The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

October 28, 2012

Local senator shares views on amendments

Editor’s note: The following article was written by State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, concerning amendments on the Nov. 6 general election ballot and his views on the measures.

My primary goal is to educate voters on the issues, however, at times I will advocate for certain issues – openly seeking voter support. 

In the paragraphs below, I provide the actual ballot language along with my thoughts on select amendments. I ask for your support in voting yes on the following amendments.

• Amendment 2: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to allow issuance by the state from time to time of general obligation bonds under the authority of Section 219.04 and Section 219.041 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, so long as the aggregate principal amount of all such general obligation bonds at any time outstanding is not in excess of $750 million.

This amendment would replace the maximum aggregate principal limitations currently contained in said Sections 219.04 and 219.041. The proposed amendment would also allow issuance by the State of general obligation refunding bonds under the authority of Sections 219.04 and 219.041 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to certain minimum savings thresholds and limitations of maximum average maturity.

My thoughts: Think of your home loan. Assume you had taken out a $250,000 loan over 15 years. After seven years you decide to take on another loan for a car. While you are applying for that loan the bank informs you that you still owe $250,000 for your home, even though you have been paying down the loan for seven years. This is how our law is currently structured; the entire loan, regardless of how much has been paid down, is counted on the books as a debt. This amendment would give credit to the state for the portion of the loan that has been retired.

• Amendment 4: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal portions of Amendment 111, now appearing as Section 256 of the Official recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, relating to separation of schools by race and to repeal Section 259, Amendment 90, and Amendment 109, relating to the poll tax.

My thoughts: This amendment would remove racist language that remains in our state constitution, something long overdue. This language is often pointed out by surrounding states as they compete for economic development opportunities.

• Amendment 6: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.

My thoughts:  This amendment establishes a provision prohibiting the federal government from forcing Alabamians to participate in the Affordable Care Act.

• Amendment 7: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Amendment 579 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that the right of individuals to vote for public office, public votes on referenda, or votes of employee representation by secret ballot is fundamental.

My thoughts: This amendment will protect an individual’s right to vote by secret ballot.

• Amendment 8: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal the existing provisions for legislative compensation and expenses and establish the basic compensation of the Legislature at the median household income in Alabama; to require legislators to submit signed vouchers for reimbursement for expenses; and to prohibit the Legislature from increasing the compensation or expenses payable to its members.

My thoughts: This amendment will peg legislative pay to that of the median household income in Alabama. It also requires us to track actual expenses and limits mileage/hotel to the same rate as that of state employees. Additionally, legislators living within a 50-mile radius of the Capitol will not receive a hotel allowance.

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