image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan @ Flickr
This letter was sent out to supporters yesterday from the Georgia Environmental Action Network to thank everyone for supporting the issues during the last legislative session. It nicely outlines all of the major environmental issues that were voted on. Unfortunately, we did not win them all but we did win some. Read on for a recap..
Last Friday marked the last day of the Georgia General Assembly’s regular legislative session. Over the last three months, we asked you to take action on several issues being considered by the legislature.
Thank you to the thousands of Georgia Environmental Action Network subscribers who took a few minutes to send a message to their state representatives and state senators. Below is a summary of what happened on those issues and whether they remain alive for next year:
- Cut More Trees For Less - SB 164: On Wednesday, April 1st, legislation sponsored by Senator Don Balfour, that would have expanded billboard companies’ ability to cut down and remove trees along roadsides was defeated in a close vote when the conservation community prevented the bill from obtaining the 91 votes it needed for passage. The vote was 74-89. A motion to reconsider the bill passed quickly afterwards, but the bill was never brought up for another vote on the last day of the session. SB 164 was sent back to the House Rules committee, where it can be brought up for debate again next year.
- Don’t Get Stuck Paying Your Neighbor’s Water Bill - HB 158: Legislation to require new multi-family buildings to put a water meter on each unit rather than one water meter per building passed the House easily and passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee, but failed to make it out of the Senate Rules Committee. Friendly attempts to amend the bill onto other legislation failed. HB 158 remains alive for consideration next year.
- Keep Treated Sewage From Being Injected in Our Drinking Water - HB 552: Rep. Terry Barnard led the charge to extend the current moratorium on injecting treated sewage and surface water into the Floridan aquifer, a critical source of drinking water for Georgians living in the coastal plain, for another five years. The bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- Get Me Out of This Traffic- SB 39, SR 44, HB 277, HR 206, SB 120, SB 200: The Senate passed legislation to allow regions to let voters approve a penny sales tax for listed transportation projects while the House passed legislation that would let voters approve a statewide sales tax increase for transportation. Unfortunately, negotiations to hammer out a compromise broke down at 11:00pm during the last day of the session. Further, legislation to allow MARTA more flexibility in how it uses its current and reserve funds on operations & maintenance failed. However, both chambers approved legislation to rearrange state agencies to give the Governor, Lt. Governor and Legislature more control over transportation revenue and road-building.
- Exemptions from Clean Water Protections - SB 155: The House and Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Senator Chip Pearson, that provides a definition for the smallest, most temporary streams created only from rain and snowfall and then exempts them from 25 foot buffers from development. Conservation groups argued to clarify the definition, but attempts to amend the bill failed. SB 155 now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
- Pay Now for Nuclear - SB 31: Legislation to create a new funding scheme for the construction of nuclear power plants, sponsored by Senator Don Balfour, passed both the House and Senate. The legislation has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
Thank you again for your efforts to urge conservation through the click of a button. We greatly appreciate all of the Georgia Environmental Action Network subscribers.
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Coosa River Basin Initiative
Georgia Canoeing Association
Georgia Conservation Voters
Georgia River Network
Mothers & Others for Clean Air
Sierra Club, GA Chapter
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper