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YES AND FOR Vote – Amendments on Nov. 8, 2016

Mobile Area Chamber Comes Out in Support of Three Amendments, and Pay-As-You-Go Program

By: Bill Sisson, President & CEO, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

 

Lost in the middle of a divisive presidential election, are the 14 statewide amendments Alabama voters will be asked to vote on next week. Several key items on the ballot next Tuesday are important to the Mobile Area Chamber, and have the ability to impact our efforts to recruit and retain good paying jobs.

On Oct. 27, the Chamber’s board of directors passed a unanimous resolution of support for three YES votes on Amendments 8, 11  and 14; and a FOR vote on the Mobile County Pay-As-You-Go program. Below are brief overviews of each of these important ballot measures, and the rationale on why we are asking for your support. Please share this with your employees, family and friends, and ask them, too, to support these measures.

This is not to say the other amendments are not important, or do not impact the quality of life of residents in the Mobile area, the below ones have a direct impact on the Chamber’s mission: “To serve as a progressive advocate for business needs to promote the Mobile area’s economic well-being.”

 

 

AMENDMENT 8 – Right-to-Work

This amendment reinforces Alabama’s position as a right-to-work state in the state constitution. The right of employment, whether a member of a labor organization or not, has been Alabama law since 1958. The amendment would simply add it into the constitution.

Rationale:

  • One major component of Alabama’s economic development success and growth in the manufacturing sector is its longstanding status as a right-to-work state.
  • Passage will showcase voter support for the right to work without paying union dues and serve as a deterrent to pro-union legislation or promotion in the state.
  • The Chamber has a long-held policy that “encourages and endorses legislation which enhances interaction between management and the workforce, improving communication, morale, productivity and product quality.“ This position clearly calls for healthy labor – management relations in order to lessen the need for third party or union interference.

 

 

AMENDMENT 11 – Enhancements to 21st Century Manufacturing Zones

This amendment will allow municipalities to sell land located in Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zones at prices below market value, creating the opportunity for further incentives for manufacturers locating in these zones. This proposed constitutional amendment would validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act enacted in 2013.

Rationale:

  • Passage of Amendment 11 will clear up any uncertainties in the allowances of Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zones.
  • The ability to further negotiate a purchase price of industrial sites located within the defined Manufacturing Zone will enhance incentives and proposals offered to job-creating manufacturers considering relocation to Alabama.

 

 

AMENDMENT 14 – Local Bills

The approval of this amendment will amend a legislative voting procedure and ensure the legality of more than 600 local laws passed in previous legislative sessions.

Rationale:

  • Currently, bills passed in the Alabama Legislature prior to budget approval require a Budget Isolation Resolution (BIR) vote of at least a three-fifths supermajority of the quorum present. Most recently, the common practice of the House of Representatives was to pass BIRs with only three-fifths of those members who were both present and voting, requiring the support of fewer legislators.
  • The “fix” to this Legislative procedure must be codified as a part of the Alabama Constitution and requires a state-wide referendum.
  • More than 600 local laws have been passed using the “present and voting” practice, and are at risk of being struck down by courts or dragged out in extensive and expensive lawsuits without the referendum “fix.”

 

 

PAY-AS-YOU-GO Program – Mobile County

The Mobile Area Chamber encourages a FOR vote to approve the Mobile County Commission’s transportation pay-as-you-go program. Included in the proposal is more than $109.6 million in county and federal monies to widen existing roads, resurface existing streets, and bridge construction on projects spanning all three commission districts in Mobile County. The Alabama State Legislature mandates these projects be approved by a majority of voters, as they are paid for by a proportion of ad valoreum taxes currently collected in the county. To clarify, this is not a new and/or additional tax.