New state constitution is needed but wording ambiguous
Lord knows, Alabama needs a new state constitution, but there are so many fears to allay that politicians must talk straight if it's to have a chance of succeeding.
Still, the fears don't outweigh the problems the 1901 constitution causes governments from the Statehouse to the county courthouses.
The current bill to call a voter referendum is a bit confusing and leads to more fears. Its sponsor, Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, said all his bill does is allow Alabama voters to decide if they want to call a convention to write a new constitution.
Nobody should be opposed to such an innocent vote of the people, especially if there is no cost to holding the referendum. The proposal would go on the presidential preference primary ballot in February.
But hold on; the bill actually goes further. If voters approved calling the convention, voters from each of the state's 105 House districts would elect two delegates during the regular June primaries. Those delegates would meet in October to begin work on a new constitution.
There's a big difference in having an expression of voter sentiment and actually starting work on writing a new constitution. It's that type of misinformation that can feed the fear machines that predict dire consequences from a new constitution and kill any attempt to write one.
This bill may easily self-destruct on purpose. Legislators like their power and most don't want to share it with local governments.