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November 2nd vote on Alabama Constitutional Amendments

ALLIANCE FOR CITIZENS RIGHTS Presents the following on the proposed amendments to the Alabama Constitution to be voted on November 2.


After carefully studying these amendments, we have concluded that seven of the eight amendments either erode citizen's rights to private property, expand bureaucratic control through un-elected officials or increase taxes. The Alliance for Citizen's Rights therefore strongly recommends the following:

Amendment No. 1   NO
Amendment No. 2   NO
Amendment No. 3   NO
Amendment No. 5   NO
Amendment No. 6   NO
Amendment No. 7   NO
Amendment No. 8   NO

Following is a detailed description of each Amendment as it appears on the ballot along with the true purpose or purposes for which it was enacted.

Amendment 1 - Economic development -- SB321

The following description will be on the ballot:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize Baldwin County and certain governmental entities within the county to have certain powers for the promotion of economic and industrial development in Baldwin County and the municipalities therein."

Our Comments:

This amendment actually affects 18 Alabama counties and the municipalities therein - approximately one third of the State. This is a huge expansion in eminent domain powers. However, the description on the ballot states: "Baldwin County and certain governmental entities within the county," clearly this understatement is intended to mislead the public with the belief that only a small area of Alabama will be affected.

Each governmental entity within the 18 county area, acting "independently or in cooperation with one or more" governments "in such counties"? "shall each have" ?"full and continuing power" to: purchase, lease, or otherwise acquire (eminent domain?), land.

Land acquired by any of the preceding methods may be leased, sold, granted (given away), exchanged, or otherwise conveyed "on terms approved by the governing body of the county," or municipality in part or whole to "any such project" or "any such person, firm or corporation, public or private,"

The amendment places only one restriction on local governments: "Nothing herein shall authorize the counties named, or any municipality therein, to construct residential or any other buildings for the purpose of lease or sale." This stipulation does not prevent the construction of houses which could be given away or through some fancy legal footwork sold to some charitable interest - let the lawyer's imagination run with this one and somebody's pocket will be lined.

Sections 93 & 94 of the Alabama Constitution prohibit government from lending or granting (giving) money to businesses or individuals. Amendment 1 removes this prohibition.

This amendment regarding eminent domain states: "This amendment shall not be construed to grant any power of eminent domain in addition to that which may be provided or otherwise by statute heretofore or hereafter enacted by the legislature."

Property purchased by governments in the 18 county area may be sold at a loss if the county or municipality acknowledges the selling price at a "public meeting," and publishes the following information 14 days prior to the meeting in the largest circulation newspaper in the county:

acres to be sold  location,  price per acre,  the place where a map of the property can be examined by the public.

If your property is taken through condemnation the government must sell the booty at the seizure price.

This is a huge expansion in eminent domain powers.

Vote: NO

Amendment 2 - Education -- HB587

The following description will appear on the ballot:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal portions of Section 256 of schools by race and repeal portions of Amendment 111 concerning constitutional construction against the right to education, and to repeal Section 259, Amendment 90, and Amendment 109 relating to poll tax."

Our Comments:

The proposed amendment strikes racist language from the Constitution. The bill will likely be sold to the public on this single issue. Hopefully, the following will explain the more plausible purpose for this amendment. The focus is on amendment 111, which obligates the State to provide an education but falls short in acknowledging a citizen's right to an education. If approved, the following will be stricken from the Constitution.

"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense, nor as limiting the authority and duty of the legislature, in furthering or providing for education, to require or impose conditions or procedures deemed necessary to the preservation of peace and order."

Striking this clause opens the door for lawsuits, likely supported by the "education industry" and like-minded organizations, which would force the state to declare that each citizen has a right to a government funded education. Once this issue is settled, the "education industry" and organizations that desire to see the "industry" grow can saddle the taxpayer with all manner of fees, assessments and TAXES.

The constitutional clause neither acknowledges nor denies the existence of a "right" to education. The following description, which will appear on the ballot, assumes that the "right" does exist. The verbiage indicates the intent to sway the voter to acknowledge the existence of the unestablished "right." A logical progression of thought would lead to the following - which entity will be charged with administering the education when the "right" is officially recognized, the "state" or "parents"? Visualize a disgruntled child, who, with the aid of the state or other entities sues his parents on the grounds that his "right" to education was violated due to home schooling.

This amendment will severely limit our citizen's control of education and taxation.

Vote: No

Amendment 3 - Local Legislation -- HB319

The following will appear on the ballot:

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize a county commission of any county or any municipality therein to perform certain actions for the purpose of economic and industrial development in the county."

Our Comments:

By granting the following this amendment affects every county and municipality in the state.

With taxpayer dollars government may purchase or by other means acquire (eminent domain):

"property"  "buildings"  "plants"  "factories"  "facilities"  "machinery and"  "equipment of any kind"

The government may:

"lease"  "sell"  "grant" (give away)  "exchange or"  "otherwise convey"   all or part of the acquired interest or property "to any individual, firm, corporation, or other business entity, public or private, including any industrial development board or other public corporation or authority heretofore or hereafter created by the county or the municipality?"

Government may also lend its credit, or grant (give) the taxpayers money "and things of value to any individual, firm, corporation, or other business entity, public or private, for the purpose of promoting the economic and industrial development of the county or the municipality." Government must announce such actions at a public meeting and publish details in the local newspaper seven days prior to the meeting.

Government may, by using private property as collateral, incur debt not to exceed 50% of the assessed value of taxable property within its boundaries. Assessed value is determined by the "State"

Sections 93 & 94 of the Alabama Constitution prohibit government from lending or granting (giving) money to businesses or individuals. Amendment 3 removes this prohibition.

Drastically increases the potential tax burden on Alabama citizens.

Vote: No

Amendment 4 - Shrimp and Seafood Industry -- HB268

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide for the promotion of shrimp and seafood."

 Our Comments:

We, at the ACR, believe that this bill begins the process of placing the shrimp and seafood industry under the authority of the legislature by stating, "The legislature, by general law, may provide for the promotion of the production, distribution, improvement, marketing, use, and sale of shrimp and seafood." Emphasis added.

If the seafood industry, in whole or in part, wishes to fund a campaign to promote their product, we feel that it would be far better for them do so without governmental entanglement.

However, in the interest of fairness we should state that other conservative groups feel that if the shrimp industry wants this program and are willing to risk exposing themselves to such controls they should be allowed to do so. We therefore leave the decision to the individual voter and make no recommendation on this amendment.

No Recommendation.

Amendment 5 - County and Municipal Government -- HB591

The following will appear on the ballot:

"Relating to the City of Trussville in Jefferson and St Clair, Counties, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the City of Trussville to annex certain property; to provide for public school purposes in the City of Trussville; and to provide for the rate of levy of the tax and the manner of conducting elections with respect to the tax."

Our Comments:

The amendment authorizes the city of Trussville the power to annex areas in St. Clair County without a vote of the people. The last paragraph of section one voids amendment 460 of the Alabama Constitution, which stipulates, "Any municipality that was not located wholly or in part within the boundaries of St. Clair county prior to January 1, 1985, shall not annex any territory within St. Clair county without the approval of the electorate of St. Clair County expressed in a vote on the issue of said annexation."

Vote: NO

Amendment 6 - Crenshaw County Local Legislation -- HB705

The following will appear on the ballot:

"Relating to Crenshaw County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal, effective beginning the next term of office of the Judge of Probate of Crenshaw County, Constitutional Amendment No. 496, which provides for the judge of probate to receive the same salary as the district judge in the county."

Our Comments:

The amendment removes the salary cap for the probate judge in Crenshaw County, which is tied to the salary of the district judge for that county. With no written salary cap the probate judge could receive a substantial salary increase.

Vote: No

Amendment 7 - Macon County Local Legislation -- HB526

The following will appear on the ballot:

"Relating to Macon County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Legislature, by local law, to authorize the Macon County Commission to levy a tax on the sale of beer, all tobacco products and liquor or wine and to provide for the collection and distribution of the proceeds of any tax levied by an such local act."

Our Comments:

Expands the State legislature's authority over "all tobacco products and liquor" in Macon County. In order to levy a tax on tobacco and liquor, the Macon County Commission must first acquire approval from the state legislature. This violates the 1901 Constitution prohibition on the "evils" of "local law" legislation, a well-founded concept of the 1901 Constitution, which holds that laws should be uniform throughout the State.

Vote: No

Amendment 8 - Distribution Of Taxes -- HB657

The following will appear on the ballot:

Proposed Statewide Amendment No. 8

"Proposing an amendment to Amendment 93 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended by Amendment 354 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to levy an excise tax in lieu of ad valorem taxes on designated motor vehicles, and provide for the proceeds of the excise tax to be distributed to those entities currently or hereafter authorized to receive ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles. (Proposed by Act 2004-537)"

Our Comments:

Typically the tenets of a proposed amendment to the Constitution are contained within a single bill passed by the legislature. The preceding 7 amendments are examples of the common procedure. Thus reading the bill that proposes the amendment to the Constitution is all that is normally required to understand the amendment's fine print. Amendment 8 is the exception to this rule.

HB657, four pages in length, would normally be the depository for the details regarding Amendment 8. It provides the following information:

The legislature may require the owners of various types of vehicles to pay an "excise tax."  Revenue derived from the "excise tax" will "be distributed as provided by legislative act."1

If approved by the people, the revenue and the authority to spend the money on any project will alter Amendment 354 of the Alabama Constitution. Amendment 354 provides that revenue derived from vehicles and related sources, i.e. gasoline, will primarily support the upkeep and maintenance of roads. A portion is designated for education.

HB657 references HB658, a bill passed during the 2004 regular session of the legislature. Twenty-three pages in length, HB658 provides more than 8 pages of meaningless grammatical changes to current Alabama law Section 40-9-1. This section of Alabama law specifies what property may or may not be taxed. This type of tax is commonly referred to as an ad valorum tax.

Following the grammatical changes on page 9, two new paragraphs are inserted. Paragraph 27 directs that "all truck trailers or tractor trailers or semi-trailers will "be licensed".

Paragraph 28 states that "all trucks and truck tractors," with a few exceptions, "shall be separately valued and assessed with the local tax assessing official as personal property".

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Page 13 of HB658, when approved by the passage of Amendment 8, will permit the insertion of Section 40-12-305 and 40-12-307. Section 305 lists a scheduling fee for an excise tax on trailers. Section 307 specifies the timetable and details regarding the collection of the revenue. HB658, as currently written, mandates that revenue collected will be dispersed through out the State on a prorated basis.

Remember that if Amendment 8 is passed the Legislature will have the authority to set the rate of collection and direct how this money is spent. In times past, this has been called a slush fund. Section 5, page 21 of HB658, states that passage of Amendment 8 is required before HB658 can become law.

Vote: No

1. HB658 page 22 line 3

If Alabama truly had a two party system or a STATESMAN in either party they would, in some manner, inform the public of the travesty that is being perpetrated on the taxpayers in Alabama!!

Alliance For Citizens Rights

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When in doubt, Vote NO.



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