COMMERCE — With the start of the 2009 legislative session just around the corner, Georgia Municipal Association officers are warning local officials to keep a watchful eye on state legislation.
"We spent a lot of 2007 fighting the so called GREAT plan and thanks to the good Lord and your help, we won that battle, but the war isn’t over yet," said Jim Higdon, the GMA executive director during a district meeting on Monday.
The meeting — which was held at the Commerce Civic Center — was for GMA District 5, which includes Talmo, Jefferson, Commerce and Pendergrass.
The Georgia Repeal of Every Ad valorem Tax plan that Higdon was referring to was a proposed tax reform that would have eliminated ad valorem taxes in Georgia had Georgia voters approved it. Because the matter would have called for an amendment of Georgia’s constitution, the piece of legislation needed a majority vote from the General Assembly to be put on the ballot for a vote, however the proposal died before November’s election.
"Our economy is in terrible condition as it is, can you imagine what kind of mess we would have been in had the (GREAT plan) made it to the ballot," Higdon said. "The state government really needs to take care of state business and let local elected officials take care of local business."
During the meeting, GMA officials also pointed out top issues for local officials to keep an eye out for during the upcoming legislative session. Among those issues were trauma care centers, transportation and finance allocations.
State Rep. Tommy Benton — who represents portions of Jackson, Barrow and Hall counties — also spoke to the group about what he sees as hot topics during the 2009 legislative session.
"The budget is going to be a big issue," Benton said. "But the thing that has been encouraging is that the last two months haven’t been as bad as we thought they would be."