Convenient Early Voting Available October 25 to 29

October 24, 2010

Advance voting for the General Election is this Monday through Friday, October 25 through October 29. The General Election is November 2, a week from this coming Tuesday, but you can vote this week, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., at any of the following locations that are relatively near our community:

Chamblee
Chamblee Civic Center
3540 Broad Street
Chamblee, GA 30341

Northlake
DeKalb County Fire Headquarters
Training Conference Room
1950 West Exchange Place
Tucker, GA 30084

Downtown Decatur
Clark Harrison Center
330 West Ponce de Leon Avenue, Room A
Decatur, GA 30030

The Chamblee Civic Center, which is between Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and the train tracks in the heart of the City of Chamblee, is a particularly convenient place to vote during the upcoming week, whenever it suits your schedule, without encountering a wait at your regular polling location on Election Day.

Please remember to bring photo identification with you when you vote.


Sample Ballot for the General Election

October 24, 2010

Please click here to view the countywide sample ballot for the upcoming General Election. You can also click here for the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” website that will enable you to retrieve a sample ballot specific to your polling location.


Guide to the Georgia Constitutional Amendments, Ballot Questions, and DeKalb Homestead Referendum

October 24, 2010

Here are my summaries of the constitutional amendments and ballot questions on which we’ll be voting in the General Election. A number of constituents have said that they found these summaries to be helpful, so I am posting them again. After each question, there is also a link to the original legislation that put the issue on our ballot:

Amendment 1: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?” HR 178

Amendment 1 deals with non-competition agreements, a contract where an employer hires an employee on the condition that the employee, upon leaving his or her job, will not engage in business activities that compete with the employer.

Under the Georgia Constitution, non-competition agreements are strictly limited as to the time period (example: two years after the termination of your employment), geographic area (example: DeKalb County for a company that operates in DeKalb), and prohibited activities (example: selling widgets if you are a widget salesman). If a court finds a non-competition agreement to be unreasonable with respect to one of these factors, the court will strike it down and treat the employment contract as though the non-competition provision is not there.

Amendment 1 would change that, enabling Georgia courts to enforce non-competition agreements by adding reasonable limitations on the time period, geographic area, or prohibited activities.

Supporters of Amendment 1 contend that the amendment will make Georgia more economically competitive as compared to other states. Some businesses prefer to locate in states where the court system is likely to enforce their non-competition agreements. This is especially true in fields like computer technology and biotechnology where companies have a strong interest in protecting their trade secrets.

Opponents argue that Amendment 1 enables courts to change the provisions of a contract, adding limitations that the parties did not see fit to include in the first place. Furthermore, although Amendment 1 could make Georgia more competitive in terms of attracting employers, the amendment also makes it easier to prevent employees from competing in their chosen profession, at least for a period of time.

Amendment 2: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10.00 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purposes of funding trauma care?” SR 277

If Amendment 2 is passed by the voters, an extra $10 charge would be assessed on your vehicle when you renew your tag each year. That $10 fee would be used to fund the state’s trauma system. Grady Hospital would receive some of the funds. In parts of Georgia, including portions of our Interstate highways, a catastrophic automobile accident is virtually guaranteed to be fatal because of the distance from a trauma center. Fixing this problem is why the General Assembly is giving you the chance to vote on Amendment 2.

By placing this provision in the Georgia Constitution, it ensures that the General Assembly will not be able to spend the funds for any purpose other than trauma care.

Amendment 3: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring 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?” SR 821

This would allow the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to pay for multi-year construction contracts one year at a time, rather than having to appropriate the total dollar value of a multi-year contract entirely in the first year. If Amendment 3 is passed, a contract of this nature would not be allowed to last longer than ten years.

Amendment 3 would enable GDOT to work on more transportation projects at any given time. Presently, GDOT works on fewer projects at a time because all of the funds for their multi-year contracts must be appropriated up front.

Amendment 4: “Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for guaranteed cost savings for the state by authorizing a state entity to enter into multiyear contracts which obligate state funds for energy efficiency and conservation improvement projects?” SR 1231

Amendment 4 is similar to Amendment 3, except that Amendment 4 deals with multi-year contracts for energy efficiency and conservation improvement projects, like retrofitting the lighting, plumbing, HVAC, and windows in a state building.

Multi-year contracts could be funded on a pay-as-you-go annual basis for up to ten years, thus allowing more projects to be completed without appropriating all of the funds up front. Any project undertaken pursuant to Amendment 4 would have to provide the taxpayers a guaranteed benefit in terms of saving the state more in energy and/or water costs than is spent on the project itself.

Amendment 5: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the owners of real property located in industrial areas to remove the property from the industrial area?” HR 136

Amendment 5 involves a local issue in Garden City, Georgia, near Savannah. It has no impact on DeKalb County. There is certain property located in an industrial zone in Garden City that the owners want to remove from that zone, but (believe it or not) they cannot do so without a constitutional amendment.

Statewide Referendum A: “Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for inventory of a business?” HB 482

This referendum will exempt business inventory from state ad valorem taxes. Under Georgia law, businesses are taxed on an annual basis for the inventory they have sitting on their shelves, whether in a warehouse or in a retail store. This tax makes it difficult for Georgia to compete to attract jobs compared with other states that don’t have an inventory tax. It also creates a disincentive for companies to boost the economy by acquiring more inventory.

DeKalb County Homestead Exemption: “Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from DeKalb County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by extending the exemption for another five-year period?” SB 544

This is the five-year extension of the Property Tax Assessment Freeze that saves you money on your DeKalb County property taxes. The current freeze is set to expire at the end of the 2011 tax year. This renewal will last through 2016.

I helped to pass this renewal and strongly recommend a “YES” vote. Otherwise, a property tax increase reflecting any assessment hikes that would have occurred during the preceding five years will be included in your 2012 county tax bill.

Whenever I mention an assessment “freeze,” I receive questions as to whether the assessed value of your home is “frozen” if it declines. The answer is no. The “freeze” only serves as a ceiling on the assessed value of your home, not a floor.


Briarcliff “Nosh and Chat” with Mike Jacobs

October 21, 2010

Please join Mike Jacobs at the last of his four “meet and greet” events prior to the November 2nd election to discuss the state and local issues that are important to you. Refreshments will be served.

Monday, October 25
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

“Nosh and Chat” at Broadway Cafe
2157 Briarcliff Road
Atlanta, GA 30329


Upcoming “Meet and Greets” with Mike Jacobs

October 12, 2010

Please join Mike Jacobs at the following “meet and greet” events to discuss the state and local issues that are important to you. Refreshments will be served at each event.

Tuesday, October 19
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

at the Nancy Creek Heights home of Holly & Michael Snow
4041 Navajo Trail
Atlanta, GA 30319

Monday, October 25
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

“Nosh and Chat” at Broadway Cafe
2157 Briarcliff Road
Atlanta, GA 30329


Brookhaven Arts Festival

October 12, 2010

The Brookhaven Arts Festival is this Saturday, October 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday, October 17, from noon to 6:00 p.m., on Apple Valley Road behind the Brookhaven MARTA Station.

Admission is free. This is a great festival every year. Evan and I have artwork from the event hanging prominently in our living room.

Click here for more information.


Starlight Children’s Foundation 5K Race

October 12, 2010

There will be a 5K race in Brookhaven this Saturday, October 16, to benefit the Starlight Children’s Foundation. There’s also a one-mile walk and a kids’ run. The race starts at 9:30 a.m. from Village Place Brookhaven at 1430 Dresden Drive. Please click here for more information, and click here for a sign-up form to participate in the race.


Yard Sign Bandit

October 12, 2010

This is the time in every election cycle where political campaigns and their supporters do silly things.

Above is a photograph of a person swiping campaign signs from the yards of constituents on North Druid Hills Road. This has happened several times over the past month.

Three of these constituents were kind enough to allow me to install a security camera in their front yards.

We finally caught the culprit pulling up yard signs just before 5:00 a.m. this morning. Do you recognize this person? If so, please shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]

It’s disappointing that someone believes their opinion is more important than the opinions of these homeowners. It’s theft, too.


Brookhaven “Meet and Greet” with Mike Jacobs

October 11, 2010

Please join Mike Jacobs at a Brookhaven “meet and greet” to discuss the state and local issues that are important to you.

Here are the details of the event:

Thursday, October 14
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

at the Brookhaven Heights home of Steve Newton
2351 Loraine Street
Atlanta, GA 30319


About the Georgia Constitutional Amendments, Ballot Questions, and DeKalb Homestead Referendum

October 7, 2010

As I meet and talk with constituents in our community, I am frequently asked to explain the various constitutional amendments and ballot questions on which we’ll be voting this year. Below are summaries to help you make informed decisions about this year’s ballot issues. After each question, there is also a link to the legislation that put the issue on your ballot:

Amendment 1: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?” HR 178

Amendment 1 deals with non-competition agreements, a contract where an employer hires an employee on the condition that the employee, upon leaving his or her job, will not engage in business activities that compete with the employer.

Under the Georgia Constitution, non-competition agreements are strictly limited as to the time period (example: two years after the termination of your employment), geographic area (example: DeKalb County for a company that operates in DeKalb), and prohibited activities (example: selling widgets if you are a widget salesman). If a court finds a non-competition agreement to be unreasonable with respect to one of these factors, the court will strike it down and treat the employment contract as though the non-competition provision is not there.

Amendment 1 would change that, enabling Georgia courts to enforce non-competition agreements by adding reasonable limitations on the time period, geographic area, or prohibited activities.

Supporters of Amendment 1 contend that the amendment will make Georgia more economically competitive as compared to other states. Some businesses prefer to locate in states where the court system is likely to enforce their non-competition agreements. This is especially true in fields like computer technology and biotechnology where companies have a strong interest in protecting their trade secrets.

Opponents argue that Amendment 1 enables courts to change the provisions of a contract, adding limitations that the parties did not see fit to include in the first place. Furthermore, although Amendment 1 could make Georgia more competitive in terms of attracting employers, the amendment also makes it easier to prevent employees from competing in their chosen profession, at least for a period of time.

Amendment 2: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to impose an annual $10.00 trauma charge on certain passenger motor vehicles in this state for the purposes of funding trauma care?” SR 277

If Amendment 2 is passed by the voters, an extra $10 charge would be assessed on your vehicle when you renew your tag each year. That $10 fee would be used to fund the state’s trauma system. Grady Hospital would receive some of the funds. In parts of Georgia, including portions of our Interstate highways, a catastrophic automobile accident is virtually guaranteed to be fatal because of the distance from a trauma center. Fixing this problem is why the General Assembly is giving you the chance to vote on Amendment 2.

By placing this provision in the Georgia Constitution, it ensures that the General Assembly will not be able to spend the funds for any purpose other than trauma care.

Amendment 3: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the Georgia Department of Transportation to enter into multiyear construction agreements without requiring 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?” SR 821

This would allow the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to pay for multi-year construction contracts one year at a time, rather than having to appropriate the total dollar value of a multi-year contract entirely in the first year. If Amendment 3 is passed, a contract of this nature would not be allowed to last longer than ten years.

Amendment 3 would enable GDOT to work on more transportation projects at any given time. Presently, GDOT works on fewer projects at a time because all of the funds for their multi-year contracts must be appropriated up front.

Amendment 4: “Shall the Constitution be amended so as to provide for guaranteed cost savings for the state by authorizing a state entity to enter into multiyear contracts which obligate state funds for energy efficiency and conservation improvement projects?” SR 1231

Amendment 4 is similar to Amendment 3, except that Amendment 4 deals with multi-year contracts for energy efficiency and conservation improvement projects, like retrofitting the lighting, plumbing, HVAC, and windows in a state building. Multi-year contracts could be funded on a pay-as-you-go annual basis for up to ten years, thus allowing more projects to be completed without appropriating all of the funds up front.

Amendment 5: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to allow the owners of real property located in industrial areas to remove the property from the industrial area?” HR 136

Amendment 5 involves a local issue in Garden City, Georgia, near Savannah. It has no impact on DeKalb. There is certain property located in an industrial zone in Garden City that the owners want to remove from that zone, but (believe it or not) they cannot do so without a constitutional amendment.

Statewide Referendum A: “Shall the Act be approved which grants an exemption from state ad valorem taxation for inventory of a business?” HB 482

This referendum will exempt business inventory from state property taxes. Under Georgia law, businesses are taxed on an annual basis for the inventory they have sitting on their shelves, whether in a warehouse or in a retail store. This tax makes it difficult for Georgia to compete to attract jobs compared with other states that don’t have an inventory tax. It also creates a disincentive for companies to boost the economy by acquiring more inventory.

DeKalb County Homestead Exemption: “Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from DeKalb County ad valorem taxes for county purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by extending the exemption for another five-year period?” SB 544

This is the five-year extension of the Property Tax Assessment Freeze that saves you money on your DeKalb County property taxes. The current freeze is set to expire at the end of the 2011 tax year. This renewal will last through 2016.

I helped to pass this renewal and strongly recommend a “YES” vote. Otherwise, a property tax increase reflecting any assessment hikes that would have occurred during the preceding five years will be included in your 2012 county tax bill.

Whenever I mention an assessment “freeze,” I receive questions as to whether the assessed value of your home is “frozen” if it declines. The answer is no. The “freeze” only serves as a ceiling on the assessed value of your home, not a floor.


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