Alabama voters approve $85 million bond issue to fund public historic sites and state parks

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Sean Pavone /

Alabama voters approved Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment, on May 24. Amendment 1 authorized the state to issue up to $85 million in state park bonds. With 100% reporting from constituencies, the vote was 77% to 23%.

Amendment 1 authorized $80 million of the bond amount for state parks operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and $5 million for historic sites operated by the Historic Commission of Alabama. Under Amendment 1, bond proceeds could not be used for the improvement or maintenance of Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama. If the bond proceeds exceed $85 million for any reason, Amendment 1 requires that it be allocated to the Alabama Forestry Commission for capital improvements and maintenance of state forests.

State Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-24) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-27) sponsored Amendment 1 in the Legislative Assembly as House Bill 565. The House voted 97-1 on April 13, 2021. The Senate voted 29-0 on an amended version on April 29. The House voted 98-0 on the final version. Rep. Ledbetter said: “Because interest rates are so low today, we are able to use the same amount we are paying now, reissue new bonds and invest $80 million in existing parks, which is going to be a huge boon to our state and to our tourism and across our state.

On Nov. 8, Alabama will decide on nine more constitutional amendments, including a recompiled state constitution. The other amendments would be:

  • authorize the code commissioner to incorporate constitutional amendments approved in the May 24 and November 8 elections into the 2022 Alabama constitution if voters approve the new constitution
  • allow local governments to allocate funding for broadband Internet infrastructure to public or private entities;
  • removing orphans’ cases from the jurisdiction of county probate courts;
  • allow the legislator to provide for offenses for which release on bail may be refused;
  • require that changes to laws governing the conduct of general elections be implemented at least six months before the general election;
  • require the governor to notify the attorney general and the victim’s family before granting a commutation or remission of the death sentence
  • clarify that counties and municipalities have the power to finance economic and industrial development by using public funds, issuing bonds and leasing property or lending bonds to a private entity; and
  • allowing specific cities to use a previously established property tax to directly fund capital improvements in addition to using the revenue to pay off bonds and other debts.

Both houses of the Alabama State Legislature are required to pass a proposed constitutional amendment by a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to return it to a statewide ballot. . If the amendment is approved by a simple majority of voters, it becomes part of the state constitution.

A total of 78 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years from 2000 to 2020, of which 62 were approved (79.49%) and 16 were defeated (20 .59%). From 2000 to 2020, the number of constitutional amendments on statewide ballot in even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.

Republished with permission from The Center Square.


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