Anybody else ready for a new constitution?

Monday morning Web sites across the nation posted headlines such as “Alabama legislators, bingo casino owners charged on federal vote buying allegations” (al.com), “11 charged in Alabama vote-buying case” (cnn.com) and “Legislators are among 11 arrested in Alabama” (nytimes.com).

In other words it is yet another of the state’s political scandals involving high-profile elected officials. As if we haven’t had enough of those in recent years.

We have a former governor that was sent to prison a few years back and the former mayor of the largest city in the state was sent to prison earlier this year.

Is anybody else tired of sleazy politicians running this state?

The arrests that happened Monday were related to the most recent legislative session and dealt with the legalized gambling vote.

While gambling remains a hot topic for debate in Alabama, the current constitution prevents citizens from going to the polls and deciding the issue without the legislature first putting the item on the ballot.

During the past legislative session, the legislature voted against letting the citizens of the state decide. The indictments that led to the 11 arrests suggest some of the votes were provided to the highest bidders.

The solution is simple. We need a new constitution.

The current constitution is lengthy. The current constitution requires any important legislation to be funneled through Montgomery before it can be voted on at the local level.

The current constitution promotes and protects lobbyists as they try to buy votes — like what allegedly occurred this spring. The old constitution is ineffective.

The best reason to support a new constitution is to give the voice of the people back to the people.

Yes, we need a legislature to handle the day-to-day issues of running the state. Let the legislature create a budget, levy taxes and appropriate funds.

It should never be allowed to vote on local issues to go on a ballot to be voted on in a statewide election — which the legislature currently does. Local issues should be handled locally.

The legislature should not, under any circumstances, vote on major issues such as legalized gambling — the citizens should decide such issues without any hindrances from state officials.

But none of that will come to be under the current constitution.

Under the current constitution things will remain the same and votes on crucial issues will continue to be purchased by the highest bidder.

Will these arrests put a stop the corruption in Montgomery? Nope — none of the other arrests have stopped it.

As long as the current constitution makes the legislative process murky at best, legislators are still susceptible to corruption thanks to the influence of lobbyists in Alabama.

The only thing the recent arrests will do is to cause those lobbyists cover their tracks better next time.

A new constitution can help end the corruption — unfortunately, there are not many lobbyists supporting that cause.

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