Henry and Peaches, with ears flying, race to vote. Even hounds know the importance of November 3!




COUNTDOWN: 34 DAYS TO ELECTION DAY!

  • Deadline to Register to Vote: October 5
  • Early In Person Voting: October 12 through October 30 including Saturday voting on October 24
  • Deadline to deposit absentee ballots in county secure boxes: November 3, but don't wait--go now!
  • Voter information: My Voter Page.
  • DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections: DeKalb Voter Information


FOUR BALLOT QUESTIONS
I RECOMMEND VOTING YES ON THEM ALL

I am getting lots of questions about the Constitutional Amendments and Referenda questions on the November 3 ballot. I addressed these questions in my newsletter sent last week, but here are more details in response to your requests.

Every one of these measures passed the Georgia House and Senate with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. I voted YES for each one then and will do the same on my ballot.

SPECIAL MEASURES ON THE BALLOT
Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 (HR 164)

"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?"
 
  • This bipartisan legislation would ensure that fees the Legislature specifically designates to be collected actually get allocated to their designated purpose.

  • Too many times, statutory-mandated fees have been diverted from their intended purpose and put into the General Fund, then allocated in other ways.

  • One such example is the $1 fee collected on used tires, which was to be used to fund cleanup of scrap tire sites.

  • The bill was introduced by highly respected Rep. Jay Powell (R) before his untimely death last spring. He said, "The point is, we committed to the citizens of this state that we would spend the money on a specific purpose, and that is what we should do. ...[Without this] [t]here is nothing to prevent this or other legislatures from spending the money on other purposes." 


Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 (HR 1023)
 
"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?"

  • I co-sponsored this legislation along with other Democrats and Republicans in the House. Sovereign immunity comes from English law where the sovereign (king) had unlimited power.
 
  • This bill gives Georgians recourse in court when state entities act outside the scope of their lawful authority or in violation of state law or of the Georgia or U.S. constitutions. Since a 2017 Georgia Supreme Court decision, Lathrop vs. Deal, the state has been immune (sovereign immunity) from suits by its citizens; this law would waive such immunity, allowing the courts to be a check on the state's exercise of power.

  • The amendment only applies to lawsuits alleging a government action is unconstitutional or in violation of state or local law. While it allows Georgians to sue to STOP the unlawful action, it does not allow the award of monetary judgments, court costs, or attorneys’ fees. It would not apply to suits against state employees or to suits filed prior to January 1, 2021.

  • This is being brought to voters because the General Assembly has twice tried to enact legislation waiving sovereign immunity, but both Governor Deal and Governor Kemp vetoed those efforts. Read more HERE.

Statewide Referendum A (HB 344)
 
"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?"
 
  • Another bipartisan bill, this exemption will give charitable organizations (like Habitat for Humanity) the ability to devote more resources to building affordable housing.

  • This is on the ballot because property tax exemptions require a two-thirds supermajority vote of approval in the Legislature AND approval by a statewide majority of voters. 

  • One Habitat official, Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Bulloch County, said her branch of Habitat for Humanity, which owns between 10 and 20 properties at a time, means property taxes owed could be around $5,000. Jenkins said, "Twelve hundred dollars provides the sheet rock for a new house. Five thousand dollars provides the framing lumber for a new house, so a thousand to four thousand dollars is a significant part of a new house.... One of our lots, the next one we’re going to build on, the estimated taxes would be one hundred and eleven dollars a year. Right next door to it same size lot roughly, is a three bedroom house just like what we’re going to be building. The estimated taxes are just under fifteen hundred dollars. So once that house is built it will help the tax base grow. I think some affiliates hesitate to bring on more vacant lots because of the tax burden that that would place on them, and this would free up money so we could build quickly."

Special Election DeKalb County (HB 1243)

Ethics Question: "Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County?"

  • This bill re-institutes the DeKalb Board of Ethics, which has been inactive since 2018, when the Georgia Supreme Court invalidated the Board's appointment process.
  • The act restructures the appointment process and creates a new position of "Ethics Administrator."

  • This legislation has been a long-time coming, with a prior referendum rejected by voters in 2019.

  • I voted Yes on the House floor on this ethics bill, and I am voting yes on the Nov. 3 ballot referendum. It is not a perfect bill, not what I would have written, but it is an acceptable compromise.


I hope this clarifies the ballot measures for you. If you have any questions, please email me.

Your vote matters, as became even more clear after last night's Presidential Debate. Here's my take, posted on Facebook.

Post debate discussion—- my favorite guy, the fact checker, CNN's Steve Kornacki. I love his fierceness, his stress level over size of lies is AUTHENTIC! GO !! My view—-there should be no further debates unless moderator has a mute button, and unless Trump condemns violent white supremacists. Full stop.

Stay safe and keep in touch!
Mary Margaret
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265

Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square, Suite 604
Atlanta, GA  30334
404-656-0265