© 1999 - 2006 League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham and
League of Women Voters of the United States
A Publication of the League
of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham.
League Supports Constitutional Reform at Montgomery Rally
At least 12 LWV members were among the 500 citizens attending the Let the People Vote Rally held on the Capitol steps January 25 in Montgomery. The event was sponsored by ACCR and supported by the LWVAL. Legislators and constitutional reform supporters addressed the crowd. Mrs. Johnnie Carr, civil rights leader and friend of Rosa Parks, recounted her days in Birmingham working with the LWV for voting and registration rights. Students presented boxes of petitions with more than 65,000 signatures calling for a constitutional convention to the Alabama Legislature. Bills for a constitutional convention are presently awaiting decisions in both the House and Senate.
A Note from the President
The Birmingham League focused its efforts on the support of LWVAL priorities during the month of January. On the 25th, 14 LWVGB members traveled to Montgomery to participate in the “Let The People Vote” rally. We joined Alabamians from across the state – high school and college students, representatives from many grassroots organizations, concerned citizens – to present our lawmakers with over 65,000 signatures in support of HB109 calling for a constitutional convention of citizens. The following evening, we met at the Homewood Library to begin a two-part series of consensus on the LWVAL Alabama Legislative study. True to form, LWVGB members were engaged in lively and thought-provoking discussion and had no shortage of opinions!
The Voters Service committee has begun the planning process for Election 2006 activities. You will hear more about these plans over the next few months. We will need your ideas – and assistance – to make this effort successful.
I would like to make another appeal to our membership for support of our Observer Corp. In particular, we need volunteers to attend the Birmingham Water Board and BJCC Transit Authority meetings. Contact Beverly Nelson if you can offer one to four mornings a month to be our eyes at public meetings.
Report from the Nominating
LWVGB Board Vacancies for 2006-07 League Year
February Membership Meeting
Alabama Legislative Study and Consensus, Part II
Make plans to participate in the second of a two-part consensus meeting on LWVAL’s study of the Alabama legislature. This month’s meeting will focus on briefing papers related to Legislative Basics, Lobbying and Interest Groups, and Citizen Access. Study materials are available on the LWVAL website at www.lwval.org/legstudy/members. Contact Jean Johnson at email@example.com or 205-870-3063 if you need assistance in accessing the materials.
Thursday, February 23rd
1721 Oxmoor Road
Alabama Legislative Update
[For more information about the League's priority issues and progress of important legislation, visit www.lwval.org/LWVALAction/ALIssues-2006.html. Latest news and alerts are posted!]
This is the year that our State Legislature has a chance to show leadership and statesmanship. The League supports several bills introduced in this session.
First and foremost are two bills calling for a constitutional convention. If these pass, the other reform issues will be a part of the new constitution! They are HB 109 sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton and SB 52 sponsored by Senator Ted Little.
HB109 is now in the House Constitution and Elections committee, following a Public Hearing held January 25th, which several League members attended. THE COMMITTEE WILL VOTE ON IT WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15.
SB52 is now in the Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee waiting for Committee Chair, Senator Wendell Mitchell, to call for a Public Hearing. That will probably happen during the third week of February.
Your support is desperately needed. Call your legislators on these committees (listed below) , and let them know you want them to vote for HB109 and SB52. YOUR IMMEDIATE CALL (before 10:00 a.m. on Feb. 15) FOR HB109 IS CRITICAL!
House Office Number: 334-242-7600 (Ask for your legislator’s number.)
Senate Office Number: 334-242-7800
The League also supports public transportation. Two bills currently before the legislature are constitutional amendments that would add public transit to the list of services for which fuel and road use taxes can be used. This is a statewide amendment and would make it possible for local communities to receive consistent funding for public transportation.
SB 182 is sponsored by Senator Rodger Smitherman.
HB 353 is sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall.
The League supports campaign finance reform. Two constitutional amendments would forbid PAC-to-PAC transfers.
HB 93 is sponsored by Rep. Jeff McLaughlin (Update - HB93 has passed the House!)
SB138 is sponsored by Senator Curt Lee
Three constitutional amendments would require funding disclosure for political campaigns.
HB90 sponsored by Rep. Randy Hinshaw requires disclosure on political advertising.
HB 113 sponsored by Rep. Randy Hinshaw extends that disclosure to electioneering communication.
SB 123 sponsored by Senator Lindsey extends the disclosure to electioneering communication.
Call your legislators and tell them to vote for these bills!
March Membership Meeting
LWVGB takes a Spring Break!
(There will be no membership meeting in March.)
April Membership Meeting
Preparing for Election 2006
Thursday, April 27, 6:00 pm
Betty Warnock, Yvonne Brakefield and Virginia Randolph are researching issues related to how Alabama, and especially Jefferson and Shelby Counties, are managing the Help America Vote Act. Do you know how many counts of ballots are normally made when there is no recall vote in an election? Do you know how election officials determine the number of ballots to have on site? What is the basis for a valid and counted Provisional Ballot? Do you know why some absentee ballots and some provisional ballots that are theoretically valid are not counted? These issues and others, along with plans for the League involvement with citizen education and voter registration, will provide everyone a chance to volunteer to help democracy work. Please attend the meeting and help us plan the Greater Birmingham League’s election year activities.
Transit Board Derails Again
Jefferson County Commission
In a letter dated February 3, the Environmental Protection Agency notified Jefferson County of thirteen clean-water rules and provisions violations of the court agreement governing the county’s $3 billion sewer rehabilitation program. The violations include sewage overflowing into the Cahaba River Basin, sewage plant overflows even during dry weather, sewage bypassing wastewater treatment plants and water-quality violations at the Cahaba, Leeds and Trussville plants. The EPA has requested to meet with county officials and attorneys to discuss the violations and possible penalties. Jefferson County is under a 1996 federal court consent decree to fix leaky sewers and end direct discharges of sewage into streams.
Jefferson County also has exhibited problems setting and following departmental budgets. Between October 1, 2005 (the beginning of the fiscal year) and January 30, Jefferson County passed 98 budget amendments. The county with the next highest amendments is Baldwin County, with 51. Shelby County had none. In 2004 the JCC paid $592,000 for a study by Auburn University that pointed out this practice as a serious flaw in the county’s budget process.
Defusing growing hostility between Jefferson County and City of Birmingham officials was the purpose of a breakfast meeting between Birmingham mayor Bernard Kincaid and JCC president Larry Langford in early February. Langford has publicly criticized the city for failure to act on projects such as the Railroad Reservation Park and the loss of a U.S. national team soccer game. After the meeting both Langford and Kincaid said they would work on better communications between city and county governments.
[See "White says fines could cut sewer repair money"by Barnett Wright, Birmingham News, 2/10/06.]
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