The need for a new Constitution
The Randolph Leader
Thursday June 5, 2008 - Roanoke, Alabama

By passing the education budget in a five-day special session last week, the Legislature, specifically the state Senate, did what it couldn't, or wouldn't, accomplish during the regular session that lasted from Feb. 5 until May 19. This cost us an unnecessary $110,000, but it could have been worse had the special session lasted longer.

There was a power struggle between K-12 and higher education forces that led to the budget inaction during the regular session, but as Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) points out, the delaying technique used centered on the issue of a local bill involving bingo in Macon County. Although the entire legislative body usually defers to the local delegation on a local bill, that did not happen in this case, and the impasse shut down the Senate for 26 out of 30 days.

While it has never made sense that purely local issues have to receive the Legislature's blessing and a statewide vote before they can be addressed, this is what is required by Alabama's 1901 Constitution, which was designed to keep political power centralized in Montgomery. It is now 107 years later, and the provisions of this Constitution are still causing us problems and costing us tax dollars pointlessly.

A new Constitution is needed, one that would allow local people to make local decisions without going hat in hand to the Legislature for permission. In a recent survey, 64 percent of likely Alabama voters say they want the chance to vote to hold a constitutional convention to draw up a new document. Even putting this up for a vote must be approved by the Legislature, though, and so far legislators have not allowed it to happen.

Taking power to make local laws away from the Legislatrue doesn't mean senators still wouldn't argue, stall and fail to pass the budgets during the regular session as required by law. It would take away one very convenient method of shutting the Senate down, though.

Copyright © 2008 The Randolph Leader
Address: PO Box 1267 Roanoke, Alabama 36274 • Phone: 334-863-2819

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