Legislative Wrap-Up, 0916 ALBJ, 77 The Alabama Lawyer 384 (2016)

Author:Othni J. Lathram, J., Paul DeMarco, J.


No. Vol. 77 No. 5 Pg. 384

Alabama Bar Lawyer

September, 2016

Othni J. Lathram, J., Paul DeMarco, J. [1]

Constitutional Reform Continues

On November 8, 2016, we will have the right to exercise one of the greatest privileges in America as we vote. Most of the country will be focused on the outcome of one of the more interesting presidential elections of all time, the outcome of congressional races and, in some instances, gubernatorial and other state races. However, in addition to all of those races, here in Alabama we will also have the opportunity to vote on a number of amendments to our state constitution.

We are all too familiar with the many facts and some folklore associated with our 1901 Constitution, its foundation, its length and the many failed efforts to replace it. Nevertheless, we are in the midst of one of the most positive efforts in its 115-year history to improve it. As was more fully discussed in this column in January 2012,[2] the legislature created the Constitution Revision Commission in 2011. That commission, chaired by former Governor Albert Brewer, was charged with leading the effort to revise the Alabama Constitution on an article-by-article basis. This article-by-article approach is the only mechanism available to the legislature.[3]

The article-by-article approach has been successful three times in the past. In 1973, Article VI, relating to the judiciary, was revised in an effort led by then-Chief Justice Howell Heflin. The article-by-article approach was followed again in 1996 when Representative Jack Venable led the effort to revise Article VIII, relating to suffrage and elections. Finally, in 2012, Articles XII (corporations) and XIII (banking) were ratified following their passage upon the recommendation of the Constitutional Revision Commission. The endeavor to revise Articles XII and XIII began in 2007, with proposed revised articles being introduced in the legislature each session since. The revisions actually passed one of the houses of the legislature on numerous occasions, but could not get through both houses until 2012. With the installation of the commission, the effort was re-energized. After minor...

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