Georgians have until Oct. 11 to register to vote— and then early voting in Georgia starts on Monday Oct. 17. In the meantime, aside from the candidates you vote for on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, there are also four proposed constitutional amendments to be approved or rejected. They can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website

The following is a brief InsiderAdvantage analysis:

1) The question is whether to allow the state to take over local schools designated as permanent failures. A “yes” vote would create an “Opportunity School District” statewide, which is backed by Gov. Nathan Deal and passed by the General Assembly. Proponents say students trapped in failing schools would be saved by going into the new and better District. Opponents (including some superintendents and educators) cite the need for continued local control and problem solving without state intervention.

2) The General Assembly passed legislation to reorganize the Judicial Qualifications Commission, a watchdog agency which probes complaints of judges’ misconduct and has the power to remove them. The bill’s sponsor and other lawmakers accuse former State Bar president and ex-JQC chairman Lester Tate and some Bar allies of having “played favorites” based on their own agendas. A “yes” vote assigns the House speaker and lieutenant governor two JQC appointments each, giving the legislature a majority of the nominations for the seven-member panel. The legislation also gives the governor authority to appoint a State Bar member as the JQC chairman.

3) This amendment simply asks voters whether they want to dedicate an existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks toward the state’s underfunded trauma care network. The money would basically go for training and equipping personnel involved in local governments’ public safety efforts.

4) A “yes” vote would create the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund. It establishes new state funding to underwrite counseling and medical treatment for victims of Georgia’s growing sex trafficking. It would be paid through new $2,500 penalties for anyone convicted of human trafficking as well as from a new $5,000 annual fee on strip clubs and other “adult businesses.” (Incidentally, most “adult” businesses don’t like this amendment.)


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