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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

City's Gold Dome wishlist includes gambling, assault weapon ban

click to enlarge 'No, no, you have to leave your dog outside. That life destroyer on your back is cool, though.'
  • 'No, no, you have to leave your dog outside. That life destroyer on your back is cool, though.'

On Jan. 11, state lawmakers will return to the Gold Dome for 40 days of bloviatin', horse-tradin' and budget-cuttin'.

Across the street in City Hall, the Atlanta mayor and City Council will cross their fingers and pray to God the state House and Senate will do no harm — and maybe pass one or two bills that'll help beef up the city's bottom line and (arguably) make life a little easier.

Those proposals can be found in the City Council's "2010 General Assembly legislative package," a 26-page wishlist of requested changes to laws and ordinances that can only be enacted on the state level. Council unanimously approved the to-do list on Nov. 16.

CL got its filthy little hands on the public document and gave it a look. (You can read the whole thing for yourself in all its PDF splendor here.) In addition to clearing up some laws' language and tacking on fees and fines for traffic scofflaws, City Hall bigwigs are asking for some interesting items. Some are old, some are new. After the jump, we run 'em down.

  • The state has the sole authority to regulate firearms, but the city would like local governments to have a say as well. First on its list: prohibiting "assault weapons" within the city limits. Guns are already prohibited in state parks; City Hall pols would like the law's language changed to either ban firearms in city-owned greenspaces or give the city the authority to enact such an law.

  • For the 2,348th year in a row, there's talk of gambling — and a tax on gambling. According to the legislative package, "this tax would be imposed pursuant to enabling legislation that would establish a Gaming Authority within the City of Atlanta entertainment districts." The move could help lay the groundwork for the city to capitalize on some sort of gambling operation at an entertainment district. Currently, Underground Atlanta is the only such district.

  • A tax hike on booze — be it by-the-drink, by-the-glass or wholesale. The legislative package says the additional tax revenue could add $10.7 million to the city's bottom line.

  • Allowing the city to require residential property owners — not tenants, they stress — to register with the city. That could help city code compliance officers figure out who actually owns the boarded-up hell hole down your street that's become a magnet for questionable activity.

  • Allowing the city to file liens against property owners for unpaid water and sewer bills on rented residential property.

Other measures include forcing Atlanta Public Schools to pay for their own elections, giving the city the authority to suspend motorists' drivers' licenses if they don't pay fines, and allowing "photo" speed detection cameras in school zones.

Now, what's the likelihood these proposals will pass? We'll go ahead and say anything dealing with guns has little to no chance. This is an election year in one of the reddest states a person could imagine. GOP lawmakers would be crazy to raise the ire of the National Rifle Association by doing anything that could curtail gunowners' rights. The gaming authority proposal? Considering that anything resembling will probably not pass until Gov. Sonny Perdue leaves office next year, it might be a longshot. But there's interest in horse-racing, which we'd imagine would include some gambling. The others... well, we'll see come January.

(2009 Jerusalem photo by Joeff Davis)

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