Georgia voters could decide to alter the state’s constitution this fall

While most attention this fall will be focused on Georgia’s presidential ballot, voters across the state will also get to vote on failing schools, trauma care funding, judicial oversight and help for victims of sex trafficking.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has published a summary of four proposed constitutional amendments that will also be on the ballot in November. The summary can be found in the agency’s website, www.sos.ga.gov.

The most notable among the four is a question whether to allow the state to take control of local schools deemed to be perennially failing. The measure, which would create a so-called “Opportunity School District” statewide, is a signature issue for Gov. Nathan Deal but has been met with howls of protest from educators who say it misses the point of why those schools are struggling.

Also controversial has been a push to abolish and remake the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates allegations of judicial impropriety and has the authority to remove judges. Some have said it is an attempt to gut the commission’s independence to serve as a watchdog agency.

Another question asks if voters want to dedicate an existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks toward the state’s trauma care network, training and equipment for Georgia firefighters, and local governments’ public safety efforts.

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Finally, voters are also being asked to create the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund, which would create a dedicated source of state funding to pay for victims’ housing, counseling and medical treatment. It would be paid for through new $2,500 fines for anyone convicted of human trafficking crimes and from a new $5,000 annual fee on strip clubs and other adult businesses.

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