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Alabama Constitutional Amendments: GOP Unicorn Hunt Edition

In Alabama, we have the right to own just about any darn firearm we want.  We have the right to hunt.  We don't follow Sharia law. But we'll vote on constitutional amendments that make absolutely sure that what is already legal in Alabama is even more legal!

Some of our Republican legislators spent the past session hunting unicorns instead of working on the education budget, shoring up the general fund, or expanding health care access in this state.

The Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform released a brief description of the five amendments on the ballot:

Amendment 1 would forbid Alabama’s courts from recognizing laws that violate its policies, which includes all foreign law. This amendment was proposed by Sen. Gerald Allen, who proposed a similar amendment for the 2012 ballot that would prevent the state’s courts from implementing Islamic Sharia law when making decisions. Although similar, this amendment does not specifically refer to Sharia Law.

Amendment 2 would increase the amount of General Obligation Bonds authorized to $50 million. The amendment would allow for additional payments from the Alabama Trust Fund to fund any bond issued, provide for competitive bidding of the bonds, require the Bond Commission to contract with businesses or individuals which reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the state, and provide for the use of the proceeds for plans, construction, and maintenance of Alabama National Guard armories.

Amendment 3 would give Alabamians a “fundamental” right to bear arms, although Section 25 of the Alabama Constitution provides for this already. Senator Bryan Taylor sponsored the amendment and said that the purpose of the amendment is to require a “strict scrutiny” standard towards any attempt to restrict gun rights.

Amendment 4 would require a two-thirds vote by a city or county board of education when such board intends to increase local school expenditures by $50,000 or more.

Amendment 5 would clarify Alabamians the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations that provide for conservation. Similar to the repetitive nature of Amendment 3, Alabamians already have the right to hunt granted to them in Amendment 597 of the Constitution. 

Amendment 1 – Why does Gerald Dial have a burr under his tail about Alabama possibly following "foreign law"? The state routinely flouts federal law, so what's the problem here?

Amendment 2 – Authorizes a bond issue. Alabama voters generally like to approve these because we get stuff without raising taxes. The problem is that the "stuff" has to be paid for at some point, and bonds get repaid out of the Alabama Trust Fund (the state savings account that the legislature already raided to balance the budget until after the 2014 election).

Amendment 3 – Gives us an even bigger right to keep & bear arms. Maybe even bear bigger arms. That fact that we already have this right is immaterial to a legislator worried about re-election.

Amendment 4 – Makes it harder for local governments to adequate fund their public schools, which will encourage parents to pull them out & use the Bob Riley scholarships authorized by the Great Private School Giveaway bill to go elsewhere.

Amendment 5 – Protects our right to hunt because Amendment 527 (yes, that's right - 527!) that also protected our right to hunt, but didn't protect it enough. 

Alabama has the longest Constitution in the country. It was written in 1901 by a group of wealthy white men who sought to disenfranchise the poor and people of color. It concentrates power in Montgomery (because it's a heck of a lot easier to buy off several dozen state senators than to lobby 67 county commissions). Because of this, it required a constitutional amendment to allow Madison County to pass a dangerous dog ordinance

Looks like Alabama needs a new constitution, or at least voters who say NO to silly, repetitive constitutional amendments.

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