Sen. Ginn Offers Insight into Key Legislative Issues

The 2012 Legislative Session is officially underway, and there is much work to be done. Many Georgians are faced with the daily reality of tightening their wallets to secure the future well-being of their families due to economic uncertainty on both the state and national level. With that said, it is imperative for state legislators to champion policies that reduce state spending and encourage efficiency in state government.

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Legislation to Strengthen Local Control Hits the Senate this Week

By Sen. Frank Ginn

DANIELSVILLE (February 18, 2011) – Georgia’s population growth is quickly outpacing the U.S. rate, adding more than 1.5 million residents since 2000.  It’s easy to see how government could expand to meet such rapid population growth, but growing government will not help our state recover from this recession.  There’s a significant push this year at the Capitol to return to the principles of limited government, namely by strengthening local control and removing bureaucracy.

Empowering local governments to make decisions in their best interest helps communities operate at a higher level of efficiency and cuts down on the waste of taxpayer dollars.  This week, I introduced legislation (Senate Bill 86) that aims to alleviate some of the unfunded mandates placed on local governments by the state.  Senate Bill 86 reduces some of the burden on local government by making it optional for cities and counties to develop a comprehensive plan.  Currently, these plans are required to be developed into a rigid format with little flexibility.  I want to allow local elected officials to develop and modify plans that are tailored to their community.

I’ve been working with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Department of Community Affairs, and several senators with local government experience to reduce the burden on local governments.  In turn, this will reduce the financial burden on taxpayers.  Comprehensive plans that cost tens of thousands of dollars and sit on a shelf not being used are a waste of your tax dollars.  Completing a comprehensive plan can cost communities anywhere from $30,000 to well over $100,000.  As all property owners pay county taxes and most pay city taxes, this is a cost that is saddled on the taxpayer.

By giving local governments the option to decide when and how they need to complete a comprehensive plan, they can dedicate their resources to the most important needs in their community.  This bill effectively peels away another layer of bureaucracy and gives more control to the people who know the needs of their community best.

Senate Bill 86 also addresses getting the right information to the right people at the right time.  Currently, the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) process is to have the regional commission review a significant project and render an opinion that carries no significance.  I propose that in the event of a significant project, it is much better to give notice to all local governments in the region.  Leaders and interested individuals would then work with the elected officials in the appropriate jurisdiction to inform them of consequences to the region.  This would allow information to be available and to be processed and used in the most effective way.  I strongly believe elected officials will make the best choice for their community.

Having served as both a county and city manager, I understand the strain that some of these unfunded mandates can place on local governments.  This session, I’ll continue working with my colleagues in both the Senate and House to remove the burdens and bureaucracy of government in both local and state tax dollars.  Please feel free to contact me to let me know how I can best serve you. 

Sen. Frank Ginn represents the 47th Senate District, which includes Barrow, Madison and Oglethorpe counties and portions of Clarke, Elbert and Jackson counties.  He can be reached at 404.656.4700 or by email at frank.ginn@senate.ga.gov.

COLUMN
For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2011
For Information Contact:
Natalie Strong, Director
Kallarin Richards, Deputy Director
kallarin.richards@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028