The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

November 4, 2012

What to choose? A guide to the ballot measures

— Voters face a variety of topics in statewide amendments, some strictly local in nature and others with far-reaching implications.

Amendment 3 pertains to Baldwin County, particularly the Stockton community. The amendment proposes to prohibit annexation by local law of any property within the Stockton Landmark District into any municipality. The amendment ended up on a statewide ballot because of a few votes in the House opposed to the idea.

Amendment 1

State Amendment 1 provides Alabamians with an opportunity to reauthorize Forever Wild Land Trust for another 20 years.

The program is funded through a 10 percent investment income of the Alabama Trust Fund and secures land for preservation. Forever Wild also makes the land accessible to the public for hunting and fishing.

Forever Wild’s initial success years ago, said state Sen. Paul Bussman, was to preserve endangered wetlands around Mobile and Baldwin County.

Since that time the program has preserved thousands of acres of land and provided public access to nature areas for families who enjoy the outdoors.

“It’s been a well-managed program that a lot of Alabamians have enjoyed,” Bussman said. “It uses only a portion of the oil and gas money and gives plenty of access to land for families across the state.”

Amendment 2

Few issues on the state ballot carry more weight than Amendment 2.

State lawmakers and Gov. Robert Bentley are widely behind Amendment 2 as a means of allowing the state to remain competitive in luring new industries and encouraging expansions of those already here.

“Amendment 2 will help attract more new jobs to Alabama. Passage of the amendment will allow the state to refinance bonds at lower interest rates, saving the state millions of dollars. In turn, that will free up funds to provide economic incentives for companies considering moving their facilities to Alabama — or expanding the facilities they already have in Alabama. The end result will be more new jobs,” said Gov. Bentley in a prepared statement concerning Tuesday’s vote.

The amendment simply provides the state more flexibility in issuing general obligation bonds for industrial incentives. The amendment raises the cap on bonds to $750 million and makes it easier for the state to refinance bond issues and gain savings from lower rates.

Reps. Mac Buttram and Jeremy Oden and state Sen. Paul Bussman — favor Amendment 2.

“It almost triples what’s available for economic development incentives.  I think this will help communities across the state a great deal in bringing new industries and encouraging more expansions,” Oden said.

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