Former Gov. Albert Brewer has been elected to head up the Constitutional Revision Commission. He was chosen by Gov. Robert Bentley, top-ranking legislators, and other folks serving on the Commission to chair the group. In my opinion, they couldn’t have chosen a better or more qualified person. The Commission will propose piece-by-piece changes to Alabama’s Constitution. The 16-member commission was created by a joint resolution introduced by the Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh and passed by the Legislature in April. Members held their first working meeting on September 21st and will meet again on October 5th and 26th. While I favor a constitutional convention approach, I realize the commission concept is better than nothing.
Alabama’s constitution, excluding its over 800 amendments, is divided into 18 articles. The commission, over three years, will suggest changes to 11 of those articles. Any change suggested by the commission could be accepted or rejected by the full Legislature. Any changes approved by the lawmakers would then face acceptance or rejection by state voters. Unfortunately, the commission won’t address Article 11, which deals with taxation. Neither will they make any changes to Article 6 on the judicial department, which voters revised in 1973.
Under a schedule set out by the joint resolution and adopted by commission members, the group could recommend to the Legislature changes to as many as five articles by February. Those include:
• Article 12, on corporations;
• Article 13, on banking;
• Article 3, on distribution of powers;
• Article 9, on representation, and
• Article 4, on the legislative department.
Without any doubt, a change to Article 4, which strictly limits the power of county governments, such as the power to assess and collect taxes, is badly needed. Jefferson County’s current fiscal problems are a prime example of why this change is needed. Commission members elected state Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, to be vice chairman. Paul hopes the group will be able to propose changes to the constitution that could win the support of Legislators and voters alike. Hopefully, the Commission will resist the opposition to change by certain special interest groups and be able to do its job!
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