On Nov. 6, when you go in to vote, along with electing leaders on the federal, state and local level, there will be five statewide constitutional amendments and two referendum questions you will have the opportunity to vote on. As you prepare to make your decisions, I want to give you a brief overview of each of the measures at the end of the ballot so you will be prepared when you’re headed to the polls.
Amendment One: If approved would establish the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and allow upwards of 80 percent of state sales tax revenue collected from sporting goods and outdoor recreation equipment to be dedicated to land conservation throughout the state. The proposed amendment (HR238) and the enabling legislation (HB332) received final passage on the last day of the 2018 session.
Amendment Two: If approved would create a statewide business court designed to handle cases specifically related to business matters and to streamline case processing. Additionally, the statewide business court would remove complex business cases from the general docket of traditional courtrooms. This proposed amendment (HR993) received final passage on the last day of the 2018 session.
Amendment Three – Forest Land Conservation and Timberland Properties Amendment: If approved, the legislature would create a new class of property, known as timberland property, through which a singular valuation process on timberland would be used to calculate property tax throughout the state as opposed to 159 different county tax assessments. This proposed amendment (HR51) and its enabling legislation (HB85) received final passage on the last day of the 2018 session.
Amendment Four – Marsy's Law: This is a measure intended to protect victims of a crime by providing them the rights to certain pieces of information on their offender. If approved, would require the judicial system to provide crime victims and their families timely notices of criminal court proceedings, release dates, and the opportunity to appear before the court at any scheduled proceedings dealing with the case of which they or their family member was a victim. This proposed amendment (SR146) and its enabling legislation (SB127) received final passage on the last day of the 2018 session.
Amendment Five: If this E-SPLOST sales tax constitutional amendment is approved, a school district, or school districts, within a county would have the ability to come to an agreement on whether or not an E-SPLOST would be used for educational purposes for the schools within the county. If the school(s) with at least 51 percent of the enrolled student population within the county come to an agreement on the E-SPLOST, they will have the ability to implement the sales tax and the money collected will benefit all schools within the county, not just the ones that voted in favor of it, unless an alternative method of distribution is reached by these schools. This proposed amendment (SR95) received final passage on the last day of the 2017 session.
Referendum Question A addresses the establishment of a property tax cap. If approved, a new homestead exemption would be in place from ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes for property within the city of Atlanta. The measure will not impact taxpayers outside of Atlanta.
Referendum Question B: If approved, would expand a property tax exemption on homes for the mentally disabled.
All registered votes are able to preview your ballot before you go to vote by following the link below:
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office or me with any questions you may have about the proposed amendments and referendum questions. My staff and I are always here to help.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at (404)656-9221 or via email at email@example.com.