1 local amendment on Nov. 6 ballot

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

With a presidential election looming just weeks away, Alabama voters will have more than Republican or Democrat to consider when marking their ballots.

There are 11 proposed amendments to the Alabama Constitution on the ballot – ranging from natural resources to the Affordable Health Care Act. In addition, there is one local amendment specifically for Covington County voters.

Rep. Mike Jones said voters have many questions heading into the Nov. 6 election.

Jones explained the amendments as shown on the ballot.

“The first, of course, is the first amendment relating to the Forever Wild land trust,” Jones said, referencing the proposal that payments made to the land trust be extended over a 20-year period.

“Ratification of this amendment would reauthorize distributions from the Alabama Trust Fund to the Forever Wild Land Trust. Under current law, 10 percent of the income earned from the invested assets of the ATF is transferred to the Forever Wild Land Trust to purchase public recreational lands. This is what is set to expire soon.”

Jones said total transfers from the ATF are capped at $15 million and

equaled approximately $10 million.

In relation to the second of the 11 amendments, which is aimed at allowing issuances of general obligation bonds to provide funds as job incentives, Jones said the details can be confusing.

“Number two is an amendment that, if approved by the voters, would allow the state of Alabama to refinance the funds that are made available for economic incentives,” Jones said. “There currently is a maximum of $750 million that is authorized, and of that $750 million, $720 million has already

been dedicated, leaving the commission with an additional $30 million

of authority.

“The way the current amendment is written inadvertently prohibited the commission from recalculating its issuance limitations after paying down any principle debt. In other words, the commission does not get to take advantage of the equity it is building.

“By ratifying this amendment, the maximum amount of bonds that the commission would be able to issue would depend on the amount owed rather than the amount issued; their authority would instantly increase from $30 million to approximately $157 million, and would continue to grow as principal debt was repaid.”

Jones said amendment six is a proposal that Alabama be allowed to opt-out of the health insurance plan dubbed Obamacare, will likely stand out most to voters.

“This amendment was approved by the legislature in 2011, long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obamacare lawsuit,” he said.

“Because of that suit, it’s unclear of this amendment’s practical


He said should Obamacare not be repealed, Alabama’s vote will simply be an indication to Washington as to how Alabamians feel about the Affordable Health Care Act.

Some voters may be confused by the fact that three of the proposed

amendments are specific to a certain area of Alabama, Jones said.

Amendment three is a proposal to define the landmark district of Stockton. Amendment five would allow for the transfer of liabilities from Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board to Mobile Area Water and Sewer System, while amendment 11 would prohibit any municipality outside of Lawrence County from imposing any municipal ordinance, supposedly keeping the city of Decatur from overpowering Lawrence County.

“While you can vote on those if you choose, they don’t really have to do with Covington County,” Jones said. “However, there is one amendment that Covington County residents should pay attention to – the amendment that would increase the local law library fund fee from $3 to $12.”

Jones said the use of this money is decreed by the presiding judge of the Covington County Circuit Court and would be imposed on all civil and criminal cases filed in the county.

“Just to give an example, the fee in Escambia County is $30 per case, so the new fee would be well below that,” he said.

Sample ballots are available at local probate judge offices across the

state as well as on Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman’s website

at www.sos.state.al.us/default.aspx.