Weekly Legislative Update
Legislature in Budget Week Recess
The Georgia General Assembly recognized Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s holiday on Monday and held joint House and Senate budget hearings for the amended fiscal year 2012 budget and the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget during the remainder of the week.
While Georgia continues to recover from the Great Recession the governor is proposing only modest increases overall in state spending. The legislature can only pass a budget that is equal to, or less than, the revenue estimates provided by the governor.
During GDOT's hearings, the interim commissioner indicated that 2012 state motor fuel tax receipts are expected to increase by about $60 million over last year's receipts, to just under $1 billion annually.
GDOT expects to use these additional funds to both reduce existing debt and invest in more capital construction. Debt service already constitutes about 40% of all state motor fuel receipts and GDOT plans to re-finance some existing higher-interest debt to lower-interest paying bonds.
During the Department of Natural Resources presentations the commissioner and new director of the Environmental Protection Division focused on the continued challenges facing their agencies. Legislators asked questions concerning the slow removal of abandoned tires and the reduced number of DNR law enforcement officers statewide.
ACCG/GMA/RBC TIA Education Video Close to Completion
The educational training video on the July 2013 referendum on the regional transportation sales tax is nearing completion. The video will be shared with elected city and county officials statewide, as well as metropolitan planning organizations, Georgia's twelve Regional Commissions, local Chambers of Commerce and other public education organizations. The videographer is working with ACCG, GMA and RBC in hopes of having a final product available for distribution in the next few weeks.
Legislature re-convenes 2012 Legislative Session on Monday
The Senate will re-convene for Legislative Day 6 at 10 am. The House will re-convene at 1 pm. The Governor's Transit Governance Task Force is expected to make public its findings, and recommended legislation, as early as Monday next week.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle to meet with RBC Board of Directors
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will have a "conversation" with the RBC Board of Directors at the February 7 RBC Board meeting. As a Hall county resident, Governor Cagle has always been very active with water issues related to Lake Lanier. Recently he has taken leadership positions on studying reversible lanes on the interstates and opposing any increases in state sales taxes on groceries. He continues to champion the college and career academy network where high school students gain career-relevant technical education and graduate prepared to enter the modern workplace.
RBC works with Georgia Water Alliance on Comments for proposed amendments to EPD drought management rules
The RBC continues to work with members of the Georgia Water Alliance to provide the Georgia EPD with suggestions to address drought conditions when they arise. The RBC and Alliance believe that any drought management regulations should be easily understandable and take into consideration the unique abilities of every community to respond to drought challenges.
Metro Atlanta's population has increased dramatically over the past decade while at the same time, per capita water consumption has dropped. In fact, metro Atlanta's per capita water usage is 15% less than Charlotte, 25% less than Birmingham, 28% less than Tallahassee, 30% less than Chattanooga and over 40% less than Orlando.
Mandatory "across the board" percentage reductions and similar-type restrictions to address drought issues don't recognize the significant impact that existing conservation efforts have achieved and are counter-productive to Georgia's continued growth.
The membership of the Georgia Water Alliance is composed of manufacturing, agricultural, recreational, general business, local government and water utility organizations.
Have a great week!
The Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta (RBC) is an organization of over a dozen of the largest and most active Chambers of Commerce throughout the metro Atlanta region. RBC member chambers represent over 15,000 member companies who employ millions of metro Atlanta residents. The RBC's primary goal is to represent the interests of RBC Chamber members on regional public policy issues impacting our transportation, water and air quality and to advocate for solutions that improve metro Atlanta's quality of life and economic vitality. This weekly update is prepared for RBC member Chambers by Terry Lawler, RBC Executive Director, who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org 770-310-1864.