Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
Opelika-Auburn News on the Postal Service:
Postal Service rate increase will leave many ‘stamping mad.’
Next year will bring higher prices at the post office. Anyone who didn’t see this coming hasn’t been paying attention, but it’s sure to make consumers “stamping” mad.
It makes sense that the advent of e-mail and instant messaging apps would have a deleterious effect on the postal service.
Between 2001 and 2016, correspondence mail between households dropped by more than 60 percent, according to a study by the USPS Inspector General.
During the same period, changes in the way the postal service funds pensions and new requirements passed in the Bush administration have had a significant effect on the service’s finances.
Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the Postmaster General anticipates a $13 billion shortfall, projecting the USPS will run out of money in 2024 without significant regulatory changes from Congress.
Despite this, the proposed increases are negligible and likely won’t be noticed by the ordinary consumer. The cost of Forever Stamps is unchanged, and the rate hike doesn’t come into play until additional ounces are involved.
Even then the hike is 1.8 percent for first-class mail, and 1.5 percent for other categories.
For many Americans, even a small increase is an aggravation, particularly considering the wage stagnation suffered by many U.S. workers.
Still, the U.S. postal service remains a bargain compared to postal services in the rest of the industrialized world.
For those looking to beat the system, here’s a tip: Buy additional Forever stamps this year before the rate increases take effect next year.
Eventually, the cost of those will likely increase, too.
The U.S. Postal Service has filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission that it intends to raise rates in the coming year.
The Decatur Daily on different proposed amendments to the Alabama constitution:
The Alabama Constitution is the world’s longest currently in use.
It is 12 times longer than the average state constitution and 44 times longer than the U.S. Constitution. With well over 900 amendments and counting, it’s also the nation’s most amended constitution.
On Nov. 3, Alabama voters will be asked to amend it yet again.
Statewide Amendments 1, 5 and 6, and local Amendment 1 (Limestone County)
Voters statewide will decide the fates of six proposed constitutional amendments, and Limestone County voters will also vote up or down on one local amendment. Three of the statewide amendments and the Limestone County amendment serve no good purpose. They reiterate what is already the law and merely add to the state’s ridiculously long and cumbersome governing document.
Statewide Amendment 1 provides “that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.” This is already the law and is in little danger of changing, at least in Alabama, no matter what happens in other states. And if federal law did change or, for some reason, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled differently, that would override any provision of state constitutions, Alabama’s included.
The sponsor of the amendment, state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, knows this, but he believes the amendment “sends a message to Washington.”
If Marsh wants to send a message, we recommend he write a letter, not amend the state constitution.
Statewide Amendment 1 is nothing more than a political stunt with no real force of law. We therefore recommend voting “no” on statewide Amendment 1.
Statewide Amendments 5 and 6 apply only to Franklin and Lauderdale counties, but are on the statewide ballot because one Alabama House member voted against them.
Both amendments, along with Limestone County’s local amendment, specify that church members in those counties can use deadly force if they feel threatened in their places of worship. But these amendments, like statewide Amendment 1, are redundant. State law already provides that people can use deadly force in self defense or the defense of others. The state’s “stand your ground” law already applies to churches.
Normally, in the interest of local control and home rule, we would recommend that voters outside Franklin and Lauderdale counties abstain from voting on Amendments 5 and 6. In this case, however, where the amendments do nothing but make the state constitution longer, we recommend voters everywhere vote “no.”
Similarly, we recommend Limestone County voters vote “no” on local Amendment 1.
Statewide Amendments 2 and 3
Statewide Amendment 2, proposed by state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, would change the administration and oversight of the state’s court system.
It would, for example, give the entire state Supreme Court responsibility for appointing the administrator of courts, rather than just the chief justice. It would also provide that county district courts no longer must hold city court in towns of fewer than 1,000 people, give the power to remove judges solely to the Court of the Judiciary, increase the number of Court of the Judiciary members from nine to 11, and have one of its members appointed by the governor rather than the lieutenant governor.
Statewide Amendment 3 would extend the time appointed circuit and district court judges could fill a vacancy before facing election, letting them serve at least two years before they must run for election.
Both of these amendments would help increase stability and decrease turnover in a state judicial system that could use some stability.
We recommend voting “yes” on statewide Amendments 2 and 3.
Statewide Amendment 4
Statewide Amendment 4 would authorize the Legislature to go through the state constitution and remove outdated and racist language. Voters would then get to vote up or down on the state’s revised language in a subsequent referendum.
Getting rid of the racist language in Alabama’s 1901 constitution is long overdue, and this is the best opportunity Alabama voters have yet had to do so.
We recommend voting “yes” on statewide Amendment 4.
The Dothan Eagle on a proposed amendment to remove racist language from the Alabama constitution:
Two hundred thirty two years ago, the U.S. Constitution received ratification by the ninth of 13 states, sealing it as our nation’s guiding document. In the years since, our nation’s people have seen fit to tweak the constitution several times; the most recent, Amendment XXVII, staying changes in compensation of federal lawmakers until the following election, was proposed with the Bill of Rights in the 18th century and mulled over for more than 200 years before its 1992 ratification.
In contrast, Alabama’s bloated 1901 Constitution has been amended 946 times in 119 years, and on Nov. 3, voters will be asked to approve a handful of additional amendments. One of those, Amendment 4, would finally address at least one component of the constitution’s myriad embarrassments.
Amendment 4 could allow the state’s Legislative Reference Service to comb through the document and eliminate racist language that dates to the constitution’s origin. The proposed changes would go to the legislature; if approved, they would be put before the voters. The Alabama Informed Voter Act of 2016 would ensure that the ballot explains in plain language exactly what voters are asked to do. The people of Alabama would have the last word.
That would be a good start on repairing our state’s constitution, although a significant overhaul granting home rule to local governments, eliminating the requirement for many local matters to seek legislative approval and statewide support through constitutional amendment.