Constituional amendments to be considered on November ballot

Published 2:00am Saturday, October 20, 2012

With a presidential election looming just weeks away, Alabama voters will have more than republican or democrat to consider when marking their ballots.
A list of 11 proposed amendments to the Alabama constitution are on the ballot — the subject matter of which will range from natural resources to the Affordable Health Care Act.
Alabama Rep. Alan Baker said, while all 11 amendments are significant, some do stand out.
“The only one of the amendments that really seems to have real precise clarity is the first amendment relating to the Forever Wild land trust,” Baker said, referencing the proposal that payments made to the land trust be extended over a 20-year period. “Once you get beyond that voters become more muddied trying to understand what these amendments might do.”
In relation to the second of the 11 amendments, which is aimed at allowing issuances of general obligation bonds to provide funds as job incentives, Baker said the details can be confusing.
“Number two is an amendment that, if approved by the voters, would allow the state of
Alabama to refinance the funds that are made available for economic incentives,” Baker said. “There currently is a cap of $750 million and of that $750 million, $720 million has already been dedicated, but some of that has already begun to be paid back. So what this\ would do is allow for refinancing, that way it would allow for money to be available for economic incentives and trying to boost jobs across Alabama.”
Baker said amendment six, a proposal that Alabama be allowed to opt-out of the health insurance plan dubbed Obamacare, will likely stand out most to voters.
“It is something that I think a lot of citizens have expressed their opinions on,” Baker said. “It would allow the citizens of Alabama to give their vote as to how they feel, and if they feel a person should not be compelled to buy insurance, then they have that opportunity to express that with this vote.”
Baker said, should Obamacare not be repealed, Alabama’s vote will simply be an indication to Washington as to how Alabamians feel about the Affordable Health Care Act.
“It gives great clarity to the position of Alabama voters concerning national health care,” Baker said. “It seems that this vote would be more about offering support to both the executive branch and the legislative branch moving forward, so that the governor would be able to perhaps use his executive authority to reject certain parts, or maybe in its entirety, the Affordable Health Care plan.”
Baker also said some voters may be confused by the fact that three of the proposed amendments are specific to a certain area of Alabama.
Amendment three is a proposal to define the landmark district of Stockton. Amendment five would allow for the transfer of liabilities from Prichard Water Works and Sewer
Board to Mobile Area Water and Sewer System, while amendment 11 would prohibit any municipality outside of Lawrence County from imposing any municipal ordinance, supposedly keeping the city of Decatur from overpowering Lawrence County.
“There are three local amendments that will be voted on by the entire state,” Baker said. “That’s always a little tricky for citizens to understand. The reason behind that is that any time there is one or more dissenting votes in either body on a piece of local legislation, then it must go before a state-wide referendum vote.”
Baker said a sample ballots are available at local probate judge offices across the state as well as on Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman’s website at www.sos.state.al.us/default.aspx.

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