Try as they might, Alabama lawmakers in Montgomery aren't renowned for consistently producing quality legislation. The state has the scars to prove it.
So forgive Alabamians for being shocked when reminded that state government occasionally makes wise decisions. One of them happened 20 years ago when most Montgomery lawmakers supported passage of the Forever Wild amendment to the state Constitution. ...
That amendment, ratified by voters, has led to the purchase of 227,000 acres of land for public use, including 21 new recreational areas and additions to 10 state parks. ...
There is no doubt that the creation of Forever Wild is one of the landmark events of Alabama government in the last 20 years.
That said, Alabamians can't allow the promise of Forever Wild to fizzle out due to a lack of funding. The constitutional amendment that would fund the program (through the state's gas-drilling revenues) through 2032 on the November ballot needs to pass.
In this instance, Alabama is a fortunate state. Its geography is one of its best attributes: beaches to the south, Appalachian foothills to the north, valleys and farmlands and forests in between. It is a state rich in God-created diversity. Those who appreciate forestland and green space, who see the value in using land for something other than industry, can see Alabama for what it is: a state whose land has much to offer. ...
It feels odd, this thank-you to the lawmakers who got this ball rolling 20 years ago. For once, Montgomery did its job. Come Election Day, it's Alabama voters' turn.
When Alabama voters go to the polls in November to elect a president and other important officeholders, they'll be barraged once again with a slew of state constitutional amendments.
Three of the 12 amendments on Madison County ballots are for distant communities: a historic district issue in the Baldwin County town of Stockton, a water and sewer board matter in Prichard in far south Alabama, a question over municipal jurisdictions in Lawrence County.
As important as those issues may be to those communities, voters statewide will determine whether they pass.
So why is the whole state getting involved? Because of Alabama's restrictive constitution that limits power to local governments. ...
The constant crunch of local bills distracts the Legislature from dealing with major statewide problems. It's long past time to give local governments home rule so they can address local concerns without having to go through the Legislature. ...
Alabama has several ways to draft a new constitution: through an elected citizens convention, by the Legislature article by article, or through an appointed commission with legislative input. Voters would have the final say in any case. ..
What voters really need is a complete overhaul. At the rate we're going through piecemeal reform, that may take another 111 years. We'll have to take what we can get until citizens demand change.