Constitutional Reform

What to know about Alabama's 2016 statewide constitutional amendments

Alabamians will vote on 14 proposed statewide constitutional amendments on Nov. 8, 2016. Arise recommends a Yes vote on Amendment 4 and a No vote on Amendment 11 but takes no position on the other amendments.

Arise’s brief descriptions of each amendment are below. To read the more thorough summaries prepared by the Fair Ballot Commission and shared by the Secretary of State, visit AlabamaVotes.gov. Neither the commission nor the Secretary of State has taken a position on any of the amendments. The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama also has detailed analyses of the statewide amendments here.

Amendment 1: Ensures that no more than three members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees have terms that end in the same year and adds two more members to the board.

Amendment 2: Prohibits using revenue generated by state parks for purposes other than maintaining state parks, but reduces other revenue to state parks and redistributes it to the General Fund if guest revenues exceed $50 million (annually adjusted for inflation) in a budget year. The amendment also allows (but does not require) the state to hire private companies to operate hotels, restaurants and golf courses at certain state parks that are now subject to contracting restrictions related to a bond issue under Amendment 617 to the Alabama Constitution.

Amendment 3: Allows the Legislature to make the final decision on whether proposed constitutional amendments are voted on locally or statewide. That decision would occur in a separate vote after the Legislature votes to pass an amendment. If any legislator objected to a local vote on an amendment, it would appear on the statewide ballot.

Amendment 4: Gives counties more “home rule” powers related to public transportation, county personnel, emergency assistance, safety on public roads, and other functions without first having to seek permission from the Legislature. The amendment does not apply to Jefferson County. Arise recommends a Yes vote on Amendment 4.

Amendment 5: Reorganizes constitutional provisions relating to separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches and modernizes the language in those provisions.

Amendment 6: Requires a two-thirds vote of the Alabama Senate to remove an impeached state official from office. The amendment adds members of the state Board of Education to the list of officials subject to impeachment and removes the appointed state Superintendent of Education from that list.

Amendment 7: Places most employees of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County beginning June 1, 2017.

Amendment 8: Re-emphasizes current state law by declaring Alabama to be a “right to work” state where employees cannot be forced to join a union. The amendment would write existing state statutory provisions into the state constitution.

Amendment 9: Allows a person to be elected or appointed as probate judge in Pickens County until age 75, up from the current age limit of 70.

Amendment 10: Prevents any city or town not located completely or partially in Calhoun County from exercising police or planning jurisdiction over any territory in Calhoun County.

Amendment 11: Allows cities and counties to sell property that they own within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone to a private entity for less than fair market value. Current state law allows cities and counties to buy and redevelop private property in such zones by pledging projected property tax increases in those areas for those purposes. Cities and counties then can sell that property to a private entity, but current law requires the sale to be for no less than fair market value. Arise recommends a No vote on Amendment 11.

Amendment 12: Allows the Legislature to pass a local law to create a toll road and bridge authority for a city or town in Baldwin County.

Amendment 13: Eliminates maximum age restrictions on the election or appointment of any non-judicial public official and prohibits the Legislature from passing such a law in the future.

Amendment 14: Declares local bills passed between 1984 and Nov. 8, 2016, to be deemed approved as long as they passed in accordance with legislative rules in place at the time. A 1984 state constitutional amendment said a budget isolation resolution (BIR) – which is required before lawmakers can vote on a non-budget bill before passing the state budgets – requires the approval of 60 percent of legislators who are present. House rules since then, however, said BIRs require the approval of 60 percent of members who are present and voting. That means many BIRs passed on “local courtesy” votes without the approval of 60 percent of House members who were present during the vote.

Posted Oct. 19, 2016. Last updated Nov. 2, 2016.

Constitutional Reform Policy Choices 2012

Born of white supremacy and amended more than 800 times, Alabama's 1901 constitution continues to tie the hands of local governments and frustrate those who would reform it. Supporters of a new constitution favor two competing ways of achieving that goal: Rewrite the document either article by article through the legislative process or all at once in a constitutional convention. In either case, the revisions would require approval by statewide referendum.

Read issue brief here.

Alabama Bound: Our Unjust 1901 Constitution

Advocates for a new Alabama constitution have been divided for decades over how best to achieve that goal. Some have wanted to hold a convention at which elected delegates would craft a new constitution all at once, subject to voter approval. Others have favored a gradual, article-by-article rewrite. A recent development may render the debate moot, at least temporarily. Earlier this year, the Legislature established the Constitutional Revision Commission to revise 11 of the constitution's 18 articles over four years.

This fact sheet examines the main issues at stake in constitutional reform, as well as some of the obstacles that continue to hinder reform efforts.

Rotten at the Core -- Alabama's 1901 Constitution

Polls consistently show that a growing majority of Alabamians favor rewriting the state's 1901 constitution. However, bills that would give voters the right to make such a choice have stalled in the Legislature. The current constitution limits our ability to have a fair, effective and efficient government in many ways.

This fact sheet outlines major flaws in the 1901 constitution and describes legislative proposals for addressing them.

Constitutional Reform Policy Choices 2009

The Legislature is considering two bills that would give voters the right to choose whether or not Alabama needs a new constitution.

These joint resolutions have 25 co-sponsors in the House and 14 in the Senate.

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