Thus far, the commission has completed its review of articles related to legislative rules and powers, ethics and separation of powers. Its recommendations have been handed to the Legislature. The commission hopes to deliver its report on granting home rule to Alabama counties to the Legislature before the end of the current session. All that will remain will be for legislators to write bills on the accepted recommendations and for voters to decide on the constitutional amendments.
Cumbersome? Yes. But that is how our founding fathers designed it in hopes that change could be prevent or at least delayed.
Yet, the process goes on and the commission, serious about its work, has sought input from those who will have to live under the government that is being re-designed.
Students at the UAB Honors College have been working on proposals of their own, proposals the commission welcomes. (Students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville also have been asked for input.)
UAB student suggestions include treating the state government like a federal system — all powers not designated to the state are reserved to the counties. They also want entities to pre-clear local amendments that would do away with statewide votes on local issues. In addition, the students recommend more modern methods for advertising local bills and amendments, such as electronic notification.
All good ideas, though creating a federal system in Alabama will be a hard sell to legislators who like the power they have over local affairs.
There has been student input in the past on constitutional reform. It was usually received with a polite thank-you and then ignored. However, with constitutional reform moving ahead, albeit slowly, and with a commission that appears determined to get something done, this may be the time when Montgomery listens to the next generation.