Constitutional failure is not an option for Alabama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Here’s a quick quiz. What has 661 amendments, consists of more than 700 pages, earmarks more than 90 percent of tax revenue and consistently holds the state of Alabama back from making progressive changes in the way government operates? The answer is … Alabama’s 1901 Constitution.

Ten times in the state’s history Alabama governors have taken aim at the racially-penned, inadequate and grossly outdated constitution. Each time, those efforts have failed.

Maybe the 11th time will be the charm. Perhaps Alabama is ready to step forward into the 21st century and make those changes to the constitution.

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Soon after taking office in January, Gov. Bob Riley organized the Citizens’ Constitution Commission to look at making changes to the constitution. He charged the commission to change the earmarking requirements, add a line-item veto for the governor and allow for limited home rule for Alabama’s counties.

Although Riley's suggested changes don't require a complete constitutional redraft, Alabamians are still supportive of the changes.

Thanks to the recent cost-cutting efforts on the part of the Riley administration it seems the citizens of Alabama are ready to join in the fight to solve the problems facing the state. If these changes, suggested by Riley and the Citizen’s Constitution Commission, are to be approved and put to work for the betterment of the state, it will take the full support of Alabama legislators and those they represent.

Ten times before, our state has looked at tackling the monster called the Alabama Constitution, and 10 times before they have stepped back and done nothing.

For the sake of Alabama’s future we cannot back away this time. To quote a Riley spokesperson, "failure is not an option."