Amendments, referendum on the ballot Tuesday
by Jessica Loeding
Nov 01, 2010 | 3513 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Bartow County residents enter the voting booth Tuesday, they will be voting on more than just candidates for office. Included on the general election ballot are five constitutional amendments, one statewide referendum and, for voters in Euharlee, alcohol sales.

Bartow County Election Supervisor Joseph Kirk said no other questions will be listed on the ballot, but voters should research questions before voting if possible.

"I urge voters to read the questions prior to voting. Summaries will be available at the polling places to assist voters who cannot research the questions before they go vote," he said. "There are summaries of each question on the [Secretary of State's] website, so if voters have the opportunity, they can study the questions before they go vote."

Included in the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Georgia are:

Amendment 1

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?"

This amendment allows for competitive contracts to be enforced in Georgia courts, making non-compete agreements more binding.

Although some employees sign non-competes upon hiring, Amendment 1 could affect employer-employee dynamics. Under this type contract, an employee cannot use knowledge gained during employment to directly compete with the former employer. This also would keep a seller from competing with his or her customer or seek business from customers of the seller's customer.

Amendment 2

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10.00 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care?"

Perhaps the most talked about of the ballot questions, Amendment 2 would add $10 to the annual car tag fee, including pickup trucks, motorcycles, SUVs and passenger vans designed to carry 10 or fewer people. The money would then be placed in a trust fund and used for trauma care.

According to officials, any amount in the trust fund not spent at the end of a fiscal year would not enter the general fund but would remain in the designated trust fund.

Amendment 3

"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?"

Essentially this will allow GDOT to enter into multi-year contracts, with limits set by the General Assembly, on transportation projects without having all the money upfront.

Amendment 4

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia 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?"

Under this change, the state would be able to execute projects, such as building improvements, that would increase energy efficiency and conservation.

Amendment 5

"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?"

This move allows owners of industrial-zoned properties to remove the designation from their property.

According to GPB News, Amendment 5 addresses a group of property owners in unincorporated Chatham County who want to be annexed into either Savannah or Garden City. Because two of the industrial areas were placed in the state constitution in the past, this becomes a state matter.

Statewide Referendum, Question A

"Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for inventory of a business?"

If approved, this change would remove the state inventory tax. Georgia is one of only about 15 states that collect an inventory tax.

Although approval from voters would eliminate the state inventory tax, local governments could impose such a fee.

If approved, the act would take effect Jan. 1, 2011, and applies to all tax years beginning on or after that date.

Euharlee Sunday sales

The measure puts to a vote Sunday sales in Euharlee. Proposed during a work session in July, the city worked quickly to move the referendum through the proper channels to place it on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

Restaurant owner Johnny Mitchell approached the council in July about extending the hours beer and wine can be served in establishments to include Sundays.

"This is an opportunity for us to have more business stay in Euharlee and not go to Cartersville or other places where beer and wine is served Sunday," he said during the work session.

Mitchell said he polled several restaurant owners in Cartersville, where Sunday sales of beer and wine are allowed, and was told their overall sales improved from 18 to 25 percent in most areas.

The referendum will not include approval of package sales.

Kirk said he expected the amendments to slow voters down somewhat.

"I think that voters will take longer to vote than in previous elections if they don't study the questions before they approach the voting machine," he said, adding again that summaries will be available at the polls, which are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.