The following is a brief summary of each of the five proposed amendments to our Georgia State Constitution and statewide referendum question on the November ballot for your consideration. Hopefully these explanations will assist you in making an informed decision on each.
Proposed 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?”
Passage would change the Georgia Constitution which says contracts that contain non-compete agreements are “null and void.” Many states address this within common law but Georgia policy is contained within the state constitution. As a practical matter, passage would enable Georgia employers to enforce non-compete agreements with senior executives and others in lower job classifications when the company decides the former employee holds confidential information.
Georgia law to protect confidential information is considered weaker than provisions in other states which give the corporate community stronger tools. In order to attract businesses to Georgia and to keep them here as well as to provide clear and consistent guidelines for employees and employers alike, we must allow courts the ability to ensure the reasonableness of employment agreements.
Proposed Amendment 2
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care?”
Advocates have done a good job explaining why Georgia should upgrade trauma care center resources, especially outside metropolitan areas where trauma care is not readily available. Some $80 million in estimated annual revenue would assist Georgia’s 16 designated trauma hospitals and provide funds to upgrade other hospitals from acute care to trauma center status. Many large sections south of Macon have limited access to sufficient trauma care.
The proceeds of the trauma charge would be placed in a trauma trust fund and used for trauma care purposes specified by law. Proceeds would not have to be placed in the general fund of the state treasury but would instead be placed in the trust fund; and any amounts in the trust fund not expended at the end of a fiscal year would not lapse to the general fund but would rather remain in the trust fund.
Proposed 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 reduced long-term construction costs paid by the state?”
This amendment will give the Department of Transportation the ability to enter into multi-year constructions contracts without having to obligate the total amount of the funds in a yearly budget. Instead, the Department of Transportation may extend a contract on a yearly basis that allows them to dedicate only the necessary funds for that term period. A contract of this nature, however, cannot last longer than 10 years.
Georgia’s economic growth is directly correlated to the expansion and modernization of its transportation infrastructure. This measure gives the
Department of Transportation the ability to start multiple projects within their budget allocations in order to maximize that growth. A failure to pass this resolution would limit the number of projects the Department of Transportation can begin and maintain.
Proposed 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?”
This would authorize state government entities to enter into multiyear contracts for energy efficiency or conservation improvement projects.
Energy vendor contracts could be written for periods up to 25 years. Vendors would be required to guarantee specified savings or revenue gains solely attributable to energy improvements. The guarantee would be satisfied by the placement of funds into escrow accounts.
Our government should examine ways and programs that conserve energy. This amendment gives those entities the ability to examine all conservation possibilities and greater flexibility to engage those options.
Proposed 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 form the industrial area?”
This amendment removes the requirement that real property be located “on an island” prior to the owner filing a certificate to remove it from an industrial area, and be annexed by an adjacent city.
This referendum involves a local issue in Garden City and in Jeff Davis County. Because it was established many years ago under a “local constitutional amendment,” a constitutional amendment is needed to annex the land parcel in question.
Statewide Referendum Question A
“Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for inventory of a business?”
This act is a tax exemption measure that removes a quarter-mill from the business inventory tax. The reduction represents that “state portion” of the tax. The inventory tax is a hindrance to businesses, particularly small businesses which inhibits growth and the creation of jobs in our state.
I hope these explanations are useful to you in making you decisions. If you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to contact my office at (404) 656-5116.