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Voters to decide on 14 Amendments in Nov. 8 election

In addition to voting for local, state and national candidates in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, voters will also have to contend with 14 amendments on the ballot.  Of the 14 proposed amendments, some hold particular interest to residents of Butler County.

In an effort to simplify some of the legalese used in constitutional amendment explanations, the Advocate aims to offer a more concise understanding of the matters that affect its readership most.

The amendment summaries as they appear on the ballot are printed, and the amendments can be read in full in the Legal section of the Greenville Advocate.

Amendment 2 (SB 260): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.

Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year.  The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold.  The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.

Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama.

This amendment would prevent the Legislature from spending revenues generated at state parks for purposes other than maintaining the state parks unless these revenues exceeded $50 million annually.  In other words, it constitutionally earmarks these monies exclusively for state parks.

Amendment 3 (SB 30): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to revise the procedure for adoption of local constitutional amendments to provide that a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature determines without a dissenting vote applies to only one county or a political subdivision within one or more counties shall be adopted as a valid part of the constitution by a favorable vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the affected county or the political subdivision and county or counties in which the political subdivision is located, who vote on the amendment.

This amendment seeks to replace the existing method for deciding whether a proposed constitutional amendment should be voted on by the voters of the affected local community only, or by the voters of the entire state. 

Currently, all constitutional amendments must be decided by the voters of the entire state unless a) the proposed amendment affects only a single county or city, and b) there was no dissenting vote in either house of the Legislature.  After the Legislature passes a proposed amendment, the Local Constitutional Amendment Commission, made up of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General, and Secretary of State, makes the final decision on whether that amendment is eligible for a local vote. 

Amendment 3 would abolish the Local Constitutional Amendment Commission, and instead require each house of the Legislature to pass a resolution deciding whether the proposed amendment will be voted on locally or statewide.  If any single legislator votes against that resolution, the proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot statewide. 

Amendment 4 (HB 193): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize each county commission in the state to establish, subject to certain limitations, certain programs related to the administration of the affairs of the county.

This amendment would allow counties to adopt programs and policies relating to county personnel, litter-free roadways and public property, public transportation, safety on public roads, and emergency assistance without the need for the Legislature to pass a local act or approval from a majority of voters in the affected area. 

Under Amendment 4, counties could pass and enforce these laws by vote of the county commission.  Amendment 4 would also explicitly prevent a county from imposing a tax or fee, or establishing any program that would infringe on a citizen’s rights to the use of his or her private property, without Legislative approval.  Amendment 4 would also not change any of the compensation, terms of office, powers or duties of elected officials of the county, and does not apply to Jefferson County.

Amendment 6 (HB 336): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments.

This amendment would change how the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state board of education, superintendent of education, commissioner of agriculture and members of the Alabama Supreme Court can be impeached and removed from office.

Amendment 6 would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Alabama Senate for removal from office, and provides that members of the State Board of Education may be included in the impeachment process. 

Amendment 6 also removes the Superintendent of Education from the impeachment process, as he/she is appointed by and can only be removed by the State Board of Education.  Amendment 6 will not change the reasons someone can be impeached.

Amendment 14 (SB 7): Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend 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 relating to 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.

This amendment would retroactively validate local laws passed by the legislature between 1984 and Nov. 8, 2016, so long as those laws were passed in accordance with legislative rules in place at the time. 

Amendment 14 seeks to resolve ongoing legal challenges over procedural votes known as “budget isolation resolutions,” or BIRs, that if successful could jeopardize the legality of over 500 current local laws dealing with a wide variety of matters, including funding mechanisms for local schools, sheriff’s offices, hospitals, roads, and other government services.

For a more in-depth look at all 14 amendments, visit http://www.alabamavotes.gov/statewideballotmeasures.aspx?sm=voters