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Alabama Constitution, 10 Amendments on Nov. 8 ballot


By The Associated Press

Alabama voters on Nov. 8 will decide whether to strip racist language from the state constitution. They will also vote on 10 amendments. Here’s a brief look at what’s on the ballot:

Ratification of the Constitution of Alabama of 2022:

Voters will decide whether to ratify a recompiled Alabama Constitution. The recompiled document deletes racist language and repealed provisions. It also reorganizes the sprawling document. The changes are designed to remove the lingering stain of the state’s segregationist past and make the document more user friendly.

Amendment 1 – Bail restriction

The measure is aimed at giving judges more discretion to deny bail to people charged with violent crimes. It adds murder, kidnapping, rape and other offenses to the list of crimes for which bail can be denied. The measure is named Aniah’s Law after 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who was killed in 2019 after being abducted from an Auburn gas station.

Amendment 2 – Broadband funding

The amendment is part of the state’s effort to expand broadband access. It clarifies that local governments can grant federal funds or other state funding to a public or private organization to expand access to high-speed internet infrastructure.

Amendment 3 – Death sentence commutations

The amendment would require the governor to provide notice to the attorney general and the victim’s family before commuting a death sentence. Only one sentence has been commuted since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Gov. Fob James in 1999 commuted Judith Ann Neelley’s sentence to life in prison.

Amendment 4 – Election procedures

The amendment would prevent lawmakers from making election procedure changes within six months of an election. This amendment requires any legislation affecting how a general election is held to take effect at least six months before the election.

Amendment 5 – Delete outdated reference

Deletes the outdated phrase “orphans’ business” in regards to a probate judges’ duties. The amendment only removes the wording. Judges would continue to handle adoptions and guardianships.

Amendment 6 – Local government projects

This amendment says cities and towns that collect a special property tax may use those tax dollars to directly “pay-as-you-go” for construction projects instead of going into debt.

Amendment 7 – Economic development

This amendment is aimed at giving local governments more power to issue economic development incentives. It would clarify all local governments can use public funds to sell public property, lend their credit, or become indebted for economic development purposes.

Amendment 8 and Amendment 9 – Local sewer projects

These amendments would bring certain privately owned sewer systems, at least temporarily, under regulation by the Public Service Commission. Amendment 8 applies only to Shelby County. Amendment 9 applies only to the town of Lake View in Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties.

Amendment 10 – Companion to new constitution ratification

This is a companion amendment to the ratification vote. If the new constitution is ratified, it would allow any new amendments to be placed within the document, instead of just listed at the end.