Local Issues in the Legislature

Cross Keys Pages

This Wednesday, April 23, is the first of three neighborhood “meet and greet” events I will be holding across our community. This week’s event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1396 Tugaloo Drive in the Brookhaven Fields neighborhood. Click here for a full schedule of these events. Each “meet and greet” is free and open to the public.

This message is the second of a three-part series explaining legislation that was considered in the 2014 legislative session. This particular message concerns bills that pertain to our local community, except the bills I personally sponsored and passed. The first installment explained the bills I passed this year. Click here to read my first message.

Also of local interest, I had the privilege of hosting “Cross Keys Day at the Capitol” this year. A group of outstanding Cross Keys High School seniors served as my pages on one of the busiest days of the legislative session. Above is a photo of this excellent group of students. Because this year’s “Cross Keys Day at the Capitol” was a great success, I am going to repeat it every year.

Below is a summary of this year’s significant local bills. The hyperlinks will lead you to the full text and other details of each bill:

House Resolution 486 – The Georgia Constitution prohibits the creation of new city school systems. Existing city school systems such as Atlanta, Decatur and Marietta, are grandfathered to avoid this prohibition. HR 486 is constitutional amendment — requiring a two-thirds affirmative vote of the House and Senate — to enable the creation of independent municipal school systems in cities created on or after January 1, 2005. This would include Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. It also would allow cities adjacent to cities created on or after that date, such as Chamblee and Doraville, to have their own school systems. HR 486 also would permit any combination of these cities to form a unified independent school district. Thus, a school system could be created across Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chamblee and Doraville. This proposal will be a multi-year project because it requires a supermajority in order to pass.

House Bill 905 and House Bill 906 – These bills would settle the Century Center annexation dispute between Chamblee and Brookhaven by “reannexing” Century Center into the City of Chamblee. In early 2013, the General Assembly passed a bill that would annex Century Center and the Dresden East Civic Association (DECA) neighborhoods into the City of Chamblee if the voters approved the annexation in a November 2013 referendum. Between the passage of the original bill and the referendum, a vote of the Brookhaven City Council was taken to annex Century Center into the City of Brookhaven. In November 2013, the annexation referendum passed with 61% of the vote. I supported these bills because they are important to keeping a promise that the General Assembly made to the voters who supported the Chamblee referendum. They are on the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 1065 – DeKalb County presently has a ten-year property tax assessment freeze that will expire in 2016. I was the main sponsor of HB 1065 which will make the assessment freeze a permanent measure. This bill requires a majority vote of the representatives and senators who represent portions of DeKalb County. It passed the House but fell short in the Senate. I plan to revive it in 2015.

Senate Bill 95 – I support abolition of DeKalb’s unique-in-Georgia, highly dysfunctional CEO form of government. Until we find the votes in the DeKalb legislative delegation to accomplish that goal, however, SB 95 would have made the CEO position a non-partisan office. Presently, the DeKalb CEO is a partisan office elected in the Democratic primary. By making it a non-partisan position, Republican voters would be empowered to play a role in the selection of the county’s chief administrator. The bill failed on the House floor because there is insufficient support for adding non-partisan offices in Georgia, except for judgeships.

Senate Bill 367 – Attorney General Sam Olens issued a written opinion that Interim CEO Lee May continues to represent District 5 (Southeast DeKalb) on the DeKalb County Commission in addition to his appointed position as Interim CEO, effectively leaving District 5 without representation. SB 367 contains a provision that was added as a House floor amendment to permit the remaining six members of the DeKalb County Commission to appoint a temporary commissioner to replace Lee May until he is no longer the Interim CEO or his current term on the county commission concludes, whichever is sooner.

House Bill 390 – This bill would have allowed DeKalb County to impose an additional penny sales tax for transportation purposes — increasing the sales tax from the current 7 cents to 8 cents — but only if each and every municipality within the county agreed to allow this sales tax to go to a referendum. I voted against this bill. It narrowly failed on the House floor.

House Bill 819 – This bill would have stopped Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand from personally profiting from the sale of property tax liens to a private company. The bill passed the House with my full support but never passed the Senate.

Lakeside and Tucker – Near the end of this year’s legislative session, a compromise was struck to enable these two proposals for new cities in Central DeKalb to move forward. Unfortunately, a legal technicality made it impossible to pass the compromise this year. Although the bills are taking a one-year lap, both proposals likely will receive legislative consideration next year.

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