Amendment One: Upholding reasonable competitive agreements?

ATLANTA – In addition to a number of local, state and federal offices on this year’s ballot, voters in Georgia will have the chance to decide on five amendments to the state Constitution in addition to a statewide referendum.

The first proposed amendment facing voters reads: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?”

“Currently, the state constitution bars contracts that restrict or lessen competition,” state Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, said in an op-ed. “However, if approved by voters, this amendment would strike that language and allow judges to ensure restrictive employment agreements are enforced.”

Houston added: “As a result, Georgia may be able to attract new businesses because it will be easier for those businesses to use non-compete employment contracts.”

In an editorial, The Augusta Chronicle offered a different take.

“Big business wants this amendment so that companies can enforce even legally flawed non-compete contracts: If a provision goes too far in curtailing a former employee’s livelihood, they want a judge to be able to rewrite it so it’s enforceable,” the newspaper wrote. “Currently, flawed contracts are ruled null and void, as they should be.”

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