GA EPD would be on a short leash if HB 255 is enacted. Rep. Tom Kirby (R) 114th-Loganville has suggested that no GA EPD rules should be put into effect until after being approved by the General Assembly. The current process is that the General Assembly sets policy by passing the laws and the agencies administer the laws by implementing rules. Lawmakers have complained in the past that agencies sometimes enact policy by writing rules and then come back to the legislature to codify the rules. This is not a perfect system but the process outlined in HB 255 could bring rulemaking to a standstill. Certainly, lawmakers would need to be much more specific in drafting legislation.
Week 4, Legislative Day 15 of 40. The pace of new bills and resolutions is speeding along. There are now 285 House Bills, increased from 179 last week, and 271 House Resolutions, up from 159 last week. In the Senate the count is at 125 Senate bills, up from 86 last week, and 206 Senate Resolutions, increased from 128 last week.
The slow drip of water issues has begun with HB 199. Rep. Edward Lindsey (R) 54th– Atlanta has proposed Georgia Environmental Finance Authority’s (GEFA) charter be expanded to include reservoir development from reservoir maintenance. Georgia Trout Unlimited has advocated for water conservation and expansion of existing reservoirs before development of new impoundments. Impact on a watershed aside, new dams and reservoirs are very costly and it can be well over a decade before water flows from a new reservoir through kitchen faucets.
Last week we reported that Speaker David Ralston’s (R) 7th–Blue Ridge Ethics Bill, HB 142, caught our attention. According to an AJC article, Revised ethics bill addresses fight over lobbyist fees, rules, a $325 lobbyist registration fee would be replaced by a $25 application and badge fee. The bill would still define members of organizations, such as Trout Unlimited, contacting public officials as lobbyists and require them to register in advance. Public officials would include Senators, Representatives, the GA DNR Board and, possibly, agency employees.
If you feel that bills meander around under the Gold Dome from committee to committee and chamber to chamber, they do. Here’s a graphic from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government depicting the process to help make it clearer, hopefully clearer than mud!
See you on the stream.
Kevin McGrath is Georgia Trout Unlimited’s Advocacy Chairman.