Alabama Medicaid Amendment, Amendment 1 (September 2012)

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Amendment 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Alabama Constitution
Referred by:Alabama Legislature
Status:On the ballot
The Alabama Medicaid Amendment was on the September 18, 2012 special election ballot in the state of Alabama as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.Approveda The measure authorized the transfer of $145.8 million from an oil and gas trust fund to the General Fund for the state Medicaid budget, prisons, courts and other non-education functions of government.[1][2]

Election results

The following are unofficial results of the measure:

Amendment 1
Approveda Yes 357,036 64%

Results via The Birmingham News.

1,900 of 2,136 precincts reporting

Text of the measure

The following is the ballot language that appeared before voters:[3]

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide adequate funding for the State General Fund budget, to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons, and to protect critical health services to Alabama children, elderly, and mothers by transferring funds from the Alabama Trust Fund to the State General Fund beginning with the state's 2012-2013 fiscal year and concluding with the state's 2014-2015 fiscal year; to provide a new procedure for distributions made from the Alabama Trust Fund beginning 2012-2013 fiscal year; to create a County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund advisory committee; and to provide further for distributions made from the County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund. (Proposed by Act No. 2012-490)[4]

Changes to the Alabama Constitution

The passing of Alabama Medicaid Amendment, Amendment 1 added Amendment 856 to the Alabama Constitution.

Ballot language confusion

Although the chief point argued by supporters for the need to transfer the money was to bolster the state’s Medicaid system, there was a phrase in the measure's wording that had some residents confused: "to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons."

According to a report by the Anniston Star, nothing in the amendment specifically mandated the release of prisoners, but rather the resultant budget cut across the board could have possibly necessitated it. According to Kim Thomas, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, the state would have had to release 9,000 of the 25,000 incarcerated prisoners at the time in order to balance the budget had the amendment failed.

However, in spite of the possible need to release prisoners early, there were a few possible legal methods available to do so, including parole and medical furlough, according to reports. Thomas stated that, "We would need some legislative mechanism to allow us to release them."[5]


The following is information obtained from supporters of the measure:

  • The main argument that supporters made was that without the enactment of the amendment, the state Medicaid Agency and the Department of Corrections would have had significant cuts that could have had a negative impact on health care and public safety.[2]
  • Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was a supporter of the measure.[6]
  • Bentley stated that the measure was needed to cover major funding shortfalls in the state's budget that was set to begin on October 1, 2012.[6]


The following is information obtained from opponents of the measure:

  • Those against the measure stated that Alabama legislators were delaying a funding issue that would rear its head again in three years when the Trust Fund money would run out.[2]
  • State Senator Paul Sanford was against the measure. Sanford stated, “I’m against the amendment. I and the people I talk to don’t see the willingness to trust that the government is going to do the responsible thing...One of my bills that passed this year consolidated two agencies: Department of Labor and Department of Industrial Relations. I think we need to do more measures like that and curtail some cost. A lot of these suggestions have been put on the desk and are collecting dust.”[6]

Campaign contributions

No campaign contributions were made in favor or opposition of the measure, according to state election websites.[7]

Path to the ballot

Article XVIII of the Alabama Constitution says that it takes a three-fifths (60%) vote of the Alabama State Legislature to qualify an amendment for the ballot.[8]

See also