Alabama’s constitution: a reform long overdue

Alabama’s state constitution has not been seriously reviewed since it was implemented in 1901.   Yes, that’s right 1901.  Now changing constitutions are not something that one should enter into lightly.  Yet, there comes a time when constitutions no longer serve the best interests of the people.  However, this constitution was never written to serve the best interests of the people of Alabama only a few select white people of Alabama.  So the constitution was flawed from day one.

John Knox president of the 1901  constitution convention stated in the record it was the intention of the convention to “establish white supremacy in this state.”  This constitution deliberately institutionalized racism.   And the constitution as written has ensured that people of color be cast down by deliberate oppression. 

One of the ways this is done is by the  constitution keeping all of the decision making out of local control.  No municipality, no county can decide for itself zoning issues or even mundane decisions like rodent control or burying dead farm animals unless so amended in the constitution.   According to Alabama Citizens  for Constitutional Reform, 50% of state legislators time is spent debating local issues that should be decided by the people affected by these issues.  70% of all amendments  made to the constitution apply to a single municipality.  This makes the state constitution the longest on record.   It also limits the autonomy of municipalities to make decisions and the ability to make said decisions are unequal per amendments to the constitution. 

The constitution has locked in unfair tax codes penalizing the poor to pay a disproportionate amount of income and sales tax.   The wealthiest in the state pay about 4%  while the poorest pay 11% and begin paying income tax after $12K.  Even Mississippi, which Alabama is oft to cry “Thank God for Mississippi” when comparing its ratings in the nation, has a starting thresh hold of $19K  for a family to begin paying state income tax.

The money raised in Alabama has little flexibility as to how it can be spent.  According to the Alabama Citizens for Constitution reform, most states earmark only 22% of their budget allowing the governor and finance officers to develop a budget allocating funds to the areas of greatest need.  Alabama constitution requires that 90% of the budget be earmarked limiting that flexibility and causing huge problems.  The education budget has been pro-rated eight times in the past 17 years.   Pro-ration is when the budget which must be balanced is reduced by the percentage of the deficit.  Meaning that if the deficit is 10% then the education budget must be pro-rated back 10% as well. 

It is due time that Alabama streamlines the 799 amendment constitution by surrendering democratic control to the municipalities and counties to allow them to determine what to do with their dead farm animals and where to build their firehouses.  State legislators have larger and more important issues to deal with than waste their time and our money on such localized problems.   This constitution is the epitome of micro-management gone wild.

There are now two bills in the legislature. But they are facing a tough fight.  HJR 91 was briefly discussed on May 6, 2009 but was tabled to some undetermined time.  It is important that our state representatives hear from us to not allow this racist and archaic and convoluted constitution to continue to guide us in the muck  of red tape.   We deserve better treatment and respect from our state government than this.  Blessings,

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm  Comments Off on Alabama’s constitution: a reform long overdue  
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