A Look at the Five Proposed Constitutional Amendments on Georgia’s Ballot

Georgians will vote on five proposed amendments to the Georgia constitution on their ballot in this year’s election. Two proposed referenda are also on the ballot. Below are three analyses of the amendments along with recommendations on how to vote. We urge all to read them carefully and form your own conclusions. IndieDems comments and recommendations follow the analyses.

  • See 159GeorgiaTogether.org for a review of the amendments along with recommendations for voting
  • VoterGa has also brought together a panel that analyzed the amendments. (This effort was brought to our attention by the Madison Forum).
  • The Americus Times-Recorder offers another excellent review

We encourage our readers to read the above reviews. They differ on their conclusions about some of the proposals. Notice there are also two statewide referenda proposals on the ballot.

IndieDems Comments

Georgians are going to need to be hyper-vigilant about how some of the amendments, if approved, are implemented. The details of the practical steps taken to implement the provisions will play a large role in determining whether the amendments serve the interests of the people. Those details will largely be determined later by the normal political process, i.e., laws and regulations passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. Be prepared to do your part in that oversight.

IndieDems on the specific amendments:

Amendment 1: Conservation Trust Fund

Basically, the question comes down to this: do you believe that land preservation is so important that you want a specific set of taxes  dedicated to that purpose; or, would you prefer that those taxes be available to fund other programs, too, like education, roads, health care. Your choice.

Amendment 2: Business Court

IndieDems firmly joins the “NO” consensus that favors the election, not appointment, of judges. Setting up a special business court and then having the judges appointed would establish a system tailor made to become a pay-for-play system, ripe for exploitation by big-bucks special interests. Somewhere, elected politicians would have the main say in who gets appointed. Politicians in Georgia—and throughout the United States—are already too much in the pockets of big bucks contributors.

Appointed judges are one more step removed from accountability to the people. And appointed judges presiding over a business court would be doubly so. The judgeships would become plums for the picking by big money sugar daddies. The character of the court would be shaped by behind-the-scenes logrolling among politicians and their corporate and special interest puppet masters. OK to establish business courts. But presided over by elected judges ultimately accountable to the people.

Amendment 3: Timber Tax Reform

IndieDems votes “no.” As with the appointed judges issue, our antennae always go up over proposals to create special taxing provisions for a specific industry, with promises it helps the average taxpayer as well as the industry. More often than not, the business gets the benefits, we taxpayers get the shaft. You may want to seek more information before you decide. Maybe you know someone in the timber growing business who can offer some insights.
–And please report back with what you learn.

Amendment 4: Victims’ Rights

IndieDems is more conflicted on this one. It’s something like a drug that provides remission of a disease–but has terrible side effects. It provides greater rights to crime victims, but also allows victims to be heard not just in post-conviction sentencing, but in pre-trial release and plea bargaining. Some critics believe this provision goes too far in raising bias against alleged criminals who are still entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

IndieDems says vote “no” for that reason. But we have to note that we believe the criminal justice system overall leans too much toward coddling criminals. We’ll expand on that at a later time.

Amendment 5: School District Tax Allocation

A complex proposal with many moving parts. But to IndieDems, it seems to allow for a disproportionate allocation of funds between schools in a school district. IndieDems says “no.”

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