Need to Know: Questions for Georgia voters

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Expect to see questions on your mid-term election ballot on Nov. 6. The Georgia ballot will include five proposed changes to the state constitution.

Here are the amendments up for consideration:

Amendment 1 – Creates the Outdoor Stewardship Georgia Trust Fund. Essentially, this allows the state to earmark 80 percent of taxes collected on sporting goods to fund conservation efforts for the next ten years. It’s projected to raise $200 million which would buy land for public use, enhance existing wildlife tracts of land and offer matching grants to local governments for building parks.   

Amendment 2 –  Creates a state-wide business court where the Governor of Georgia appoints these five-year termed judges with approval by both the Judiciary Committee in both the House and Senate. 

Amendment 3 – Encourages the conservation, sustainability and longevity of Georgia’s working forests by lowering taxes on timberland owners. This proposed new tax break formula will affect taxes collected by some local schools and county governments via property taxes. There is no provision by the state to make up for that shortfall.

Amendment 4 – Provides rights for victims of crime in judicial process by alerting them about court dates, hearings and release of alleged perpetrator from custody. Although Georgia law provides notification to victims of hearings and other proceedings, this change in the constitution gives the system more credence and gives victims the right to a hearing if those notifications are neglected.

Amendment 5 – Local option sales tax allows either a city or county school district to call for a penny sales tax increase rather than require both to agree as long as the proceeds collected are distributed equally per-student.

Referendum A – Provides for a homestead exemption for homeowners. This is on every ballot, but applies to Atlanta where the municipal portion of Atlanta’s annual property taxes should be capped so that they rise no more than 2.6 percent a year.

Referendum B – Provides a tax exemption for certain homes for the mentally disabled. Currently, non-profit homes for people with mental challenges get a tax break this would extend it out to for-profit institutions financing the construction or renovation of a home.

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