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ADP Chair Mark Kennedy Discusses AL Constitutional Amendments

by: countrycat

Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Among constitutional reform advocates, there's a clear temptation to just vote NO on any and all amendments. However, there are some issues that are too important to ignore.  For instance, Forever Wild is up for renewal (Amendment One).... please vote YES.Alabama Constitution

Many of the other amendments though, seem to be deliberately hard to understand.  Let's be clear: this is a feature not a bug.  The GOP supermajority deliberately wrote many of these amendments to be as confusing as possible.

Alabama Democratic Party Chair Judge Mark Kennedy cut through a lot of the crap on a blog post at the ADP blog.

Here are his recommendations:

A lot of folks have told me recently that you would need a law degree to determine what some of the constitutional amendments that will appear on next Tuesday’s ballot mean.  Well, I have a law degree and I still find some of them confusing.  After doing our homework, here is how Peggy and I voted on the amendments when we voted absentee last week.  I took no position on the amendments that were specific to just one county.

Amendment 1 – YES
Amendment 2 – YES
Amendment 4 – NO
Amendment 6 – NO
Amendment 7 – NO
Amendment 8 – NO

Don't forget the back of your ballot next Tuesday.  Below, I've explained how I made my decisions on which amendments I would support and which ones I would oppose.  These amendments are important.  And remember, if you're a Democrat and you don't vote on Tuesday...you're a Republican, plain and simple.

One more week to the finish line,

Judge Kennedy

Read more on the flip....

countrycat :: ADP Chair Mark Kennedy Discusses AL Constitutional Amendments

Judge Kennedy shares his opinion of the amendments in "plain English."  Because it's long, I'm not blockquoting it, but the text is taken verbatim from the ADP blog:

Amendment 1

Reauthorizes the state’s Forever Wild program for another 20 years.  Forever Wild is our extremely successful public lands program and is responsible for the preservation of thousands of acres of land for conservation, hunting and fishing, and recreation.

Amendment 2

Raises the state’s debt ceiling.  Right now, the state is allowed to issue bonds up to $350 million.  This amendment will increase the bond limit to $750 million.  This is another example of the Republican Supermajority’s unwillingness to raise revenue, putting the responsibility on the backs of voters in Alabama to fund state government.  Most importantly, if the amendment fails and there are fewer funds to recruit industry, I imagine the Republican Supermajority and Governor Bentley could try again to raid the Education Trust Fund.  While we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul here, Peggy and I held our noses and voted “YES” in order to protect our classrooms, teachers, state employees, and those who depend on public services from further cuts.

Amendment 4

This one is tricky.  At first glance, who wouldn’t be for it?  Ridding the constitution of racist and Jim Crow language is something we’re for.  While federal court orders have made most of the language inoperative, ridding ourselves of this stain in our state’s constitution should be a no-brainer.  But…the Republicans in the legislature are trying to pull the wool over our eyes in a very cynical way.  If you vote “YES” on this amendment you will be voting to affirm that children in Alabama have no right to a public education.  In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated schools, Alabama added Amendment 111 to our state constitution.  Amendment 111 has three paragraphs:  the first eliminated the right to a public education, the second helped start private segregation academies, and the third demanded the segregation of students.  The U.S. Supreme Court struck down amendment 111, but it still embarrassingly remains in the state constitution.  We tried to eliminate Amendment 111 altogether in 2004, but the attempt failed.  The legislature took up the cause again this past year, but the Republican Supermajority decided to only take out the third paragraph and leave the other two in place.  If we vote “YES”, we will be reaffirming paragraphs one and two.  Why didn’t the Republicans bring up a clean bill that got rid of all of Amendment 111?  After their attempts at charter schools, their attacks on teachers, and attempts to raid the Education Trust Fund, you can only imagine what they’re up to.

Amendment 6

This amendment is a slap in the face to the President of the United States.  It basically says that the federal government cannot mandate citizens to purchase health insurance.  The Supreme Court has already upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, so this amendment would be just another superfluous addition to our constitution.

Amendment 7

This one sounds great.  Who isn’t for a secret ballot?  The trick is that the amendment adds “employee representation” to the types of elections covered under the secret ballot provision.  This is a frontal assault on organized labor and an attempt to get rid of “card check”.  Card check is an organizing method where in order for workers to unionize, more than half of workers in a given company must sign a card saying they want to be represented by a union.  Since card check is not a secret ballot, this type of union organizing would be prohibited if the amendment passes.  The Alabama AFL-CIO rightly says that the measure would give companies more control over an already corporate-dominated system in which workers who want to form unions are harassed, intimidated and threatened by their bosses.  We need to stand with our brothers and sisters in organized labor and vote “NO”.

Amendment 8

This is a back door pay increase for legislators and another reminder that they haven’t voted to repeal the 62% pay raise that the Republican Supermajority campaigned so hard against in 2010.  The amendment pegs legislators’ pay to the average household income in Alabama while also increasing their travel and overnight expenses.  The Republican leadership should keep their promises from the 2010 campaign, not give themselves a back door pay raise when they can’t even balance the state’s budget.


Now personally, my inclination is to vote NO on Amendment 2 because I'm pretty darn sick of the state's increasing generosity with corporate welfare - aka "incentives." Mitt Romney's now-discarded mantra of "you didn't build this" pales in the face of the Alabama government's propensity to hand out hundreds of millions to any multinational with an outstretched hand.

It's time to call a halt to this.  If we're going to give away the bucks to companies, why can't we support the small & medium-sized businesses already operating in the state?  They support our communities, ball teams, charities, and employ local workers.  Why can't we support them as enthusiastically as we do Mercedes?


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Does ANYONE (4.00 / 1)

have some knowledge about what is contained in Amendments 9 and 10? For me those are the toughest. Ballotpedia can't figure it out; Judge Kennedy can't figure it out; and I certainly can't figure it out, either.

If you have some background on these two, please weigh in before Election Day.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. -Churchill

Well here's what some conservatives think.... (4.00 / 1)


It's broadly similar.  They are the opposite where you'd expect and conflicted on the same ammendments. 

They have adifferent view on amendment 8. They support it because they think it constitutes a pay cut.  So is it a pay cut or a pay increase?  Everyone seems to take for granted that cutting legislators pay is good.

Personally I'd generally oppose a pay cut for legislators because if they don't make enough legally then that will put pressure on them to do so illegally.  Also because if they don't earn enough then only people of personal wealth will feel good taking on the job.

As far as 9 and 10 go they say 9 is no legal change and 10 is interesting.  They say:

"This is a major rewrite of the Constitution. Why are the bankers pushing it? Disregards the wisdom of our forefathers by removing key banking sections of our Ala Constitution. Does away with the ability of the state of Alabama to establish a state bank and removes Gold and Silver standard. This amendment is being pushed by liberal groups. A Strong NO"

Pushed by liberal groups?  I guess that could be anyone since these guys think Obama is a communist.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it", Helen Keller, communist.

[ Parent ]
Amendment 9 and 10 (4.00 / 1)

Amendment 9 and 10 are the two amendments on this ballot approved by the Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission (a bipartisan commission chaired by Gov. Albert Brewer and consisting of, among others, John Anazalone, Carolyn McKinstry, Patricia Todd, and Jim Pratt charged with going through and revising the state constitution).  These two amendments draw their framework from the work Rep. Paul Demarco has done over the past number of years to address the corporations and the banking articles.  

These two amendments seek to clean up the language regarding the banking and corporations articles, removing items that have been superceded by federal law (such as banks being able to print money).   Both of these amendments are important and deserve a YES vote. 

To look specifically at what these amendments do, look at this document which goes to each change, describing the change.  Another resource is this article by Paul Demarco and Othni Lathram of the Alabama Law Institute.  Finally, note this article on the passing of the two articles when the commission discussed it.

I'll say it again--I'm one who believes in the need of a new constitution.  While I believe a convention is the best way to get there, I also think that this journey can be a long one.  As a result, I will vote for reform when it is offered.  Both of these amendments will clean up some of the articles in the constitution.  They will help show support for the commission, which will be important when the commission proposes more fundamental changes, such as home rule. 

[ Parent ]
Thank you for the info on Amendments 9 & 10 (0.00 / 0)
It is much appreciated.  I too, want to vote for reform when possible, but suffer from the malady all too common in Alabama: lack of trust in the Legislature. 

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]



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