GA constitutional amendments – Explained!

Early voting begins Monday, October 17…..

At the end of this year’s session of the Georgia State Legislature, four constitutional amendments were placed on the November 8 ballot.    Two affect children in important ways. All four need to be read closely before you decide how to vote.

Here is a “plain English” version of the amendments, with a bit of non-partisan explanation to help you decide!  Please feel free to forward to friends, congregants and neighbors.

Here’s the link:


Title Subject Description
Amendment 1 Education State intervention in “chronically failing” public schools
Amendment 2 Gov’t finances Revenue to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund
Amendment 3 State judiciary Judicial Qualifications Commission
Amendment 4 Taxes Use of tax revenue from fireworks


Amendment 1:    Authorization of the State Government to Intervene in Failing Local Schools


A “yes” vote supports authorizing the state to form an Opportunity School District that would govern elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing.” Local school boards/districts would no longer supervise these schools


Text of measure

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?

( ) Yes     ( ) No


Amendment 1 


Approval of the amendment by voters implements Senate Bill 133 which provides for three governance models of schools under an “Opportunity School District” (OSD) agency:

  1. direct management by the OSD,
  2. transformation of the school into a charter school.
  3. shared governance between the OSD and local board of education and
  4. closing schools as the “intervention of last resort.”

– Up to 20 schools could be taken over by the OSD per year; no more than 100 schools at any one time; and they would stay in the OSD state control for five to ten years.

– The Governor will appoint a Superintendent to head the OSD agency, and the superintendent would report directly to the governor.     By virtue of its creation by constitutional amendment, the OSD becomes a permanent, ongoing entity of the governor’s office, separate from the GA Dept. Of Education.

– The OSD would select, or remove school principals, transfer teachers, control the school property and their budgets and modify education content.

Pros and Cons

Both proponents and opponents of the Opportunity School District idea concur that Georgia’s failing schools need help – now.

OSD supporters contend that the best way forward toward improvement is to grant the governor and the state power to take control of failing schools.  Supporters of the OSD say the time has come to try bold new approaches, such as increased use of charter schools,


Not surprisingly, local school boards have taken umbrage with the OSD concept, asserting that it would result in a loss of local control and accountability.


OSD opponents say the state needs to address how schools overall are funded.  Educating struggling kids will take a different allocation of resources that gets troubled schools extra help.




Amendment 2:  Georgia Additional Penalties for Sex Crimes to Fund Services for Sexually Exploited Children


A “yes” vote adds monetary penalties in court cases involving certain sex crimes.  The amendment also imposes assessments on adult entertainment establishments.

The revenue provides money for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.  This is a separate fund in the Georgia State Treasury.  It will disburse money to provide care and rehabilitative and social services for sexually exploited children.

Text of measure

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?

( ) Yes     ( ) No


Amendment 3: Georgia Replacement of the Judicial Qualifications Commission


A “yes” vote will replace the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission (created in 1972 as an independent body) with a new commission designed and governed by the General Assembly.


Main opposition to this amendment is

1) That the commission would be   appointed by the legislature and become subject to politics.  (The existing JQC members are appointed by the state supreme court, the state bar association and the governor.


2) That the legislature has not yet investigated alleged problems with the current and independent JQC body.


Text of measure

  Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?

( ) YES      ( ) NO




Amendment 4: Georgia Uses of Revenue from Taxes on Fireworks

A “yes” vote would dedicate revenue from fireworks sales taxes to trauma care, fire protection services and public safety.


The Georgia State Legislature legalized the sale of fireworks in 2015. The excise taxes from fireworks sale will go to55% the Georgia Trauma Care Network; 40% to improving the equipment and training of Georgia firefighters; and 5% to local government for public safety purposes.   Legislative support for this amendment was almost unanimous.

Text of measure

  Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?

( ) YES          ( ) NO


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