11 amendments will be on Tuesday’s ballot

Published 3:14 pm Monday, November 5, 2012

By Katie Wood | The Selma Times-Journal

Alabama has the longest operating constitution in the entire world, and on Tuesday Alabamians will have the opportunity to vote on 11 additional statewide amendments.

The extra amendments on the ballot can often be confusing, so in an effort to eliminate any additional confusion as residents head to the polls next week, here is a brief synopsis of each of the 11 amendments voters will see.

Voters should remember that while they have the opportunity and the right to vote on each of the 11 amendments, it is not mandatory to vote for any or all.

Amendment 1 extends the state’s Forever Wild land preservation program for 20 years.

Amendment 2 allows the state to sell more bonds to get money to offer industries to build or expand plants in Alabama.

“Passage of Amendment 2 will allow the state to provide financial incentives that will attract new companies while also helping existing companies expand and hire more Alabamians,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement last week. “Amendment two will help us accomplish this without raising taxes, without increasing the state’s debt limit and without increasing the size of state government.”

Bentley said the passage of Amendment 2 would help job creation.

“Amendment 2 redefines existing legislation so we can refinance bonds at lower interest rates and save the state millions of dollars. In turn, that will free up funds to provide economic incentives for companies considering moving their facilities to Alabama – or expanding the facilities they already have in Alabama,” Bentley said. “Amendment 2 will not increase the state’s bonded indebtedness; it remains capped at $750 million. The end result: more people will be able to find a good job.”

Amendment 3 makes the small Baldwin County community of Stockton a landmark district to protect it against annexation from a nearby town. This amendment is specific to Baldwin County and does not directly affect Chilton County.

Amendment 4 removes segregationist language from the Alabama Constitution about separating schools by race and paying poll taxes. A similar amendment was voted down in 2004. The Alabama Democratic Conference and the Alabama New South Alliance say the change, backed largely by white Republicans with a pro-business approach, looks like a “feel good” change but is not. Amendment 4 would excise outdated language about poll taxes and separate schools that many consider racist. But the critics say the language being proposed as a substitute undermines funding for public education by reaffirming there is no right to a public education at taxpayers’ expense.