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.

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