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2016 Constitutional Amendment Guide Snapshot

AMENDMENT 1: Creates the Opportunity School District, which allows the Governor to take over struggling schools

Summary: Amendment 1 is a constitutional amendment that would allow the General Assembly to authorize the establishment of an Opportunity School District (OSD) to provide for state interventions for struggling schools.

Pro: Gives Governor more authority to help struggling schools

Con: Takes local control and concentrates it with one appointed bureaucrat

Stacey’s Position: I opposed and will vote NO on Amendment 1. I opposed the adoption of the constitutional amendment because it fails to include key protections identified by other states with similar legislation, including (1) prohibition of for-profit education companies, (2) the ability to remove or impeach the director of the OSD and (3) the provision of a funding source that does not draw from local revenues. More than 90% of the students in eligible schools are low income; however, no additional resources have been identified to provide the necessary financial supports. The OSD Director will answer solely to the governor and not be subject to the purview of the elected State School Superintendent or the appointed State School Board. This vests a great deal of power and control into a single person with no recourse for affected parents, students, educators or elected officials.

AMENDMENT 2: Creates a dedicated source of state funding on behalf of victims of human trafficking to support housing, counseling and medical treatment

Summary: Amendment 2 establishes a new Safe Harbor for the Sexually Exploited Children Fund, receiving money through $2,500 fines on convicted traffickers and an annual fee of $5,000 or 1% of annual gross revenue, whichever is greater, on adult entertainment establishments. Funds are then used to provide housing, mental care, education, job training, legal help, and child care to the victims. Convicted traffickers will also be listed on the state sex offender website.

Pro: Supports victims of human trafficking. Forbids the legislature from diverting funds
Con: Unfairly Taxes adult entertainment establishments unfairly

Stacey’s Position: I voted in favor of the amendment and will vote YES on Amendment 2.

AMENDMENT 3: Changes oversight of judicial conduct to give greater authority to the state legislature

Summary: Under current law, the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) is comprised of two judges selected by the Georgia Supreme Court, three lawyers appointed by the State Bar of Georgia and two citizens appointed by the Governor. The proposed constitutional amendment would change the appointment powers: appointments would be made by the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor. The public will now be denied access to a judge’s disciplinary hearing before the JQC for the first time.

Pro: Gives the legislature more direct oversight of judicial misconduct
Con: Takes oversight of judicial misconduct away from independent body & gives to politicians

Stacey’s Position: I voted against the amendment and will vote NO on Amendment 3. While I am sympathetic to the concerns of the authors, this amendment politicizes the oversight of our judiciary and subjects appointees to political whims of elected officials. Moreover, the legislature adopted the constitutional amendment prior to holding hearings to understand and evaluate the most appropriate approach to remedying any flaws in the current system. I find this to be a dangerous overreach that may place judges in jeopardy based on the temperament of the political appointees to the JQC.

AMENDMENT 4: Creates a dedicated source of state funding from fireworks sales taxes to support trauma care, fire protection services and public safety

Summary: Amendment 4 will dedicate the proceeds from a general excise tax on fireworks to support funding for fire protection services, trauma care and public safety. The intent of the amendment is to establish a permanent revenue source that may not be diverted by the legislature without repeal of this amendment by the people.

Pro: Dedicates fireworks tax revenue from firecrackers to support fire safety

Con: Restricts use of fireworks tax revenue for only fire safety related issues

Stacey’s Position: I voted in favor of the amendment and will vote YES on Amendment 4.