20 September 2018
During the 2018 Legislative Session, the legislature passed resolutions, proposing five constitutional amendment ballot questions that must be approved by the majority of Georgia’s citizens. The first measure addresses the revision of the current procedure used to establish forest land fair market value, which is currently based on each property’s 2008 value. Voters will have a chance to decide if the process can be changed, so that conservation property would be assessed at forty percent of its forest land conservation use value, and qualified timberland property would be assessed at forty percent of its fair market value for qualified timberland property. Additionally, if this amendment passes, commercial timberland would receive a new land designation.
The second proposed constitutional amendment, if passed, would allow the state to establish the Georgia Business Court along with its processes.
Marsy’s Law, also known as the crime victim’s equal rights legislation, is the third constitutional amendment. If approved, Marsy’s Law will provide victims with the right to request the court dates and release dates of the criminal, to be made aware of any rulings in the case, and to be included or excluded from criminal proceedings. Each of these provisions will help protect the victims of crimes and give them a voice while also protecting them during and after any criminal proceedings.
The fourth measure addresses school district(s) being able to call a referendum to establish a sales tax to be used only for education purposes. The school district(s) involved must have a majority of enrolled students within a county, and a majority of the voters within that county would have to vote to pass the proposed referendum.
Lastly, the fifth measure addresses the creation of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. The purpose of this Fund would be to protect and preserve conservation land. Funding would be derived from up to eighty percent of revenue sales and use tax collected by the state on outdoor recreation equipment.
In addition to these five measures, citizens living in cities in north Fulton – Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, and Roswell – will be able to vote on whether or not to cap property tax assessment increases at three percent or the inflation rate, whichever is lower.
During the first week of the 2018 session, I filed six bills proposing these referendums and worked with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass final versions of the bills, including SB 317, which provides a referendum for citizens living within the Fulton County School District to vote upon approval of new homestead exemptions from the school district property taxes for educational purposes. If the referendum passes, it would return your property value to the lowest amount of the year 2016, 2017, and 2018. This is a tremendous benefit to homeowners and is fully supported by the school board.
Lastly, there is a final ballot question to increase the exemption for our senior citizens. If you have any questions, I’m always available to answer them and to help with any issues you may have.