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February 24, 2007

Progressing Legislation in Georgia Legislature as of 2/15/2007

The following bills may be of interest to you and/or can affect our county.

You can follow any bill on the internet at www.legis.state.ga.us.
You can also contact your representative or senator and/or the sponsor of these or any bill at this site. If you have an opinion, let them know how you feel. It’s not only your right, but it’s the only way they will know how you feel about these or any bills.
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Sen. Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville), Jasper’s State Senator, has introduced another “developer” bill—SB 200 and also a resolution—SR 209, that would allow voters to decide in 2008 whether to bring so-called infrastructure development districts to Georgia. SB 200 supposedly aids “rural builders.” The measure would allow county or city bonds to help cover infrastructure costs to build large, outlying subdivisions.
see entire story here:
www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2007/02/21/metlegprivate0221a.html
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Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle) thinks 2 years isn’t long enough and wants 4-year terms for Senators. His bill, SR 279, would also initiate staggered terms. HR 2 is a companion bill in the House for 4-year terms for representatives. The voters would have to approve this idea before it took affect.
see entire story here:
www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2007/02/20/metlegterms0220a.html
TWG: It would be a good bet that with 4-year terms, Legislators would be seen less and maybe only at election time.
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HR 241 Cities to Control Zoning and Land Use 3 Miles Outside Their Borders
(Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-48)
This resolution, if passed by constitutional amendment, authorizes the General Assembly to allow municipalities to exercise the power of zoning and the regulation of
land use and development for a distance of 3 miles outside their boundaries.
TWG: The City of Monticello just approved zoning for 1000 sq. ft. houses on ¼ acre lots. This is exactly the type of housing that costs the city and county money for schools, police, fire, roads, etc. This bill would destroy the “rural” atmosphere of Jasper County in a 3 mile radius outside the CITY LIMITS of Monticello.
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HB 78 Agritourism Authorized on Conservation Use Property
(Rep. Richard Royal, R-171)
This bill authorizes land in a conservation use covenant (CUVA) to be used for agritourism purposes without breaching the covenant. The bill was amended in
subcommittee to allow farm products to be sold to people visiting the farm.
TWG: As counties vive for more tourism, Jasper County can certainly benefit from agritourism. Farmers could not keep their farms without CUVA and a draw for agritourism might possibly be the “products” offered for sale to the tourist.
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HB 265 Abolish the Position of County Surveyor
(Rep. Roger Lane, R-167)
Current law provides that the position of the elected county surveyor can be abolished by local act. HB 265 would have the effect of abolishing the position wherever still existing as an elected office as of the end of the term of surveyors currently serving in office. The office of each appointed surveyor would be abolished as of July 1, 2007.
TWG: Jasper’s County Surveyor is grandfathered in and is not and never has been a licensed surveyor. This bill should be passed to do away with an office that is no longer needed.
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HB 296 SPLOST Elections Limited
(Rep. Jeff May, R-111)
This bill restricts the county to one special election date in November during an odd year and two special election dates that coincide with the primary and general election in an even numbered year.
TWG: During last year’s November elections, several cities and counties had a “special election” a week or two before the general election hoping that very few people would turn out. Those that supported special SPLOST projects did turn out and voted in the proposed SPLOST. Not only will this bill prevent the taxpayers from paying extra election costs, but will also give everyone the opportunity to vote one time instead of making several trips to the polls.
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HB 421/HR 244 Expand Conservation Use Assessment (CUVA) to Timber Companies
(Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-130)
This bill would remove the 2000 acre cap on CUVA and allow timber companies to qualify for this special assessment program.
TWG: This bill would greatly reduce the tax digest in rural counties and put more tax burden on single dwelling households.
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SB 142 Protecting Counties Budgetary Authority Over Local Public Defender
(Sen. Preston Smith, R-52)
This bill adds language to emphasize that a circuit public defender may only employ additional staff as specifically authorized by local Act or the governing authority of the county, and subject to the terms granted by such authority.
TWG: With the “Brian Nichols case” breaking the bank, some type of legislation is needed to protect counties. Question that we can’t seem to find answer for:
If an ordinary citizen hires a lawyer, they can rarely afford more than one. How is it that “indigent” clients have 2, 3 or even 4 lawyers and the taxpayers pick up the bill?

TWG
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