NAACP formally opposes three Georgia amendments

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*As of Nov. 8 at 4 p.m., this story has been updated. NAACP Georgia has changed its stance on Amendment 2*

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Georgia branch formally announced its opposition to all proposed Georgia amendments on Oct. 19

“The Georgia NAACP formally opposes all the statewide constitutional amendment questions,” reads an official statement prepared by NAACP state president Francys Johnson. “We are encouraging units, members and the broader community to vote no on all four.”

Amendment 1 will create Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District (OSD), which would allow state government to take over schools deemed as “failing” for three consecutive years.

College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) scores are the criteria used to determine whether a school is failing. Any school that scores below a 60 for three consecutive years is “failing” in the eyes of the state.

“Vote no because current law allows for the elected State School Superintendent to exercise several of the powers available in the OSD,”

states the Georgia NAACP. “By creating this new super-structure for struggling schools, an unelected education official will be given exclusive authority over 100 schools to manage, restructure or close; funds for the school district will be diverted for the purposes determined by the OSD superintendent. Amendment 1 is a threat to public education.”

The organization states the OSD would give a governor-appointed superintendent power over local funding and local educational decisions, yet remain unaccountable to local taxpayers.

NAACP Georgia states its stance on the amendments is in line with its views on education as a free, high-quality and ultimately public opportunity for all.

“In a just society, every child will receive a free, high-quality, equitably funded, public pre-K and K-12 education followed by diverse opportunities for accessible, affordable vocational or university education,” reads an official statement.

Amendment 2 will dedicate a source of state funding on behalf of victims of human trafficking to support housing, counseling and medical treatment. Individuals found guilty of such sex related crimes will be charged an estimated $2,500, according to Ballotpedia. In addition, adult entertainment establishments will be charged $5,000 annually.

The funds will be put into the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.

“Creating surcharges on certain unrelated businesses are unconstitutionally punitive taxes that will be passed on to the consumer,” stated NAACP Georgia in October. “As such, this is a regressive tax that disproportionately shifts the burden of funding government to the shoulders of lower income Georgians. Taking care of exploited children is an important priority; politicians should fund this important work through the revenue generated by the progressive income taxes and not through a gimmick.”

The organization changed its views in November.

“Taking care of exploited children is an important priority,” NAACP stated Nov. 8. “By adding the Safe Harbor fund to the state constitution, funds will be permanently protected and used solely for the purposes of providing restorative services to child victims.The Georgia NAACP will work in coalition with the SafeHarborYes.com Coalition and other child advocates groups to monitor the implementation of this law if approved by the voters to ensure funds are used for the purpose intended”

Amendment 3 will allow state government to reform the Judicial Qualifications Committee, which provides oversight, discipline and removal of judges deemed unfit for service (i.e. corruption, malfeasance, etc.).

NAACP states it would prefer the committee to remain independent and free from political motive.

“For the first time in more than 40 years, the Judicial Qualifications Committee would cease to be an independent oversight agency and would instead be [created by] political appointments,” NAACP states. “In addition, the amendment removes certain transparencies from operations of the Judicial Qualifications Committee. Amendment 3 is a threat to the justice system.”

NAACP states the Judicial Qualifications Committee has provided substantial oversight and should not be dismantled or remade into “a political matter.” The committee is currently chosen by state Supreme Court officials, the Bar of Georgia and non-lawyer citizens.

Amendment 4 will create a dedicated source of state funding from fireworks sales taxes to support trauma care, fire protection services and public safety.

Georgia NAACP opposes the amendment for similar reasons to Amendment 2, calling it a “regressive tax.”

For more information, NAACP directs questions to its online voter guide at http://action.naacp.org/page/-/FieldResources/2016%20NAACP%20Pocket%20Voter%20Guide%20-%20GA.pdf or its Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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