Monday, March 16, 2009

North Georgia pols undecided on Perdue's transportation 'reorg'

Posted By on Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 11:50 AM

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After narrowly passing the state Senate on March 5, Gov. Sonny Perdue's re-arranging of the deck chairs is scheduled to be debated in the lower chamber perhaps as soon as tomorrow. And whattya know, the members of the lower chamber aren't taking too much of a shine — that's Southern-speak for "unhappy with" — to the legislation.

If approved, Senate Bill 200 would create a new transportation agency led by a governor-appointed "secretary" and overseen by an 11-member board. Five board members would be appointed by the governor. The lieutenant governor and House speaker would each appoint three. The legislation would also neuter the Georgia Department of Transportation and turn it into a glorified road maintenance agency. Currently, state lawmakers elect GDOT board members. UPDATE: The AJC today offers dueling guest editorials about the legislation from Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, and GDOT Board member Brandon Beach.

The whole proposal has some lawmakers flummoxed.

From the Dalton Daily Citizen:

“There’s mixed emotions among my colleagues I have talked to. I haven’t heard anyone come out strongly in favor of it,” said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton.

“I personally don’t think we need to create another authority. It will just be another layer of bureaucracy. I feel that the problems at the DOT can be solved,” Williams said. “I hate to see all this taken away from the DOT.”

“It would basically strip the board of all its power,” he added. “We depend on our board member, who is closest to us, to get things done. If all the power goes to this new authority, I don’t know what we would do.”

But wait, someone else wants to speak!

Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, says he also has doubts about the bill.

“I’m not a big fan of it. We’ve got to do some more work on that thing,” he said.

“Those appointments need to come from across the state,” he said. “They are going to have to work a lot harder to get me to come on board.”

The Citizen article also includes some thoughts from Steve Farrow, the district's representative on the GDOT Board.

(Photo of the last deck chair from the Titanic courtesy of Flickr user jmarks)

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