Of the 14 amendments on the back of the ballot Tuesday in Alabama, three particularly important to Calhoun County voters appeared headed for passage late Tuesday.
Arguably the most important to local voters was Amendment 14, which passed. If it had failed to pass, hundreds of state and local laws could have been overturned, according to proponents of the measure.
That amendment is an attempt to resolve problems stemming from a legal challenge in 2015 to a procedural matter of law-making. That challenge is being appealed to the state Supreme Court, but if that appeal fails and any further appeals also fail, hundreds of state and local laws could have been overturned without the passage of amendment 14.
At stake with that amendment were at least 13 laws that govern Calhoun County matters such as beer tax collections, gasoline tax disbursements, court costs and booking fees and the county’s nuisance abatement program.
The amendment also addresses laws that affect other local cities, such as Anniston’s annexation of land in 2003, and the addition of two members in 2009 to the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, among dozens of other laws.
Voters on Tuesday also appeared to have passed Amendment 3, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, which would prevent some local constitutional amendments from going to a statewide vote in the future.
That amendment solves the issue of voters often having to vote on local amendments that wind up on the statewide ballot. That would often happen because of the failure to get unanimous approval on those amendments from local lawmakers, sending the matter to voters statewide. Often, statewide voters would simply decline to vote on those local matters and the amendment would fail to pass, experts have said.
Coleman’s amendment sets up a two-part process in which legislators would vote on whether to send the amendment to the voters for approval, then those lawmakers would vote on whether to send it to all Alabama voters, or just the county involved for a final vote.
One such local proposal, Amendment 10, also passed Tuesday with the support of a majority of voters statewide. It would keep out-of-county cities from exercising police jurisdiction in rural Calhoun County. As Lincoln's population grew so too did the city’s police jurisdiction, from 1.5 miles to a 3-mile radius, including portions of Talladega County.
Some residents in rural Talladega County felt that paying for a portion of Lincoln's typical sales taxes, business licenses and other fees was unfair, as those living in the police jurisdiction do not get to vote in Lincoln. That amounted to taxation without representation, many of those rural Talladega County residents said. That sentiment spread to some residents of Calhoun County.
Amendment 10 bans any city outside Calhoun County from exerting police jurisdiction in the county. The bill doesn’t mention Lincoln by name, but it’s the only city that would be affected by the bill.