For The Record

Local officials head to Athens next month to fend off state mandates

By: - August 21, 2019 8:27 am

A bill to define the bounds of unpopular speech at Georgia colleges got a hearing in a senate committee Wednesday. Anti-abortion activists and student protesters faced off at the University of Georgia in 2019. John McCosh/Georgia Recorder

Dozens of Georgia’s mayors, city and county managers and other local government leaders will come together in September to work on legislative priorities for 2020.

They’ll work together in Athens on Sept.11 and 12 during meetings of legislative policy committees with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association, the two largest advocacy groups for local governments in the state.

As they develop those legislative plans ahead of the General Assembly’s return in January, there’s one key topic that will take priority during their joint meeting on the first day: State leaders attempting to take the decision-making process away from local leaders.

“Home rule’s always been an issue but we’ve seen it accelerate in the past five years,” the counties’ Legislative Director Clint Mueller said. “We’ve seen a bigger push now at both the national and state levels to do more and more preemptions.

“At our joint meeting that’s going to be the focus. What can ACCG and GMA do working together to better educate, better message, better advocate for the protection of home rule which we think is under attack right now,”  Mueller said.

The two agencies worked together the past two years to create a new law that gives local leaders more control over how wireless companies can install small cell poles, antennas and equipment, Mueller said.

After the Sept. 11 meeting, both committees will hold separate meetings the following day.

The county representatives plan to work on their new legislative policies that are up for approval in October.

Meanwhile, the municipal association plans to delve more into its policy platform adopted during the association’s annual conference in Savannah in June, said spokeswoman Amy Henderson.

Its 2020 platform includes hotel-motel and sales tax collections and opposition to legislation that would restrict cities from investing in broadband infrastructure.

The cities are also seeking more money to care for people suffering from behavioral health, addictive diseases or developmental disabilities.

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.

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