If Iraq gets new constitution, why not Alabama?
Opelika-Auburn News
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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Alabama would be better off if more communities demanded from their elected officials that they follow Ted Little's lead.

Little, a state senator from Auburn prefiled a bill for the legislative session, which begins today, that calls for a statewide convention to rewrite Alabama's constitution. He, along with House Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, calls for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot asking voters if a convention should be called to write a new constitution.

If voters agree, they would return to the polls next spring to elect 105 men and 105 women to serve as convention delegates from the state's 105 House districts. The delegates could rewrite the entire document, or not change a thing. That would be their call. More than likely, we wouldn't't go to all of this trouble to have nothing happen. We could have a new constitution in place by Jan. 1, 2009, to go with our black-eyed peas and bowl games. Alabama's need for a new constitution is immense. Our version, written more than 100 years ago, is about as antiquated as the wishbone.

The legislature has held several debates in recent years on rewriting the 1901 constitution. Efforts to call such a convention have failed.

Why? Why are Alabama's leaders resistant to change? Why are Alabama's leaders opposed to progress?

If segments of our constitution are useless, erase them. If segments of our constitution are racist, erase them. If segments of our constitution do nothing to make Alabama better, erase them, re-write them and let's move forward into the 21st century. Taxpaying Alabama citizens deserve progress.

Supporters of a new constitution have argued that the old document is outdated, has had to be amended more than 700 times, mostly on local matters, and includes racist language. Opponents argue that the effort to rewrite the constitution is an attempt to raise taxes, legalize gambling and to give counties more power.

If taxes must be raised to improve state services, so be it. If not, that's fine too. Conservative and non-conservative groups can meet in the middle on this one.

Legalize gambling? Such zealots must have their back turned to a handful of casinos and dog tracks that profit nicely in our state. How can they preach against legalization of gambling when it's been happening here for years?

Local officials often need more state power to get more accomplished for their constituents.

"County governments in this state are so hamstrung trying to get things accomplished," Little said.

A rewritten constitution does not have to throw out every part of the original. This is why repeated conventions among elected delegates, from the right and the left, are so important. A new, modern Alabama constitution should reflect not just today's Alabama, but Alabama for the future.

If Iraq can have a new constitution, so can Alabama.

This story can be found at http://www.oanow.com/

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