The Georgia governor's race isn't the only thing voters will decide when they head to the polls for the Midterm elections on November 6. They'll also vote on a variety of city and county initiatives and referendums as well as several proposed amendments to the state constitution.
These are the proposed five amendments:
Georgia Amendment 1: It's about the parks
A proposed amendment to the state constitution would put more money toward preserving Georgia's parks, trails and hunting land - but wouldn't cost taxpayers any more money.
'Amendment 1' would take sales tax from outdoor equipment like camping gear or fishing equipment and reserve it for various outdoor projects in the state.
It won't cost anyone more money since there's already a sales tax. Instead, this amendment would set aside up to 80 percent of that money for a special outdoors committee to approve how it's spent.
It could add up to about $20 million a year for the next 10 years.
"Without increasing the current state sales tax rate, shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to create the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to conserve lands that protect drinking water sources and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; to protect and conserve forests, fish, wildlife habitats, and state and local parks; and to provide opportunities for our children and families to play and enjoy the outdoors, by dedicating, subject to full public disclosure, up to 80 percent of the existing sales tax collected by sporting goods stores to such purposes without increasing the current state sales tax rate?"
Georgia Amendment 2: Statewide business court
It's a name that could have a broad meaning. But a proposed amendment to the constitution of Georgia has a pretty specific focus.
Imagine a courtroom that only handles business issues -- things like contract disputes, copyright disagreements and arguments over who came up with a money-making idea.
The “Business Court Amendment” would set up a court to handle just those cases.
It's not a new idea, though. Fulton and Gwinnett counties already use business courts, and this constitutional amendment would extend the practice statewide.
Supporters believe focusing on just business will help judges move faster and be more informed.
Opponents wonder if the judges will be fair since the governor would appoint them.
Ballot language: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to create a state-wide business court, authorize superior court business court divisions, and allow for the appointment process for statewide business court judges in order to lower costs, improve the efficiency of all courts, and promote predictability of judicial outcomes in certain complex business disputes for the benefit of all citizens of this state?”
Georgia Amendment 3: Georgia's forests and trees
This is about about money and trees.
Right now, property values are locked in for land used by timber growers.
Georgia's Amendment 3 allows the state to re-evaluate how much the land is worth yearly. It's meant to be fairer for both the government and the landowner.
It’s also designed to encourage more landowners to preserve their timberland. In return, they get a better tax rate.
There’s one more thing -- with this amendment, the state will also collect money to run a program that sends money back to rural counties that have more timberland.
Ballot language: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?”
Georgia Amendment 4: What is Marsy's Law?
Marsy's Law, which is named after billionaire Henry Nicholas' sister Marsy, who was killed by her boyfriend, could give crime victims in Georgia more rights -- things like updated information on their case and the right to be included in every court proceeding.
The wording on the ballot can be confusing -- the words "Marsy's Law" won't be included. Here's what you'll see:
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide certain rights to victims against whom a crime has allegedly been perpetrated and allow victims to assert such rights?"
Here's the translation -- A yes vote means you want Georgia's Constitution to give crime victims more rights. A no vote means you don't want Marsy's Law included in the Georgia State Constitution.
But why would anyone be against helping crime victims?
Two words -- "unintended consequences."
South Dakota approved a similar amendment in 2016.
They had to change it back in 2018 because it cost the state too much money. Some even said it was making it harder to investigate crimes. Supporters of Marsy's Law say they just want victims to have the same rights as the accused.
Georgia Amendment 5: School sales tax
A new proposed change to the Georgia constitution, dubbed "Amendment 5" could allow some areas of the state to decide where their existing one-cent sales tax goes.
Voters will be deciding on a new policy to decide what school gets the money from the state one-cent sales tax for education. To be clear, this is not a new tax.
And it will really only impact a few places in the state since most cities or counties only have one school system. But in around 20 counties around the state, there are also city or independent school systems. Sometimes those different schools disagree on splitting tax money.
With this amendment, if the school systems can agree, they will decide how to split the tax money. But if they can’t agree, then the issue goes to the voters.
An election would give the people an option to decide how to divvy up the cash.
Ballot language: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize a referendum for a sales and use tax for education by a county school district or an independent school district or districts within the county having a majority of the students enrolled within the county and to provide that the proceeds are distributed on a per student basis among all the school systems unless an agreement is reached among such school systems for a different distribution?”
Proposed statewide referendums
Georgia Referendum A:
This would allow homestead exemption in homes that are located in more than one county.
Ballot language: “Do you approve a new homestead exemption in a municipal corporation that is located in more than one county, that levies a sales tax for the purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation, and that has within its boundaries an independent school system, from ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of the difference between the current year assessed value of a home and the adjusted base year value, provided that the lowest base year value will be adjusted yearly by 2.6 percent?”
Georgia Referendum B:
This asks if a tax exemption nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled should be available if for-profit businesses assisting in financing the property.
Ballot language: "Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes on nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled if they include business corporations in the ownership structure for financing purposes?
Election day is Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.