A early voter casts his ballot at the Buckhead Library on Thursday, November 2, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Georgians to vote on victims’ rights and green space amendments

Georgia voters will decide in November on initiatives to ensure victims are notified about their court cases and to set aside tax money for green space preservation.

Those proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution will appear on the ballot after they passed the General Assembly during the 2018 legislative session, which ended last week.

The victims’ rights amendment, called Marsy’s Law, would require notification before court hearings of those accused of harming them, according to Senate Resolution 146

The 2018 Georgia legislative session is now in the books as the clock hit midnight or slightly passed it on the 40th day. The day — known as Sine Die — usually features grueling debates, dealmaking and occasionally some shenanigans.

Victims would also gain the right to be heard in court before a defendant is released, enters a plea or is sentenced.

The green space amendment will ask voters whether the state should dedicate millions of dollars annually to fund conservation of parks, outdoor areas and waterways, according to House Resolution 238

If approved, the state would initially commit about $20 million a year for natural resources. That funding would come from 40 percent of sales taxes generated by outdoor recreation equipment purchases. The Legislature could vote in future years to double that amount to a cap of 80 percent.

State lawmakers also approved three other constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot in November.

One proposal would create a statewide business court, which would be designed to lower costs and “promote predictability of judicial outcomes in certain complex business disputes,” according to House Resolution 993.

Another constitutional amendment, House Resolution 51,  would change how the state levies property taxes on timberland and allow the state to keep up to 5 percent of grants related forest land conservation for administrative costs.

The final amendment on the ballot, Senate Resolution 95, asks voters whether to remove the requirement that a county and city school district agree before calling for a referendum to raise sales taxes for education. If approved, a city school district could call for a sales tax referendum on its own.

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