Georgia has 4 amendments on the ballot for November 8th’s General Election. You can view them on the second page of the recently released Fayette County Sample Ballot. Download Here >
The Georgia House Minority Leader’s Office has graciously provided us local Democrats with a breakdown of each of the four amendments. See information from the State Party below under the Notes section.
Constitutional Amendment 1: SR 134 – Senator Larry Walker (20th)
Purpose: Suspends compensation for public officers indicted for felony.
Ballot Question: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to suspend the compensation of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, or any member of the General Assembly while such individual is suspended from office following indictment for a felony?”
Summary: Senate Resolution 134 amends Article II of Section III of the Constitution of Georgia, relating to the procedures for suspending or removing public officials, to provide that the compensation of certain public officials be suspended if they are suspended from their office due to a felony indictment. The resolution also includes language for the ballot question required to effect this amendment to the Constitution of Georgia.
Notes: This first amendment allows the state government to suspend the salary of any elected official who has been indicted for a felony. This amendment was developed in response to the felony indictment of Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who continued to receive his full salary even after he was suspended from his job upon his indictment for fraud. Under the amendment, salary payments will be suspended after an official has been indicted. Should the official later be cleared of wrongdoing by a court or jury, they will receive all back pay due to them. On the floor, the measure passed unanimously, without any nay votes from state house Democrats.
Constitutional Amendment 2: HR 594 – Rep. Lynn Smith (70th)
Purpose: Grants temporary tax relief to properties severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster.
Ballot Question: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the governing authority of each county, municipality, and consolidated government and the board of education of each independent and county school system in this state shall be authorized to grant temporary tax relief to properties within its jurisdiction which are severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster and located within a nationally declared disaster area?”
Summary: House Resolution 594 amends Article VII, Section I of the Constitution by authorizing the governing authority of each county, municipality, and consolidated government and the board of education of each independent and county school system in this state to grant temporary tax relief to properties that are severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster and that are located within a nationally declared disaster area. The resolution also includes the required ballot language to ratify this amendment.
Notes: The second amendment allows county, municipal, and school board officials to suspend collection property taxes temporarily for any property that is seriously damaged by a natural disaster if a national disaster has been declared, such as a hurricane, wildfire, or tornados. This measure relieves property owners from having to pay property taxes on a home or business that has been seriously damaged or destroyed. This measure ultimately passed the state house unanimously, without any nay votes from state house Democrats.
Constitutional Amendment 3: HR 997 – Rep. Sam Watson (172nd)
Purpose: Grants tax exemption for certain timber equipment.
Ballot Question: “Shall the Act be approved which grants a state-wide exemption from all ad valorem taxes for certain equipment used by timber producers in the production or harvest of timber?”
Summary: House Bill 997 adds 48-5-41.3 to the Code, which exempts timber equipment from ad valorem taxation. Timber equipment includes all equipment owned or held under a lease-purchase agreement by a timber producer and is directly used in the production or harvest of timber products, excluding motor vehicles. “Timber producers” are defined as any one or more individuals or entities registered to do business in the state that are primarily involved in the subsistence or commercial production or harvest of timber products.
Notes: The first of two statewide ballot measures involving ad valorem tax exemptions, this one exempting timber equipment. Democratic Rep. Debbie Buckner was a strong proponent of this measure, and it passed the House unanimously.
Constitutional Amendment 4: HR 498 – Rep. Sam Watson (172nd)
Purpose: Expands tax exemption for agricultural equipment and certain farm products.
Ballot Question: “Shall the Act be approved which expands a state-wide exemption from ad valorem taxes for agricultural equipment and certain farm products held by certain entities to include entities comprising two or more family owned farm entities, and which adds dairy products and unfertilized eggs of poultry as qualified farm products with respect to such exemption?”
Our Summary: House Bill 498 amends O.C.G.A. 48-5-41.1, relating to the exemption of qualified farm products and harvested agricultural products from taxation, by adding dairy products and unfertilized eggs of poultry to the list of qualified farm products and by modifying the definition of “family-owned farm entity.” Family-owned farm entity is expanded to allow an entity created by the merger or consolidation of two or more entities that would qualify independently as a family-owned farm entity.
Notes: The second of two additional statewide ballot measures involving ad valorem tax exemptions. This one would allow family farms to exempt dairy and egg products and equipment. This measure passed unanimously by the house.
Early voting begins October 17th.
Use this map to find driving directions to your nearest early voting location. From Monday, October 17th to Friday, November 4th, you can vote every day except Sunday 9AM – 5PM at any of these 4 spots.
There’s still time to Register!
Don’t forget! The voter registration deadline is October 11th, just under a week away. Please double check your registration and ensure there are no mistakes (especially if you have recently moved or changed your name), and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Every vote counts, and Fayette County needs every last Democrat to turn out at the polls this month. As well as weekday early voting beginning October 17th, you will have the option to vote on Saturdays (22nd and 29th October). Click here to download the FCDC’s “Voting Checklist” to make sure you have a voting plan in place and that your vote will be counted.
Wondering how you can help the FCDC? Here are a few ways to get involved!
- VOLUNTEER: we are always looking for new volunteers to join the movement. If you have a passion for local politics, even just a few hours of your time would be invaluable to us. Click here to visit our website and discover some of the soonest volunteer opportunities available.
- PROMOTE: lawn signs, t-shirts, Facebook shares, talking to your friends and family- there are countless ways to spread the message and keep the momentum going! Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and engage with our posts as much as possible as this really helps us reach other Democrats in the area. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with everything going on in Fayette County!
- DONATE: the FCDC relies on donations to keep the doors open, so anything you can spare will make a huge difference!
- EVENTS: come and support our events, whether it be a fish fry, an evening of jazz music, or a Meet+Greet. We’d love to see as many of you as possible- our democracy would be nothing without people like you showing up for what you believe in!
See you on Saturday for the Pancake Breakfast and Strategy meeting at IHOP!