Here are the details on Tuesday’s proposed constitutional amendment

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A "Vote Here" sign by the entrance to a polling place in Birmingham

Andrew Yeager, WBHM

By Andrew Gelderman, Reflect Alabama Fellow

Voters heading to the polls Tuesday will see a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Amendment 1 would remove a procedural step when considering local legislation.

Under a 1984 constitutional amendment, lawmakers are supposed to finalize the budget prior to handling any other bills. This was intended to stop major budget changes from happening at the last minute. However, if three-fifths of the House or Senate agree, they may pass what’s known as a Budget Isolation Resolution, or BIR. This resolution lets lawmakers address bills prior to finalizing the budget. 

Passing a BIR has become routine. 

“What we have is a procedural step that just takes time, energy, and resources,” Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, Amendment 1’s sponsor, said. “It’s a procedural vote that is of no effect on local legislation.”

As the majority of bills are brought to the floor after voting on a BIR, the current procedure effectively has legislators voting twice for the same bill — once to pass the BIR and another for the actual vote. This proposed constitutional amendment would lift the BIR requirement for local legislation.

Chambliss said this double vote on local legislation is a waste of time.

“Local legislation cannot come to the floor unless there’s agreement by the local delegation. Therefore, these bills are not controversial. Everybody in the local delegation has agreed for them to go forward,” Chambliss said.

Chambliss isn’t alone in his frustrations. An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted to put this amendment on the ballot with only two votes in opposition.

Chambliss emphasized this change only impacts local bills. Statewide bills would still need a vote to pass a BIR prior to consideration.

Chambliss said the amendment won’t impact voters directly, but will allow their state lawmakers to do their jobs more effectively. Chambliss added those with questions to reach out to their legislators.

 

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