Gov. (Robert) Bentley has buried a “poison pill” in the fine print of Amendment No. 2 that will privatize our state parks unless voters read, understand and reject it.

Our governor has mounted a tremendous PR campaign (paid for with state money) to prevent Alabama voters from realizing exactly what’s wrong with proposed Amendment No. 2.

Why? Because a $110,000,000 bond issued that Alabama voters approved in 1998 (this bond money has already been spent on state parks) specifically requires that they not be privatized.

The reason for this is that ordinary and average Alabamians will be shut out of hotels and golf courses at our state parks by high fees they cannot possibly afford. Out-of-state corporations have found Gov. Bentley’s ear on this, and these corporations exist, purely and simply, to make money. To them, wealthy out-of-state visitors to our state parks are a “target market,” and nobody pushing Amendment No. 2 seems to care that state parks exist only for average Alabamians to enjoy, not to become private enterprise clubs that only the wealthy can afford.

Alabama voters were wise on Nov. 3, 1998, when we approved Amendment No. 617 to the Alabama Constitution, allowing the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to borrow $110,000,000 repaid by the state of Alabama on the express condition that privatization of these parks not occur.

Amendment to the Alabama Constitution states that all state park facilities shall be exclusively operated and maintained by the Department of Conservation and Natural resources, not private chains like Hilton Hotels that are free to price average Alabama citizens out of them.

Gov. Bentley’s desire to repeal Amendment No. 617 is appalling. Preventing out-of-state private corporations pricing us out of our own state parks is what he should be doing, and what a NO vote to Amendment No. 2 on Nov. 8 will do.

I was honored to serve twice as Alabama’s attorney general, and once as its lieutenant governor.

Through that experience, I developed a dedication to our state parks that causes me to champion them by voting “NO” to Amendment No. 2.

State parks exist for the public to enjoy. Please vote “NO” with me on Nov. 8 to preserve our wonderful state parks for all Alabama citizens.

Bill Baxley

Birmingham, Alabama

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