2016 Election Notes

2016 election means new amendments which make no sense on the ballot. Please be sure to look at the sample ballot for the county and state that you will be voting in and research the names on said ballot.

Definitions (If mine isn’t elaborate enough, feel free to Google it, search Yahoo, ask your local politician, look it up in an encyclopedia, etc.): State Constitution – The Alabama Constitution of 1901. Available online at http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/constitution/1901/toc.htm Home Rule - where the city and county government can pass legislation for itself. Alabama doesn’t allow for home rule The King’s English - a style of writing named after King James... you know… the same King James that the version of the Bible is named after that your grandmother probably still has, but you mostly struggle to understand it Personnel board - a human resources organization/department for one or more government entities.
Right to work state – a state in which that you do not have to be a member of a union (e.g. AFL-CIO, UFW, UAW, etc.) in order to be employed. Alabama is a right to work state. Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone - an area designated by a city or county that allows the city or county to borrow money to establish infrastructure or construct new facilities in an effort to bring in new jobs in certain industries. Research the “Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act” if you want to know more.

Here are my thoughts and understanding of the AL amendments for the 2016 General election: Amendment 1: Add 2 more people to the Auburn University Board of Trustees, thereby bringing the total to 16. Also makes it the terms of no more than 3 board members expire at the same time. In other words, if someone else in higher power (e.g. the governor) doesn’t like a group of people on the board, s/he can’t remove the entire board and bring in all new people. I’m ROLL TIDE all day, so vote either way.

Amendment 2: Money that is allocated towards state parks can’t be used for other purposes. In other words, if there’s a budget shortfall, the governor or legislature can’t “rob Peter to pay Paul” like how they did some years ago when they took money from the Education Trust Fund to support the unbalanced General Fund with a promise to pay it back. If you enjoy the outdoors or the AL state parks, vote yes for this.

Amendment 3: This changes the way that constitutional amendments are voted upon and added/removed. The Local Constitutional Amendment Commission (which consists of several high ranking state public office holders… which I had no idea such a thing existed), votes on whether a constitutional amendment should be voted on locally or statewide. Voting yes, would get rid of this Commission and make the Legislature responsible for this decision. If the Legislature can’t make up their minds, then the entire state gets to vote on local issues (kind of how things currently are). Voting no would leave things the way they are.

Amendment 4: Alabama doesn’t allow “home rule” (see definition above). This amendment, if passed, would allow for each county commission to pass certain bills instead of them having to go through the state legislature or having the entire state vote on an issue that only impacts some backwoods town that doesn’t have a traffic light.

Amendment 5: This will remove “the King’s English” (if ye hath placed thine eyes upon thy text of the King James Bible, ye hath readeth King James English) from the state Constitution and merge the text of amendments relevant to the three bodies of government into one. English teachers will probably vote yes to this one since grammar is their thing, but this amendment doesn’t change any existing laws.

Amendment 6: Rewrites the Impeachment section (Article VII) of the state Constitution. Currently there is no defined number of votes required to remove an individual in certain state offices. This would set the amendment to 2/3 majority. I’d vote yes for this one… there’s enough lawsuits in Bama politics because the law isn’t clear enough. No sense in having more.

Amendment 7: This makes most employment positions with the Etowah County (that area where Gadsden is) Sherriff’s Office, except those listed under the governance of the personnel board. I’d vote yes for this as the personnel board is used is used in many city, county, and at the state level in Alabama. Why are you having to vote on this? See “home rule” definition.

Amendment 8: Copy and paste / plagiarize the “right to work” provisions into the state Constitution. The provisions are currently in the Code of Alabama. Voting either way won’t change any current laws, but voting yes will make it a constitutional right to be employed without requiring the employee to be a member of a union.

Amendment 9: Anybody that is older than 75 cannot run for or be elected as the Probate Judge for Pickens County (that area were Aliceville is… the county between the Mississippi state line and Tuscaloosa). Currently the age limit is 70. If one of your grandparents, parents, or elder aunt or uncle is planning on running for Probate Judge for Pickens County, then vote yes. Otherwise, vote how you please. Why are you having to vote on this? See “home rule” definition.

Amendment 10: Only police departments in Calhoun County (that area where Anniston is) can enforce the law inside the county. In other words, if Birmingham Police caught you driving 85 in a 25 while you were in Calhoun County, Birmingham Police couldn’t write you a speeding ticket. Vote how you please on this. Why are you having to vote on this? See “home rule” definition.

Amendment 11: See Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone definition. This allows a city or county that has a designated a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone to collect tax money from the zone (via property tax, sales tax, etc.) and reinvest that back into the zone as long as it complies with the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act (which was passed in 2013).

Amendment 12: This allows for cities in Baldwin County (the one next to Mobile... across the bay… you know where Gulf Shores is, borders Florida), to create a corporation to build toll roads and bridges in the county given that the state legislature or local law creates and establishes such a corporation. This is similar to how MAX (a.k.a BJCTA) bus service is ran in Birmingham. Why are you having to vote on this? See “home rule” definition.

Amendment 13: This allows for anybody, regardless of how old, to run for public office, except for the offices that are part of the judicial branch of government (e.g. circuit court judge, probate judge, etc.). If you are as old as dirt, this amendment would allow you to run for public office. If you were issued the first social security number EVER, this amendment would allow you to run for public office. If you were around to carry the first Olympic torch, this amendment would allow you to run for public office. I’d vote against this to allow the current age limits to remain in place… otherwise you can have politicians that remain in office for 40 years (with no improvements for the districts they represent) or end up dying while in office and the governor to appointing some random unknown in the office until the next election.

Amendment 14: Currently, Amendment 448 of the state Constitution states that the Legislature (house and senate) must pass a state budget as their FIRST action during a regular session. I know… this has been contrary to what they have been doing the last several years. I thought my procrastination was bad, but clearly the Alabama Legislature and the Governor have got me beat 10 fold. To get around this, BIR (budget isolation resolution) are issued which allows a non-budget bill to be passed before the state budget. By voting yes for this amendment, all the BIRs that were passed between January 1, 1984 and November 8, 2016 would be officially approved given that they passed the Legislature as long as they didn’t violate any laws at the time they were passed. I’m voting no for this, cause for all we know, there’s some stuff that was valid back in 1985 that shouldn’t be valid now.

Remember… go vote.

Author: Kenny Robinson, @almostengr