Local issues included in amendments

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 21, 2016

The presidential election is under three weeks away, and though most people are concerned about the Presidential race, Alabama residents will also be voting on 14 amendments to the state constitution.

Several amendments won’t affect Pike County, such as amendments 7, 9, 10 and 12, which all deal with specific counties other than Pike County.

Other amendments, namely Amendment 5 and Amendment 8, do not change any existing law. Amendment 5 combines two articles of the state constitution that say the same thing and Amendment 8 would enshrine Alabama’s right-to-work law in the constitution. The law is already in the Code of Alabama.

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The two amendments that would most affect Pike County directly are amendments 4 and 14.

Amendment 4 would give county commissions the authority to pass certain county policy decisions. Currently, many county policies have to go through the state legislature for approval.

State Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, said that amendment is a common sense measure to allow counties to decide their own policies.

“Local issues need to be dealt with by local people,” Boothe said. “Those aren’t things that the Legislature needs to deals with. This bill will allow counties to enact rules and regulations without going through legislative approval.”

The bill will not give counties any power over levying taxes.

Amendment 14 retroactively legitimizes hundreds of county laws that may have been technically passed incorrectly by the state legislature.

A law exists in Alabama requiring the legislature to pass a budget before passing other bills. To bypass this, the legislature can pass laws by having a “budget isolation resolution.” The law requires these bills to be passed by three-fifths of the quorum present.

However, house rules allowed the bills to be passed by three-fifths of members who were present and voting. Because only local representatives typically vote on local laws, the law was not technically followed even though house rules were followed.

This opens up hundreds of local laws to be struck down. “If it doesn’t pass, all will be null and void,” Boothe said.

Amendment 14 would make local laws passed incorrectly protected from appeals.

Here are some of the other amendments that will be on the ballot:

Amendment 1: This amendment would allow for two more members to be added to the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

Amendment 2: This amendment would keep funds generated at state parks from going to the General Fund and would allow the parks to contract out the operation and maintenance of land and facilities to non-state entities in some cases.

Amendment 3: This amendment changes the method for deciding whether a constitutional amendment should be voted on by only the local community or by the voters of the entire state. The decision is currently made by the Local Constitutional Amendment Commission composed of the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, attorney general and secretary of state. This amendment would abolish that commission and require a unanimous vote of both houses for an amendment to be voted on by a local community only.

Amendment 6: This amendment would change and clarify procedures for impeachment. The amendment would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Alabama Senate for removal from office. The amendment would also make the entire State Board of Education eligible for impeachment and make the appointed Superintendent of Education ineligible for impeachment.

Amendment 11: This amendment would allow cities and counties to acquire private property and redevelop and sell it to major manufacturing companies for less than the fair market value of the property.

Amendment 13: This amendment would remove age restrictions for all appointed or elected offices except for judicial offices and prevent any future law from imposing age restrictions.