Make informed November decisions

Published 11:44am Tuesday, October 16, 2012

By Slade Blackwell / Guest Columnist

November is an extremely important time for our state and country. Not only will we elect our state’s leaders, but we will also have the opportunity to elect a new president. Along with candidates to consider, we will also make decisions on amendments to the Alabama State Constitution. I believe all voters should be informed about the decisions they will be making on any ballot; therefore, I decided to put together an overview of a few of the amendments you will see on the November ballot:

• Amendment 1: Provides for the continuation of the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust for 20 years. It does not change the operating regulations of the program, which secures land from willing sellers for public outdoor recreation.

• Amendment 2: Authorizes the Bond Commission to issue refunding bonds and provides that the maximum amount of general obligation bonds, including any refunding bonds, the Commission may issue for economic development purposes would continue to be capped at $730 million. To date, the Commission has issued $720 million in bonds.

• Amendment 4: Removes outdated language in the Constitution that references segregation of schools by race. It also repeals a section related to poll tax revenues and exemptions from the poll tax.

• Amendment 6: Prohibits any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system by a law or rule.

• Amendment 7: Provides that the right of individuals to vote for public office, public votes on referenda or votes of employee representation by secret ballot be guaranteed.

• Amendment 8: Repeals pay raise for legislators. This amendment would allow the new legislative compensation amount to equal the median household income in Alabama, beginning after the 2014 election. Additionally, it requires legislators to submit signed vouchers for reimbursement for expenses and prohibits legislators who live less than 50 miles from Montgomery from travel expense reimbursement.

• Amendment 9: Updates Article XII of the Constitution dealing with private corporations by repealing antiquated language and updating sections to reflect current practices.

• Amendment 10: Repeals antiquated language and combines other sections dealing with banks and banking. The language refers to when bills or notes issued as money were redeemable as gold or silver. Additionally, a section concerning interest rates is being considered for repeal since banking is now regulated by state and federal laws and regulations.

I hope this brief summary of each amendment will provide you with a general understanding before voting in the November election.

Slade Blackwell is serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate, representing Jefferson and Shelby Counties in District 15.

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