Montgomery, Ala. – Alabama voters approved all statewide amendments on Tuesday’s ballots including right-to-work Amendment 8 and three others that are important to the business community.
Voters approved business-backed Amendments 2, 8, 11, and 14. Unofficial results show that voters also approved all other statewide amendments except one, Amendment 12 affecting Baldwin County.
The right to join or not join a union and be free of coercive attempts to force unionization is often cited as a hallmark of Alabama’s attraction to every segment of our economy especially manufacturers and suppliers. It played a major role in the decisions of such companies as Airbus and AustalUSA to manufacture in Alabama.
Amendment 8 enshrines Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state in the state Constitution, making it difficult to change.
“On Tuesday, Alabama’s voters gave our right-to-work statute constitutional protection and signaled that we are indeed open for business,” Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary said. “Over the last two decades, many businesses that were located in heavily unionized states chose to move operations and locate their facilities in the right-to-work Alabama due to the ability to compete in the global marketplace. Now that protection is enshrined in our Constitution.
“There are many BCA and business-community members who worked hard to bring this amendment to reality,” Canary said. “We thank Rep. Arnold Mooney for sponsoring the amendment and the House and Senate for sending it to voters.”
Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state prevents employees who choose not to join a union from being forced to pay union dues. By establishing a constitutional amendment, any future Legislature will not be able to repeal it. Instead, it would require a three-fifths vote of the Legislature and approval on a statewide ballot to overturn.
According to incomplete and unofficial returns, voters approved Amendment 8 by a margin of 70.1 percent to 29.9 percent.
The BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama also worked to pass Amendments 2, 11, and 14.
Amendment 2 ensures that future state park funds will not be allocated to other General Fund uses. The amendment establishes rules for dedicated state park funding and prohibits future budget actions like those that occurred between 2011 and 2015 when the Legislature moved $15 million from the State Parks’ budget to the General Fund, causing five state parks to close and other state parks to limit service and hours of operation. Voters approved Amendment 2 by a vote margin of 79.7 percent to 20.3 percent.
Amendment 11 will incentivize industrial development in Alabama by allowing the creation of Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zones. When a company invests at least $100 million on a site larger than 250 contiguous acres, city and county governments can use the additional property tax paid by the new industry to fund public improvement projects that may be otherwise unaffordable to localities. The amendment was approved by a margin of 58.8 percent to 41.6 percent.
Amendment 14 retroactively protects more than 600 local laws that have been passed under previous House procedural votes that moved legislation into position to be considered for final passage. The amendment approves bills the Legislature passed prior to Nov. 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either the House or Senate at the time it was adopted.
As background, bills passed in the Alabama Legislature prior to budget approval require a “budget isolation resolution” vote of at least a three-fifths supermajority of the quorum present. Recently, the House began passing BIRs with only three-fifths of those members who were both present and voting, requiring the support of fewer legislators.
Amendment 14 guarantees the legitimacy of the “present and voting” interpretation of the BIR voting procedure. Otherwise, courts could strike down these local laws following civil lawsuits at a significant cost to taxpayers. Voters approved the amendment by a margin of 68 percent to 32 percent.