Referendums

Referendums for Amendments to the Georgia Constitution.

Georgia Amendment 1:

Authorizes dedication of fees and taxes to their intended purposes by general state law

House Resolution 164
Act No. 597

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?”

In Simple Terms.

This would prohibit a tax raised for road repairs to be used for building a new swimming pool.

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According to the measure as passed by the General Assembly, if passed by voters, the state’s constitution would be changed to limit funds that are dedicated to statute-specific projects. In addition, the agency responsible for those funds would have to provide an annual report on the funds involved.

The tax or fee which generates those funds would have to expire within ten years of their creation.

Once the legislation is passed and enacted, the legislature would not be permitted to re-allocate revenues from those funds to the state’s general fund unless the governor suspends the fund. The governor would be able to suspend the fund in the event of a financial emergency.

A financial emergency, in this instance, is defined as when total state revenue in the most recent fiscal year is 3% or more below revenue estimates or when the state has three consecutive months of declining revenues.

The governor is only permitted to do this three times within ten consecutive fiscal years.

In the House, it was sponsored by Rep. Jay Powell (R – 171st, Camilla), Andrew Welch (R – 110th, McDonough), Bruce Williamson (R – 115th, Monroe), Ron Stephens (R – 164th, Savannah), Robert Trammell (D – 132nd, Luthersville) and Billy Mitchell (D – 88th, Stone Mountain). On the Senate side of the Capitol, Sen. William Ligon Jr. (R – 3rd, Brunswick) sponsored the measure.

Georgia Amendment 2:

Waives state and local sovereign immunity for violation of state laws, state and federal constitutions.

House Resolution 1023
Act No. 596

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States?”

In Simple Terms

Under current law you cannot sue the State if they act outside the law or their authority. Voting Yes would allow citizens to sue the state if the state acted outside of the law or its authority.

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This measure, initially sponsored by Republican Rep. Andrew Welch, would waive the state’s “sovereign immunity,” and allow Georgia residents to seek relief through superior courts from state or local laws found to violate the United States Constitution, the Georgia state Constitution or Georgia state law, effective January 1, 2021.

Sovereign immunity, by definition, is the concept of the government not being able to be sued without its consent. Its origin lies in British common legal doctrine, based on the concept that “the King could do no wrong.”

According to the Cornell Law School, in the United States, sovereign immunity typically applies to the federal and state governments, though both have the ability to waive sovereign immunity. The federal government did this when the Federal Tort Claims Act was passed in 1946.

Under Georgia Amendment 2, if passed, a court could not award damages, attorney’s fees, or other court costs, unless authorized by the state legislature.

If approved, the waiver of sovereign immunity would apply to acts occurring on or after January 1, 2021.

HR 1023 was sponsored in the state House by Rep. Andrew Welch (R – 110th, McDonough), Chuck Efstration (R – 104th, Dacula), Barry Fleming (R – 101st, Harlem), Robert Trammell (D – 132nd, Luthersville), Trey Kelley (R – 16th, Cedartown) and Mary Margaret Oliver (D – 82nd, Decatur). In the Senate it was sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R – 18th, Macon).

Georgia Referendum A:

Establishes a tax exemption for certain real property owned by charities.

House Bill 344
Act No. 149


“Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes for all real property owned by a purely public charity, if such charity is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and such real property is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by such charity to individuals using loans that shall not bear interest?”

In Simple Terms

This exempts 501(3)c charities that are already exempt from paying Federal Taxes from paying Property Taxes.

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This referendum will provide an exemption from property taxes for property owned by a public charity that is already exempt from federal taxes under Section 501(c)(3) — such as Habitat for Humanity — if the property in question is owned specifically for the purpose of building or rehabilitating single-family homes.

In addition, the charity would have to provide interest-free financing to the person or persons purchasing the home.

The measure was sponsored by House Representatives Matthew Gambill (R – 15th, Cartersville), Matt Hatchett (R – 150th, Dublin), Deborah Silcox (R – 52nd, Sandy Springs), Matt Dollar (R – 45th, Marietta), David Dreyer (D – 59th, Atlanta) and Mitchell Scoggins (R -14th, Cartersville). In the Senate, it was sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – 14th, White).

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