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March 22, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 22, 2002

Action by members of the House of Representatives Thursday afternoon essentially killed a proposal calling for a constitutional convention.

HJR152, sponsored Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, was backed by Gov. Don Siegelman and would have allowed voters to decide in December whether to elect delegates to a constitutional convention.

House members debated the resolution for nearly four hours Thursday before voting to carry over the measure.

The main opposition to a constitutional convention was simply the unknown, said Freddie Patterson, director of the Federation's Governmental Affairs Department. Who would serve as delegates and what would prevent prejudices from entering into a new constitution were some of the many questions raised, Patterson said.

Patterson said it is refreshing to see that the public is smarter than the media and some politicians give them credit for being.

"There was an attempt by the media and some education officials to create a public perception that a new constitution was needed," Patterson said. "However, many legislators have told me that there was not an outpouring of support for a constitutional convention. Instead, legislators said their constituents were more concerned with reducing crime, creating jobs and improving education accountability. "I think most citizens know this was an attempt to raise their taxes through constitutional change."

Patterson said home rule also was discussed at length in connection with a constitution convention. Home rule, which would transfer more authority to local governing bodies, can already be accomplished by allowing it to be placed on a ballot in that county and receiving approval from voters in that county.

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