Op-Ed: Busy week in the Georgia Senate

ATLANTA — As the 2012 legislative session progresses, there is a growing number of bills being sent to the Senate floor. We are now at a point where it is not uncommon to see five or six bills in the well on any given day.

In an effort to eliminate government waste and streamline operations, the Senate passed SB 223 this week. This bill is also known as the Georgia Government Accountability Act.  Often referred to as a “sunset review,” this type of legislation determines the continued need and existence of state run programs and agencies.

If SB 223 is enacted, a joint legislative committee composed of seven members of the House of Representatives and seven members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee will make recommendations on whether there is a public need for the continuation of a specific state agency or agency function.

However, this joint committee can only recommend legislative action, not abolishment. Abolishment of a state entity can only be issued through a Joint Resolution by the Georgia General Assembly. After this recommendation, the General Assembly will then access whether the laws the agency is responsible for implementing or enforcing have been repealed, revised, or reassigned to another remaining agency.

A bill I mentioned in last week’s column, SB 136, also passed the Senate this week. This legislation grants condominium unit owners the right to file a petition in superior court in order to gain oversight of the condominium’s homeowners association.

Homeowners need every advantage to stay competitive in the housing market, and these types of associations contribute immensely to high home resale values by stressing the importance of proper maintenance and setting the visual standards. Without proper regulations and oversight, individuals who invest a large amount of money in the upkeep of their own units may suddenly see it devalued by neighboring unit owners who do not provide the same amount of maintenance.

If enacted, unit owners will be able to take control of their own condominium association when those originally charged with the task, usually the building developers or managers, fail to do so within a 30-day time period. SB 136 will now travel to the House of Representatives for a vote.

Another bill to pass through the Senate this week is SB 302, which would increase the amount of bonding authority for the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority (GAHEFA) from $300 to $500 million. This increase in funding will support revenue-producing projects for both the Board of Regents and the Technical College System of Georgia—ultimately creating jobs and funding projects that strengthen our state’s higher education institutions.

Lastly, I was pleased to welcome Carrollton High School freshman Anna Caitlin Camp to the State Capitol. Camp was selected to participate in the 2012 Senate Page Program, and received the unique opportunity of watching the legislative process up close. Senate pages are tasked with delivering important information and messages throughout the Senate Chamber.

As always, it is a pleasure to serve the people of the 30th District.