Alabama is known for its lengthy state constitution, and on November 8th, voters will have the opportunity to add as many as 14 new amendments to it.
After going through the first four on the list, political analyst Jon Gray continues with 5-10.
On the ballot: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal and restate the provisions of Article III of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to separation of powers to modernize the language without making any substantive change, effective January 1, 2017. (Proposed by Act 2015-200)
This amendment was recommended by the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission to update the language in the 1901 Constitution that defines how the state’s government is divided. Amendment 5 would change the word “department” to “branch,” like the federal government.
” To change the constitution, everyone has to vote on it, even if we move a period, even if we change a capital letter, and in this case, even if we change the word describing divisions of government,” Gray said.
On the ballot: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments. (Proposed by Act 2015-199)
Amendment 6 is also aimed at updating the language in the Constitution , but is far more controversial because of Governor Robert Bentley’s potential impeachment.
“This amendment was actually passed by the legislature long before Governor Bentley was ever thought to be impeached, but every voter’s going to read it that way,” Gray said.
Amendment 6 clarifies that two-thirds of the Senate would be needed to convict an impeached state official. Critics like State Auditor Jim Zeigler believe that making this clarification would make it virtually impossible to impeach Governor Robert Bentley.
But, supporters like Craig Baab, Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, argue that if state lawmakers are going to change the vote of the people, it should be higher than a simple majority.
The amendment also makes a few other minor changes such as removing the state superintendent from the list of impeachable officials since he/she is appointed and changing who presides over impeachment trials. The lieutenant governor would preside in all trials except in the case of the governor and lieutenant governor. That’s when the Chief Justice would preside.
Ballot Text: Relating to Etowah County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the employees of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County, except for the chief deputy, chief of detention, chief of administration, chief of investigation, director of communications, and food service manager, shall be under the authority of the of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County. (Proposed by Act 2015-97)
This is a local amendment that only pertains to citizens in Etowah County, so Gray urges Gulf Coast voters to skip it and leave the outcome up to the people living in that county.
Ballot Text: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to declare that it is the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an agreement to deny the right to work, or place conditions on prospective employment, on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an employer from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment; and to provide that an employer may not require a person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization. (Proposed by Act 2016-86)
Amendment 8 solidifies Alabama as a “right to work” state in the constitution, meaning you don’t have to join a union if you don’t want to do so.
Gray said nothing would change under this amendment, but this would make future efforts to change the state’s right-to-work status more difficult down the road.
“A yes vote will protect Alabama’s status as a right to work state. A vote no will leave things the status quo. We will remain a right to work state, but it could be changed by a vote in the legislature in the future,” Gray said.
Ballot Text: A local constitutional amendment to the to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; to provide that a person who is not over the age of 75 at the time of qualifying for election or at the time of his appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County. (Proposed by Act 2016-120)
Gray says if you don’t live in Pickens County, leave this one alone.
Ballot Text: An amendment to Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that any territory located in Calhoun County would be subject only to the police jurisdiction and planning jurisdiction of a municipality located wholly or partially in the county.(Proposed by Act 2016-144)
Gray says if you don’t live in Calhoun County, skip this one too.