Constitutional Amendments on November's Ballot

There’s a lot of talk right now about the ballot next month. This article is about neither Trump nor Hillary!  Rather, it’s about something that might not be getting the same attention in the media — one of the four Constitutional amendments on the ballot. That’s right; there are four. Some of you may have heard about one or the other, but you likely haven’t heard about all of them. Here is a very brief introduction to one of the amendments:

*Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of certain crimes and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care, rehabilitative and social services for individuals in Georgia who have been, or may be, sexually exploited?

Essentially, this bill provides for an additional assessment for those convicted of certain crimes and allows assessments on adult entertainment establishments to be specifically allocated to the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. According to accompanying legislation, this fund is separate in the Georgia State Treasury and its primary purpose is, “to disburse money to provide care and rehabilitative and social services for sexually exploited children.” This Constitutional Amendment is needed because the Legislature cannot specifically dedicate state funds going forward unless authorized to do so by a Constitutional Amendment.

Supporters of the measure estimate the revenue greeted by the imposition of additional fines and fees will generate an estimated $2 million a year. Those funds will be allocated to provide services for the children being victimized and exploited. The services provided will include safe housing, trauma counseling and medical treatment. Victims are often suffering from physical abuse and malnutrition, in addition to extraordinary psychological trauma. Supporters state the fund will, “ensure that innocent young victims receive the help they need to rebuild their lives and reduce their chance of being victimized again.”

While there are no organized groups advocating against the measure, there are those who have voiced opposition. Detractors of the measure are critical in dedicating funds in perpetuity, stating that what may sound like a good idea now, may not be in few years. Others state that the additional tax on the adult entertainment industry will hurt business.

It would be wise to research the issue, and make your own decision.

*Please note — for my voting constituents, I have redacted the actual offenses listed on this measure in an effort for it to be appropriate for readers who might not be able to vote yet. The exact language may be found online.

Educating Georgia
October 2016

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