Though the presidential election was the major spotlight on November 3th, Gwinnett residents had many other decisions to make, including whether or not to pass two proposed state amendments, one statewide referendum, and Gwinnett’s local public transit referendum.
The state amendments both passed with overwhelming support:
Georgia Amendment 1: Dedication of Tax Funds – Passed 82% to 18%
“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 amendment means that money gathered from taxes and fees would be required to go exclusively to its intended purpose, except in fiscal emergency cases. In this occurrence, a fiscal emergency is when total state revenue in the most recent fiscal year is 3% or more below revenue estimates or when the state has three consecutive months of declining revenues. If this happens, then it’s within the governor’s permission to transfer funds to the state’s general fund. However, this exception is only permitted three times within ten consecutive fiscal years.
Georgia Amendment 2: Waiving Sovereign Immunity – Passed 74% to 26%
“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?”
This amendment allows Georgia residents to sue the state without government permission. Before, sovereign immunity was given to the state government, meaning it couldn’t be sued without consent. However with the passage of this amendment, starting January 1st, 2021, Georgia residents can now appeal to superior courts if they find that a state or local law violates the United States Constitution, the Georgia state Constitution or Georgia state law.
Georgia Referendum: Charity & Nonprofit Tax Exemption – Passed 73% to 27%
In concurrence the statewide referendum, which proposed that nonprofits and public charities are exempt from property tax, was also overwhelmingly supported.
Gwinnett County Public Transit Referendum – Failed 50.14% to 49.86%
On the other hand, the local public transit referendum that only Gwinnett residents voted on, received opposite results from the proposed state measures. By a razor thin margin of only about a thousand votes, Gwinnett, for the second time in less than two years, voted against the expansion of public transit in the county.
The measure had proposed a 30 year 1% sales tax to fund a heavy rail line extension from the Doraville MARTA station to Norcross along with a large expansion of BRT (bus rapid transit) lines around the county. With a more aggressive first 10-year implementation design, the whole plan would have raised over $12.1 billion for public transit expansion.