ON THE BALLOT: Amendments 11-14

Campaign 2016 Milestones

 

The final 4 amendments on the ballot run the gamut from job growth to toll roads to political age limits.

Amendment 11

On the ballot : Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51. (Proposed by Act 2016-267)

Mayor Sandy Stimpson is throwing his support behind amendment 11 because he calls it a “job creation amendment.”

In short, this amendment would give municipalities the power to designate certain areas as Tax Increment Financing (TIF) zones, allowing them to borrow money against expected property tax bumps and use it to build infrastructure and other incentives to lure manufacturing companies looking for a location to build their “mega projects.” A TIF zone would be used when an industry invests at least $100 million on a site larger than 250 contiguous acres.

Stimpson said he’s already identified one potential TIF site near the Mobile Regional Airport.

Political Analyst Jon Gray said the amendment could help Alabama compete with its neighboring states, but there are two sides to the argument.

“Some people say that government shouldn’t be in the business of trying to create an industry. Other people  say governments need to be able to compete with other governments, otherwise we lose jobs,” Gray said.

 

Amendment 12

On the ballot: Relating to municipalities in Baldwin County; proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature by general or local law to provide for any municipalities in the county to incorporate a toll road and bridge authority as a public corporation in the municipality for the construction and operation of toll roads and bridges in the municipality and to authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the projects.(Proposed by Act 2016-274)

Amendment 12 may be a local law, but it affects anyone driving to the Baldwin County beaches. This amendment would allow the Legislature to give power to Baldwin County to create a toll road and bridge authority to help fund projects like the Baldwin County Beach Express North.

Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott is in favor of the amendment. “Baldwin County and Alabama voters have proven time and time again that they’re not interested in any additional taxes and that means if we’re going to have the additional infrastructure that everybody does want, then we’re going to have to find and alternative way to pay for that,” Elliott said. ” Toll roads is a way to do that.”

Amendment 13

On the ballot Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to repeal any existing age restriction on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official, with the exception of persons elected or appointed to a judicial office, currently imposed by a provision of the Constitution or other law; and to prohibit the Legislature from enacting any law imposing a maximum age limitation on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official. (Proposed by Act 2016-429)

Amendment 13 gets rid of the age restrictions for any appointed or elected official, except for those in the judicial branch.

“One of the more  concerning areas of the age restrictions inAlabamaa is in the judicial branch. At 70 years old, a judge can no longer run for re-election, “Gray said. “Locally, Charlie Graddick who has served a long tenure here in Mobile County and Justice Roy Moore, who was recently removed from office, both are approaching 70 years old and would be prohibited from running for re-election. That part of the law stays the same,  regardless of how you vote on this amendment.”

Amendment 14

On the ballot:  To propose an amendment to Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 71.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to ratify, approve, validate, and confirm the application of any budget isolation resolution authorizing the consideration of a bill proposing a local law adopted by the Legislature before November 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either body of the Legislature at the time it was adopted. (Proposed by Act 2016-430)

Amendment 14 is perhaps one of the most confusing yet impactful amendments on the ballot because hundreds of local laws hinge on whether or not it passes.

The state constitution essentially says the Legislature has one job; pass a budget, and in order to pass any other laws before passing a state budget, lawmakers have to vote on what’s called a BIR or “Budget Isolation Resolution.” In the House, BIRs were passed with only votes from the counties affected by a particular local bill, even though  the constitution requires a vote from the full body. This civics lesson comes into play because there’s a pending lawsuit in Chilton County to get rid of a tax there, and a judge could rule that all the laws passed without properly following the BIR requirement are invalid. The list of laws in jeopardy range from beer sales to annexations to hospital funding.

Gray explains that voting ‘yes’  ensures that a judge can’t overturn the hundreds of laws passed under the loophole, and a vote ‘no’ opens up the door to a potential court-ordered reversal but doesn’t change any of the laws itself.

 

 

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