By Fred Woods
When they go to the polls on Nov. 4, 2014, Alabama voters will cast their ballots on five amendments to the state constitution, on topics ranging from bond issues to the right to hunt and fish. It’s a fairly typical election year: there are several amendments that few have heard of.
The Alabama constitution has been amended nearly 900 times since it was adopted 113 years ago. That makes it the longest, by far, and most cumbersome state constitution in the nation.
Lawmakers decide how each amendment is explained on the ballot, and Alabama voters have long complained the descriptions are hazy at best and sometimes downright deceptive. State media response to the hazy descriptions has been to largely ignore amendments.
Following is an attempt to provide a brief explanation of the five 2014 proposed amendments:
Amendment 1 forbids the state to recognize laws of any state or foreign country that violate Alabama policies.
Amendment 2 increases the amount of General Obligation Bonds authorized by $50 million, with the increase to be used to build and maintain Alabama National Guard armories.
Amendment 3 protects the right of citizens to bear arms, provides that any attempt to limit this right be subject to strict scrutiny and provides that no international treaty or law shall interfere with this right.
Amendment 4 requires a two-thirds vote by the state legislature to increase local (city and county) education expenditure by $50,000 or more. This applies to unfunded mandates except for those dealing with compensation, benefits or due process rights of board of education employees.
Amendment 5 clarifies that the people of Alabama have the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations.