Reasons for skepticism about three amendments on Georgia ballots

I have written much about Amendment 1, which would create an Opportunity School District for chronically failing schools. While it is the most important statewide ballot question this year, it is not alone.

Voters face three other constitutional amendments this year. Amendment 1 deserves a “yes” vote. Do the others?

Amendments 2 and 4 are the same kind of question asked about different topics. Both would levy new taxes and dedicate the proceeds to specific causes: children victimized by sex trafficking for Amendment 2, and trauma care and fire services for Amendment 4.

Neither cause is objectionable. Nor are those who’d be taxed to fund them the most sympathetic characters: strip clubs and convicted sex traffickers for Amendment 2, fireworks buyers for Amendment 4. Where this becomes a constitutional question — and where Georgians ought to think hard before voting “yes” — is the dedication of those funds.

AJC Photo / Ben Gray

AJC Photo / Ben Gray

The General Assembly cannot mandate spending in perpetuity. Absent restrictions, legislators have repeatedly put taxes levied for one purpose into the general fund. Only a constitutional amendment can keep their hands out of the cookie jar.

But there’s a reason the ban on binding future legislatures is a staple of representative governments: One can’t know what circumstances lawmakers will face. I have no problem with state funding for victims of sex trafficking or traumatic accidents. But would it really be better during a recession to cut, say, $1 million from education or health care than to scale back this new funding for fire services? That’s the bottom-line question in Amendments 2 and 4.

Then there’s Amendment 3. It would reconstitute the independent watchdog for judicial misconduct, the Judicial Qualifications Commission. One key change: The State Bar would lose all three of its appointments to the seven-member JQC. Legislative leaders, who today have none, would get four — a majority.

Georgia’s JQC has a mixed record. It was in the news this summer when a newspaper publisher from Blue Ridge was jailed because his attempts to get court spending records irked a local judge, who happened to be the chair of the JQC. Its members have also been accused of heavy-handed tactics in some cases.

They’ve also uncovered some pretty foul actions by judges, leading to dozens of resignations. One who resigned was Johnnie Caldwell, a Superior Court judge who had left a sexually suggestive voicemail for a female attorney.

Caldwell is now a state representative — and a co-sponsor of Amendment 3. That’s not a good look for those claiming they want to raise the ethical bar at the JQC. Neither is the fact that House Speaker David Ralston is still fighting a high-profile battle against the State Bar.

The biggest problem isn’t that (surprise!) there’s politics at play; it’s that there’s nothing but politics at play. The Opportunity School District came about after Gov. Nathan Deal and legislators studied what other states have done. There was no such public deliberation regarding the JQC and whether legislators are best-suited to oversee it.

Our legislators have study committees for numerous subjects. Surely the state’s judicial-ethics watchdog merits no less careful examination than spaceports. Maybe they’ll give it as much if we vote down Amendment 3.

Reader Comments 0

148 comments
AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Anybody else wonder how all the democrat politicians got so filthy rich? We all know how Trump got filthy rich, he built things, things that we can see with our own eyes. The only thing the democrats have built that we can see with our own eyes is The Great Mountain Of Debt. 


Only because of blooming idiots that worship these demagogues, establishment republicans that are in on this same scamming of the American people (the worst of the lot) and the mass of foreigners, that both of these groups allowed to come here illegally, does this continue unabated.


So which group are you in, traitor?

Angel Breath
Angel Breath

@IReportYouWhine IReport (if that is your real name)...Donald Trump got "filthy rich" because he refused to pay contractors and tradesmen who worked on his buildings. He used much cheaper and state subsidized steel from China to build his skyscrapers and golf clubs to the detriment of U.S. workers and steel companiies.  He had his shirts, ties and suits made in Asia to the detriment of U.S. workers. He hired illegal workers to man his casinos and perform housekeeping and mow his grass at his golf courses. All of this is well documented on line. (or on the David Letterman Show when Trump made his only appearance where he was ridiculed) Why? So he could make more money.  You need to do a little easy research and you will find hundreds of stories documenting these travesties.  Instead of sounding like Trump and calling names and making unsupported accusations .....do a little research.  I know as a Trump supporter, that is uncharacteristic and  difficult to do. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

e·gal·i·tar·i·an

iˌɡaləˈterēən/adjective

1.of, relating to, or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.



On the very day that the first democrat actually considers all people equal and deserving of the same rights and opportunities, the Sun will go to hauling as-s out of the sky.

Trust me, we will never have to worry about that.

A vote for a democrat is a vote for their bank account, not yours.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Vote "No" to Question 1 on the ballot and support the Democratic Caucus Educational Plan to improve poor communities and educational delivery with public schools throughout Georgia.

-------------------------------------------------


Aside:  Please vote today, especially to the black people and women in this state, for the reasons I give below:


Black people, get out the vote for Hillary Clinton in massive numbers today.  This is the last day for early voting.  The demagogue Trump only has 1% point more than Clinton as of today  (45% to 44%).  YOU can make that difference in Georgia and in this nation, as a result of Georgia's electoral college votes if you vote for HIllary in massive numbers.


Change the course of history from domination and submission to egalitarianism - what Jefferson and Lincoln preached for this nation's benefit.


Women, if you do not vote for Hillary Clinton, the first woman to have the courage and strength to fight the misogynists in this nation, you will have it on your conscience forever if you voted for Trump or Johnson, or even if you decided to do nothing, a typical passive female response of days gone by.  VOTE for Hillary.  Make a world better for everyone because of women like Hillary Clinton.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Or, you could consider the slate of candidates whose message and appeal to voters is not divisive along racial or sexist lines.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Almost every dollar the Clintons have amassed has been due to them selling something that didn't belong to them, from the Lincoln bedroom, to our uranium, to access to the Sec of State.


If she loses the election, how much will anyone pay to have her deliver one of her boring speeches?  They pay these huge amounts for those speeches not because they want to hear her failed policies and views on the world, but because they want to influence her to do things for them.  Without a powerful position she will have no market to exploit. 

lvg
lvg

Has Fox News indicted Hillary yet? I hear Rudy is the Prosecutor and Kelly Anne his assistant.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

How many countries has ISIS taken over since obama/clinton have been in charge? How much oil wealth have they acquired? How many innocent Muslims were slaughtered when obama/clinton could easily have stopped it?



Clinton & ISIS funded by same money,

In the second excerpt from the John Pilger Special, to be exclusively broadcast by RT on Saturday, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, Julian Assange accuses Hillary Clinton of misleading Americans about the true scope of Islamic State’s support from Washington’s Middle East allies.



https://www.rt.com/news/365299-assange-pilger-saudi-clinton/



They sold the Middle East and funded their campaigns with the money.


How much worse does it get?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@IReportYouWhine Almost every dollar the Clintons have amassed has been due to them selling something that didn't belong to them, from the Lincoln bedroom, to our uranium, to access to the Sec of State.


If she loses the election, how much will anyone pay to have her deliver one of her boring speeches?  They pay these huge amounts for those speeches not because they want to hear her failed policies and views on the world, but because they want to influence her to do things for them.  Without a powerful position she will have no market to exploit.

griot
griot

Vote NO on Amendment 1 & 3.

Anti democratic and places too much power in the hands of the Governor and legislature.

griot
griot

Amendment 1&3 Vote No!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

drive by/  Have a good evening, all.


If Trump wins, you will not be hearing much from me. I will go on with my life in ways other than public blogging. Now is the time to speak out, not after Trump wins. The sadness that will grow throughout the world will be profound, if Trump wins.


He will change the trajectory of the evolution of humankind, as Obama has set the stage for the evolution, which would increase egalitarianism and community among all human beings.  Trump's victory would retard that natural evolutionary process for at least a generation.  I would not be alive when the trajectory would turn again to a more balanced and spiritually viable world, so that my interest in public blogging will subside if Trump wins.  I have no interest in the kind of sad world Donald Trump will create for all of us.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@MaryElizabethSings "I would not be alive when the trajectory would turn again to a more balanced and spiritually viable world . . ." I find it very sad that some people apparently DO derive their spirituality from a liberal/leftist State view or invest themselves spiritually in collectivist ideologies to the point the socialist State ideology effectively becomes their religion. It does not have to be that way, you will be much freer to embrace and expand your spirituality when you stop allowing the State to define your thoughts, beliefs, and boundaries.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

obozo defiles the office of the Presidency, again -


President Barack Obama wants people in North Carolina to vote for Hillary Clinton, so he’s warning them that Donald Trump would tolerate the support of the K-l-u K-l-u-x K-l-a-n if he’s elected president.


The dude is freaking out and that is a sure sign of panic.


President.


Trump.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@IReportYouWhine Trump has defiled the position of a candidate for President of a major party countless times already.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

With all of the evidence piling up on this individual actually on two fronts, how can she still be a candidate for the highest office in our land. One front is her gross negligence relating to her use of unsecured private email for government business and on the second front her pay to play investigation. How can we imagine Hillary Clinton, if elected accepting the presidency while under intense investigation for criminal misconduct.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@MarkVV @SGTGrit  Funny, but the only place I see that non-story is on these blogs from the libs. I guess you're getting this from media matters or salon.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@lvg @SGTGrit @MarkVV 

This is a dubious accusation linked to the likes of Jerry Springer. It's a civil lawsuit that will get tossed. There is no criminal investigation of Trump, in progress. You pathetic far-left lap dogs will buy into anything your handlers throw out.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@SGTGrit Like Donald Trump for possible sexual assaults charges?

lvg
lvg

@SGTGrit @MarkVV A federal Judge disagrees with you but heck what is the truth to a BS artist like you?

ebrumby
ebrumby

I have a serious question about this article, for which I'd truly appreciate an answer/explanation.  It says "The General Assembly cannot mandate spending in perpetuity. Absent restrictions, legislators have repeatedly put taxes levied for one purpose into the general fund. Only a constitutional amendment can keep their hands out of the cookie jar." But these ARE constitutional amendments. CAN taxes levied under these amendments be moved to some other fund (including the general fund) in the future?


gapeach101
gapeach101

"The biggest problem isn’t that (surprise!) there’s politics at play; it’s that there’s nothing but politics at play."

LOL, well said Mr. Wingfield.

lvg
lvg

So who are the trustees of all of Donald and Melania's business ventures that should be in a blind trust if Orange Clown is elected?



and where is the list of conflicting interests with foreign leaders who have invested with  a Trump entity?



Or that kind of   ethical stuff only applies to the Clintons?

RPG7301
RPG7301

Amendment 4 doesn't create a new tax. That tax is already in the law. Amendment 4 dedicates a tax that was put into law in 2015 to public safety purposes. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Congratulations to the Cub fans.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @SGTGrit 

It was a great World Series. I was rooting for Cleveland but it was exiting and enjoyable. I haven't been much into MLB, since the Braves and Bobby Cox were on top. After the strike I haven't been much of a fan. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

The Cubs won the Series and the world didn't end.

Caius
Caius

@RafeHollister @Eye wonder @IReportYouWhine 

You know I hear this all the time.  But every time I look up Obama has had the international community signing off on something.  Don't always agree with what is being done, but it is being done. The latest:


"New York, October 5  - The historic Paris Agreement to address climate change will enter into force on 4 November, the United Nations announced today.

 The Agreement provides that it shall enter into force 30 days after 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or accession with the Secretary-General.   As of today, 73 countries and the European Union have joined the Agreement, exceeding the 55 percent threshold for emissions."

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Hillary eats soul food to boost lagging black turnout


She doesn't think very much of your intelligence, does she?

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

By the way, I finding very interesting that within a republican conservative government of all branches in all areas state-wide. We still have a worry of government miss-spending and financial fraud among our leaders. I thought that was a liberal government problem. 


Is there a concern that funds dedicated to a cause will not be allocated to them? Having Republicans in charge was suppose to fix this.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@McGarnagle

It's still government.  Republican conservative government just means that there will be a lot less incompetence, dishonesty, and corruption than if it were leftist Democrat.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

There is a reason why Russia is reminding everyone of their nuclear arsenal.  It's because, without it, the United States could instantly vaporize their armed forces, in a conventional war. I submit their ski jump aircraft carrier limping through the English channel as evidence. It is even worse then it appears. 


Most dummycrat voters can't even spell Russia never mind finding it on a map. That is why their political party props up and shakes  the boogeyman at them, because they are too stupid to know there is nothing there.


Ask yourself this, if the democrats are truly concerned with Russia's activities then why didn't they arm the Ukrainians? The Ukrainians were more than willing to shoot big holes through the Russians but obozo never gave them the armaments. Why? Is obozo on the Russian side (<----bingo!!!!) Same thing with syria, why haven't we just smoked assad and told Putin to Deal With It?


No, it definitely isn't Trump who is in Putin's pocket. 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@IReportYouWhine

Romney was right in 2012.

Obozo was, well, Obozo.

Snarky, stupid, and wrong.  Oh, and "flexible" on matters of Russia doing whatever it wants in Eastern Europe and the ME.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@IReportYouWhine 

It's the far-left pacifist mentality. They believe that America, we in other words have been the worlds bully and if they can weaken America into becoming a non-superpower there will finally be world peace. They believe that bringing America down economically, militarily and in every way will not only be good for our national security but best for the global government they hope will eventually come into existence. That was exactly what Barack Hussein Obama meant by his stated goal of transforming America.