2016 Constitutional Amendments on Nov 8 Ballot

Summary of Four Amendments to Georgia’s Constitution

Amendment 1. Opportunity School District (OSD)   The question is “Shall the Constitution of the State of Georgia be amended so as to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?” The measure, which would create a so-called “Opportunity School District” statewide, is a signature issue for Gov. Nathan Deal but has been met with opposition from educators and public school advocates who say it misses the point of why those schools are struggling. I will vote NO.

Amendment 2. Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund. Voters are also being asked to create the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund, which would create a new dedicated source of state funding to pay for victims’ housing, counseling and medical treatment. It would be paid for through new $2,500 fines for exploiting children and a new $5,000 annual fee on strip clubs.  I will vote Yes.

 Amendment 3. Judicial Qualifications Commission. This proposal would abolish and remake the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates allegations of judicial impropriety and has the authority to remove judges. I will vote No.

Amendment 4. Fireworks Tax Dedicated to Trauma Care.   The question is whether voters want to dedicate an existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks toward the state’s trauma care network, training and equipment for Georgia firefighters, and local governments’ public safety efforts. I will vote yes.

Comprehensive Explanation of Each Amendment    

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2016 Session Wrap UP

Bills passed both House and Senate and on the Governor’s Desk

MARTA SB 369  This legislation allows a referendum for MARTA funding this November. The referendum will allow the City of Atlanta to levy a new sales tax for the purpose of MARTA expansion, and also would allow Fulton to raise taxes for road improvements.

Budget  As required by the state Constitution, the House and Senate approved the Budget for the 2017 fiscal year, with a spending plan of $24 billion starting July. Among otherthings, it includes a 3% pay raise for state employees and teachers. $800 million will be allotted for transportation projects.   Nearly 5 million was included in the Behavioral Health budget for a crisis stabilization unit that is expected to be put in Fulton County.

Rape Kits SB 304  This was the Senate version of HB 827, a bill to ensure the timely processing of rape kits in Georgia. The bill was supported by law enforcement, victims’ rights advocates, and care providers.

Campus Carry HB 859  This bill will permit the concealed carrying of guns on college campuses. The bill allows anyone aged 21 and older to carry guns anywhere on campus except for athletic facilities, sorority and fraternity houses, and dormitories.  The Governor has expressed concerns but It is unclear at this time if he will veto the measure.

Fireworks HB 727  This bill limits the usage of fireworks after a certain time. Prior to this people could use fireworks up until 2 am on New Years and July 4th , and 12 midnight on all other days. With this law the cut- off time is 1 am for New Years and July 4th, and 9 pm for all other days.

Bills that will not become law include the following:

 Medical Marijuana This bill would have legalized the use of medical marijuana for certain diseases and disorders. It passed the House, but was denied a hearing in the Senate. It would have legalized medical marijuana usage for conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDs, seizure-related disorders, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome.

“Religious Liberty”- HB 757 The Governor vetoed the bill

Independent Reapportionment Commission HR 1160 No hearing

Expand Medicaid Now HB 823 No hearing but a bill giving individuals and corporations a tax credit for donating to rural hospitals passed as an effort to shore them up.

On November 8 Ballot:

 The Opportunity School District(OSD) referendum will be on the November 8, 2016 Ballot. I voted against this legislation allowing the Governor to take over schools determined to be underperforming or “failing” schools. It passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor at the end of the 2015 session.   The City of Atlanta Board of Education has taken this threat seriously and has taken actions to shift significant resources to those schools in danger of state takeover. I believe it is important to work against the OSD while also working to help the identified schools make the progress they need by supporting the Board’s reform initiatives.

Another referendum on the November ballot will allow Atlanta to collect a transportation half penny for transit projects (MARTA) located entirely within the city. I believe further development of transit is a critical need for our city to continue to progress and become more liveable. This sales tax will be paid by all who visit our city as well as by those who live here

Opportunity School District (OSD) on November Ballot

The Opportunity School District(OSD) referendum will be on the November 8, 2016 Ballot. I voted against this legislation allowing the Governor to take over schools determined to be underperforming or “failing” schools. It passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor at the end of the 2015 session.   The City of Atlanta Board of Education has taken this threat seriously and has taken actions to shift significant resources to those schools in danger of state takeover. I believe it is important to work against the OSD while also working to help the identified schools make the progress they need by supporting the Board’s reform initiatives