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    Who could say ‘no’ to more jobs for Georgia?

     

    Just as the National Lampoon twisted arms in 1973, state lawmakers are asking voters Tuesday to amend the state Constitution to bring jobs to Georgia. When they ask that way, who could say no?

    Evidently, lawmakers fretted that Georgians could. The legislative history shows they tweaked and prodded the ballot question for Amendment 1 until limitations on competition, which are barred by the Georgia Constitution, now appear to make the state more competitive.

    Amendment 1 would give judges more leeway to enforce non-compete agreements for employers and franchisors. Supporters say it would put Georgia on par with laws in most other states; opponents contend it would sacrifice workers’ and franchisees’ rights.

    The ballot question, as originally phrased in state Rep. Kevin Levitas’s House Resolution 178, would have asked voters:

    Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide for contracts that limit competition during or after the term of employment or of a commercial relationship and to authorize the courts to cure legal defects in such contracts in order to protect legitimate interests and achieve the intent of the parties?”

    Then the House Judiciary Committee got its hands on it, coming up with a substitute resolution that would have asked:

    Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize permit the General Assembly to provide for contracts that limit competition during or after the term of employment or of a commercial relationship and to authorize the courts to cure legal defects in such contracts in order to protect legitimate interests and achieve the intent of the parties to enact laws that authorize contract provisions restricting or regulating competitive activities and enable courts to ensure the reasonableness of such contracts?”

    The Judiciary Committee passed another slightly different substitute that deleted the notion that anything would be restricted:

    Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to permit the General Assembly to enact laws that authorize contract provisions restricting or regulating competitive activities and to enable courts to ensure the reasonableness of such contracts?”

    The House accepted that version and sent it over to the Senate, where that chamber’s Judiciary Committee came up with this improvement:

    Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to permit the General Assembly to enact laws that authorize contract provisions regulating competitive activities regarding competitive agreements to enable courts to uphold the agreements and to enable courts to ensure the reasonableness of such contracts?”

    Finally, a House-Senate conference committee trying to work out the differences came back with this:

    Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to permit the General Assembly to enact laws that authorize contract provisions regarding competitive agreements to enable courts to uphold the agreements and to enable courts to ensure the reasonableness of such contracts? to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”

    That version passed, and that’s the question to be decided Tuesday.

    It’s your call. Here’s how your Constitution reads now:

    The General Assembly shall not have the power to authorize any contract or agreement which may have the effect of or which is intended to have the effect of defeating or lessening competition, or encouraging a monopoly, which are hereby declared to be unlawful and void.

     

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    One Response to “Who could say ‘no’ to more jobs for Georgia?”

    1. BE says:

      the wording on this proposed amendment was so poor b/c non-compete agreements are now a matter of case law (not legislative law), and it is a power grab from the judiciary. the original wording sought mostly the ability to legislate a “blue pencil” rule, to allow non-compete agreements to be modified by judges so that they are made reasonable, rather than completely tossed out as unenforceable. however, with certain types of non-compete agreements, there is already a blue pencil rule! so, it was a way for legislators who disagreed with case law to become activist judges, in a sense. now, it’s a boon for established businesses, and a bane for real competition.

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