PSA Shout Out to Georgia
Posted by Euroranger on October 27, 2010
If you live in the United States, own a functioning television set and have been conscious for the past 4-6 weeks, you’ve probably noticed by now that an election is coming up this Tuesday, November 2. If you live in the United States, own a TV and are anything like me, this Tuesday marks a momentous occasion: we get to vote for our elected officials to represent us in the various levels of government that affect us all everyday those goddamned insipid political commercials will finally disappear from the airwaves for another 2 years…unfortunately to be replaced, most likely, by that goddamned equally insipid Geico gecko. Anyway, unless you live in the great state of Georgia, United States of America, this post will likely mean little to you as you, by law, will not be allowed to vote for the candidates and constitutional amendments our fair state is considering enacting. The “by law” part means that unless you’re a legal resident of Georgia and an American citizen, and can prove such, you won’t be able to cast a vote for or against these attention-whores/questions. Depending upon your particular political bent, however, you may make the argument that the following groups are exempt from that pesky residency/proof of citizenship law and can cast votes pretty much anywhere and as often as you like:
- African-americans *
- the elderly *
- the poor *
- the mentally infirm *
- legal aliens *
- illegal aliens *
- Sigourney Weaver Aliens *
- Mexicans *
- Mexican’ts *
- convicted felons *
- dead people *
(* = as long as you’re planning to vote Democrat)
Anyhow, the lovely and eternally talented Mrs. Ranger asked me yesterday if I would be so kind as to summarize the ballot initiatives that we’ll be voting on here in lovely, bucolic Cherokee County, GA next Tuesday. If you don’t live here chances are your life sucks and you have my immediate but tepid condolences with regard to your lack of residential vision. However, if you live in Georgia, you’re allowed to visit our lovely domain northwest of Atlanta anytime you like…oh, and you can still use the content below as a proper guide to your ballot on November 2 (with my bolded commentary goodness…cause hey, it’s MY blog):
Ballot Question 1 – Allows competitive contracts to be enforced in Georgia courts:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”
This would clarify that the Georgia General Assembly and the Courts have the authority to pass and enforce laws upholding basic employment agreements such as non-compete contracts among businesses and between employers/employees.
I can understand the intent on this…but my work for the past year has been contract and a great many contracts stick language in there that tries to dictate in which industries and what kind of work I can do AFTER I leave the contract’s employ. This issue is on the ballot after having passed overwhelmingly in the house/senate but I’ll probably vote personal interests and vote against it. Contracts already enjoy several laws to enforce their provisions and I don’t believe Georgia suffers unduly from the lack of additional laws in this regard.
Ballot Question 2 – Adds $10 tag fee on private passenger vehicles to fund statewide trauma care expansion:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10.00 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care?”
This establishes a funding mechanism to ensure that Georgia can maintain a reliable trauma care network statewide. It places an additional fee of $10 on annual vehicle registration payments that will be deposited in the Georgia Trauma Care Trust Fund, which funds medical evacuation and trauma care services statewide.
This is an easy one. The Trauma fund cannot be raided by the General Assembly to fund other projects: it’s sole function is to fund trauma care. Currently, adequate trauma care is available near and around larger cities but in rural and mountain areas, people needing immediate trauma care have to be flown to those cities and the additional transport time means people die en route. Attaching the funding to automobile tags is sensible as most causes for trauma care are automobile accidents. I’ll be voting for this.
Ballot Question 3 – Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for long-term transportation projects:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring appropriations in the current fiscal year for the total amount of payments that would be due under the entire agreement so as to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state?”
This would allow the Georgia DOT to enter into multi-year construction contracts without having to pay for the total amount of a multi-year project’s cost in a single year’s budget. Instead, DOT could fund the initial year’s cost and fund the contract on a yearly basis thereafter until complete. The wording of this measure would not allow such contracts to exceed 10 years. This will allow large multi-year projects to be done with less bonded indebtedness.
This sounds like a good measure on the surface and overall seems like a sensible idea. However, I am concerned about the typical habit of construction contracts to exceed the cost estimates at the time of signing as the project progresses. I’m not aware of what the downsides are to the current setup of issuing public bonds to pay for big projects. In addition, this would ALLOW DOT to do this, not require them to. They can still issue bonds for large projects. I’ll probably vote for this but I’m not understanding why this requires an amendment to the constitution and it doesn’t seem as though our current method of funding big projects is insufficient.
Ballot Question 4 – Allows the State to execute multiyear contracts for projects to improve energy efficiency:
“Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for guaranteed cost savings for the state by authorizing a state entity to enter into multiyear contracts which obligate state funds for energy efficiency or conservation improvement projects?”
This authorizes state government entities (not counties or cities) to enter into multiyear contracts to fund energy efficiency projects in state facilities. This would give state agencies the ability to enter into energy performance contracts in which private companies fully fund and execute energy efficiency projects (at their own risk) with their payment coming only from a share of the energy cost savings actually recognized by the State. This measure passed the Georgia House by a vote of 154-2 and the Georgia Senate by a vote of 48-0.
Again, on the surface this seems like a good idea…except that the “payment coming only from a share of the savings” part isn’t defined. That’s really not a big deal breaker for me because, unless that share is 100%, the state will be realizing some savings from energy efficiency and anything that cuts down the amount of taxpayer money the state spends is something to be applauded. I’ll end up voting for this.
Ballot Question 5 – Allows owners of industrial-zoned property to choose to remove the industrial designation from their property:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the owners of real property located in industrial areas to remove the property from the industrial area?”
This affects only a single location in Garden City, GA. Because of a “local constitutional amendment” passed in the 1950’s to affect only one small area of the state (a practice no longer allowed by the General Assembly), an amendment to the Georgia Constitution is required to allow a defunct industrial area near Savannah to be redeveloped into a residential area and be annexed into a local city to receive city services. This bill removes the requirement that real property be located “on an island” prior to the owner filing a certificate to remove it from an industrial area and be annexed by an adjacent city.
The effect seems to be a one time action and because of a previous amendment requires this measure. I’ll be voting for this.
Ballot Question 6 – Provides for inventory of businesses to be exempt from state property tax:
“Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for the inventory of a business?”
This is a tax cut that would remove the 0.25 mill state property tax from the state portion of the business inventory tax. At the rate assessed by the State of Georgia, this would be a tax cut to businesses of $100 per year per $1 million of inventory maintained. This passed the Georgia House 166-0 and the Senate 46-6.
This is one of those questions that really needs to illustrate just how much money we’re talking about statewide. When this bill was originally discussed it mentioned a $2400 tax break to a business that hired an unemployed person for two years. That was in 2009 when the economy was still nosediving. It’s leveled out now pretty much although the state unemployment rate is still around 10%. Georgia is one of only 6 states that assess a state valorum tax on a business’ inventory. While I’d very much like to know how much decreased business tax revenue we’re talking about here, I’ll vote for this measure.
So, those are the constitutional initiatives for our Georgia ballots this Tuesday. Oftentimes, people arrive at the voting booth seemingly drunk and or lost and have no idea aside from party affiliation how they’re going to vote…and these constitutional ballot questions are exceptionally important. All you need to do is to look as far as California to see just how badly “the people” can poop in their own supper plate (so to speak) vis-a-vis referendums. These are important questions because once they’re decided they’re nearly impossible to un-decide.
BE the guy/girl in the booth who knows something about what you’re actually voting for or against. It’d be a unique experience for a lot of people and it might eventually validate the founding father’s belief in government by the people, for the people and of the people…given that they neglected to define “the people” to exclude all the clueless dumbasses who seem to make up a majority of the eligible voting electorate these days.
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.