be approved by a majority of voters state-wide before anything could be done."

Thirty-year Congressman Tom Bevill, a senior statesman who also spent eight years in the Legislature prior to 1967, said change has been and will continue to be inevitable in Alabama history.

"More people are saying that the Constitution needs to be changed," Bevill said. "It’s something that is gaining support and won’t go away because it’s something the people want."