Riley takes a bold step

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 23, 2003


Bob Riley took a bold step on Friday by creating a commission to study revision of the state’s 1901 Constitution.

Appointing former Secretary of State Jim Bennett to head the commission, the new governor signed an executive order to create the new group. It’s goal, he said, is to study ways to revise the archaic Constitution, particularly on these issues:

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Giving counties more authority on zoning and governmental issues, without giving the county commissions sole authority to raise taxes.

Changing the state’s current tax structure, which earmarks most tax revenue for specific purposes.

Giving the governor line-item veto authority in budget bills.

Requiring a three-fifths majority of the Legislature to vote in favor of new taxes.

While the governor hasn’t named the members of the commission, he did say it would include Alabamians from a varied background - from public servants to businessmen. And he suggested that he expects more than simply studies

he wants results.

And so do many Alabamians.

We have long agreed that our state’s Constitution needs reform. It is archaic, cumbersome and a hindrance for our state. But the process of revising the Constitution has long been mired in political muck. No politicians wanted to tackle the issue during an election year. Perhaps now they will be willing to listen.

As state Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, pointed out recently, constitutional reform has been a key issue in Alabama for more than 50 years. And, for nearly that long, it’s been an issue that remains unresolved.

The new commission has a weighty task, but the elected officials and lawmakers who will have to act on that commission’s recommendations have an even heavier burden.

We hope they are up to the challenge ahead, for Alabama’s sake.