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Next Tuesday, when you go to vote, you’ll be faced with two constitutional amendments on the ballot, plus one resolution. Today let’s examine what they are, and comment on them.

But first, realize that you may be like many Georgians: complaining on why you are being asked to decide such complicated measures. We feel it’s because of two reasons.

First, our Legislators, who write these amendments, either want to dodge the issues and let voters decide, or want to take credit for something.

Second, there’s still another reason: the Georgia Constitution needs re-writing, since it is full of these many special amendments that simply give many industries tax breaks. If we could eliminate all these special amendments, there would be no need for a state tax increase for many years.

Now to the 2014 special amendments.

The first, Senate Resolution 415, asks: shall the state prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the state income tax rate? Right now it’s six percent for nearly every individual who pays taxes, and there’s been no talk of raising it at all. This measure is on the ballot simply to allow the Georgia elected legislators to be able to say: we “…protected you” from raising the tax rate.

Baloney. No one was proposing it at all. Everyone realizes that it would be a death knell for any legislator to propose raising taxes across the board. While we have no doubt that this Amendment will pass, we lament it being on the ballot since it is a self-serving bill for incumbents to brag about.

  • Vote ‘No!” on Senate Resolution 415.

The second, House Resolution 1183, would allow the courts to add on a special fee to reckless driving penalties, which would benefit the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund.

This amounts, of course, to a tax increase to those people who are charged with reckless driving. While such persons were at fault in causing damage to other individuals, it appears to us this is still unneeded legislation, and something that judges could add to a guilty verdict by setting the amount of fine on the person causing the hardship. Not only that, but the State is collecting fees from those convicted of DUI and reckless driving and then sometimes giving that money to persons in a non-traffic related accident through the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund. As one person asked, “what’s wrong with this picture?”

  • Vote “No!” on House Resolution 1183.

The third item facing voters is House Bill 788. It would allow property owned by the University System and operated by providers of student housing to get an exemption from taxation. This is just another measure like we have seen before, only benefitting certain people. In effect, this bill gives select private companies an unfair advantage over other companies who offer student housing.

Have we heard this before in Georgia? Yes, it’s called “Scratch my back, and I will scratch yours.” Do we need to state the obvious?

  • Vote “No!” on House Bill 788.

So, you see, voting on these questions is fairly simple. Just as in previous years, these proposals are not casually offered. “All this bill does,” the legislators should be saying, “Is to help my friend and to give him a tax break.”

The Georgia General Assembly needs to grow up. While they present such bills as a simple matter, they tend to award these “certain people” (friends) advantages that others don’t get.

Simply vote against them all.

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This article originally appeared at Gwinnett Forum.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.