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August 01, 2012   Email to Friend 

Commission Continues Work On Major Revision Of State Constitution
Mary Johnson

The Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission will resume work on article-by-article revisions of the state constitution when it reconvenes Aug. 22.

The commission, which held its last meeting June 20, is reviewing three articles this year, one of which addresses the issue of home rule. Home rule, which redistributes certain governmental powers from the state legislature to local control, is favored by groups that support local governments controlling taxation and zoning issues.

In 2005, state legislation granted limited home rule to county governments, allowing greater control over issues of noise, sewage, litter, over-grown weeds, junk yards and animals outside of cities. Powers involving taxation and zoning remain with the state legislature.

The Alabama Farmers Federation policy opposes any attempt to allow the state to give up its responsibilities and powers to county or local units of government. Permitting home rule could effectively result in 67 counties operating as individual entities with various laws.

Home Rule is included in Article IV of the Constitution. The revision commission will also address articles on distribution of powers and representation.

The commission accepted the suggestion of former Alabama Law Institute Secretary Bob McCurley that Article IV be broken into three sections with subcommittees assigned to each. The local government section, which includes home rule, will be reviewed in a subcommittee chaired by Greg Butrus, a partner in the Balch & Bingham law firm. The ethics subcommittee will be chaired by Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson. Matt Lembke, a partner in the Bradley, Arant, Boult, and Cummings law firm, will chair the legislative department subcommittee.

During the meeting, the commission discussed ways to educate the public about amendments to the banking and corporations sections of the state constitution, which passed the legislature this session. The public will vote on the changes, known as Amendments 9 and 10 on the ballot, in the Nov. 6 general election. 

The commission is chaired by former Gov. Albert Brewer, who was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley, and Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, an ex-officio member, serves as vice chair. Other members include Bentley and his remaining appointees Vicki Drummond and Becky Gerritson; Sen. President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and his appointees Matthew Lembke, Carolyn McKinstry and Jim Pratt; House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, and his appointees Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, John Anzalone and Greg Butrus; and ex-officio members Sen. Ben Brooks, R-Mobile, Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville and Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne. n

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