Moore's testing waters Tuesday
You won't see Roy Moore's name on the ballot when you go to the polls next week, but be aware that he is testing his political might on Tuesday.
The ousted former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is campaigning against Amendment Two. If passed, Amendment Two would remove racist language from the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, including segregated schools and poll taxes.
Moore claims that there is a "hidden agenda" in Amendment Two: a huge tax increase for education.
He bases this claim on the fact that the amendment also removes language stating "nothing in the Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense, nor as limiting the authority and duty of the legislature in furthering or providing education, to require or impose conditions or procedures deemed necessary to the preservation of peace and order."
You might recall a 1993 decision by Montgomery Circuit Judge Gene Reese ruling that public schools were not fairly or adequately funded and ordering fixes to the tune of about $1 billion. Eventually a higher court ruled that it was up to the Legislature, not the courts, to make that happen.
If Amendment Two is passed, it would still be up to the Legislature to pass any additional education taxes. And let's face it - they're not going to do it because they have to run for reelection every four years.
I'd rather risk paying more taxes than risk having Amendment Two fail and, consequently, having the national media descend upon the state like vultures, painting the entire citizenry as people clinging to the 1901 ideals of segregation and poll taxes. That could be costly to Alabama in terms of economic development.
In the "story behind the story," many Alabama political watchers see Moore's move as a test to determine how likely he would be to win if he threw his hat into the gubernatorial race in two years.
Vote for Amendment Two.
It also is very important that Escambia County (Ala.) voters support Amendment Three. This amendment would give Escambia County and 19 other counties in Alabama the power to provide cash, land, equipment and buildings to attract new or expanding industries, leveling the playing field in industrial recruitment. Amendment One is similar in nature, providing this right to 18 other counties in the state. Basically, if both amendments pass, the power to negotiate with industry is not centralized in Montgomery and the few other counties that already have gotten amendments passed. Yes on One and Three.
Amendment Four gives shrimpers and commercial fishermen rights that other ag organizations in Alabama already have - the ability to levy fees upon themselves to fund education and promotion of their industry. Vote yes on Amendment Four.
Amendments Five, Six and Seven are all local amendments affecting the City of Trussville, and Crenshaw and Macon counties respectively. Generally, the legislative delegation of a city or county doesn't propose amendments that their constituents don't want; therefore, let's vote to help them with their projects. Yes on these three.
That leaves Amendment Eight. The state's trucking association is working very hard to get this one passed. If passed, the amendment removes the ad valorem (property) taxes currently charged on large trucks and replaces it with an excise tax based on the number of miles a truck travels in Alabama each year. The tax would be assessed on both Alabama-based trucking companies and out-of-state companies.
Alabama's trucking companies say it gives them a competitive advantage; the person in the state revenue department who explained the tax to me this week said he's confident that the state can collect the "rolling ad valorem tax" on out-of-state companies. This one seems not to have gathered anyone working against it.