2020 Ballot Question Guide

There will three (3) questions on the ballot this election year. Here is how the Georgia House Democratic Caucus recommends voting for the ballot questions:


Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1: Authorizes dedication of fees and taxes to their intended purposes by general state law (H.R. 164)


Question: "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?


( ) Yes

( ) No"


Overview: This amendment adds teeth, truth, and transparency by providing a way to ensure that fees that are specifically designated actually get allocated for their designated purpose.


Summary: House Resolution 164 allows the General Assembly to dedicate funds from fees or taxes for the purpose for which they are imposed by general law. The general law dedicating the fee must reference this provision of the Constitution; provide the specific purpose for which the fee will be used; identify the agency to administer the funds; require annual reporting of the revenue and expenditures by the department administering the funds; and include a sunset date not to exceed 10 years. The total amount of funds dedicated by this provision of the Constitution may not exceed one percent of the total state revenues of the prior fiscal year. Funds dedicated by this provision do not lapse. Any law enacted pursuant to this provision requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of each branch of the General Assembly; however, it takes only a simple majority to repeal a law enacted pursuant to this provision. In the event the governor declares a financial emergency, which shall be

deemed to exist if revenue collections decrease by three percent or more from the previous year or the state experiences three consecutive months of declining revenues during the current fiscal year, the governor or the General Assembly may temporarily suspend the dedication of these revenues and appropriate such revenues. This option is limited to three, two-year periods during any 10-year period. The resolution also provides ballot language.


Recommended Vote: Yes


Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2: Waives state and local sovereign immunity for violation of state laws, state and federal constitutions (H.R. 1023)


Question: "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?


( ) Yes

( ) No"


Overview: This amendment gives Georgians the keys to the Courthouse door when their government is breaking the law.


Summary: House Resolution 1023 proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to waive sovereign immunity for actions in the superior court seeking declaratory relief from acts of the state, or any county, consolidated government, or municipality of this state, outside the scope of lawful authority or in violation of the laws of the Georgia Constitution or the Constitution of the United States. A court awarding declaratory relief may enjoin such acts to enforce its judgment. The waiver applies to past, current, and prospective acts that occur on or after January 1, 2021. Actions against the state shall be brought exclusively against the state and in the name of the State of Georgia. Actions against any county, consolidated government, or municipality shall be brought exclusively against the named entity. The power of the court to dismiss or deny relief and other powers of the court to hear a case are not

affected. The General Assembly may limit the power or duty of a court to dismiss any action or deny relief. No damages, attorney's fees, or costs of litigation are awarded in an action authorized by this amendment.


Recommended Vote: Yes


Statewide Referendum (HB 344)


Question: "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?


( ) Yes

( ) No"


Overview: This bill will give charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity the ability to devote more resources to building affordable housing.


Summary: House Bill 344 amends O.C.G.A. 48-5-41, relating to property exempt from ad valorem taxation, by adding an exemption for all real property owned by a charity if the property is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by the charity to individuals using interest free loans. If the property is not used for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by the charity to individuals using interest free loans, then the full amount of ad valorem taxes exempted shall be due and payable.


Recommended Vote: Yes


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