Choosing what's best for Georgia

How you vote on ballot measures can help shape a better state

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How often do you have the opportunity to vote to save a life?

We endorse

Well, you do in this election.

Amendment 2 on the Nov. 2 ballot would perform an emergency rescue on Georgia's most capable, yet endangered, emergency rooms -- the ones that are called on to save you or a loved one in the event of serious trauma.

The truly frightening reality is that even as Georgia is among the nation's Top 10 fastest-growing states, surging to near 10 million people, the state's network of trauma care centers has been shriveling from skyrocketing costs and a plunging economy: There are only 16 trauma care centers in the state, and only four of them are the most well-equipped-and-staffed Level 1 centers.

South Carolina and Tennessee, states with smaller populations than Georgia's, have more trauma centers. Officials say the numbers put Georgia's need for trauma centers at 30, nearly twice what we have now.

Moreover, virtually none of the current trauma care centers are located in a "dead zone" in the vast southern half of the state, where many residents -- and passing motorists -- are more than an hour away from the nearest trauma center. If you're not treated within an hour of a traumatic injury, your chance of survival plummets.

Without help, we'll lose ground -- fewer centers, fewer Level 1's -- when we should be catching up.

Yet, for the equivalent of about 3 cents a day per voter, Georgians can properly fund a trauma network that can save hundreds of more lives per year, through a special $10 license tag fee on automobiles. That's what Amendment 2 will do.

The modest fee makes perfect sense. It's logically connected to auto use, since 60 percent of trauma injuries are sustained in vehicle crashes. And every dime is dedicated solely to trauma funding -- this money won't be frittered away down some government rabbit hole.

It's a literal life-or-death decision this election year. Please vote yes on Amendment 2.

Here's what we recommend on the other amendments on the ballot:

Amendment 1: "Allows competitive contracts to be enforced in Georgia courts."

No.

This amendment would hand too many cards to big business -- cards they would play against employees and former employees to prevent them from starting their own businesses or getting better jobs with competitors.

The amendment seeks to allow companies to go to court to enforce even flawed "non-compete" contracts -- which are employment agreements that prevent key executives from jumping ship and taking any customers with them. Non-compete contracts are a good thing when used properly; they protect businesses from having clients stolen. But they can be used to stifle careers, too.

Big business wants this amendment so that companies can enforce even legally flawed non-compete contracts: If a provision goes too far in curtailing a former employee's livelihood, they want a judge to be able to rewrite it so it's enforceable. Currently, flawed contracts are ruled null and void, as they should be.

This is a particularly inopportune moment for such an amendment, too: This is hardly the time to be putting up obstacles to job creation.

Amendment 3: "To allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multi-year construction agreements without appropriations in the current fiscal year for the total amount of payments that would be due under the entire agreement so as to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state."

Yes.

It's silly for the state not to be able to embark on long-term construction projects unless it has every dollar in hand. We're good for the money. This amendment will simply clear up any confusion over the state's ability to enter into construction contracts of up to 10 years without having the full funds of the contract on hand in any given year.

Amendment 4: "Allows the state to execute multi-year contracts for projects to improve energy efficiency and conservation."

Yes.

Says one legal expert we asked: "State departments would be authorized to undertake improvements for energy efficiency or conservation, and the contractors with whom they enter these arrangements will have to guarantee that energy savings or revenue gains will offset the amounts that the state has to pay for the improvements. The amendment also eliminates legal concerns about long-term contracts having to have all funds available at the time of commencement."

Amendment 5: "Allows owners of industrial-zoned property to choose to remove industrial designation from their property."

Yes.

This amendment is needed to allow Chatham and Jeff Davis counties to bring previously designated "industrial areas" back under local government taxation, zoning and services.

Referendum A: "Provides for inventory of businesses to be exempt from state property tax."

No.

This would eliminate the state's portion of property tax on business inventory. While the tax is increasingly rare -- only six states still impose it -- the state's share of the tax is so small, relative to local property taxes, that eliminating it won't likely increase economic activity. In addition, the state is currently studying a comprehensive overhaul to its entire tax structure, so tinkering with piecemeal exemptions isn't necessary.

Comments (29) Add comment
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GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 10/21/10 - 02:12 am
0
0
1. No 2. Yes 3. No 4. No 5.

1. No
2. Yes
3. No
4. No
5. Not enough information
6. Yes (Referendum A)

GGpap

Riverman1
82234
Points
Riverman1 10/21/10 - 05:01 am
0
0
The trauma care center

The trauma care center question is not as straight forward as it may seem. Hospitals have dropped the trauma care center title because they often end up with severely injured patients who can't pay the bills. Aiken Regional, in SC, dropped their designation due to costs, but has changed nothing as far as level of care they can provide. It's a cost-bureaucratic mess that leads to hospitals not wanting the trauma center title.

Don't believe you can create a Level One trauma center in the middle of South Georgia fully equipped with a cardiac surgery team, neuro surgery and what have you. It would cost many millions the state doesn't have.

MajorPaul
0
Points
MajorPaul 10/21/10 - 05:37 am
0
0
The trauma care bill is sort

The trauma care bill is sort of like the whole Obamacare mess. It looks good at first glance, but has a glaring issue about who is going to pay for it.
$10 a year does not sound like much from each person, but in these hard times, $10 is a lot of money to waste.
As Riverman said, the reason most the Level 1 trauma centers have closed is they gave that level 1 care to people who could not pay the bill. With so many Georgians out of work, there is no insurance to pay, so the hospitals have to eat those costs, and they simply cant afford it.
Nope, I wont be voting to raise my driving costs.

woodsman
6
Points
woodsman 10/21/10 - 07:27 am
0
0
Editorial endorsement? What a

Editorial endorsement? What a joke. Next time I see an editorial endorsement by the chronicle in the headline I'll know to skip the read, or skim it and vote the opposite.

JRE
62
Points
JRE 10/21/10 - 07:29 am
0
0
MajorPaul - Maybe they will

MajorPaul - Maybe they will make it optional so you will not have to increase your driving cost and waste money on an improved system in the state to save lives.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 10/21/10 - 08:31 am
0
0
The Georgia Libertarian Party

The Georgia Libertarian Party (fiscal conservatives & small govt) say to vote NO on all amendments & referendums. Here is a link with their justifications for each one.

http://lpgeorgia.com/pdf/LPGeorgiaBallotAmendments.pdf

For example, here's what they say about Amendment 2.

"(advocates for) this amendment want an expansion of the current system of 16 trauma centers in the state to 30, nearly double
the existing number, without an explanation of how the ($10) funds raised would accomplish that expansion. This amendment is the latest gimmick by the legislature to bolster the trauma care network in GA, ostensibly funding Grady Memorial Hospital, a poorly run public facility, and the Grady Health System. Though it is only $10, this is the latest tax on hardworking Georgians who are already overtaxed at all levels of govt in the midst of tough economic times."

$10 here, $50 there, $100 here, before you know it you are paying $1000 more in taxes!!!!! At some point you just have to say no.

Vote No for all of them. Send the govt a message that we want NO MORE GOVT SPENDING and NO MORE GOVT RULES & REGULATIONS.

NoCatchyName
30
Points
NoCatchyName 10/21/10 - 08:42 am
0
0
Amendment 2 is nothing more

Amendment 2 is nothing more than a tax increase with a liberal - "feel good" explanation. If the government had really been interested in accomplishing this, they could have done so years ago.

It will be next to impossible to recruit and retain highly specialized surgeons to staff the trauma centers located in the less populated portions of the state since there will not be enough business there to sustain them. There you go, I have gotten to use one of those liberal - "feel good" concepts myself. There is no sustainability in this idea.

ruach
0
Points
ruach 10/21/10 - 09:25 am
0
0
Ditto what Chillen posted.

Ditto what Chillen posted.

ameliaf
0
Points
ameliaf 10/21/10 - 12:05 pm
0
0
What services should a

What services should a government provide? Seems to me that trauma centers located in South Georgia would save the lives of South Georgians as well as the occasional tourist who is passing through. Same for the Georgians living anywhere. I would be willing to be taxed to save my life and the lives of others.

It is extremely costly to run a high level trauma center, both for staff and equipment. In areas with dense population there may be enough traumas to make the cost average, say, $25,000 per trauma - think Greater Atlanta. You spread the cost of the doctors and equipment over a lot of "consumers." But in lower density areas, that average cost would be $100,000 because there are fewer traumas, the doctors have fewer patients and the equipment, which costs the same as for the Atlanta area hospitals, gets less use. You have to spread the cost over fewer consumers, which means those fewer consumers each pay more.

It doesn't matter if you have health insurance to cover the cost, you have to first have the hospital, doctors, nurses, and trauma equipment. And, it is not economically feasible for a non-profit or for-profit hospital to absorb all the cost of creating a trauma center for a few accidents each year.

Maybe everyone in low density areas should move. Maybe rich counties should not have to send some of their local school taxes to poor counties.

Are we a society or a market place?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/21/10 - 01:24 pm
0
0
This is to cover the

This is to cover the catastophic failure of the "super speeder" law. We need multiple schemes to take our money, right?

ruudvonbaron
0
Points
ruudvonbaron 10/21/10 - 01:51 pm
0
0
Why should taxpayers fund

Why should taxpayers fund trauma centers or hospitals in general? The ACES rails against ObamaCare and government healthcare (and rightly so) then endorses yet another tax onto citizens to pay for healthcare??? If there is truly a need then let supply and demand work it out and let private enterprise build them and fund them. This is just hypocrisy at its finest.

JRE
62
Points
JRE 10/21/10 - 02:03 pm
0
0
ruudvonbaron - Supply and

ruudvonbaron - Supply and deman work fine and best control business - if a business fails that is simply the risk assumed - that is not the case with the healthcare system and trauma centers - in this case people die. That is why in a civilized society it is not left up to supply and demand.

NewHere
0
Points
NewHere 10/21/10 - 02:26 pm
0
0
I hope that any of you guys

I hope that any of you guys have an accident and need trauma care.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 10/21/10 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Wow, that's out of nowhere.

Wow, that's out of nowhere. Thanks newhere. We love you too.

draksig
167
Points
draksig 10/21/10 - 03:18 pm
0
0
#1- If the employee signs the

#1- If the employee signs the conract when he starts work, he should be held to it.
#2- I am not voting to increase any of my taxes. If these hospitals wanted a class 1 trama center and the population can substain it, it would have one. As it is, they can stabilize the patient and fly them to the nearest trama center.
#3 & 4- and what happens the first time a multiyear project is cancelled because the state legislature changes hands and the new majority refuses to continue funding the project?
#5- No problem as long as it is the choice of the land owner.
#A- The editors are really confusing on this one. The tax brings in so little money it is not worth getting rid of? How much money does it cost the state to collect this tax and how much do businesses pay to comply with the tax law.

ameliaf
0
Points
ameliaf 10/21/10 - 03:26 pm
0
0
Look. Augusta and Richmond

Look. Augusta and Richmond County have fire stations, right? I mean, if your house catches fire you have some tax supported group to call to save your house.

That isn't the only "social good" you have agreed on. There is police protection, schools, public libraries, water, sewer - all kinds of things that the society - all the people, not the "highbrows" - has agreed to make a part of the city/county government. These things are part of what you and other citizens have agreed to provide to each other and to pay taxes for. If someone moves to the city of Augusta, they don't get to choose to pay taxes only for police and libraries, but not for fire fighters or schools. You can argue for or against in the political arena, but once it is decided by the voters, all who are part of that group (the city/county) have the right to all the services agreed upon and the responsibility to pay their share.

Now, should a local hospital or trauma center be part of that? Could the citizens in the city, county, or state also decide that having a good hospital with good trauma care is something that should be/could be part of the agreement about what we are willing to mutually pay taxes for?

How far out do our boundaries of mutual support extend? City, county, state? (I think we are seeing now that we don't want too many boundaries extended to the national level.) The state is looking at the need for regional planning for roads. Perhaps trauma centers should be regional. Are the people of Southwest Georgia part of my society of mutual support? Should trauma care hospitals be part of that mutual support?

I don't know. I think we are all better off and Georgia is more attractive for business and retirees if we show that the state helps take care of that part of the infrastructure.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/21/10 - 03:27 pm
0
0
Draksig, forcing competition

Draksig, forcing competition clauses for employment means your employer can sue you if you quit or get fired, or even laid off, and work in the same industry. This is not a contract, this is forcing you to stay where your at or change careers. Sounds fair now?

As an Auto technician, I have had to change employers several times to adjust to the economy. I lost my job at Land Rover when they shut down. I would never put myself in the position that I can't work for the competition. Georgia is a right to work state. If this passes, we lose that bragging right.

justthefacts
21357
Points
justthefacts 10/21/10 - 03:55 pm
0
0
Taylor, however, how would

Taylor, however, how would you feel if the auto dealer paid for all your training only to see you leave for another dealer who would pay you a little more because they were not burdened by the cost of training you?

bigfoot
0
Points
bigfoot 10/21/10 - 04:20 pm
0
0
Having been there and done

Having been there and done that, one of my previous employers tried to sue me for a transfer of technology to a different company after they laid me off for lack of work. The real problem was I brought this technology with me, I did not develop it there. My previous employer assumed that this technology belonged to them and tried to prevent me from using it at my new place of employment. Besides tha I made so many improvements to the technology the judge threw it out because the only things similar were available from public records. Big business is selfish you need to vote no. I work where I want to work, if they paid for my training they have first right of refusal on my salary and benefits package.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/21/10 - 04:33 pm
0
0
Justthefacts, I see your

Justthefacts, I see your point, and that's a risk my employer takes. I'm not sent to training much because of my degree in my field and ten years under the hood of european imports. I didn't go to factory training until I got to year two. The manufacturer actually splits the cost of training too.

It happens in the military all the time. People do four years and take that training to the private sector. I guess if the taxpayer is going to pick up the tab, the government will turn the other cheek.

This is just a bad idea that flies in the face of free market labor.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/10 - 07:54 pm
0
0
Amendments 3 and 4 have great

Amendments 3 and 4 have great potential for abuse. If the legislature wishes to heap some state money on a contributer, they are limited by the size of a one-year contract. With these multi-year contracts, the legislature can transfer billions to their croneys. I say vote NO to these amendments.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/10 - 07:55 pm
0
0
There are some very good

There are some very good arguments up above in the comments section about why the trauma center amendment is bad. I say, vote NO on amendment 2.

Little Lamb
45282
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/10 - 07:56 pm
0
0
In fact, I say vote NO on all

In fact, I say vote NO on all the amendments and the referendum question.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 10/21/10 - 08:46 pm
0
0
I just don't understand the

I just don't understand the chronicle's position on these amendments. The folks I know who've voted early have all voted not for every single one of them.

BobG
0
Points
BobG 10/22/10 - 02:14 pm
0
0
"This is just hypocrisy at

"This is just hypocrisy at its finest."

....That's illogical, Spock. Hypocrisy at it's finest would logically be no hypocrisy at all, wouldn't it???

BobG
0
Points
BobG 10/22/10 - 02:26 pm
0
0
"Wow, that's out of nowhere.

"Wow, that's out of nowhere. Thanks newhere. We love you too"

.....Chillen - I'm going to be charitable here and assume that NewHere just left the word "not" out of his post. Yeah, that's the ticket!

BobG
0
Points
BobG 10/22/10 - 02:34 pm
0
0
TaylorB - I'm with you on

TaylorB - I'm with you on this one. (Amendment 1) Sounds too much like indentured servitude to me. ....I'm all for giving as much help to business as is needed to make the economy grow, but I'm for protecting the individual in the process...

justthefacts
21357
Points
justthefacts 10/22/10 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Bob, since our votes are just

Bob, since our votes are just going to cancel each other out, why don't we just stay home and save our time and gas...(: Deal?

BobG
0
Points
BobG 10/22/10 - 05:12 pm
0
0
"Bob, since our votes are

"Bob, since our votes are just going to cancel each other out, why don't we just stay home and save our time and gas...(: Deal?"

John S. Mosby's Rangers had a code to which they all swore. Never to lie to an officer or to another Ranger. Having said that, and assuming that you plan to vote Democrat, yes, I'll stay home...

You aren't an officer or a Ranger are you...???

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