Clayton legislators readying for final HB 399 fight

— With only one day left in the 2013 legislative term, state Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and her colleagues are bracing for a last-minute attempt to pass House Bill 399.

In recent weeks, the bill has been a source of debate in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and with Sine Die Day arriving Thursday, a last-minute passage of the legislation is still possible. The House has already passed it, but it is still sitting in the Senate’s Rules Committee with one day left to move on toward Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk.

Scott illustrated the scene in the General Assembly during the waning minutes of the legislative term for nearly two dozen attendees at a town hall forum Tuesday. Bills will literally be introduced for a vote at nearly the last minute, she explained.

“They’ll start coming in at 11:50 p.m., when there will be no time to debate them,” Scott said.

At the forum, Scott repeated a line that has become the Clayton County Legislative Delegation’s mantra during the 399 fight: The bill will be “devastating” to the county if it becomes law.

Scott explained the county began collecting ad valorem taxes from businesses leasing space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2010 to create a new source of revenue for the county. That was shortly after the county’s government and school system took a financial hit because car rental agencies at the airport were moved from Clayton County to a new consolidated facility in Fulton County.

Scott, a former Clayton County Board of Education member, expressed particular concern about the impact the bill would have on the school system’s finances.

“We do not need another hit,” she said.

Right now, Clayton County legislators are fighting to keep the bill stuck in the Rules Committee so it will have to wait until January to be reconsidered. However, Scott was blunt in her description of what Clayton County legislators want to see happen to House Bill 399.

“We just want it to die for right now,” Scott said.

Few attendees questioned Scott about the bill, other than to ask who was pushing for the legislation.