ALABAMA CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Alabama’s constitution, the longest constitution in the United States, is in desperate need of reform; therefore, a student group needs to be created to track all reform updates and advocate for constitutional reform.
What's Wrong With Alabama's Constitution?
It Limits Local Democracy
~Alabama's constitution concentrates most legislative power in Montgomery
~Alabama is the only state in the south east that does not allow counties to control local issues. Instead, county governors are required to seek legislation approval from Montgomery concerning many small issues such as rodent and pest control, bingo policies, and prostitution.
~As a result, Alabama's legislators spend the majority of their time debating local issues and writing amendments for local issues that make up 70% of Alabama’s constitution.
Creates an Unjust Tax System
~Alabama’s Constitution forces the poorest citizens to pay an unfair amount of their income in taxes.
~For example, the wealthiest of citizens pay around 4% of their income in taxes while the poor pay around 11%.
~Alabama’s Constitution also taxes citizens when they make $12,600 dollars a year, compared to most states who do not tax incomes less than $19,000.
~ Alabama is one of the only states that still collects taxes on groceries and prescription drugs.
Slows Economic Development
~Alabama’s constitution prohibits local and state governments from participating in “internal improvements and economic development”. This is stated in section 93 of the 1901 constitution.
~This section of the constitution has over 50 amendments allowing various local governments to promote economic projects, but the original article from 1901 is still present in the constitution.
~The 93rd article still applies to some counties, and partially in others, creating an un-uniform state.
Has Undemocratic Origins
~The main purpose the authors of the 1901 constitution had was to deny suffrage to African Americans, as well as poor whites, in order to keep legislative power among the elite in Montgomery.
~As a result of this, in 1903 the number of black voters in Alabama dropped from 181,000 to nearly 4,000. And, nearly 40,000 poor whites lost the right to vote as well.
~The laws that prohibited African Americans and poor whites from voting in 1901 still remain in the constitution today.
Longest Constitution in the World
~Alabama’s constitution currently has 799 amendments.
~ It is 12 times longer than the average state constitution, making it virtually impossible to read and get a printed copy of.
Below is a documentry further explaining major issues concerning Alabama's constitution and a link to Alabama's constitution...in case you want to try and read it by yourself!
www.legislature.state.al.us Once there, in order to find the constitution, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the highlighted link Constitution of 1901.
Why Hasn't Alabama's Constitution Been Reformed?
~ There have been many efforts to reform Alabama's constitution, most recently Alabama legislators voted on HB 308 which would allow the people to vote on holding a convetion for reform
~More people voted for this bill than against, yet the percentage was not high enough for the bill to pass
Below is a list of legislators who voted for and against the bill.
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What Can You Do?
~Attend local meetings on reform.
Below is a list of regional organizations that meet to discuss and promote constitutional reform. Find out where you can be involved!!
~Write letters to your cities representatives if he/she is not in support of reform
Below is a list of Alabama's representatives according to their district. Start by writing your district representative to see why or why not he/she is in support of constitutional reform.
~Hold a rally to raise awareness.
Below is a file showing how you can start a student group of Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, along with examples of how other studnt groups are organized.
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"What's Wrong With Alabama's Consitution." Alabama Citizens For Consitutional Reform. 9/5/08. Alabama Citizens for Consituiton Reform. 26 Sep 2008 www.constitutionalreform.org. (there are many great links form this website to valuable information on constitutional reform!?
"Distric Roster of the Alabama House of Representatives." Alabama State Legislature. Alabama State Legislatures. 26 Sep 2008 <http://www.legislature.state.al.us/house/representatives/houseroster_district.html>.