On November 6, Alabamians will vote on four proposed statewide constitutional amendments. Although the first two amendments will likely receive the most attention (API’s analyses can be found on our website), amendments three and four deserve notice as well. They are, in fact, changes to the longest known constitution in the world.

We’ll start with Proposed Amendment Three, which addresses the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees.

Currently, the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System – which governs UAB and UAH in addition to the Tuscaloosa campus – is composed of three members from the seventh congressional district (which includes Tuscaloosa), two members from each of the other six congressional districts, the governor and the state superintendent of education.

If approved, this amendment would require that the Board continue to be made up of members of congressional districts as drawn on January 1, 2018. This means that, in the case that Alabama gains or, more likely, loses a congressional seat in 2020, the makeup of the board of trustees would not be affected nor thrown into disarray.

Additional stipulations include the removal of the state superintendent of education from automatic membership on the board and of the requirement that board members retire after their 70th birthday.

It is worth mentioning that the bill allowing this University of Alabama-specific amendment passed unanimously in both the State House and Senate.

Amendment Four, in contrast, will have a significantly wider impact if approved.

This amendment addresses something Alabamians have been hearing about for a while now–special elections. It is important to note on the front end, however, that it does not address special elections for the U.S. Congress like that of 2017. Instead, it impacts vacancies in the state legislature.

If accepted, legislative vacancies that occur on or after October 1 of the third year of a quadrennium (in other words, seats that become open only months before the final session of the legislature’s four-year term) would remain vacant until the next general election.

Currently, the governor is required to schedule a special election when state legislative vacancies occur. These elections cost the state money, create voter fatigue, and according to Senator Glover, the amendment’s sponsor, are “just bad government.”

In an interview with API, Senator Glover described one case where, thanks to a late special election, a legislator was sworn in on the last day of session. Cases like these, where relatively powerless legislators are added to the state payroll, will not occur if the amendment is approved.

The main purpose, according to Glover, is to “save some money and confusion.” He estimates that, if this language had been on the books earlier, the state would’ve saved “just under a million dollars” in 2018 alone. For example, this amendment would prohibit what will, come November, be four separate elections for Alabama’s 26 Senate seat in less than a year.

Additionally, the amendment received unanimous support when it passed the Senate and overwhelming support in the House earlier this year.

Although these two amendments are not as polarizing as amendments one and two, both are attempts to make the state better, and they should not be ignored.

This op-ed was originally published by the Alabama Daily News, Yellowhammer News, the Anniston Star, the St. Clair Times, the Brewton Standard, and Alabama Today.


MORE ON API Blog

API at Rotary: Alabama reform needed for upward mobility

The Boaz Rotary Club welcomed representatives from the Alabama Policy Institute to its Oct. 17 meeting to discuss some of the organization’s 2019 priority issues that they said were chosen to help low-income Alabamians achieve upward economic mobility. “We did some research and compared our state to others and found something disturbing,” said API Senior […]

VIDEO: API’s Parker Snider discusses anger in politics on APTV’s Capitol Journal

Parker Snider, policy relations manager for the Alabama Policy Institute, discussed anger in politics last week on Capitol Journal with Don Dailey, which airs on Alabama Public Television. Watch the interview here (interview begins at 13:20): https://video.aptv.org/video/october-5-2018-ul5nme/ To keep up with API, sign-up for our newsletter at alabamapolicy.com/subscribe

AUDIO: API fellows discuss Kavanaugh controversy on Huntsville radio

J. Pepper Bryars and Rachel Blackmon Bryars, both senior fellows with the Alabama Policy Institute, discussed the debate surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week on the Dale Jackson Show, which airs on WVNN 92.5 FM in Huntsville. Listen to their interview here: To keep up with API, sign-up for our newsletter at alabamapolicy.com/subscribe.

MORE ON Good Governance

Prepare to vote on constitutional amendments, Alabama

The drought, as they say, is over. Football season is back in Alabama. To no one’s surprise, the Alabama Crimson Tide was ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches preseason polls. Almost simultaneously as the return of college football, however, is the beginning of another all-too-familiar season for Alabamians. That season, of course, is election […]

Learning fiscal responsibility from the fall of MoviePass

One year ago, a relatively-unknown company announced that, for a monthly fee of $9.95, subscribers could see one movie a day without paying anything at the box office. That’s right – even though the average movie ticket in the U.S. is $9 – a $9.95 monthly subscription could get you into 31 movies. Since last […]

How conservative principles benefit the environment: a lesson from Alabama’s red snapper

By Jack Tucker, API Junior Policy Fellow Many coastal and red snapper loving Alabamians may find themselves disappointed by recent events. On July 16th, the State of Alabama announced that recreational red snapper fishing season would be cut six weeks short. A result of unexpectedly high catch levels this summer, the state reached its annual […]

MORE FROM Parker Snider

How to prepare for Russia’s October surprise

Russia is in the business of mind control. They’re not doing it through sinister headgear, satellite interference, or dream invasion like in Inception, though. Instead, Russia seeks to control the minds of Americans through something we all have and spend arguably too much time on: social media. This isn’t news to many of us. For years […]

Towards a less angry politics

“When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.” If only we followed the advice of the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson, who expressed this sentiment, knew first-hand how politics can lead to indignation. Today, one glance at cable news or Twitter affirms that we too are accustomed to an […]

Understanding Constitutional Amendment One: The Ten Commandments and Religious Freedom

For years, discussion over the public display of the Ten Commandments has animated Alabama’s political landscape. The issue is so energizing, it seems, that many politicians frame their own races through the lens of this battle––that support for their candidacy is a vote for the Ten Commandments. Even so, Alabamians have never actually gotten a […]