I’m a Progressive Democrat and I am voting on Nov. 2 because it is the right thing to do for Georgia. Nearly every seat in the state is up for vote and every person elected to office will take part in making tough decisions on very critical issues, with severely decreased resources. There is a lot at stake for Georgia and this election will set the course for at least the next 10 years.
Speaking of 10 years, remember completing the 2010 census? Well, as a result of the Census, Georgia, along with the rest of the United States, will now undergo redistricting just in time for the 2012 elections. In a nutshell, over the next two years the map of the state will be redrawn as it relates to legislative districts. As a result, the person who now represents you may not represent you any longer and therefore, the politics of your districts may also change.
The new maps will be redrawn by the state House and Senate with veto power belonging to the governor. The people you elect to these offices on Nov. 2 will control the process. Redistricting in Georgia has historically been a heated issue and our next round promises to be equally challenging. So as you go to the polls, consider who represents you now and the possibilities of how redistricting will affect your representation in the very near future.
In addition to redistricting, another important factor in the Nov. 2 election is the proposed constitutional amendments. There are five constitutional amendments and one statewide referendum on the ballot. Each was voted on in the House and the Senate and will now go before the voters for a yes or no vote.
Amendment One and Amendment Two are drawing the most attention. Below are the amendments as they appear on the ballot, and brief summary of each argument. The following information is based on the Secretary of State’s description, my own reading of the underlying amendments and companion legislation and opinions from both sides of the arguments. This is intended only as a guide.
• Amendment 1: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”
Currently, an employer’s non-competition agreements are strictly limited as to the time period, geographic area and prohibited activities. A “yes” vote would change that, enabling Georgia courts to enforce non-competition agreements by adjusting (either in the favor of the employer or employee) limitations on the time period, geographic area, or prohibited activities as they deem reasonable. A “no” vote will leave the laws as is with strict limitations.
Pro: For many companies, non-compete clauses are essential to guarantee that former employees with specialized knowledge are not able to simply leave the company and take that knowledge to the next company or to create their own companies using knowledge gained from trade secrets. Most states allow “blue penciling” (adjustments) by judges, which Georgia currently does not.
Con: Judges will have the unilateral ability to change the terms of a contract, either in favor of or against a former employee. This could lead to irregular decisions.
• Amendment 2: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purpose of funding trauma care.”
Currently, Georgia’s trauma care is lacking across the state. A “yes” vote on Amendment Two would create a $10 tag fee that can only be spent to fund trauma care and can’t be diverted to the state’s general fund for other purposes.
Pro: This provides for a new and much needed funding source for Georgia’s trauma care system that will be protected from other uses.
Con: The new funds may encourage the legislature to reduce its other funding streams.
These are just a few of the important issues that will be decided by you, The People, on Nov. 2.
Please do not “sit this one out.” Your vote is needed on the full ballot to ensure that all levels of government are working together to bring about the best future for Georgia. Our state needs the participation of every registered voter, because everyone in our state will be affected by the decisions made beginning Nov. 3.
For a more in depth analysis of all proposed Constitutional Amendments please visit www.SimoneBell.com.
Editor’s note: Rep. Simone Bell is one of two openly gay members of the Georgia General Assembly. She is unopposed on the Nov. 2 ballot.