Saturday, March 30, 2013

Zombie Bills for Georgia Stopped

ATLANTA, GA (SC) - The Sierra Club Georgia Chapter's legislative team of Contract Lobbyist Neill Herring and Volunteer Legislative Chapter Chair Mark Woodall worked tirelessly to keep the bad bills at bay, and this year was one of their most successful. Here are just a few of the highlights.

We stopped HB 264 and 265, which would have forced MARTA to privatize specific functions, jeopardizing federal funding. It also would have given the Governor a larger role on the board, even though the state still would provide no funding for MARTA.

We fixed HB 402 to keep coastal marsh protections in place, while allowing the movie industry a more streamline path to get permission to film on the coast.

At 11:55 p.m. on Sine Die, the Senate passed HB 276, which fixes the problem of the General Assembly stealing the revenues generated by fees collected for specific purposes, for example, the $1 fee for tire disposal. The bill reduces the amount the state is allowed to collect every year they don't appropriate those fees to clean up tire piles, as the fee was intended to do.

And of course, the big ticket item this year was SB 213, which dealt with the Flint River Drought Protection Act. This bad bill would have allowed private companies to do expensive experiments called "aquifer storage and recovery" and take away the property rights that landowners on Georgia rivers have to reasonable use of the water.

The Georgia Water Coalition generated opposition to this proposal in every corner of the state, and the proponents were unable to secure enough support to bring it to the floor for debate. It will go back to the House Agriculture Committee for the 2014 session.

The Georgia Chapter is the only statewide environmental organization with two full-time people at the legislature who work on every environmental issue. From transportation and energy to stream buffers, from ethics reform to the budget, our legislative team is helping protect the Georgia we love.

And as one executive put it: We stopped the bad bills in this session; they will come back next year.

They are not dead, they still can be included in other bills or in other form of legislation, like zombies walking around the floor of the General Assembly in Atlanta.

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