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March 17, 2003   Email to Friend 

OPPONENTS SPEAK OUT AGAINST CONSTITUTION REFORM, TAX INCREASES
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 17, 2003

Blount County Farmers Federation Board Member Dennis Maze was among several farmers who addressed the Governor's Commission on Constitutional Reform during a hearing March 7 in Birmingham. The commission is charged with making recommendations about proposed changes in Alabama's constitution.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Members of the Alabama Farmers Federation were among 56 speakers who addressed members of the Governor's Commission on Constitutional Reform during a March 7 hearing in Birmingham. Riley charged the commission with crafting amendments on five subjects regarding the constitution. Namely, the governor wants; to reduce the amount of tax dollars earmarked in the state; voters to have the option of giving their counties home rule powers; to strengthen the governor's power to veto individual budget items; and the constitution to be reorganized and streamlined.

Comments by Autauga County Farmers Federation First Vice President Andy Wendland were typical of those who opposed many of those subjects. He said the idea of home rule and limited home rule could be devastating to farmers.

"I'm not so much against local authority as I may be against the abuse of it and what home rule has come to represent," Wendland said. "Home rule really means two things -- taxes and zoning.

"Local governments are hurrying for more tax revenue, and they're doing anything they can to get that tax revenue."

Wendland said that before governments request more tax money, they should be more fiscally responsible with the taxes they already collect.

Blount County Farmers Federation Board Member Dennis Maze told commissioners if home rule happens, it could tax him out of business.

"This is not about constitution reform, it's about tax reform," Maze said. "If I lose my current use and my sales tax exemptions -- and that's what they're trying to take away -- I won't be able to stay on the farm." Federation Governmental Affairs Department Director Freddie Patterson and Federation State Board Member Jimmy Parnell of Chilton County are among the 34 people who make up the governor's commission.


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