Make Toll Roads Permanent & Expand Debt? Hearing on SB183 Today, 2pm; Meet Your Newest DeKalb Commissioner 3/13

Dear Friends,

With a Republican-controlled state legislature and Republican officials occupying all executive offices in Georgia, you’d think we might get some fiscally conservative policies. This legislative session continues to show how wrong that expectation would be. Other than a few targeted tax breaks for wealthy special interests, like yacht owners and Delta, the 2017 legislative session has been new taxes, more taxes, regulations, and scariest of all – new powers to borrow and lend public money.

Today at 2:00 p.m., in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the Capitol, the House Transportation Committee will hear testimony on SB183. Most of the coverage of this bill so far has focused on how it would create permanent mandatory toll roads, but that’s only part of the issue. What’s even more dangerous are the provisions eliminating the public competitive bid and sealed bid process requirements for State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) projects, combined with the massive new grants of power to SRTA: to extend credit and make loans to any type of entity, to incorporate multiple non-profit corporations as subsidiaries of SRTA, and to expand the definition of “self-liquidating project” to include not just projects by cities and counties, but by any “person, firm, corporation, limited liability company, or other type of entity”. I.e., they can take your money and give it to literally whoever they want to, and they might even do it through private corporations set up to evade public scrutiny.

The permanent mandatory toll road part is pretty bad too. Georgia law only authorizes the state to charge a toll until the road construction project is fully paid for, e.g. GA 400, where tolls were collected from 1993 to 2013 (and even then, it took dedicated citizen activists holding the government to its promise). Changing this would be a big deal, deserving of much more public debate than we’ve seen on this important topic.
Send an email to the Committee chair, Rep. Kevin Tanner, and the bill sponsor, Sen. Brandon Beach, letting them know what you think of this bill. Email Rep. Tanner Email Sen. Beach Or give them a call: 404.656.3947 and 404.463.1378

Good news on the no-knock search warrant bill, though: I showed up at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing ready to testify against SB94, but the bill sponsor didn’t show up and it was removed from the agenda. Since it didn’t pass the Senate before Crossover Day, technically it’s dead for the session – but this legislation has already been revived too many times, so I’m keeping a close eye on it.

Upcoming events:

Monday, March 13th, 7pm – DeKalb Young Republicans monthly meeting at Olde Blind Dog, 705 Town Blvd, Brookhaven GA 30319. Speaker: DeKalb County District 7 Commissioner Gregory Adams. He’ll be updating us on his first few months as a commissioner and the state of DeKalb politics. Bring questions and concerns!

Saturday, March 18th, 9am – GAGOP County Conventions at county-specific locations throughout the state. DeKalb County GOP will be meeting at the Tucker Recreation Center, 4898 Lavista Road, Tucker GA 30084.

Monday, April 17th, 7pm – DeKalb Young Republicans monthly meeting at Olde Blind Dog, 705 Town Blvd, Brookhaven GA 30319. Speaker: Senate District 40 State Senator Fran Millar. He’ll be going over the 2017 legislative session (which will likely be over by this time) – another great time for questions and concerns.

Thanks for engaging with these important issues, so that together we can make our political world more reasonable and thoughtful.

Warm regards,
Catherine