In this series, we will preview what you need to know about the local contested races, constitutional amendments and special election ballot questions on your Nov. 8 ballot. This week, we looked at proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution.
Other proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution that will appear on your ballot:
* Amendment No. 1: Creating an Opportunity School District
* Amendment No. 3: Abolishing and re-forming the Judicial Qualifications Commission
* Amendment No. 4: Using tax revenue from firework sales for fire prevention and trauma care
WILL APPEAR AS: Authorizes penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims’ services.
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?”
WHAT IS IS: Safe Harbor Yes is a dedication of monetary resources for juvenile victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking that would be funded by placing a fee on adult establishments that provide alcohol and nudity and by fining people convicted of human trafficking.
“It is anticipated it will generate up to $2 million a year for funding for restorative care for survivors,” said Bob Rodgers, CEO of Street Grace, a faith-based organization whose aim is to end the demand for domestic minor sex trafficking in Georgia.
He said no taxes would be imposed on regular citizens or businesses and that the nature of an amendment to the state Constitution means “those monies are set aside outside of the budget and will never be used for any other purpose or manipulated for political gain … it is a forever fund.”
The fund would allow for restorative care, awareness campaigns, advocacy, rescue services, housing series, education, medical care, counseling, mental health care, life skills and job skills training and transitional support.
Rodgers said people are just starting to talk about human sex trafficking, especially child sex trafficking, but that the issue is at a critical mass in “awareness of both the legislature and the general.”
Georgia would be one of the first states to pass a measure like Safe Harbor Yes, which has garnered the support of figures like former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and Attorney General Sam Olens.
“The statistics [are] downright disastrous, not just for Georgia but for a large portion of our country,” Olens said at a press conference on the amendment at the end of August.
Rodgers said child sex trafficking is second only to drug trafficking for the fastest-growing underground criminal activity in the world, “and it will surpass it in the next five years. This is not a problem that happens in other states. This is not a problem that happens in other communities. It is statistically occurring in our neighborhood and in your community. Just the magnitude of the statistics and the research that says one in four girls will be sexually exploited before the age of 18 and one in six boys will be.”
The senate resolution passed by more than an 85 percent vote in the Georgia General Assembly, Rodgers said.
“People are overwhelmingly in support of this,” he said. “The problem is that doesn’t cause it to pass. It takes people showing up and voting.”