HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Like many of Alabama's amendments, this one seems to focus on the arcane.
Specifically it centers around the way district attorneys and circuit clerks are compensated.
Basically, the district attorneys who help run courthouses don't make contributions toward retirement, but Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard says if they meet a service requirement, "We're still paid out of the general fund."
If the amendment passes, Broussard elaborates, "Instead the DA and the clerks are paying into a retirement fund."
There's an obvious reason lawmakers pushed it through to the ballot. Broussard sums it up this way, "It helps the public, because this will save money. It's not money being drawn out of the general fund to pay retired clerks and DA's."
Broussard adds even DA's get something out of it. Right now, their benefits can't go to family members. He adds that if the amendment passes, "It helps DA's and clerks, because they are under more of a standard retirement system, where there are benefit survivorships."
The most interesting part about the amendment is that you have to vote for it at all.
It passed the legislature by a combined vote of 127-3.
But despite the legalese involved in the conversation, the limited impact outside of courthouses, and the overwhelming support from 98% of the legislature, it still needs approval from the subset of voters who will turn out for a primary and remember to flip over the ballot.
UPDATE- After this story was published, State Auditor Jim Zeigler weighed in on the amendment via press release. His statement reads in part:
Amendment One on Tuesday's statewide ballot says that it authorizes the legislature to provide a retirement for new District Attorneys and Circuit Clerks.
But State Auditor Jim Zeigler says that is incorrect. He says the Amendment would abolish a pension program the officials already have, to which they make no contributions from their pay. It would replace that "supernumerary" system with a retirement similar to other state employees in which the
officials would make contributions from their paychecks.
Zeigler says "the inaccurate wording is likely to get Amendment One defeated when it would actually
save millions for Alabama taxpayers."
The auditor says his figures show Amendment One would save taxpayers $291,000 a year, starting immediately.
That figure would grow to $8.4 million a year in 30 years.