MONTGOMERY — Some members of the Alabama Legislature have been trying for more than 10 years to rewrite the Alabama Constitution by doing it one article at a time.
Two of the rewritten articles are finally ready to go before voters. Proposed amendments rewriting two sections on the 1901 Constitution relating to banking and corporations passed the Alabama House and Senate earlier this year and will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
It’s a similar process that was used in the early 1970s to rewrite the state’s judicial articles.
While in recent years an effort built up steam statewide to hold a convention to rewrite the 1901 Constitution, some in the Legislature have argued that a better way than holding a lengthy, possibly costly convention would be to rewrite the document article by article and to start with relatively non-controversial sections. The push to rewrite it article by article was a priority of the late Rep. Jack Venable of Tallassee.
Critics of the 1901 Constitution argue it is too long, has been over amended and contains antiquated language. Opponents of a convention said it would be a circus and would be an invitation to raise taxes and possibly take away rights.
The rewritten articles bring the language up to date and reflect changes in business practices during the past 111 years.
The House sponsor of the proposed amendments, Republican Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood, said the new articles remove antiquated language and remove references to the telegraph and other items that were common in 1901, but are not in 2012.
DeMarco said an example of the changes that have taken place during the years became an obviously needed one when legislators were rewriting the section concerning corporations.
“In 1901 there was just one type of corporation,” said DeMarco, a Birmingham attorney.
He said today there are 12 types of business entities that are described in the rewritten article. He also said the banking article refers to the “gold standard,” which he said is not a factor in today’s banking.
DeMarco said he is optimistic the two amendments will pass and believes they avoid much of the doomsday language that arose concerning earlier efforts to revise the constitution.
“We are making some needed changes, but we are not going to raise taxes and we are not going to change the state’s boundaries,” DeMarco said.
The revisions to the constitution are two of 11 statewide amendments that will be on the November ballot.