Georgia voters approved two constitutional amendments Tuesday, one directing state lawmakers to use money collected for a specific purpose to spend it as originally intended and another giving residents more power to sue state and local governments.
The two ballot questions passed with at least 75% of the votes, with about 200,000 left to be counted as of Wednesday afternoon.
The so-called anti bait-and-switch legislation will signal to state lawmakers that Georgians want fees the state collects for hazardous and solid waste trust funds to be actually spent on those things. When you buy a new tire in Georgia the seller tacks on a $1 fee that’s supposed to be used to clean up dumped piles of tires, but now lawmakers often divert the money for general spending.
The amendment received the backing of environmental organizations, the association representing Georgia’s 159 county governments and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers.
Georgia legislators still need to pass legislation next year to make the fee dedication a state law.
Georgia voters also overwhelmingly supported an amendment to remove sovereign immunity protection from state and local governments, which opens up state courts to people who want to challenge the constitutionality of state and local laws.
The ballot question had bipartisan support from legislators who want to let Georgians ask state court judges to decide if governments exceed their authority.
Voters also approved a referendum that grants nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity exemption from property taxes when building or repairing single-family houses.