Proposed amendments explained in detail

WINSTON COUNTY - The general election will soon be here on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Voters will notice several amendments listed on the ballot. The Alabamian wishes to expand upon these amendments for the public to have more information and to have a better informed vote.

Proposed Amendment No. 1:
This amendment basically authorizes the Ten Commandments to be legally posted in schools and on public or government property. In more detail, the amendment states every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend or against their consent to contribute to the support of any place of religious worship or pay tithes or taxes for the support of any minister. Property belonging to the state may be used to display the Ten Commandments, and the right of a public school and public body to display them shall not be restrained or abridged. The Ten Commandments shall be displayed in a manner that complies with constitutional requirements including but not limited to being intermingled with historical or educational items on property owned or administrated by a public school or public body. The civil and political rights, privileges and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his or her religious belief. The proposal goes on to state no public funds may be expended in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment.

Proposed Amendment No. 2:
The second proposal concerns having the state constitution recognize the life of unborn children and the state having no funds available for abortions. The amendment says this state acknowledges, declares and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life and to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate. It goes on to say nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.

Proposed Amendment No. 3:
This third proposal affects the University of Alabama’s board of trustees. Under existing law, the board membership consists of members from each congressional district in the state, an additional member from the congressional district which includes the site of the first campus of the university, the state superintendent of education and the Governor of Alabama, who is the president of the board. The new proposed amendment will continue the same congressional district members and remove the state superintendent from the board. Currently, any member who is the age of 70 or older must retire from the board of trustees. The proposed amendment will remove this restriction so those 70 and older may continue membership on the board.

Proposed Amendment No. 4:
The final amendment proposal concerns seat vacancies in the House of Representatives or the Senate. The proposal states when a vacancy occurs, the governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. However, the secretary of state, after determination, may issue a certificate of election to a candidate deemed legally qualified. It also states when a vacancy occurs with less than two years remaining in the term, the governor shall appoint a person qualified to hold the office for the remainder of the term. The said appointee would not be eligible to run for election to this office during the election at the next full term of office. If, however, the vacancy occurs on or after October 1 of the third year of the four year office, the seat will remain vacant until a successor is elected at the next general election.

Local Referendum:
The last proposal on the ballot is the local referendum and only applies to Winston County. The wording on the ballot states the following: “Do you favor the adoption of Act-454, of the 2017 session of the Alabama Legislature?” This refers to the increase of salary for the Winston County Coroner in the amount of $9,500 per year, effective beginning the next term of office. According to the Winston County Commissioner’s Office, the current salary of the coroner is $780 per year. If the majority of this vote is yes, the salary will increase to $10,280 per year.
All qualified voters are encouraged to cast their vote Nov. 6.

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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