Sunday, September 12, 2010

Information on 2010 Georgia Ballot Measures

Update: On Monday, The Atlanta Journal Constitution finally bothered to provide clear explanations of the ballot measures, so I'll be analyzing them with those summaries in mind.

I just realized I had better look at the State of Georgia's 2010 ballot measures at some point before Election Day.

The state provides a pamphlet on the Georgia Secretary of State's website that tries to explain the 5 Constitutional amendments and 1 state-wide referendum on the ballot this November. I think the summaries are available on Election Day on the ballot, but I am not sure about this.

I myself don't really understand the ballot measures. The League of Women Voters is often helpful in providing clearer explanations of ballot measures, but their voter guide for Georgia in 2010 does not have any information on the ballot measures.

So, since they are all "legislative referral", meaning the voters have to approve (or disapprove) some bill passed by the legislature. I decided to check how the legislature voted on that bill and what members of the legislature said about them, to try to get an idea of whether or not I ought to support it. Here is what I found:

Question 1: Allows competitive contracts to
be enforced in Georgia courts

bill was sponsored by Democrat Kevin Levitas and Republicans Mike Coan, Butch Parrish, Joe Wilkinson, Richard Smith, and John Lunsford. The Conference Report was approved almost unanimously. Only 3 in the House voted NAY, Democrats Doug McKillip and Brian Thomas, and Republican Bobby Franklin. There were 0 NAY votes in the Senate.

In other words, this bill does not seem to have created much controversy in the legislature, which means it probably makes sense to go ahead and vote for it.

Update: This is apparently a bad bill for working people, and it seems that I trusted Georgia's Democrats more than I should have.

Labor attorneys oppose it

Well known Atlanta labor attorney Ed Buckley has a strong opinion of Amendment One:

"It's a damned lie."
Attorney Buckley disagrees, saying the amendment will "shackle" employees to their jobs.

"Shackle is an ugly word," 11Alive reporter Jeff Hullinger replied.

"That's what it is," Buckley said. "You can be forced to sign an agreement to keep your job than (sic) fired the next day and not be able to work."

The story goes on to say that ads supporting the Amendment are being funded by the Chamber of Commerce, which, except on public transportation (which the Chamber usually favors) is almost always an automatic reason to vote the other way.

It would provide courts with the ability to uphold the legal parts of an non-compete agreement with illegal clauses (non-compete agreements are agreements which some employers make employees sign that "seek to stop employees from moving to a business competitor or starting a competing business for a specific time period and in a specific geographic area.") In liberal terms, moving towards legalized slavery of the form similar to the old reserve clause in Major League Baseball (baseball players made far far less money, even adjusting for inflation, under the reserve clause)

In conservative terms, this lets judges re-write contracts you've signed (rather than just declare them either A) valid or B) null and void)

I will be voting no.

Question 2: Adds $10 tag fee on private
passenger vehicles to fund statewide trauma care expansion.

The bill was sponsored by Republicans Greg Goggans, Cecil Staton, Renee Unterman, and Don Thomas and by Democrats David Adelman and Valencia Seay.

In the Senate, the final version was opposed by Republicans Bill Heath and Jeff Chapman. In the House, it was opposed by 12 Republicans, Timothy Bearden, David Casas, Clay Cox, Matt Dollar, Bobby Franklin, Rich Golick, Michael Harden, Billy Horne, Roger Lane, Bobby Reese, Martin Scott, Daniel Stout and by 2 Democrats, Alan Powell and Rob Teilhet.

Again, a pretty overwhelming majority of both parties. I certainly intend to vote for it, though I suppose that isn't fair since at present, I am one of the rare Georgians who does not own a car (and will be trying to limit myself to no more than a Zipcar in the next few years), and so I won't immediately be subject to the fee.

Question 3: Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for
long-term transportation projects

"Amendment 3 seeks to remove the state Transportation Department’s road projects from under the constitution, which requires the agency to fully fund projects before it enters into a contract. "

The bill was sponsored by Republicans Jeff Mullis, Chip Rogers, David Shafer, Tommie Williams and Judson Hill, and by Democrat Steve Thompson. 9 Republicans in the Senate, Balfour, Chapman, Cowsert, Goggans, Grant, Heath, Staton, Tolleson and Unterman voted NAY, as did 2 Republicans, Hatfield and Reese, in the House.

So a fair bit of opposition in the Senate by Republicans, but almost none in the House. At any rate, I'm voting for it. Georgia Republicans tend to be unable to think ahead for multiple years on the need for transportation, which (along with fear of blacks moving in; not that it worked for Clayton or for parts of Cobb for that matter) is why MARTA was limited to the 2 counties of Fulton and Dekalb only; although in those days the Republicans were Lester Maddox Democrats. As such, opposition by them does not faze me, but maybe it fazes others, I do not know.

Of course, on the other hand, GDOT has tended to be extremely hostile to public transportation, so it may not be a good idea to let them do something like this unless the constitution is also modified to remove the provisions limiting public transportation funding sources.

Question 4: Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for
projects to improve energy efficiency and conservation.

The bill was sponsored by Republicans Chance, Rogers, Williams, Douglas and Staton, and by Democrat Steve Henson. 2 Republicans, Hatfield and Setzler, voted NAY in the House. There were 0 NAY votes in the Senate.

So pretty unanimous. Again, I'm voting for it.

Update: Someone thinks it's important enough to campaign for, and as such, news organizations are finally explaining it. It is indeed a good, smart, thing to do, as it will help the environment and in the long run, save Georgia money as well due to lower energy consumption, which is a win-win.

Taxpayers for Energy Efficiency announced Tuesday the launch of its $150,000 "Yes To Amendment 4" campaign, with a website and a page on the Facebook social-media networking site.

The amendment would change the constitution to permit certain multiyear contracts for the retrofitting of the state's 15,000 buildings.

Supporters say it will provide an economic stimulus while reducing energy consumption. And the work would be paid for with the energy savings rather than a new expense to the state's tight budget.

Question 5: Allows owners of industrial-zoned property to choose to remove the industrial designation from their property

The amendment would allow the owner of a property to remove it from an industrial area and allow it to be irrevocably annexed into a city, which would provide services.

The bill was sponsored by Democrats Bob Bryant, Mickey Stephens and Craig Gordon and by Republican Ron Stephens. It was opposed by 18 Republicans in the House, and by 2 Democrats in the Senate.

I figure I'll still vote for it.

Finally, the state-wide referendum (that is not a constitutional amendment)

Question A: Provides for inventory of
businesses to be exempt from
state property tax.

This I will have to look up some more; I'm leery about this.


Anonymous said...

Amendment 1 = Pure evil! Dont' vote for it!!!

When even the right wingers at Peach Pundit think it is unfair to workers, it's pretty bad.

karl said...