Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Time for Alabama to step into 21st century
Here's a quick quiz. What has 661 amendments, consists of more than 700 pages, earmarks more than 90 percent of tax revenue and consistently holds the state of Alabama back from making progressive changes in the way government operates? The answer is … Alabama's 1901 Constitution.
Ten times in the state's history Alabama governors have taken aim at the racially-penned, inadequate and grossly outdated constitution. Each time, those efforts have failed.
In the process, amendment after amendment has been added, thus making the problem worse.
Maybe the 11th time will be the charm. Maybe now Alabama is ready to step forward into the 21st century and make those changes to the constitution.
In a recent statewide poll by the Birmingham News and the Huntsville Times, 56 percent of Alabamians said they support a rewrite of the state constitution.
Soon after taking office in January, Gov. Bob Riley organized the Citizens' Constitution Commission to look at making changes to the constitution. In doing so, he charged the commission to change the earmarking requirements, add a line-item veto for the governor and allow for limited home rule for Alabama's counties.
But even though the changes suggested by Riley do not call for a complete rewrite of the document, Alabamians still show they are supportive of the changes.
Thanks to the recent cost-cutting efforts on the part of the Riley administration it seems the citizens of Alabama are ready to join in the fight to solve the problems facing the state. If these changes, suggested by Riley and the Citizen's Constitution Commission, are to be approved and put to work for the betterment of the state, it will take the full support of Alabama legislators and those they represent.
Ten times before, our state has looked at tackling the monster called the Alabama Constitution, and 10 times before they have stepped back and done nothing.
For the sake of Alabama's future we cannot back away this time. To quote a Riley spokesperson, "failure is not an option."