According to the text of House Resolution 1087, the bill would disqualify those who have failed to timely file any individual tax return required by federal, state or local law, or those who have failed to pay or make arrangements for payment of any individual federal, state or local taxes. Any person qualifying for election to state or local office, seeking appointment to any state or local public office or holding state or local public office shall, upon request by the executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission or any successor entity, execute a written document allowing the release of tax information that would be otherwise confidential in order to determine if the person is qualified for office.
If the person is found to be ineligible, the office shall be declared vacant. This vacancy shall be filled as provided by the Georgia Constitution or any state or local law.
“We’ve had several (tax defaulters) in the last few years,” Yates said when asked about the circumstances behind the introduction of the bill. He said the Georgia Senate had passed a bill that only applied to senators. Yates said the proposed constitutional amendment would affect the entire state.
Yates said the bill had 116 “yes” votes and 18 “no” votes. This would be enough to pass it if it were an ordinary bill but since it was a constitutional amendment, the threshold is higher.
The only way the measure would be discussed in the Senate is if the Senate had its own version of the bill, since “crossover day” — after which the Senate only considers bills the House has approved and the House only considers bills the Senate has approved — has already passed.
“I wish it had gotten enough votes to put it out to the people,” Yates said when asked his feelings about the bill.
He said most people believe politicians should pay their taxes — in fact, most people hold politicians to a higher standard than ordinary people.
Though the measure will not go before the Georgia Senate, state Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, supports the measure.
“I think it’s a good effort,” he said. “You shouldn’t hold public office if you can’t do what you’re asking other people to do.”
He said there is not a corresponding bill in the Senate, since tax- and revenue-related measures must come from the House.