GA Constititutional Amendments

Issue

As part of the 2016 general election, electors voted on four amendments to the GA State Constitution:

  1. Whether to relinquish local school control to the Governor's office or not. Amendment failed
  2. Whether to dedicate excise taxes on fireworks to certain uses only, or put them into the general fund. Amendment passed
  3. Whether to abolish the state's Judicial Qualification Commission or not. Amendment passed 
  4. Whether to impose additional penalties for people found guilty of sex crimes, and on adult entertainment or not. Amendment passed  

Amendment 1

“…allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?” The state of GA will decide which schools are failing, and will then manage those schools instead of locally elected school boards. Schools taken over by the state will be placed under control of politically appointed state school officials that will answer to the executive branch, not the parents or taxpaying community.   Private Education Management Organizations (EMOs) will be awarded management of the schools and state tax funding. Local teachers and administrators will be fired and replaced. The amendment will centralize government functions that are more effectively performed at the local level. Therfore, we urged a NO vote.

Georgians defeated this measure on Nov 8, 2016 

Amendment 2

“…allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of [certain sexual exploitation] … and allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund [certain services for those sexually exploited]’ 

The real intent of this amendment is to legalize the redirecting of taxes assessed on the adult entertainment businesses from the general fund to a politically appointed commission to determine how it is to be distributed.  The Georgia Constitution currently requires all revenue to go into the general budget for our elected representatives to decide where funds are most needed, including providing services for minors who are victims of sexual predators. Our elected representatives also have the ability to assess an extra tax on the adult entertainment industry through the legislative process. Georgia laws passed in 2011 already provide penalties up to $100,000 for those found guilty of sexual exploitation.  Our legislators have the ability through the legislative process to divert part, or all of this fine, to provide special services for minors who have been sexually exploited. Amending our constitution is not necessary. Therefore, we urged a NO vote.

Georgians approved this measure on Nov 8, 2016  

Amendment 3

“…to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, of [a new commission]”

The Judicial Qualification Commission (JQC) is an independent civilian citizen body that oversees hearings for judges who act improperly. There haven’t been any significant challenges of the JQC in their case findings.  The real intent of this amendment is for the executive branch and the legislature to control the appointments to the JQC.  This amendment will destroy transparency by preventing citizens from having access to hearings or findings. Therefore, we urged a NO vote.

Georgians approved this measure on Nov 8, 2016

Amendment 4

“…to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?” Last year the General Assembly made the sale of fireworks lawful in Georgia and placed a 5% excise tax on them. Per the Georgia Constitution, this revenue goes into the state's general fund.  Our legislators already provide funding for trauma care and firefighting needs during the state budget process.  The real intent of this amendment is to shift tax revenue and decision making from the people’s elected representatives to non-elected councils. Therfore, we urged a NO vote.

Georgians approved this measure on Nov 8, 2016