How the 5 con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments on Ge­or­gia’s bal­lot fared at the polls

Ledger-Enquirer - - Local - BY JOE KO­VAC JR. jko­vac@ma­con.com

With 100 per­cent of precincts re­port­ing statewide in Tues­day’s elec­tion, all five of the pro­posed state con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments on Ge­or­gia’s bal­lot were given a thumb’s up by vot­ers — largely by wide mar­gins.

The pro­posed amend­ments in­cluded:

Amend­ment One, which asks if some of the sales taxes Ge­or­gians al­ready pay on out­door goods, like fish­ing poles or binoc­u­lars, should be set aside for buy­ing more pub­lic land or main­tain­ing state parks. The mea­sure would not raise taxes, but it does say that from ex­ist­ing taxes that the state must spend at least about $20 mil­lion and as much as about $40 mil­lion on land con­ser­va­tion each year for at least 10 years. Sup­port­ers say it is eas­ier to plan for buy­ing land when the state can de­pend on a source of money, rather than on an­nual bud­gets, which vary. State law­mak­ers from both par­ties over­whelm­ingly ap­proved putting the idea on bal­lots. YES: 3,132,658 (83%); NO: 648,488 (17%)

Amend­ment Two, which would set up a Ge­or­gia court to hear com­plex busi­ness cases. Repub­li­cans broadly sup­ported this one, on the grounds that busi­nesses could get faster, more con­sis­tent ver­dicts from judges who come to spe­cial­ize in busi­ness; and reg­u­lar courts wouldn’t get bogged down with such cases. Crit­ics, mostly Democrats, gen­er­ally did not care for how the judges would be picked. Judges are elected to the Ge­or­gia Supreme Court, state Court of Ap­peals plus state, su­pe­rior and some other courts. Busi­ness court judges would be ap­pointed by the gover­nor and con­firmed by the state House and Se­nate ju­di­ciary com­mit­tees. YES: 2,536,687 (69%); NO: 1,140,838 (31%)

Amend­ment Three, which would change how tim­ber­land is de­fined and taxed in Ge­or­gia and how coun­ties get re­im­bursed for a prop­erty tax break that the state gives to such land. For sev­eral years, some of the coun­ties that have a lot of tim­ber­land have felt un­fairly treated by the state. This ad­just­ment to the pro­gram got near to­tal sup­port in the Leg­is­la­ture. YES: 2,255,191 (62%); NO: 1,373,185 (38%)

Amend­ment Four, which aims to keep peo­ple in­volved in court pro­ceed­ings if they’ve been a vic­tim or al­leged vic­tim of a crime. Crime vic­tims al­ready have rights like the right to be in­formed if a per­pe­tra­tor has been let out of prison; this puts those le­gal rights in the state Con­sti­tu­tion. South Dakota passed a law pro­moted by the same na­tional Marsy’s Law cam­paign that’s been pro­mot­ing this amend­ment. South Dakota’s law has got­ten head­lines for its un­in­tended, court-clog­ging con­se­quences. But Ge­or­gia’s ver­sion does not re­quire as much of the courts. It passed the state Leg­is­la­ture unan­i­mously. YES: 3,040,210 (81%); NO: 718,559 (19%)

Amend­ment Five was on ev­ery bal­lot, but it only mat­ters in coun­ties that

have more than one pub­lic school sys­tem, such as a city one and a county one. It gives a new right to the larger school sys­tem in any such county to call a vote for a penny sales tax for ed­u­ca­tion, even with­out the smaller sys­tem’s buy-in. But the sys­tems would still share the money — split by en­roll­ment num­bers by de­fault — un­less they come to some other agree­ment. It at­tracted some op­po­si­tion from both par­ties in the Leg­is­la­ture, but still passed with more than three-quar­ters of law­maker sup­port. YES: 2,616,320 ( 71%); NO: 1,058,392 (29%)

Ref­er­en­dum A was on ev­ery bal­lot, but it only ap­plies to the city of At­lanta. It asks if the mu­nic­i­pal por­tion of At­lanta’s an­nual prop­erty taxes should be capped so that they rise no more than 2.6 per­cent a year. It passed the Leg­is­la­ture al­most unan­i­mously. YES: 2,042,114 (57%); NO: 1,535,680 (43%)

Ref­er­en­dum B in­volves a tax break that is avail­able to non­profit homes for peo­ple who have men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. This ques­tion asks if that tax break should still ap­ply if a for-profit in­sti­tu­tion is fi­nanc­ing the con­struc­tion or ren­o­va­tion of the home. It’s an ad­just­ment that passed the Leg­is­la­ture al­most unan­i­mously. YES: 2,835,147 ( 77%); NO: 851,759 (23%)

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