Of three constitutional amendments appearing on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot, Amendment 1 — officially known as the "Georgia Forest Land Protection Act of 2008" — is the easiest to digest:
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended as to provide that the General Assembly by general law shall encourage the preservation, conservation, and protection of the state's forests through the special assessment and taxation of certain forest lands and assistance grants to local government?"
If approved by voters, the amendment would allow Georgians and businesses that own more than 200 acres of forest — and commit to preserve that land for 15 years — to be eligible for reduced property taxes. Proponents of Amendment 1 say stiff property taxes essentially force owners getting sandwiched by development to go ahead and develop their expensive-to-maintain land. Opponents have called it a sweetheart deal for the state's paper and timber companies.
Regardless, a coalition of diverse interests has rallied in support of it, and shown that there are some issues on which both the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club can agree. The Association County Commissioners of Georgia initially opposed the move, saying it would deprive local governments of much-needed revenue. They've embraced the idea now that the state is required to recoup lost revenue to the governments. Quite hard to say how that'll work out now that the state's $1.6 billion in the red, but things change, right?
We like to hug trees, so we're voting "yes."
Our endorsement of Amendment 2 is here. Our thumbs down on Amendment 3 is here.
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