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The Alabama Voter 
Summer 2011 Edition
Published July 19, 2011
Read here online or download the
print edition.

A Byrd's Eye View

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL President

Two years ago, I wrote a piece for the LWVAL VOTER, noting I was the “new kid on the block.” At that time, I was sharing the presidency with veteran Co-President Charlotte Ward. Now, I am doing the presidency “solo,” though Charlotte has agreed to provide the same wisdom and counseling as she did before. What have I learned in the past two years? First, the LWVAL is composed of amazingly talented and committed women who believe in the mission of the Alabama League. Second, and importantly, the effectiveness of the state board is greater than the sum of its talented and committed parts (AKA board members, to paraphrase Aristotle). The board works extremely well together—teamwork abounds. We work very hard at our board meetings, whether face-to-face or by teleconference. A strong spirit of collaboration, not competitiveness, prevails, without ego-trips and turf-wars--all with the goal of maximizing League effectiveness. And always, the LWVAL Board is anxious to serve our local leagues and members. If you have questions, suggestions, or any other thoughts, please contact us. My email is Let us hear from you.

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Meet Your LWVAL Board of Directors

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL President
Our organizational meeting for the 2011-2013 LWVAL board was held July 9, 2011. It was a meeting of goal setting, portfolio assignments, and calendar planning. Your LWVAL Board is headed by me, of course, with Mary Lynn Bates returning as 1st VP and Scarlett Gaddy returning as 2nd VP. Both bring years of State League experience. Yvonne Brakefield has rejoined the State Board as secretary, providing the most readable minutes to be found. Shelly Murray is one of our two newcomers, becoming our Treasurer. The portfolio assignments are as follows:

  • Advocacy—Anne Permaloff, Chair. Committee members: Mary Lynn Bates, Hattie Kaufman, Joyce Lanning (More members are being solicited; see Anne’s article)
  • Education (Charter Schools study)—Laura Hill, Chair
  • Environment/Natural Resources—Joyce Lanning, Chair
  • Fundraising—Jeanine Normand Mary McGinnis, with help from Kathy Byrd
  • Health Care in Alabama—Anne Permaloff, with input from Shelly Murray and Joyce Lanning, and hopefully others from around the state
  • Membership—Scarlett Gaddy and Mary McGinnis. Scarlett works toward expanding local leagues to new areas; Mary will continue to serve as the Alabama Membership Recruitment (MRI)/ Leadership Development Chair
  • LWVAL Voter Editor—Charlotte Ward
  • Voter Service—Hattie Kaufman and Mary McGinnis (who will focus on the Vote 18 project).
Later we will activate our Nominating Committee, headed by Stacey Steiner.

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Goals and Timelines: 2011-2013

Your LWVAL has identified our main goals and timelines for the next two years. They are summarized below. Please realize that timelines are tentative, though we will stick to them as closely as possible.

Studies/Consensus Development
(Precise dates to be confirmed later)

These efforts relate to the Program/potentially Advocacy side of the LWVAL.

  • Charter Schools in Alabama
    (Laura Hill, Chair)

    • Note:  This study dovetails nicely with LWVUS Education
      Study, whose consensus is due Dec. 1, 2011.

    • Materials to local leagues:  September 2011, Consensus
      Questions to follow

    • Consensus responses due to Study Committee: February 2012

    • Study Committee compiles data, writes proposed consensus
      opinion for LWVAL board approval:  March 2012 for approval at
      board meeting prior to Council

    • Presentation to Council:  May 2012

  • Health Care in Alabama:
    (Anne Permaloff, Chair, with committee)

    • Facts and Issues written and delivered to LWV and outside
      reviewers:  Fall 2011

    • Revisions and consensus questions completed:  February 2012

    • Study materials to local leagues: Fall 2012

    • Consensus due to Study Committee

  • Update on Facts and Issues on Environmental Management in Alabama
    (Joyce Lanning, Chair)

    • Note:  This is not a program study, per se.  It is an
      update on the 2000 LWVAL document.

    • Much of this update will focus on issues related to water:

      • East Alabama “Water Wars” such as debate on the Chattahoochee

      • North Alabama debates on issuing permits for mining

      • Other hot topics include mercury contamination, coal
        by-products and climate change from pollution

      • Of interest is “how decisions are made”

    • Input and review of this update will include LWV members and
      outside expert

Election 2012

Obviously 2012 will be a major focal point, and relates more closely to the Voter Service side of the LWV. In addition to the Presidential Preference Primary (tentatively March 13, subject to Justice Dept. approval), there will be the seven congressional seats, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Supreme Court Justice Seats, the Court of Civil Appeals Judge seats, the Court of Criminal Appeals Judge seats, State Board of Education seats, and more locally, circuit court judges, district court judges, probate judges. In addition, there will be proposed constitutional amendments to be considered on March 13th.

  • In the past several years, the LWVAL has prepared candidate questionnaires for
    the Supreme Court justices and the two appellate courts, posted on the
    LWVAL website.  We plan to repeat this questionnaire, but will to
    try to increase the visibility of our highly informative publication.

  • Another area we are considering is developing a “translation” of proposed
    amendments to the Alabama constitution into layman’s language,
    explaining what it would mean if a proposed amendment went into effect,
    and what it would mean if it did not.  Many voters complain that
    they do not understand what proposed amendments involve, so we felt
    this would be a valuable “voter service.”

  • Voter registration is always a primary focus of the LWV at all levels. 
    We have discussed several possibilities, especially the Vote18 project
    that the Mobile has done so well.  We will explore other
    possibilities with governmental agencies and alliances with other
    organization.  Stay tuned.

Put your seat belts on….it’s going to be a busy year or two!!

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2011 LWVAL Convention Report

by Joyce Lanning, LWVAL Director

Over fifty LWVAL members and several others took part in our educational and enjoyable convention held in Mobile April 30-May 1, only days after the deadly tornados hit the northern part of the state. We were thankful that our Tuscaloosa and Birmingham members were safe, but mindful of those who were affected.

More than twenty of us were guests of the Mobile League Friday night at a progressive dinner in three homes within walking distance in Mobile’s Historic District. The menu was outstanding and delicious, and the night perfect for indoor-outdoor enjoyment.

After Saturday’s opening business session, we enjoyed box lunches as awards were given. The Jane Katz Public Service Award, presented to an individual or organization whose work strengthens democracy, was awarded to the Student Governments of the University of Alabama and Auburn University for their work on the gubernatorial debates. The Phyllis Rea membership Award, presented to the local League with the highest percentage of growth over the past two years, was awarded to Mobile. The Joyce Woodward Memorial Award, presented to an individual or League for outstanding work in League Program was awarded - with gratitude - to Jeanne Lacey, Baldwin County, whose health unfortunately prevented her attendance.

At its spring meeting, The LWVAL Board decided last summer’s Gulf oil disaster was still of primary interest in the state. Dr. Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia has been the lead researcher on biological effects of the spill, and we were fortunate to have Melitza Crespo-Medina, Ph.D., from the Joye Research Group to explain their findings. The Gulf of Mexico has natural oil seeps, which the group was studying when the Deepwater Horizon blowout occurred. The gas and oil injected into the gulf has been broken down by microbes, and the residue has fallen to the Gulf floor in several places. Samples and photographs show dead tube worms and other creatures in these areas. More research is needed to determine impacts and recovery rates. Her presentation, which was very informative, is recorded and is available for viewing. She called for standardized protocols for sampling the gulf floor so that research by different organizations will be comparable, an effort supported by panelist Dr. Crozier.

Following her talk, Dr. Crespo-Medina joined a panel discussion with Dr. George Crozier, Executive Director, Dauphin Island Sea Lab; Judy Haner, Marine Program Director, The Nature Conservancy Alabama Chapter; Casi Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper of Mobile Baykeeper; Pete Tuttle, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Department of Interior Case Coordinator for Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Recovery; and Bob Higgins, Senior Vice President, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance. Part of their discussion is reported at The video of the presentations is available for those who couldn’t attend and want to learn more.

Frustration regarding continued consumer questioning of the safety of Gulf seafood was clear, as well as the way in which BP’s procedures and lack of transparency tended to make it hard for people who wanted to help with the recovery process. Since only 8% of the claims made by businesses have been paid, Business Support Centers in Baldwin County are working to provide interim funds. Commercial and political efforts have come together in the Coastal Resiliency Coalition and work is underway with Project Rebound to respond to psychological and emotional needs created by the spill.

Legislation is being introduced in Congress to assure that 80% of the Clean Water Act fines are returned to the states affected; without the legislation, it could be spent anywhere or on the next oil spill. Another source of funding is provided by the trustee-led Natural Resources Damage and Recovery process, which requires the polluter to make compensatory payments for restoration, rehabilitation and sometimes purchase of replacement assets. This is a non-punitive legal procedure which is very dependent on science, but can create conflict as trustees have the burden of proof and want studies that are independent, straightforward, clearly understandable and defensible.

President Obama has created the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which is an advisory body made up of state officials appointed by the president based on recommendations from the five Gulf Coast states and federal agencies. It is charged with developing a restoration strategy for the Gulf.

By building 100 miles of artificial oyster reefs Project 100-1000 is working to create the conditions needed to plant, support and promote more than 1000 acres of coastal marsh and sea grass. The first quarter-mile was begun in January, 2011, and will continue to help support Gulf restoration through a public-private partnership which promotes community involvement and job creation. This Restore Coastal Alabama Partnership is a project of the Alabama Coastal Foundation, Mobile Baykeeper, The Nature Conservancy and The Ocean Foundation.

After a very brief break, Hattie Kaufman, LWV of Greater Tuscaloosa, presided as we came back together to hear about LWVUS’ support of the EPA through its Clean Air Defense, which includes the Toolkit for Climate Action. Alabama is at the bottom of most measures of energy efficiency, and EPA funding for the efficiency programs was deeply cut in the 2011 budget. Full costing of energy sources would include some of the unpriced externalities for fossil fuels like coal, changing the economics and making alternative energy sources more competitive. Some examples are mining deaths, mountain top removal and stream destruction with the dumped ‘overburden’, increased heath impacts and costs due to asthma and heart problems from breathing particulate matter. In addition to impacts of planetary temperature increases due to heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the oceans are becoming more acidic as they take up carbon dioxide which threatens shell formation by the organisms at the base of the food chain.

Cindy Lowry, Executive Director of Alabama Rivers Alliance, explained the need for a state water management policy which would include issues of quantity, such as release of dammed water, incentives and mandates for conservation and efficiency, regulations for inter-basin transfers, environmental flow standards, water withdrawal regulation and watershed-based decision-making bodies. Our neighboring states are ahead of us: Georgia has good water permitting standards, Florida has excellent policies, including strong flow regulations, and Tennessee has inter-basin transfer regulations.

Alabama does have a Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management, which was created in 2008 and stopped meeting after some educational activities. It needs to reassign committee members, begin meeting regularly, and do some research on needed policies.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, responsible for water permitting, among other tasks, has a history of deficiencies. The Alabama Rivers Alliance led a group of fourteen agencies, which in January, 2010 filed a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw the state’s authority over Alabama’s water pollution permitting program because it does not meet the minimum requirements of the Clean Water Act. On another front, local areas lack home rule; Baldwin County was unsuccessful in addressing its serious stormwater problems without a statute passed by the legislature.

We can follow developments on water policy and management on the Alabama Rivers Alliance website at

Saturday evening we moved to the original Oyster House on the causeway for our banquet. Some stayed ashore for the no-host cocktail party and others took a short wine and cheese cruise on the river. Proceeds from the cruise tickets went to the LWVAL Education Fund. After an excellent dinner, Jim Sumner, Director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, told us that the recently-passed ethics legislation had achieved seven of the ten items on the wish list he presented to us at our convention in Birmingham two years ago, and he thanked the League for our assistance.

The commission now has subpoena power; requires reporting of expenditures over $250 a year rather than $250 a day; can provide an electronic data base for public viewing of hospitality, entertainment and campaign expenditures; has been broadened to cover the executive branch; requires mandatory training; doesn’t require a complaint filer to have substantive knowledge, but only credible and verifiable information; and the commission can initiate its own investigations without waiting for a complaint.

Still on the wish list is permanent funding for the ethics commission not subject to the whim of a legislator and insertion of the word ‘corruptly’ to make the language constitutional – that is, a prohibited offer, gift, solicitation, or receipt of must be for ‘corruptly’ influencing official action. It was a celebratory evening.

At our business session on Sunday morning we received the reports of the local Leagues and adopted the budgets for the general fund and educational fund as circulated. Officers and Directors were elected, with a nomination from the floor of Stacey Steiner to serve as chair of the nominating committee with Ginnie Bennett and Karen Threlkeld. The officers are: President, Kathy Byrd; 1st Vice-President, Mary Lynn Bates; 2nd Vice-President Scarlett Gaddy; Secretary, Yvonne Brakefield; Treasurer, Shelly Murray. Directors are Charlotte Ward, Laura Hill, Anne Permaloff, Hattie Kaufman, Joyce Lanning and Jeanine Normand.

The program changes were approved: all existing positions were readopted, and we concurred with the national statement on health care with a few minor clarifications.

Anne Permaloff, Montgomery League President and Advocacy Chair, gave the report of the Advocacy Committee, which has the important task of tracking and evaluating state legislation. Mary McGinnis, Mobile League President and Alabama State Coach, presented the local Leagues with certificates recognizing their participation in the Membership Growth and Leadership Development Program. Kathy Byrd, incoming president, recognized the work of Charlotte Ward, retiring co-president. She thanked Mary McGinnis and Rhoda Vanderhart for their leadership and the hard work of their committee in providing such an excellent convention.

The Education Fund budget before adopted on Sunday with an amendment to provide for a contribution from the Ed Fund to the cost of sending a delegate to the LWVUS Council meeting based on notice from LWVUS that this was acceptable because of the educational nature of much of the planned program at the meeting.

The Hampton Inn went out of their way to be helpful and is due our appreciation for their friendly and helpful support. The Mobile experience was southern hospitality at its finest, and we thank our Mobile members and our co-presidents and their team for an excellent convention.

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Report on LWVUS Council 2011

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL President

This June, I represented the League of Women Voters of the United States 2011 Council at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia. This site was selected because it is an all-inclusive site, from shuttling attendees to and from the Dulles airport to a site that contained all meeting rooms, guest rooms, and a buffet that were included in the registration price. A limited amount of business was conducted, since elections of officers, adoption of program and study items, and by-laws changes occur only at LWVUS Convention meeting in even years. In fact, 2011 marks the final Council at which a budget must be passed. (After 2011, budgets will be two-year documents on which delegates will vote at LWVUS Convention.) The most exciting item of business from Alabama’s perspective was the announcement that the LWV of Mobile had been awarded one of three monetary awards for their hugely successful Vote18 project.

Council attendees were primarily LWV state presidents, who are voting delegates, and perhaps one other voting delegate to represent her/his (yes, “his”) respective state league. This year, I was the sole delegate from the LWVAL. Each state League was assigned to a group that included a large League (for me, Virginia) and maybe one other smaller state League (for me, Kentucky). Each state was charged with completing a very thorough Election 2012 plan. Throughout the three days, we discussed morning, noon, and night how best to plan for the Election from every conceivable perspective. The dialogues with the other leaguers were invaluable, as we swapped ideas and experiences, and shared in problem solving. When completed, the final Election 2012 Planning document was turned in to the LWVUS office for further suggestions. Already, though, I have shared some of the ideas presented at Council with LWVAL board members during our recent board meeting, and helped us to make some preliminary decisions for Election Year 2012.

Next year will be the full LWVUS Convention in Washington, D.C. I hope each local league will send one or more delegates during this important election year. I look forward to going. Hope to see you there.

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Advocacy Report on the 2011 Legislative Session

by Anne Permaloff, LWVAL Director

Former Lt. Governor Bill Baxley used to say that a legislative session is successful if both budgets pass. By that criterion the session was a success, but the successes go beyond that. They were possible due to several factors.

The first Republican controlled legislature since Reconstruction, benefited from majorities great enough to block filibusters in both houses and from strong leadership and party caucus discipline. The new members of the legislature of both parties tended to be younger and more educated. Add a governor of the same party as the House and Senate majorities. Momentum generated by the accomplishments of the 2010 Special Session in securing ethics reform helped as well.

These same factors meant that legislation sponsored by the minority party received little, if any attention. These included sales tax reform and proposals for popular vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention both of which are supported by LWVAL positions. Both measures failed in previous legislative session when the Democrats controlled both chambers.

New laws supported by the League include the following legislation:

  • *SB222: Clarification of language in the ethics legislation passed in the Special Session.
  • SB136: Requires more frequent campaign finance reports prior to elections, expands the list of those entities that must report. By the 2014 election cycle the Secretary of State must establish an on-line searchable public data base for all campaign contributions and expenditures that must be filed.
  • SB284: Expands reporting requirements for identification of sponsors of paid political ads and electioneering materials.
  • SB55: Establishes an Electronic Overseas Voting Advisory Committee to advise whether secure electronic means of voting are available; authorizes the Secretary of State (SOS) to adopt requirements related to witnessing or notarizing absentee ballots, voter ID, candidate qualifying, ballot access procedures, ballot printing, and ballot application processes in order to comply with federal law. Also authorizes the SOS to extend deadlines for receiving, processing, and counting absentee ballots if they are transmitted to qualified voters in less than the minimum number of days prior to an election required by federal law and specifies appointment procedures for counting those ballots.
  • SB20: Requires municipalities to post ordinances, planning, zoning, business licensing and franchise licenses on the Internet.
  • *SJR82: Establishes a Constitutional Revision Commission to advise the legislature on changes needed in the Alabama Constitution of 1901 and sets target dates for legislative action.
  • *SB369: Constitutional amendment authorizing payments to the Forever Wild Trust Fund for 20 years.
  • HB25: Requires the Department of Finance to produce monthly reports on the condition of the State General Fund and the Education Trust Fund.
  • *SB112: Constitutional amendment to eliminate unconstitutional language from the Alabama Constitution of 1901.
Legislation the League opposed but is now law includes:

  • *HB19: Photo identification required to vote.
* Indicates the legislation is covered in detail elsewhere in this Voter. [See next article below.]

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Content of Major Legislation Passed in the 2011 Regular Session

by Anne Permaloff, LWVAL Director

The following summarizes key elements of some of the new laws enacted in the recent legislative session. Shorter summaries of legislation followed by the Advocacy Committee are still available in the LWVAL Legislative Report at Full versions of bills cited below may be accessed through the Alabama Legislative Information System Online (ALISON). When in ALISON, click on the Session tab and reset the system to Regular Session 2011 materials.

Voter Photo Identification Law (HB19)
Effective Date: 2014, at first statewide primary election.

The law requires presentation of valid photo identification prior to voting. Acceptable valid identification includes the following if a photograph is included on the ID:

  • Alabama driver’s license or nondriver identification card properly issued by the appropriate state or county department or agency;
  • U.S. passport
  • Employee identification card with photograph issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state.
  • Student or employee identification card issued by a public or private college, university, or postgraduate technical or professional school located within the state
  • U.S. military identification card
  • Tribal identification card

Anyone unable to meet the identification requirements will be permitted to vote by a provisional ballot, as provided for by law. And, an individual who does not have valid photo identification in his/her possession at the polls will be permitted to vote if the individual is positively identified by two election officials as a voter on the poll list who is eligible to vote and the election officials sign a sworn affidavit so stating.

Absentee ballot voting requires submitting a copy of one of the above IDs with the ballot. However, those entitled to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (subchapter I-G of Chapter 20 of Title 42 U.S.C.); Section 23 3(b)(2)(B)(ii) of the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (subchapter I-F of Chapter 20 of Title 42 1 U.S.C.); or any other federal law, will not be required to produce identification prior to voting.

Alabama Photo Voter Identification Card
The Secretary of State shall issue, upon application, an Alabama photo voter identification card to registered Alabama electors. The card will be valid only for the purposes of voter identification and available only to registered electors of this state.

No fee can be charged for the request or for the issuance of the card. An elector with an unexpired Alabama driver’s license, nondriver identification card, or any other valid photo identification listed above is ineligible to receive the Photo Voter ID card.

The card will be laminated, have a digital photo of the elector, and contain the following information which must be supplied by the applicant at the time of application:
  • Full legal name
  • Address as reflected in the person’s voter registration record
  • Date of birth
  • Eye color
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Date identification card was issued
  • Other information as required by rule of the Secretary of State
The application shall be signed and sworn to by the applicant and any falsification or fraud in the making of the application shall constitute a Class C felony.

The Secretary of State shall issue the card upon presentation and verification of the following information from the applicant:
  • A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if the document includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth.
  • Documentation showing the person's date of birth
  • Documentation showing the person is registered to vote in this state.
  • Documentation showing the person’s name and address as reflected in the voter registration record.
The Alabama Photo Voter Identification Card will remain valid so long as the person resides at that same address and remains qualified to vote. It shall be the duty of a person who moves his or her residence within the State of Alabama to surrender his/her card to the Secretary of State, and such person may after such surrender apply for and receive a new card if the person is otherwise eligible. It shall be the duty of a person who moves his or her residence outside the State of Alabama or who ceases to be qualified to vote to surrender his or her card to the Secretary of State.

Implementation: The Secretary of State is given rule making authority in order to implement the act, authority to contract with a private entity to produce the ID cards, and will receive monies from the General Fund to pay for card production. The Secretary must provide the public information on what qualifies as valid voter identification.

The LWVUS opposes photo identification as a condition for voting.

Forever Wild Trust Refunding (SB369 Substitute)

Amendment 543 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 states: “in order to protect the natural heritage and diversity of Alabama for future generations, the state, acting through the Forever Wild Land Trust, will acquire lands, the title of which shall be held in the Alabama Trust Fund to ensure their protection and use for conservational, educational, recreational or aesthetic purposes.” (Section 2(20)(b))

The funding of the trust came up for renewal in the 2011 Regular Session. The following amendment which will appear on the General Election ballot in November 2012 is a compromise reached between those seeking to refund the Forever Wild Trust and those seeking to stop the funding (or land acquisition by the Trust) and/or divert funds to other uses.

LWVAL supported refunding legislation, opposed the original version of SB369, but supported the Substitute SB369 and supports passage of the amendment.

The proposed amendment states: “All moneys paid to the Forever Wild Land Trust pursuant to Section 7 of Amendment 543 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 7 of Section 219.07 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, shall continue to be paid for a 20-year period beginning with the 2012-2013 fiscal year retroactive to October 1, 2012, and ending in the fiscal year 2031-2032.”

It will appear on the ballots as: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, relating to the Forever Wild Land Trust, to reauthorize the trust for a 20-year period.” “Yes ( ) No ( ).”

Illegal Immigration Law (HB56: The Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act)

Effective Dates: Sections 22 and 23 immediately following becoming law; Section 9 January 1, 2012; Section 15 April 1, 2012; the remainder of this act the first day of the third month after becoming law. It was signed into law in June.

The law was modeled in part after the Arizona law, but goes much further. And it appears that experts on constitutional law were consulted on how to craft the law to avoid negative federal court decisions. The law has been challenged in federal court in Huntsville.

Section 2 of the act presents the rationale for the legislation: “The State of Alabama finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged when public agencies within this state provide public benefits without verifying immigration status. Because the costs incurred by school districts for the public elementary and secondary education of children who are aliens not lawfully present in the United States can adversely affect the availability of public education resources to students who are United States citizens or are aliens lawfully present in the United States, the State of Alabama determines that there is a compelling need for the State Board of Education to accurately measure and assess the population of students who are aliens not lawfully present in the United States, in order to forecast and plan for any impact that the presence such population may have on publicly funded education in this state. The State of Alabama further finds that certain practices currently allowed in this state impede and obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law, undermine the security of our borders, and impermissibly restrict the privileges and immunities of the citizens of Alabama. Therefore, the people of the State of Alabama declare that it is a compelling public interest to discourage illegal immigration by requiring all agencies within this state to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The State of Alabama also finds that other measures are necessary to ensure the integrity of various governmental programs and services.”

Some of the provisions within the act:
  • Authorize state and local police officers to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop based on a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. In all such situation verification is specified through federal government procedures. The law states: “A person shall be regarded as an alien unlawfully present in the United States only if the person’s unlawful immigration status has been verified by the federal government pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 373(c). No officer of this state or any political subdivision of this state shall attempt to independently make a final determination of an alien’s immigration status.” This is repeated in various ways several times.
  • Bar illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college or university.
  • Require public schools to determine the immigration status of all students and report the statistics on numbers of legal and illegal students enrolled and the costs associated with educating the illegal students. This information is to be reported to the State Board of Education which must report in turn to the Legislature.
  • Make it illegal for illegal aliens to use false documents and illegal for anyone to supply such documents.
  • Make it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant.
  • Require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to determine the legal status of all new hires.
  • Require those holding contracts with Alabama governments to E-Verify employees and to certify their employees are citizens or legal immigrants. Establish penalties for failure to do so, including loss of contracts after the second offense.
  • Make knowingly transporting illegal aliens a crime.
  • Seek to stop Alabama public officials and employees from attempting to stop enforcement of the law and to require all public officials to comply with the law.
  • Make it illegal for a government “official or agency of this state or any political subdivision thereof, including, but not limited to, an officer of a court of this state,” to “adopt a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws by limiting communication between its officers and federal immigration officials in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373 or 8 U.S.C. § 1644, or that restricts its officers in the enforcement of this act.”
  • Require “All state officials, agencies, and personnel, including, but not limited to, an officer of a court of this state,” to “fully comply with and, to the full extent permitted by law, support the enforcement of federal law prohibiting the entry into, presence, or residence in the United States of aliens in violation of federal immigration law.”
  • “ Except as provided by federal law, officials or agencies of this state or any political subdivision thereof, including, but not limited to, an officer of a court of this state, may not be prohibited or in any way be restricted from sending, receiving, or maintaining information relating to the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual or exchanging that information with any other federal, state, or local governmental entity for any of the following official purposes: (1) Determining the eligibility for any public benefit, service, or license provided by any state, local, or other political subdivision of this state. (2) Verifying any claim of residence or domicile if determination of residence or domicile is required under the laws of this state or a judicial order issued pursuant to a civil or criminal proceeding of this state. (3) Pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373 and 8 U.S.C. § 1644.”
  • “A person who is a United States citizen or an alien who is lawfully present in the United States and is a resident of this state may bring an action in circuit court to challenge any official or head of an agency of this state or political subdivision thereof, including, but not limited to, an officer of a court in this state, that adopts or implements a policy or practice that is in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373 or 8 U.S.C. § 1644. If there is a judicial finding that an official or head of an agency, including, but not limited to, an officer of a court in this state, has violated this section, the court shall order that the officer, official, or head of an agency pay a civil penalty of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day that the policy or practice has remained in effect after the filing of an action pursuant to this section.”
  • “Every person working for the State of Alabama or a political subdivision thereof, including, but not limited to, a law enforcement agency in the State of Alabama or a political subdivision thereof, shall have a duty to report violations of this act. Any person who willfully fails to report any violation of this act when the person knows that this act is being violated shall be guilty of obstructing governmental operations as defined in Section 13A-10-2 of the Code of Alabama 1975.”
This is only a partial list.

Some exceptions are listed that specify assistance that may legally be given to illegal aliens without verification of lawful status – e.g., emergency medical aid and disaster assistance, child and adult protective services, domestic violence services assistance.

The LWVUS position on immigration supports employer verification but not most of the items in the new law.

Ethics Legislation

Most of the reforms advocated by LWVAL for over a decade are now law. The majority of reforms in ethics legislation passed during the 2010 Special Session. After the session, a few areas were identified as needing clarification. Legislation submitted in the 2011 Regular Session sought to address these areas with SB222 fixing the major problem.

2010 Special Session Legislation (SB1, SB2, SB3, SB14)

The major reforms enacted by this legislation were:
  • Subpoena power granted to the Ethics Commission in order to compel the testimony of witnesses and/or submittal of evidence. Four of the five commissioners must vote to issue the subpoena.
  • The membership of the Commission must now include at least one Alabama licensed attorney. This requirement goes into effect with the next nomination.
  • Anyone trying to influence the awarding of a grant or contract with the Executive or Judicial Branch is now defined as a lobbyist and must register as such and comply with all laws related to lobbyists.
  • Legislators may not represent a person, firm, corporation, or business before an executive department or agency.
  • The Commission must supply education on the Ethics Law to: all legislators, constitutional officers, cabinet members, executive staff determined by the governor, mayors, council and commission members, county commissioners, local boards of education, lobbyists, and everyone who must file a Statement of Economic Interest Form. This education requirement went into effect immediately. Both in person and on-line training are being used.
  • The Commission is given 180 days after receiving a complaint or initiating one to determine if probable cause exists. The staff may be given another 180 days to act if a majority vote of the Commission finds good cause for the time extension.
  • A long list of new definitions is added to the law – e.g., thing of value, principal, educational function.

2011 Regular Session: SB222

Legislation passed in the 2010 Special Session prohibited “anything” from being solicited by or offered or given to public officers, public employees, and their family members for the purpose of influencing official action. The Ethics Commission and others identified the wording as too vague to pass a court test.

SB22 clarifies that the prohibited offer, gift, solicitation or receipt of anything must be for the purpose of corruptly influencing official action whether or not the thing offered or given is a thing of value. Corruptly is defined as “to act voluntarily, deliberately, and dishonestly to either accomplish an unlawful end or result or to use an unlawful method or means to accomplish an otherwise lawful end or result."

Constitutional Reform Commission (SJR82)

The legislation created a commission composed of the Governor, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, three persons appointed by the Governor, three persons appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and three persons appointed by the Speaker of the House. The Chairs of the Judiciary Committee and Chairs of the Constitution and Election Committee of the House of Representatives and Senate are ex officio members,

The Alabama Law Institute serves as staff for the commission. Its task is to analyze the current Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, with a view toward identifying those provisions which are antiquated, unnecessary, or duplicative of other provisions. The goals of the institute’s analysis are to:
  • Provide the commission with specific guidance for constitutional revision.
  • Recommend to the commission an article-by-article revision of the constitution.
  • Report its recommendations to the commission of articles to be revised for the next regular session of the Legislature by December 31 beginning December 31, 2011.

The goal of the Legislature is to consider reviewing the Constitution according to the following schedule:
  • In 2011: Article XII, Private Corporations; Article XIII, Banking. Remove unconstitutional language throughout the Constitution. [Note: The Legislature accomplished the 3rd item; legislation related to the first two was introduced before creation of the Commission and was considered but did pass.]
  • In 2012: Article III, Distribution of Powers; Article IV, Legislative Department; Article IX, Representation.
  • In 2013: Article I, Declaration of Rights; Article V, Executive Department; Article XIV, Education
  • In 2014: Article VII, Impeachments; Article X, Exemptions; Article XVII, Miscellaneous.

The following articles are excluded from consideration “due to a previous revision of the article or because revision is not considered needed”:
  • Article II, State Boundaries (determined by Congress.)
  • Article VI, Judicial Article, which was revised in 1973.
  • Article VIII, Suffrage and Elections, which was revised in 1996.
  • Article XV, Militia.
  • Article XVI, Oath of Office.
  • Article XVIII, Mode of Amending the Constitution.
“Article XI Taxation is excluded from the consideration by the commission at this time and not subject to the timetable established by this resolution.”

The commission is charged with the following duties and responsibilities:
  • Create a public awareness of and educate the public on the changes recommended.
  • Provide the Legislature with recommendations for any changes to the article under consideration.
  • Report its findings, conclusions, recommendations, and suggestions to each article to be considered in each House of the Legislature by the third legislative day of each year after 2011.

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ACCR Supports Marsh Proposal

by Nancy Ekberg, Constitutional Reform

Despite the fact that ACCR Inc. would prefer a clean sweep through a constitutional convention, ACCR Inc. supports the Constitutional Revision Commission sponsored by Senator Del Marsh. In that same vein, ACCR Inc. also supports of the constitutional amendment offered by Senator Arthur Orr that will eliminate the unconstitutional language. That amendment, SB112, will go before the voters in the General Election in 2012.

The sponsor of HB20 (revise the Banking Article) and HB21 (revise the Commerce Article) will prefile his constitutional amendments in order for them to be considered the first three days of the 2012 Legislative Session.

We in ACCR Inc. are working to frame the revision of the Legislative Article. This is especially interesting in that it COULD incorporate home rule.

The Speaker of the house has chosen his three appointees for the new Commission, as has the President Pro Tem of the Senate. Both wait upon the Governor's choices before they will release the names of their appointees. We in ACCR Inc. have offered a list of possible appointees to all three in hopes that they might choose from that list. (P.S. Charlotte...your name was on our list!!!)

We will keep the membership informed as we progress. But we must find a way to educate the public on the need to vote in favor of the constitutional amendment that will eliminate the unconstitutional language in November of 2012.

Any and all help in this endeavor would be much appreciated. Contact Nancy Ekberg, if you want to get more involved.

UPDATE 7/21/11

The new Alabama Revision Commission members have been named.  They are:
Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham; John Anzalone, principal of a Montgomery-based research firm, and Greg Butrus, a Birmingham attorney appointed by House Speaker Mike Hubbard; Birmingham attorney Matthew Lembke; attorney Jim Pratt of Birmingham, and Carolyn McKinstry, a survivor of 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing and president of the board of the Sixteenth Street Foundation appointed by Senate Speaker Pro Tem Del Marsh; Former Gov. Albert Brewer, community activist Becky Gerritson of Wetumpka and Vicki Drummond of Jasper appointed by Governor Robert Bentley.
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Advocacy Committee Seeks Bill Readers for 2012 Session

by Anne Permaloff, LWVAL Director
The LWVAL Advocacy Committee is seeking volunteers to serve as Bill Readers during the 2012 Legislative Session which begins February 7, 2012. A legislative session is composed of a maximum of 30 meeting days within a 120 day period. .

To assist those who are interested in volunteering or in suggesting names of individuals who might be appropriate readers, the process used by the committee to generate the weekly Legislative Report is described below.

Prior to the Legislative Session the Advocacy Committee submits a recommended Legislative Priority List to the State Board based on a three tier system.

  • Level I: areas that will be monitored and acted upon as the highest priority and upon which major resource expenditures will be made.
  • Level II: legislation is monitored but action depends upon opportunity and available resources.
  • Level III: lowest priority. If and when opportunities arise, assessment is made to determine if action is feasible given resources and priorities.
The Board determines the final ranking.

Before the start of the session the Advocacy Chair examines pre-filed bills and then on Friday or Saturday of each week (the day depends on when ALISON, the Alabama Legislative Information System Online, is updated and/or on-line) examines new bill introductions to identify bills that may be of League interest based on the Priority List and League positions. The new bills are sent to appropriate readers (this includes committee members) for evaluation.

Readers read and evaluate their bills. They determine if a League position exists on the material covered. If not, action cannot be taken. If yes, the reader recommends the action to take (Support, Oppose, Monitor, and Take No Action/Do Not Post) and outlines the justification based on the position. Other pertinent information may be noted. Sometimes this means translating the legislation’s main elements into reader friendly explanations.

The format for reporting recommendations is:
  • Bill number: (e.g., SB1 or HB4)
  • Sponsor(s):
  • Summary/Synopsis:
  • League Position and Justification: this is the recommended action (Support, Oppose, etc) and the specific League position upon which it is based.
The recommendation is voted on by the Advocacy Committee. Likelihood of legislative movement, political realities, resources, and other factors are considered. If a national position is the basis of the recommendation, guidelines set by National for such usage are an important consideration.

The Chair edits the material for consistent format and adds explanatory notes based on the Committee discussion or League positions. The material is then transmitted to Jean Johnson for posting to the Legislative Report. The information is also transmitted to the committee and readers.

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Jeanne Lacey

Jeanne Lacey jpg

The day before the summer board meeting on July 9 word came that our beloved Jeanne Lacey had died on July 7.

As noted in the convention report above, Jeanne was given the Joyce Woodworth Award for her long and faithful service in the programs not only the Baldwin County LWV, but also to the LWVAL.  For the first time in many years she had not been able to attend because of her failing health.

For many years, Jeanne was the voice of reason on matters of water safety and the complex environment of the Mobile Bay area. Through her skill in creating productive interaction  between those with expert knowledge and those with roles in government,  she arranged numerous forums and community meetings that always yielded productive agreements.  Her remarkable patience and persistence kept the issues before both elected officials and the general public.  Her dedication to the coastal environment and water quality for the whole state will be remembered as the LWVAL embarks on a wider study of the state's water issues, and her presence will be missed.

For many of us the loss is also a personal one. We will remember her charming presence, her beauty of person and spirit, and her friendship through the years.

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Health Care Study Format and Schedule Altered

by Anne Permaloff, LWVAL Director

At its July 9th meeting the State Board authorized some changes in the Health Care Study Report and the study schedule. Two new Facts and Issues will be developed, not one. The division is designed to more thoroughly cover the topics while keeping the materials to a manageable size for the reader.

One Facts and Issues will examine the problems and issues currently faced by the American health care system, their causes and impacts, and how they have influenced reform efforts. The second will focus on the nursing profession, nursing scope of practice issues, and the potential for nurses to alleviate some of the problems in the health care system. A major part of the emphasis will be on the role of the advanced practice nurse. Both reports will tie in the topics to the situation in Alabama.

The new schedule aims at delivery of both Facts and Issues to outside readers this fall for critiques. Revisions and consensus question development will be the next phase. This phase should be completed by February 2012. The goal is to have study materials and consensus questions in Local League hands for fall 2012. Consensus reports would be due to the study committee in December 2012. The State Board would develop a consensus statement in winter 2013.

The schedule change should be easier on Local League schedules given the fact that LWVUS’s Education Study is scheduled for consensus this fall, and the LWVAL Charter School Study consensus is also scheduled for the current League year.

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Natural Resources Plans for the Coming Year

by Joyce Lanning, LWVAL Director

At the LWVAL organizational board meeting Saturday, July 9 in Montgomery, Joyce Lanning was again assigned to lead the Natural Resources efforts of the League. With the help of officers from each local League, we are identifying and assembling a team to assist with parts of the work program for the coming year.

Assistance is very much needed for the following planned projects or activities. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in any part of the possible projects listed below, please contact Joyce at

  • Revise the 1999 document, Environmental Management in AL: Facts & Issues, which is designed to educate citizens on the issue of environmental management of land, air and water resources in Alabama.
  • Begin a facts and issues paper about water resources in the rest of Alabama to complement our position on Coastal Zone Management, which was updated in 2009 as a result of efforts led by Jeanne Lacey.
  • Outline some of the factors which might be considered in addressing air and atmospheric quality issues in Alabama. This could serve as the basis for a future facts and issues statement on air.
  • Identify and provide a brief report on the status and content of Alabama’s state energy plan, if any. The Energy Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the DOE State Energy Program in Alabama and advises the state's executive and elected leaders about energy policy. In 2010, the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy was “created for the purpose of developing the Alabama Energy Plan to recommend to the Governor and the Legislature courses of action to address the state's long-term and short-term energy challenges. The plan shall include, without limitation, recommendations relating to oil and gas production and future oil and gas development that are found both onshore and offshore in Alabama, as well as renewable and alternative energy sources.” (Act 2010-232, p. 419, §2.)
  • Assist in promoting the passage of a constitutional amendment in November 2012 to continue the successful Forever Wild program. “Created in 1992 by a constitutional referendum that garnered 83 percent of the vote, Forever Wild is a program dedicated to preserving Alabama's most beautiful and environmentally sensitive land, all while expanding the recreational opportunities available to the public.”
The board authorized Lanning to represent LWVAL in her role on a national team as facilitator for the United Methodist Women’s National Seminar, August 13-17 in Birmingham. The National Seminar is a social justice leadership development event held every four years. The issues to be addressed include human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration, as well as climate change, which Joyce will be facilitating. There will be public action events, for each of these issues around noon on August 16.

In addition, the board approved her role as advisor to the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment and the Sierra Student Coalition in Alabama.

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Mark Your Calendar

by Joyce Lanning, by Joyce Lanning, LWVAL Director

Moving Planet -- A Global Day of Climate Action on September 24, 2011
In 2010, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was just shy of
390 parts per million (ppm) -- well beyond the 350 ppm that leading
climate scientists say is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our
atmosphere. Despite the evidence that burning fossil fuels is the
chief culprit, however, efforts to curb CO2 emissions are at a
standstill. To change the political dynamic, people across the globe
will mobilize on September 24, calling attention to the need to get
off of fossil fuels and move towards a sustainable, renewably-powered
future. Make plans now for your League and your community to be a
part of this worldwide demonstration -- Moving Planet -- and help
send a message to policymakers that it's time to get moving on the
climate crisis. Find more information .

Earth Day - Sunday, April 22, 2012 - Plan now to participate in your community!

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Charter School Study Update

by Laura Hill, LWVAL Director

Delegates to the state convention approved the Board’s recommendation to complete the “Charter School Facts and Issues” and adopt a study of charter schools, with the aim of taking the study through the consensus process. Alabama is one of 10 states that does not permit charter schools, and legislation to authorize the creation of charter schools in the state has been proposed, without success, in both 2010 and 2011. The LWVAL’s education program does not specifically address charter schools, so the League could not advocate for or against the proposed bills. Leagues cannot take action on an issue without a position.

The “Facts and Issues” report on charter schools is available electronically on the LWVAL web site, under the “Learn and Vote” heading. This educational background material should provide a general understanding of basic facts on charter schools and several issues associated with them. To facilitate access to relevant information, a concerted effort was made to use reliable online information as sources. The purpose of the report is to provide members with resources they can use to be informed participants in the consensus process.

The LWVUS publication “League Basics” notes that the technique most often used in the League for reaching member agreement is consensus by group discussion. “It is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity; rather it is the overall sense of the group as expressed through the exchange of ideas and opinions….” Consensus questions, created by the committee and approved by the Board, provide structure for the meeting(s) where everyone has an opportunity to express their viewpoints, and the issue is examined from all sides. As each local League reports its consensus (or lack thereof) the reports are consolidated, and, based on this information, the committee will formulate the position recommendations for Board approval.

  • By Sept. 1, 2011 -- consensus questions and study material distributed to chapter presidents;
  • March 2012 — responses to the consensus questions returned to the committee;
  • April 2010 -- summary and proposed position statement (if any) submitted to the state board by the committee.

If you are interested in serving on the committee for developing the consensus questions and preparing the report, please contact Laura Hill at or 334-705-0848.

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Three Local Leagues Recognized for Outstanding Youth Engagement

by Mary McGinnis, LWVAL Director

What do King George III, an 18-year old concerned about an affordable college education or a job in clean energy, November 6, 2012 and WWE have in common? VOTE 18 and LWV Mobile! League of Women Voters national president Elisabeth MacNamara announced the winners of the first-ever Smackdown Your Vote! ® Democracy Award, a nationwide effort to recognize state and local Leagues for their outstanding work to engage and empower young voters. Receiving awards are the Leagues of Pittsburgh, PA; Houston, TX; and Mobile, AL. The awards were made possible through the League’s longstanding national partnership with WWE through Smackdown Your Vote ! ®, an effort to encourage young people to vote and become active participants in their democracy. LWV Mobile received a cash grant of $2,000 to expand their youth engagement program in 2012. The three winning Leagues have each developed innovative youth outreach programs in their communities. The Pittsburgh League developed a mock elections program and contest to engage young people in developing their own electronic voting systems. The Houston League conducted more than thirty high school voter registration events during 2010. The Mobile League conducted over 50 interactive VOTE 18 presentations at schools, transitional homes and “Welfare to Work” programs in local community colleges. VOTE 18’s effectiveness comes from an interactive teaching style and role-playing technique. During one 45-minute period the LWV Facilitator leads the students through the history of voting, actively illustrating this evolution. Through the dynamics of exclusion, a mock election, group interaction and rewards, students feel the economic and social impacts of voting, experiencing how voting benefits both individuals and communities. VOTE 18 makes voting personal. Instead of telling students simply to vote, they become active participants in the democratic process and teach each other WHY they should vote. Research shows that it is possible to create long-term change by encouraging life-long civic participation from young people: 91 percent of registered voters under the age of 30 cast a ballot in 2008. However, Americans under the age of 30 remain severely underrepresented in the electorate, and the disparities in youth voting grow even wider when looking at African-Americans, Latinos, and those with no college experience. What’s more, many youth registration drives target college campuses, missing 43 percent of American youth with no college experience.

From the economy to the future of health care and our energy security, our elected officials are making decisions now that will affect today’s youth for decades to come. Young voters have a critical voice to lend. It is vital to empower young people to stand up and make the most of their right to vote.

If you are interested in learning more about VOTE 18 or how you can bring VOTE 18 to local youth in your area of Alabama, please contact Mary McGinnis ( or 251-378-8378) or Myra Evans ( or 251-666-7914). Find out more about the League’s youth-focused activities at .

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LWVAL Board and Off-board

Kathryn Byrd

1st Vice-President
Mary Lynn Bates

2nd Vice-President and
Membership Development
Scarlett Gaddy
(Membership Development with Mary McGinnis)

Yvonne Brakefield

Shelly Murray


Laura Hill
Education (Charter Schools Study)

Hattie Kaufman
Voter Service
(Voter Service with Mary McGinnis)

Joyce Lanning
Environment / Natural Resources

Mary McGinnis
Membership Development / Voter Service / Financial Development
(Membership Development with Scarlett Gaddy)
(Voter Service with Hattie Kaufman)
(Financial Development with Jeanine Normand)

Jeanine Normand
Financial Development
(Financial Development with Mary McGinnis)

Anne Permaloff
Advocacy and
Health Care in Alabama

Charlotte Ward
LWVAL Voter Editor


Nancy Ekberg
Constitutional Reform

Jean Johnson
205 870-3063 home
205 222-2097 cell

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