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ACCR The Birmingham News 8/12/12

ACCR The Birmingham News 8/12/12

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Published by Karla Khodanian
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Published by: Karla Khodanian on Aug 16, 2012
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The Birmingham News
Sunday, August 12, 2012
By Jeff Hansen
 About 90 people gathered at Samford University Saturday for an update on rewriting Alabama’sponderous 1901 state constitution, which as speaker Wayne Flynt said, “was born in racism tohelp the rich and disenfranchise poor blacks and whites.” The Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform meeting focused on a four-year effort of theConstitutional Revision Commission to tackle an article-by-article revision of 11 of theconstitution’s 18 articles. The first fruits of its work will be three referendum items on theNovember ballot — revisions of the constitution’s articles on banking and private corporations,as well as removal of all languages in the current constitution that has previously been ruledunconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. All three were passed by the Alabama legislature this year, and the referendum is their finalhurdle. “We are finally going to have a new Alabama constitution for the first time,” said a hopeful BobMcCurley, coordinator of the commission and former executive director of the Alabama LawInstitute.He bases his optimism on the incremental approach set up by the legislature when it createdthe Constitutional Revision Commission and its timetable last year. “Look at who’s pushing it now,” said McCurley. “(Senate President Pro Tem) Del Marsh, thenumber-one person in the senate, and (Alabama House Speaker) Mike Hubbard, the number-one person in the house.”The private corporations revision would repeal 11 of 18 antiquated sections from the current Article XII, said. The banking revision would repealed seven of nine antiquated sections,“including the gold standard,” McCurley said. The federal government completely uncoupled the value of the U.S. dollar from gold in 1973.But McCurley said supporters will need a push before the November elections to explain tovoters why they should vote for these changes, and also find a way to distinguish the three fromseven other statewide referendum items that will be on the ballot. The commission is already working on proposed revisions for the legislature to consider nextyear for Article III, Distribution of Powers; Article IV, Legislative Department; and Article IX,Representation. Those revisions will possibly include giving home rule authority to localgovernment, said Craig Baab, senior fellow at the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law andJustice in Montgomery. Baab explained some of the possible changes for home rule being considered by thecommission, including the grant of legislative authority given to local governments when thelegislature is not in session, to let them pass local laws like a change in pay for certainemployees that now has to be passed by the entire legislature — an example of the inefficiencyof the current constitution. When the legislature returned to its next session, it could rescindthose actions. It’s vital to succeed this fall, Baab said.

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