Statewide Ballot Referendums:
1) Shall the Act be approved which provides a homestead exemption for the full value of the homestead with respect to all ad valorem taxes for the unremarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter who was killed in the line of duty? (HB 81, passed in 2006)
EXPLANATION: Exempts the unremarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter who was killed in the line of duty from all ad valorem taxes. This will not affect any special assessments assigned to the property, however, and the exemption will have to be applied for inperson.
PROS: Provides a generous benefit to those whose spouses serve in the public interest and sacrifice their lives serving the community as firefighters or peace officers.
CONS: Very narrowly tailored with a small impact on Georgians overall. The referendum is potentially difficult to enforce as written because it does not specify if the benefit is applicable to officers and firefighters in other states if the surviving spouse moves to Georgia and related scenarios. Further, if the widowed spouse remarries, he/she will not be eligible for the exemption even if he/she is raising the children of the fallen firefighter or officer. Any other employee of the state or local government who is killed in the line of duty is not given this benefit.