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Confused about the state Constitution questions on the ballot? If you've had trouble figuring out the legalese on the Nov. 4 ballot about four important proposed amendments to Tennessee's constitution, you are not alone. We've given you the questions and tried to tell you, simply, clearly and impartially, what a "yes" vote would mean and what a "no" vote would mean.
Amendment 1: Abortion Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section: Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Yes vote means You want to give state lawmakers the complete state ability to regulate abortion, removing that right from Tennessee's constitution. Legislators will be empowered to pass, change or repeal state laws about abortion, including abortion under circumstances such as rape, incest or when the health of the mother is at risk. The U.S. Constitution still ensures a woman's right to abortion.
No vote means You want Tennessee's laws on abortion to remain as they are. Right now, abortion is legal in Tennessee with some legislatively approved restrictions such as parental consent required for a minor's abortion.
Amendment 2: Selecting judges Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following: Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.
Yes vote means You want state Supreme Court and appellate court judges to be appointed by the governor, confirmed by the state legislature, then retained or rejected by voters in a general election.
No vote means You do not want to change how Supreme Court and appellate judges are appointed. Right now, it's unclear how these judges would then be chosen. The constitution says voters will elect judges. But a legislative changes called the Tennessee Plan, made 40 years ago, allows a commission to nominate candidates to the governor, who appoints them. Voters then retain or reject them at the end of their term.
Amendment 3: Income tax Shall Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the final substantive paragraph within the section: Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on Jan. 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.
Yes vote means You want the state constitution to forbid a state or local payroll or income tax.
No vote means You want the state constitution to remain as it is. Right now, the constitution does not specifically allow an income tax or bar it.
Amendment 4: Lottery Shall Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the following language: All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) organization located in this state, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code or as may be amended from time to time. and by substituting instead the following language: All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibit- ed unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(19) organization, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code, located in this state.
Yes vote means You want veterans-related organizations to be able to seek legislative approval for annual lottery or games-of-chance fundraisers like other charitable organizations can.
No vote means You do not want veterans organizations to have the ability to hold lotteries or games of chance as fundraisers.
• Whether these proposed amendments pass hinges on your vote for governor. An amendment must receive a majority of the votes cast in the gubernatorial election, no matter how many people vote on the amendment itself. Fewer votes for governor means fewer votes needed to pass an amendment. Early voting ends Thursday.