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Thursday, October 29

POSEY AMENDMENT, DOES IT MATTER?

When you go to the polls Tuesday, November 4, you will see on the back side of your ballot Proposed Local Amendment number one (1) relating to Winston County. This amendment proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal Amendment 255 (Posey Amendment) requiring a referendum approving special or local laws in Winston County. In short, this is a chance voters have to keep or kill the Posey Amendment.

The Posey Amendment was proposed by Winston County Representative John Posey, Jr. on November 30, 1965 and ratified by the state legislature on December 13, 1965. Because Winston County has been predominately Republican since reconstruction and fearing the rest of the state could effectively control the county, the amendment was proposed to prevent the legislature from passing "a special or local act affecting Winston County or any city, town, village, district, or other such political subdivision of the county, unless the operation of such law shall be approved by a vote of the duly qualified electors of such county, city, town, village, district, or other political subdivision of the county, at an election held for such purpose, in the manner prescribed by such law."

The concept looked good on paper, however, there was a flaw. Amendment 255 was not submitted to the United States Attorney General as required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 thus rendering it ineffective. A Winston County Court case in 1976 ruling by Judge Carlton Mayhall stated Amendment 255 could not be used to render certain local acts invalid and unconstitutional as violating the amendment because the amendment itself was ineffective. This ruling brought an Attorney General's opinion that confirmed the ruling. (VIEW ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION)

The Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to square the Haleyville city limits and/or have an opportunity to expand the city limits, felt Amendment 255 was a stumbling block to it's effort and had the Proposed Local Amendment Number One placed on the ballot for the November general election. Several meetings were scheduled in various communities in an effort to keep the amendment. Citizens feared an encroachment by the city of Haleyville in areas where the people did not necessarily want to come in.

Two efforts have been made in the past fifteen years to get a bill passed in the state legislature which could possibly change the Haleyville city limits. First, a call for a vote by the citizens of Haleyville as to whether they wanted to expand the city limits, and secondly, a vote by the people outside the present city limits (in the proposed expanded area) as to whether they wanted to come into the city.
No attempt was made to bring any property into the city without those two elections to see what the people wanted to do.

Both efforts failed due to lack of local legislative support. The first effort was killed by Representative Mike Millican and the second by Representative Ken Guin of Carbon Hill.

Guin effectively divided Winston County into three parts under the guise of redistricting. Now the county has three representatives and three senators (all Democrats), none of whom are from or live in Winston County. Looking at any election results and it is apparent the citizens of Winston County cannot elect or defeat any candidate running for the Alabama Senate or House. This is the case even though there is the "Posey Amendment" to protect the county from outside control.

There is a bigger issue than whether or not to kill the Posey Amendment since it has already been declared ineffective. Vote anyway you want, it will not matter. An apparent systematic political effort to control and curtail the growth of Haleyville and Winston County by outsiders has already been put into place, even with the Posey Amendment.

Harold Bearden

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