As you cast your vote in this year’s general election, you will be asked to vote for or against five proposed changes to the state constitution. Each amendment was passed by the General Assembly during the 2010 legislative session and will appear on the ballot this year for voter approval. Following is a breakdown of each proposed amendment to give you a clearer understanding of the proposals you’ll be voting on as you fulfill your important role in our state’s electoral process.
Amendment One: Allows competitive contracts to be enforced in Georgia courts (HR 178).
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”
Under Amendment 1, the General Assembly could permit the courts to enforce non-compete agreements, which are commonly used to ensure departing employees refrain from competing with their former employer. Currently, Georgia’s constitution only allows the courts to enforce only limited non-compete agreements.
Amendment Two: Adds a $10 tag fee on private passenger vehicles to fund statewide trauma care expansion (SR 277).
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care?”
Amendment Two would place an additional $10 annual fee on license tag and vehicle registration payments, which would be put into a trauma trust fund and solely used to maintain and expand the state’s trauma care network. Any amount in the trust fund not expended at the end of a fiscal year would remain in the trust fund.
Amendment Three: Allows the state to execute multiyear contracts for long-term transportation projects (SR 821).
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring appropriations in the current fiscal year for the total amount of payments that would be due under the entire agreement so as to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state?”
Amendment 3 would allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to divide the cost of multiyear projects into yearly budget amounts. Currently the transportation department must obligate the full amount of the project cost upfront.
Amendment Four: Allows the state to enter into multiyear contracts for energy efficiency and conservation improvement projects (SR 1231).
“Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for guaranteed cost savings for the state by authorizing a state entity to enter into multiyear contracts which obligate state funds for energy efficiency or conservation improvement projects?”
Amendment 4 would allow state agencies to enter into multiyear contracts up to 10 years with private vendors for energy efficiency or conservation improvement projects. Performance contracts would allow state agencies to divert funds that would normally be spent on utility bills into building improvements that lower energy consumptions.
Amendment Five: Allows owners of industrial-zoned property to choose to remove the industrial designation from their property (HR 136).
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the owners of real property located in industrial areas to remove the property from the industrial area?”
Amendment 5 removes the requirement that real property must be located “on an island” prior to the owner filing a certificate to remove it from an industrial area and be annexed by an adjacent city. A constitutional amendment is needed to annex the land parcel in question, because the land was established years ago under regulations no longer used by the state.
For additional information on the ballot questions, you can also visit the Secretary of State’s Web site at www.sos.ga.gov. As this is an informational column, I will not be offering my personal opinion on each amendment here.
However, I will offer my opinion and how I’ll vote the week before the Nov. 2 General Election to e-mail subscribers of the Team51 Newsletter. If you are not receiving the newsletter and would like to be added to our list, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be glad to add you.
Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at email@example.com.-gov.