Each ballot usually ends with a list of constitutional amendments and resolutions that require voter approval. These cover a variety of topics and are generally written in almost incomprehensible legalese. This section is important because they are proposals to change the highest state law in the land.
This year there are five proposed constitutional amendments. You can read the current Georgia Constitution here: http://www.sos.ga.gov/elections/constitution_2007.pdf. You can view the actual language of the proposed amendments as well their summaries here: http://qual.sos.ga.gov/BallotAmendmentsAndReferendums.pdf.
1. ALLOW COMPETITIVE CONTRACTS TO BE ENFORCED IN GEORGIA COURTS. This amendment would allow broader enforcement of non-compete clauses in employment contracts.
2. ADDS $10 TAG FEE ON PRIVATE PASSENGER VEHICLES TO FUND STATEWIDE TRAUMA CARE EXPANSION. Supporters say that only 16 of Georgia’s 152 hospitals have designated trauma centers. They believe that this makes Georgia’s highway death rate 20% higher than the national average. The amendment would raise an estimated $80 million annually for trauma centers which would save an estimated 700 lives. The measure is opposed by the Georgia Tea Party Patriots on the grounds that it is additional government assistance to hospitals.
3. ALLOWS THE STATE TO EXECUTE MULTIYEAR CONTRACTS FOR LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS. Currently, the GDOT cannot enter into contracts that commit it to payments beyond the end of the current fiscal year. This amendment would allow contracts that run beyond the current fiscal year. The contract must provide for termination if funds in subsequent years are not available and contracts would be limited to ten years or less.
4. ALLOWS THE STATE TO EXECUTE MULTIYEAR CONTRACTS FOR PROJECTS TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION. This amendment is similar to amendment 3 in that it allows the state to negotiate multiyear contracts, in this case to retrofit government buildings to become more energy efficient in order to cut utility costs and trim government waste. The amendment is supported by Taxpayers for Energy Efficiency. In theory, the cost savings from the retrofit would be guaranteed and no new funds would need to be appropriated in subsequent years. Contract terms would be limited to ten years.
5. ALLOWS OWNERS OF INDUSTRIAL-ZONED PROPERTY TO CHOOSE TO REMOVE THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNATION FROM THEIR PROPERTY. This amendment would apply to industrial areas that exist only in Chatham and Jeff Davis Counties. This amendment follows an amendment ratified in 1996 that allowed property owners to remove the industrial classification only the property was located on an island. The proposed amendment would extend the same rights to owners of mainland properties. If the industrial designation is removed, the property would be annexed into the city providing water service (or fire service if no water service is available).
Statewide referendum: PROVIDES FOR THE INVENTORY OF BUSINESSES TO BE EXEMPT FROM STATE PROPERTY TAX. This measure would exempt business inventory from state ad valorem taxation. This would constitute a tax cut for businesses.