The Clayton County Legislative Delegation is planning to focus on transportation and foreclosures, while promoting the brighter side of the county to their fellow lawmakers in the state’s upcoming 2012 legislative session.
State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam, the delegation’s chairperson, said the county’s legislators are expected to introduce pieces of legislation this year that would help fund local bus service for the county, and add a layer of judicial protection to homeowners who are facing foreclosures.
It has been almost two years since the county commission shut down the county’s old C-Tran bus service. Any bus-funding legislation that gets approved by the general assembly would come in the same year that Metro Atlanta voters must decide whether to create a regional transportation sales tax.
“One of the things that is uppermost in the minds of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation is the need to bring local bus service back to the county,” Abdul-Salaam said. “We’re trying to secure some funding to operate at the level that it needs to be at. The possibility to restore that is one of the biggest issues that we’re going to address in the upcoming legislative session.”
State lawmakers will convene in Atlanta on Monday for the opening of the Georgia General Assembly’s 2012 legislative session. It is expected to last 40 days, but Abdul-Salaam said they will not likely be consecutive days.
Local legislators will have a short window to convince their colleagues from across the state to support initiatives designed to improve Clayton County, and the rest of the state. The creation of a new bus service is one project that would be funded by the proposed regional transportation sales tax, but Abdul-Salaam said the money generated by that tax, if approved by voters, would still fall short of the county’s needs. An Atlanta Regional Commission regional roundtable included $100 million for Clayton County’s bus service on the sales tax project list, but local officials had sought $183 million.
“Even if the regional transportation tax passes, it [local bus service] does not stand to gain financially from it,” Abdul-Salaam said. “That’s going to keep the bus service from meeting the needs of the county.”
Another piece of legislation members of the delegation hope to get passed is a proposed law aimed at protecting homeowners, not just in Clayton County, but across the state, from foreclosures. The measure would create a level of judicial review before homes can be foreclosed.
“Georgia is one of the states that does not currently have a level of judicial review in the foreclosure process, so if a person misses a payment on their home, the bank can come in and foreclose on the property the next day, without there being any kind of review that takes place,” Abdul-Salaam said. “This would ... provide some type of oversight.”
The delegation chairperson said any local legislation designed to directly impact specific groups within the county, such as the cities, county commission, or the school system, would depend on written requests received from those groups. She said she has not yet received any.
She said plans are being put together to hold a first-ever “Clayton County Day” at the state capitol. Legislators from across the state would be invited to the event, which would be designed to promote the county’s interests, she said. No date has yet been set for the planned event.
Abdul-Salaam said it would be based on similar activities, such as “Macon Day,” or the “Savannah Low Country Boil,” hosted at the capitol by other communities around the state. She said businesses, as well as representatives from the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, and the county’s economic development department, would be on hand to talk to legislators at the reception-style event.
“People from all over attend these events, which would make this a wonderful opportunity to show off the county,” Abdul-Salaam said. She later added, “Imagine if we got some of these businesses from the airport to participate. Then, we could remind people [in the General Assembly] that at least part of the airport is located in Clayton County.”