2 years ago

Read the Fair Ballot Commission’s plain language explanations of each proposed ballot measure

The office of Secretary of State published on Monday four plain language summaries of each statewide constitutional amendment to be presented before voters in November.

The summaries were developed by the state’s Fair Ballot Commission, an agency composed of top state officials and private citizen-appointees, which is authorized by state law “to provide to the public a fair and accurate explanation of what a vote for and what a vote against a statewide ballot measure represents.”

“The work of the Fair Ballot Commission is one of the most important tasks that is performed by any agency of state government, because their work helps to simplify the communication that’s required for the voter to be able to more clearly understand what the intended result of the passage of that amendment would be,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News, explaining the commission’s deliberations as very democratic.

“People bring up different points, and they say ‘this is the reason I feel the way I do,’ and other people make counter points,” Merrill said.

Here are the amendment summaries:

Amendment 1Under current law, the state constitution contains no language related to the display of the Ten Commandments.

Amendment 1 does two things. First, it provides that a person is free to worship God as he or she chooses, and that a person’s religious beliefs will have no effect on his or her civil or political rights. Second, it makes clear that the Ten Commandments may be displayed on public property so long as the display meets constitutional requirements, such as being displayed along with historical or educational items. Amendment 1 also provides that no public funds may be used to defend this amendment in court.

If a majority of voters vote “Yes” on Amendment 1, the state constitution will provide that a person is free to worship God as he or she chooses and that a person’s religious beliefs will have no effect on his or her civil or political rights. It will also provide that the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public property so long as the display meets constitutional requirements, such as being displayed along with historical or educational items.

If a majority of voters vote “No” on Amendment 1, no language related to the display of the Ten Commandments would be included in the state constitution.
There is no cost for Amendment 1. No public funds may be used to defend this amendment in court.

The Constitutional authority for passage of Amendment 1 is set forth in Sections 284, 285 and 287 of the State Constitution. These sections outline the way a constitutional amendment may be put to the people of the State for a vote.

Amendment 2Under current law, the state constitution does not include any language that directly relates to the importance of unborn life or the rights of unborn children, nor does it include any language that directly relates to abortion or the funding of abortions using state funds.

Amendment 2 provides that it would be the public policy of the state to recognize and support the importance of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life; and to protect the rights of unborn children. Additionally, the amendment would make clear that the state constitution does not include a right to abortion or require the funding of an abortion using public funds.

The proposed amendment does not identify any specific actions or activities as unlawful. It expresses a public policy that supports broad protections for the rights of unborn children as long as the protections are lawful.

If a majority of voters vote “Yes” on Amendment 2, the public policy of this state will be to support and protect the importance of unborn life and the rights of unborn children. The state constitution would also not include a right to an abortion or to the funding of an abortion using public funds.

If a majority of voters vote “No” on Amendment 2, there would be no language in the state constitution related to the importance of unborn life or protecting the rights of unborn children, or to abortion or the funding of abortions using public funds.

There is no cost for Amendment 2.

The Constitutional authority for passage of Amendment 2 is set forth in Sections 284, 285 and 287 of the State Constitution. These sections outline the way a constitutional amendment may be put to the people of the State for a vote.

Amendment 3Under current law, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees is composed of 16 people: three members from the congressional district in which the Tuscaloosa campus is located, two members from each of the other six congressional districts in the state, the Governor, and the State Superintendent of Education. So, if the number of congressional districts in Alabama increased or decreased in the future, the number of trustees would also increase or decrease. Additionally, other than the Governor and the State Superintendent of Education, current law requires a trustee to retire from the board following his or her seventieth birthday.

Amendment 3 does three things. First, it provides that the board will be composed of members from congressional districts as those districts existed on January 1, 2018, meaning any future changes to the number of congressional districts in Alabama would not impact the number of board members. Second, it removes the State Superintendent of Education from automatically having a seat on the board. Third, it allows a trustee to serve after his or her seventieth birthday.

If a majority of voters vote “Yes” on Amendment 3, future changes to the number of congressional districts in Alabama will not impact the number of board members, the State Superintendent of Education will no longer automatically be a member of the board, and trustees will be allowed to serve on the board after their seventieth birthday.

If a majority of voters vote “No” on Amendment 3, future changes to the number of congressional districts in Alabama will impact the number of board members, the State Superintendent of Education will continue to automatically have a seat on the board, and trustees will not be allowed to serve on the board after their seventieth birthday.

There is no cost for Amendment 3.

The Constitutional authority for passage of Amendment 3 is set forth in Sections 284, 285 and 287 of the State Constitution. These sections outline the way a constitutional amendment may be put to the people of the State for a vote.

Amendment 4Under current law, members of the state legislature are elected to four-year terms of office that begin and end on Election Day in November. This four-year period is known as a quadrennium. When a person who was elected to serve in the state legislature is unable to complete his or her term, a vacancy is created. When this vacancy occurs, the Governor is required to schedule a special election. The winner of the special election fills the vacancy for the rest of the term.

Amendment 4 provides that when a vacancy occurs in the state legislature on or after October 1 of year three of the four-year term, the seat will remain vacant until the next general election, which occurs in November of the fourth year of the term. The Governor would no longer have the power to schedule a special election to fill a vacancy in these circumstances, and public funds that would have been spent on the special election would be saved.

If a majority of voters vote “Yes” on Amendment 4, state legislative seats that become vacant within the final 14 months of the four-year term of office will remain vacant until the general election.

If a majority of voters vote “No” on Amendment 4, the Governor will continue to be required to schedule a special election whenever a vacancy occurs in the state legislature.

There is no cost for Amendment 4.

The Constitutional authority for passage of Amendment 4 is set forth in Sections 284, 285 and 287 of the State Constitution. These sections outline the way a constitutional amendment may be put to the people of the State for a vote.

The official language of each amendment, as well as information about its sponsor, can be found here.

5 hours ago

Chuck Martin endorses Republican Russell Bedsole in Alabama House District 49

Russell Bedsole’s Republican candidacy has received a boost in the Alabama House District 49 special election.

This seat, covering parts of Bibb, Chilton and Shelby Counties, was vacated by the resignation of State Rep. April Weaver (R-Brierfield), who left the legislature to join the administration of President Donald J. Trump.

Bedsole led the pack in the GOP primary held last week, finishing ahead of second-place Mimi Penhale and third-place Chuck Martin. Since no candidate got a majority, a runoff will be held on September 1.

On Wednesday night, Martin endorsed Bedsole in that runoff via a Facebook post.

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Martin led Bibb County in primary votes and finished with a competitive 24.25% overall.

In a release, he expounded on why he is publicly backing Bedsole.

“After thoughtful consideration, I am endorsing Russell Bedsole to represent District 49 in the Alabama House of Representatives,” Martin stated. “Like me, Bedsole has deep roots in District 49. I believe he will be a strong voice for Bibb, Shelby, and Chilton counties, and he will fight for our communities’ conservative Christian values in Montgomery.”

Bedsole, a longtime deputy sheriff in Shelby County and an Alabaster city councilor, has already been endorsed by the likes of Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego and the Alabama State Fraternal Order of the Police in the race.

“It is an honor to be endorsed by Chuck Martin,” Bedsole commented. “As a representative of District 49, I will fight for pro-life and pro-Second Amendment legislation, along with funding for developing crucial infrastructure, in the Alabama House of Representatives.”

Penhale, the legislative director for Shelby County’s legislative delegation, has taken an unpaid leave of absence from her state government job to run for office. She has been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

License plate to support Alabama business proposed — Must meet 1,000 application benchmark

A license plate that will support Alabama small businesses will be created if 1,000 apply for one by July 31.

Funds from purchasing the plate will be given to Main Street Alabama, which will in turn provide workshops and grants to small businesses around the Yellowhammer State.

The tag can be applied for here. A $50 fee accompanies the application.

“With this program, individuals can show their dedication to their favorite small businesses, who in many cases are their friends and neighbors, with a tag that gives back to them with workshops and grants focused on strengthening their business,” said Main Street Alabama state coordinator Mary Helmer in a statement.

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Helmer added, “Small businesses keep it local by consistently sponsoring the local baseball team, providing gift baskets for the local charity drives and creating jobs in their community.”

Main Street Alabama is a non-profit entity and an offshoot of Main Street America organization.

The artwork on the tag was created by Chris Seagle, a graphic designer based in Birmingham.

The idea for a car tag supporting small business originated among a group of elected officials in Jefferson County.

Casey Middlebrooks, a member of the group and a Hoover City Councilman, said that his fellow officials “felt Main Street Alabama had the statewide presence and resources to facilitate support to small businesses throughout the state.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

7 hours ago

Ivey urges Alabamians to complete Census — Billions in funding, congressional seat at stake

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Friday released a video public service announcement urging Yellowhammer State residents to complete the 2020 Census.

The deadline to complete the Census recently was moved up to September 30, meaning there is less than seven weeks left for Alabamians to either self-respond or respond to Census Bureau field staff.

Leaders from the public sector, as well as industry, economic development, charitable and civic organizations, have warned for months that Alabama has a lot on the line during the 2020 Census response period.

Projections have shown the state will lose a congressional district and corresponding electoral college vote — likely to a far-left state such as New York, California or Illinois — if Alabama’s response rate continues to lag.

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“Complete your 2020 Census today,” Ivey said to begin the new PSA. “We only have until September 30.”

“Without you, Alabama stands to lose billions in funding, a seat in Congress and economic development opportunities,” she continued. “It only takes minutes to complete. Go to my2020census.gov or participate by phone or mail.”

The governor concluded, “Be counted — if not for you, for those in Alabama who depend on you for a brighter tomorrow.”

Watch:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Report: Birmingham golf tournament Regions Tradition canceled for 2020

A report from WBRC in Birmingham on Friday says that the yearly golf tournament Regions Tradition has canceled the 2020 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event organizers say it will be back in early May of 2021.

WBRC says they were told by a “source close to the tournament” about the decision to cancel the 2020 version.

The tournament had previously been rescheduled from its normal late spring/early summer slot until September due to COVID-19 concerns.

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Regions Tradition is a tournament on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, a series of competitions held each year for golfers over age 50.

According to Alabama NewsCenter, the annual Regions Tradition tournament has an economic impact on the Birmingham area between $20 million and $25 million every year.

The Tradition was first held in 1989 and is one of the five major golf tournaments on the Senior Circuit.

Regions took over as the event’s sponsor in 2010 and relocated the tournament to the Birmingham area beginning in 2011.

Steve Stricker won the tournament in 2019, a title he will now keep for two years.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

8 hours ago

Jefferson County health officials say coronavirus pandemic precautions will continue into 2021

Two impactful figures in Jefferson County’s healthcare system advised on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic and resulting precautions such as mask-wearing will remain a major factor in public life at least through the end of 2020.

Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson and CEO of the UAB Health System/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance Will Ferniany briefed reporters on coronavirus information during a Friday morning videoconference.

“This pandemic is not going away by the end of December,” warned Ferniany.

Wilson said it was “very likely” that he would push to keep a mask order in place across Jefferson County “through the flu season” which would indicate the ordinance would stay in place at least through the spring of 2021.

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“We have pretty good evidence that our face-covering orders, and our help from the public wearing face coverings, has made a difference,” remarked Wilson.

“We still have a ways to go but we’re starting to bend the curve downward,” Wilson told reporters.

The remarks made by Wilson and Ferniany are similar to what Mobile County epidemiologist Dr. Rendi Murphree told Yellowhammer News in recent days.

Ferniany said that UAB is making a significant investment in rapid testing that should be ready for action by the end of the year, the availability of which should make dealing with the virus more manageable.

Wilson highlighted a standard he felt more people should understand.

The county health officer said that any person exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days, even if they go out and get a test showing they do not have the virus.

“Fourteen days is the maximum amount of time from being exposed to the virus where you could still develop symptoms,” Wilson said to explain the policy.

Ferniany said UAB Hospital is currently treating around 90 patients, down from a peak of 130. He relayed that 40 of the COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized are in the ICU.

RELATED: Alabama coronavirus update: Hospitalizations begin to decrease, new cases falling

The executive also said that the toughest aspect of caring for COVID-19 cases currently is the shortage of nurses. He said the hospitals he oversees are down “several hundred nurses” with the partial explanation that traveling nursing companies are luring workers away with higher wages.

Wilson reported additional good news for Jefferson County. He said that the area is not experiencing a higher rate of black citizens dying from COVID-19 than white citizens.

“So far we’re not seeing a racial disparity in terms of deaths in Jefferson County,” he relayed.

“Forty-one percent of our deaths in Jefferson County with COVID-19 are African American. The African American population is 43%,” Wilson stated.

Yellowhammer News asked Wilson what kind of benchmarks he would need to be passed to trigger a loosening of coronavirus precautions and whether that would be dependent on a vaccine.

“We’re not going to be out of the woods for quite a long time,” Wilson responded.

“The bottom line will be the amount of disease activity we have in the community, and the trajectory of that,” he continued.

With respect to the vaccine, Wilson replied, “It is really hard to predict what is going to happen with the vaccine: How effective is it going to be, how widespread we’re going to be able to vaccinate people and how soon. There are way too many unknowns for us to say much about that.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95