State legislators and Clayton State University officials say transferring the Georgia Archives from the Secretary of State’s Office to the University System of Georgia is the facility’s best shot at staying open. The state House of Representatives is expected to vote today on whether to approve the transfer.
ATLANTA The Georgia House of Representatives is expected to vote today on transferring the beleaguered state archives from the Secretary of State’s Office to the University System of Georgia, members of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation have confirmed.
Gov. Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp came up with the transfer plan for the Georgia Archives in response to a public outcry over plans to close the archives to the public walk-in access due to budget cuts. However, that plan was always pending legislative approval in the General Assembly.
Hence, House Bill 287, which would formally authorize the change of ownership for the Morrow-based facility. State Reps. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro), Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale) said the house was ready to vote on the matter and send it to the Senate.
“Everything is looking good right now,” Jordan said. “I think this will be a better way to get it funding and it’s definitely going to save it.”
Barring any unexpected changes in the state’s plans, the entire Division of Archives and History will likely have the official OK to move to the university system before the current legislative term ends in late March or April. Approval of the transfer has long been expected and the university system has already been allocated money for the Georgia Archives in the state’s proposed fiscal year 2014 budget.
Although historians across the state fretted the archives closing, Clayton County officials have been particularly concerned about its fate because of its impact on the local economy.
Researchers who regularly patronize the archives have explained they eat at restaurants in Clayton and Henry counties during their visits and genealogical tourism is a key part of the planned University Station development located across Hwy. 54 from the archives.
“It’s valuable to us,” Jordan said. “It’s becoming synonymous with Clayton County almost as much as the airport has.”
Under the legislation, university system Chancellor Hank Huckaby would be included on the State Records Committee and the state’s Board of Regents would be authorized to “coordinate records management matters” with county and municipal governments.
Clayton State University President Tim Hynes said the transfer will also give the archives access to research-related resources available within the university system. Hynes is the chairman of the archives transfer committee.
“It will allow us to preserve the stories of the people of Georgia, and also the records that are needed for transparency in government,” Hynes said.