Alabama editorial roundup

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Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

Feb. 16

Dothan (Ala.) Eagle on constitutional reform:

The Alabama Legislature seems hell-bent on constitutional reform. That phrase should be welcome news to reform advocates who have spent years working to have our state’s antiquated 1901 constitution replaced with a document that rights the myriad wrongs in the century-old constitution.

However, you can never be sure with a legislative body that sees bingo as gambling and hopes to return teacher-led prayer to the classroom as “congressional studies.” It’s not the Alabama constitution it’s trying to amend. It’s the U.S. Constitution.

Last week, the Alabama House passed a resolution calling on Congress to convene a state-led convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and implementing term limits on federal elected officials.

“The federal government under the Obama administration has become a rabid beast that oversteps its authority with regularity,” Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton, told The Associated Press.

It’s ironic that the legislature would demand such changes of the federal government when it operates relatively free of the same expectations. Fiscal restraint? Pork projects alone suggest our state house needs some order. Limiting power and jurisdiction? A good start would be having the legislature grant home rule to the state’s 67 counties, turning loose of power concentrated in Montgomery by the 1901 Alabama Constitution. Term limits for federal officials? Please; Alabama lawmakers have no term limits and can sit in their public office as long as the voters will re-elect them.

Amending the U.S. Constitution is tough. It’s only happened 27 times, and the first 10 - the Bill of Rights - were adopted in one fell swoop. And it’s never been amended with the process Johnson’s resolution proposes - a Constitutional Convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

By contrast, the Alabama Constitution of 1901 is some 40 times longer than the U.S. Constitution, and has more than 800 amendments. Grassroots efforts to mount a state constitutional convention have failed to gain traction with lawmakers, although the legislature is considering revision to some portions of the massive document. But even a no-brainer like removing racist language couldn’t move smoothly, as some were concerned that doing so might leave the impression that the state was responsible for educating its youth.

Before our legislative body puts its energy into partisan saber-rattling with the federal government, it should turn its attention to the weaknesses of our state government. There’s more than enough there to keep them busy.

Online:

http://www.dothaneagle.com

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Feb. 17

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