"Safe Harbor" Amendment 2

Before the government can tax something, they have to legalize it.  SB 8, the “Safe Harbor” Act set the legal definition of an “adult entertainment establishment.”   (lines 170-184) The vague and undefined wording in the definition contradicts existing Georgia code that prohibits prostitution. (16-06-09) Businesses that pay additional tax may charge a fee, either directly or indirectly, for patrons to engage in “personal contact by employees… or personnel of the establishment.”  (lines 179-180)  


The new tax will be used to fund a newly established “Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission.”  The fund is not constitutional, so it will be on the ballot as Amendment 2. Shirley Franklin (D) and Renee Unterman (R) support the amendment writing, “As a constitutional amendment, these funds will be permanently dedicated towards child victim services, providing critical reliability and protecting it from the politics of appropriation.”  However, a close reading of the actual ballot shows that the funds are for services for those who, “…have been or may be sexually exploited.”    The money could be used for victims, or it could be used for potential victims, meaning basically any child in Georgia.


The Commission is not elected, but appointed.  It is not directly accountable to the voters. It is not considered a public office, so elected officials may also serve on the Commission at the same time.  (lines 239-240) The Commission is to develop a state-wide protocol for helping to coordinate the delivery of services to sexually exploited children and provide oversight and accountability for any program that receives funding from the Commission.  Do we really need appointees to develop a statewide protocol?  What will this protocol look like? The Commission may also accept and solicit funds granted by Congress or executive order and utilize existing state resources and staff.  An appointed commission that has a direct pipeline of taxpayer money and the use of existing state resources, is this starting to sound familiar? 


The Safe Harbor law was passed before the Obama administration issued an executive order compelling public schools nationwide to regulate restroom and locker access on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex.  Georgia and 13 other states sued the federal government because the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender, a psychological concept.  However, the new education law passed in 2015, ESSA, requires data to be collected on gender (not sex) for every public school student, (page 58, line 19).  If the funds are used for prevention or education, parents need to think about what that education might look like if it is funded in part by the federal government, executive orders, and an appointed commission. Georgia code prohibits “sexually explicit conduct” – actual or simulated. (16-12-100) However, the code has an exception for “legitimate…educational activities.”  Who will determine what those educational activities will be?  


The Educational Freedom Coalition exists to advocate for and promote civil government leaders committed to passing and implementing legislation that ensures parents retain the authority over what their children learn.  We are concerned that Amendment 2 to our Georgia Constitution will institute an unaccountable commission and perpetuate federal direction and involvement in the prevention, care and treatment of sexually exploited children.  Please vote no on Amendment 2.