Our view: House should let people vote
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Talledega and Pell City
03-07-2008

It’s easy to agree with state Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, when he talks about the call for a rewrite of Alabama’s constitution.

As a House committee on Wednesday considered letting voters decide whether they want a convention to rewrite the state’s constitution, Newton asked members a question.

“Whether you agree we need a new constitution or vehemently disagree, it boils down to one simple thing – do you trust the same people who elected you to the Legislature to make the decision?,” Newton asked the House Constitution and Elections Committee.

On a 9-4 vote, the answer was in the affirmative.

And we think they made the right decision. The Legislature has been ignoring the people’s will for more than a century now, centralizing the power in Montgomery and forcing far too many local issues to be decided in the state’s capital instead of the community they affect.

Newton is right when he talks of a constitution that was written to protect wealthy white landowners, disenfranchising the poor and black citizens of this state.

That kind of document is what continues to keep Alabama from making the progress it could and maintains a reputation of being a backward state.

While the issue of letting the people decide on a constitutional convention has been raised many a time before, it needs to be kept at the forefront of Alabama politics until action finally comes.

If Newton’s bill is successful, voters could decide in June 2010 whether they want a rewrite of the constitution. The convention would convene in 2011 to begin the task of rewriting it, and in 2012, voters would have final say on whether to adopt the proposed laws that govern them.

It seems a simple answer. The people should have the right to vote on the issues that affect them. The question is, will lawmakers allow them that right?

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