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State car plan may save money
Bill would allow public safety agency to manage buying, selling of vehicles
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Rep. Doug Collins introduced a bill that could help Georgia State Patrol officials regain control of how their vehicles are sold.

House Bill 253 would allow the state Department of Public Safety to manage its own purchasing and selling rather than work through a main administrative department.

"It gives more freedom because the Department of Public Safety is a unique department in terms of how many vehicles they manage," the Gainesville Republican said Wednesday. "I've brought this up in session before, and we decided to go ahead and see if we can give them this ability."

The bill was assigned Wednesday to the House Motor Vehicle Committee. One of the bill's co-sponsors, Rep. Timothy Bearden, R-Villa Rica, sits on the committee.

"This will allow them, over time, to sell the cars and, in turn, reduce the age of the current fleet," Collins said.

"Being able to sell to other counties and cities, they'll see savings and be able to offset costs as they get newer cars for patrol."

The bill also allows Public Safety Commissioner Bill Hitchens to offer unmarked pursuit vehicles to the Georgia Public Safety Training Center for training activities after cars have been removed from field operations.

The measure must be approved by the department's Public Safety Board, and Collins seemed confident that the legislation will succeed this year, noting that similar changes have seen "great success" in surrounding states.

"People have been very supportive of this bill," Collins said. "I think it will do well."

Jon Canada, Gainesville's fire chief and a newly appointed member of the state's Public Safety Board, hadn't yet talked to Collins about the bill Wednesday.

"I don't feel comfortable talking on behalf of the board for that legislation," he said. "But I do think the board will consider what sounds like a reasonable and positive move."

Collins, whose father was a state trooper, has worked on other pieces of public safety legislation in the past.

"I've always been a big supporter of the Georgia State Patrol," he said. "We've worked well together, and we've seen this need for a while."


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