By William J. Canary & Anita L. Archie
On Tuesday, Alabama voters will have the opportunity to vote for several statewide amendments that will have a positive impact on the private sector, which in turn will provide a boost to the state’s coffers.
The Board of Directors of the Business Council of Alabama, the state’s largest business association representing manufacturers, small businesses and Alabama’s existing industries, recently endorsed seven of the amendments on Tuesday’s ballot that will have an effect on the state as a whole.
AMENDMENT 1: Alabama’s largest economic business is tourism, with a $2.2 billion annual economic impact that benefits both local communities and the state. Forever Wild, since its establishment in 1992, has purchased more than 227,000 acres of land for public use—all without taxpayer money. Alabama’s economic recovery hinges on a successful tourism industry, and during these challenging economic times, we must continue the Forever Wild program, a program that helps attract tens of thousands of visitors to Alabama each year.
AMENDMENT 2: Private sector job creation fuels Alabama’s economy, our education system and many other essential state services. This amendment would allow the state to refinance existing debt and issue new bonds not exceeding $750 million for economic development. With these additional incentives, Alabama will maintain a competitive edge in the recruiting of new industry and the expansion of existing businesses.
AMENDMENT 4: This amendment simply removes racist language from the Alabama Constitution for the sole purpose of enhancing the image of Alabama. Those suggesting that this amendment would limit the right to a public education are not telling the truth. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that segregated schools and poll taxes are unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education and Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections). Removing this racist language is a “no-brainer” and will send a positive message to foreign or domestic companies that are looking to locate in our state and create high-quality private sector jobs.
AMENDMENT 6: This amendment attempts to prohibit any person, employee, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system. The BCA opposes all health care and insurance-related mandates on employers and/or individuals. We want to encourage innovative solutions that increase employers’ choices in purchasing affordable, quality health care and prescription coverage while decreasing health care costs through free-market competition without government interference.
AMENDMENT 7: The BCA has been a longstanding champion of the private ballot. This amendment ensures that every individual in the state is guaranteed the right to a secret ballot in all elections, including union elections, and will preserve the all-important “right-to-work” law in Alabama. When an individual’s voting record becomes public knowledge, the very system of democracy crumbles. The BCA strongly supports all Alabamians’ right to vote by private ballot in all elections, without fear or intimidation.
AMENDMENTS 9 and 10: Amendments 9 and 10 simply update antiquated language, repeal provisions that are no longer necessary, and consolidate and streamline remaining provisions related to corporations and banks. The enactment of both amendments will not affect property rights or taxes in Alabama. This is an ongoing effort of the Constitutional Revision Commission to clean up outdated portions of the Alabama Constitution. For example, Amendment 9 would delete language dealing with telegraph lines and antitrust provisions that predate federal antitrust law. Likewise, Amendment 10 would update language that requires all bills or notes to be redeemable in gold or silver, among other provisions.
Alabama’s economy continues to show signs of recovering, but we are still not where we need to be. While we are tied with Tennessee for the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast, there is still plenty of work to do. Supporting these amendments on Tuesday will help small business owners and manufacturing companies to continue to do what they do best: create jobs. When private sector jobs are created, everyone wins.
William J. Canary is the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama.
Anita L. Archie is the Senior Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Advocacy and Communications and Legal Advisor for the Business Council of Alabama.