Amendment thoughts, summaries

Published 8:45 pm Monday, October 29, 2012

In one week, we will cast our votes in several crucial elections. But there will be more than just political offices on our ballots. This year’s ballot also includes eleven statewide amendments, some of which will have significant impacts on our state.

To help voters gain better understanding of what these amendments mean, I have written a summary of each one according to my personal opinion and hopefully it will assist voters to make their own decisions.

Amendment 1: This amendment reauthorizes the Forever Wild Land Trust for another 20 years. Forever Wild protects Alabama’s natural beauty by purchasing land for public use and recreation, including hiking trails, wildlife preserves, and ten state parks. The land is purchased using money from taxpayers, but it is maintained and protected without relying on funding from taxpayers. I support this amendment.

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Amendment 2: Under current law, the state is allowed to become indebted and to issue interest-bearing General Obligation bonds as long as the bonds do not exceed $350 million (Amendment 666, Section VIII of the state Constitution). This amendment would increase the limit on the bonds from $350 million to $750 million. Supporters have argued that this amendment is necessary to help pay for economic incentives such as corporate tax breaks. While I support using incentives to help recruit or expand business, I hope we will take the same stance for education and law enforcement. I support.

Amendment 3: This amendment is specific to Baldwin County and involves a local annexation issue. I recommend that voters in Dallas County refrain from voting on this amendment.

Amendment 4: This amendment removes references to segregation in schools and the poll tax from the state constitution. However, the amendment also states: “nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense …” We shouldn’t have to jeopardize our children’s right to an education in order to rid our state’s constitution of racist language. So In encourage you to vote no on this amendment.

Amendment 5: This amendment is specific to Mobile County and involves transferring assets from one local municipality to another. As with Amendment 3, I encourage everyone in Dallas County to abstain from voting on this amendment.

Amendment 6: This amendment would prohibit any person from being compelled to participate in any health care system, meaning the government can’t make you purchase health insurance. Although this amendment is meant to oppose Obamacare, the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the mandatory insurance requirement.

Amendment 7: If you read the amendment’s description on the ballot, it looks like this amendment is protecting your right to vote in political elections by secret ballot. But voting by secret ballot is already guaranteed in political elections. So what is the purpose of Amendment 7? This amendment exists solely for the purpose of preventing unions from forming by getting over 50 percent of the worker present to sign a petition asking for a union – a process sometimes referred to as card-check. I urge you to vote No on Amendment 7.

Amendment 8: Amendment 8 sets legislators’ pay at the median household income and increases the reimbursement rate for travel. However, there are several things wrong with this amendment. First, it does not repeal the pay raise of 2007. In fact, this amendment is actually a backdoor pay raise. If the average household income increases, so will the pay of legislators. Also, legislators who live further away will actually make more because of the increase in travel reimbursements. Last legislative session I offered an amendment that would have repealed the pay raise, but it was overwhelmingly rejected. More legislative pay raises are not the answer; I oppose this amendment.

Amendment 9: This amendment updates the language in the constitution regarding the regulation of business. I do not oppose this amendment.

Amendment 10: This amendment updates some of the constitution’s language regardingbanks. It also eliminates any time limits on the charters of banks, the need for a bank to renew its charter, and it requires banks to report to the legislature and for the legislature to examine resources and liabilities of banks. I don’t like everything in this amendment, but it also has some good points, so I will not oppose it.

Amendment 11: This amendment is a local issue relating to Lawrence County and its neighboring counties. As with amendments 3 and 5, I encourage voters in Dallas County to abstain from voting on this amendment.

I hope you will find these summaries useful as you thoughtfully decide on how you’ll cast your vote. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live,” so please take a stand for your convictions and exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.