The Growing Problem with Georgia State Government
There is an increasingly problematic trend in Georgia’s State Legislature, and it’s about to impact everyone in the state. Two current examples provide a very clear perspective.
State Legislature Overreach - Example #1
It is very likely that everyone who owns a cell phone has heard all of the hype surrounding the next generation of mobile cellular technology - 5G. That technology is expected to deliver a 10x - 100x speed improvement over the current 4G technology. In order to deploy 5G, new infrastructure has to be put in place. Instead of massive towers that have been the hallmark of 3G and 4G technology, 5G requires smaller, but far more numerous installations of equipment and antennae. The easiest method of installing that equipment is on existing poles, street lights, and street signs. Those providers who bring the new technology to market fastest stand to gain the biggest benefit, therefore there is a rush to gain access to those sites where equipment can be installed.
Local municipalities recognized that a “wild west” rush to market could result in negative consequences, and therefore began to draft policies and regulations in an attempt to manage an orderly process that would respect the integrity of their communities. Johns Creek and Alpharetta are two municipalities that had gone through the process of drafting and passing ordinances in an attempt to protect their communities. The State Legislature’s attempts will override those local ordinances and render them meaningless.
The State House has passed their version of the Streaming Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act (HB 184), but it has not yet passed in the State Senate (SB 66). The bill is likely to move to conference where a bill would be finalized. That final legislation will eliminate any local regulation of 5G rollout. Among the problems with this legislation are the following points:
Line 137 – City owned poles & traffic infrastructure within locally owned Right of Way (ROW) fall under state law (no local control over taxpayer owned and maintained infrastructure
Line 192 – Opens use of locally owned ROW to every company providing wireless service including cell phones, cable, and WiFi without limitation (forcing a Wild West free-for-all)
Line 506 – Effectively eliminates the ability of local governments to require underground infrastructure in ROW
Line 529 – Completely removes local control over city-owned ROW and infrastructure by deeming that municipalities “shall approve an application unless it does not meet very limited criteria outlined by the state
Line 745 – Any local control over aesthetic or structural requirements in locally owned ROW are superseded by the requirements of “any” wireless provider’s preferred technology
Line 755 – Any service provider can put structures in any residential ROW area they wish by allowing them to make their own “good faith determination” accompanied by an assessment provided by a licensed engineer of their choosing
Line 763 – Any service provider may replace any poles in locally owned ROW and their “technology or requirements” will supersede any local restrictions
Line 777 – Once any service provider has installed a pole of their choosing in a locally owned ROW the city has no choice but to maintain the infrastructure in perpetuity regardless of the expense
Alpharetta’s Mayor and City Council were very direct in their response to the State Legislature’s overreach. Opinions expressed the belief that legislators are more concerned with lobbyists’ projects than they are in representing those by whom they were elected.
State Legislature Overreach - Example #2
Not content to simply usurp local control over 5G equipment and infrastructure rollout, the State Legislature has drafted House Bill 302 (HB 302) that will prevent local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to or regulating building design elements as applied to one or two-family dwellings. HOA covenants may continue to be enforced, but cities would lose their ability to regulate certain design standards. Those standards would include:
Exterior building color
Type or style of exterior cladding material
Style or materials of roof structures or porches
Exterior non-structural architectural ornamentation
Location or architectural styling of windows and doors, including garage doors
The number and types of rooms
The interior layouts of rooms
Types of foundation structures and approved state minimum standard codes
City officials use design standards to protect property values and block incompatible development. HB 302 will severely hamper the ability of local municipalities to ensure that development will enhance their community. Once again, the Georgia State Legislature is attempting to eliminate the ability of municipalities to manage their own communities.
State Legislature Hubris - Continued
Senate Bill 81 has been drafted with the objective of raising state legislators’ salaries 329%. That number is not mistyped: the bill seeks to increase legislators’ salaries from $17,000 per year to $56,000 per year.
The money for the raise would come from the state’s annual budget. The sponsor of the bill, State Senator Valencia Seay is quoted as saying, “If the great state of Georgia revenues go down, then the salaries for the general assembly will go down, and if it goes up, then the salaries of the general assemblies would go up.”
To that sentiment, we would point out that Georgia revenues are raised through taxation and fees. Tying legislator compensation to state revenue removes any legislative incentive to limit those sources of state revenue, putting legislators at direct odds with their constituents. Given recent events, legislators being at odds with the interests of their constituents appears to be an increasingly common occurrence.
The principles of limited government are increasingly violated as some who enter the political arena seek power and influence. Our Federal government long ago exceeded its Constitutional mandates, and we are witnessing our State Government increasing its scope of control over municipalities. All the while, some elected officials seek to make a career out of a role that was meant to be in service to others. Voters need to understand these points before they are asked once again for their donations and support.
The State Senate and State House representatives for Johns Creek will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday February 24, 2019 at 3:00 PM at the Medlock Bridge Clubhouse. You can also contact them directly at:
State Senate District 48 - Zahra Karinshak
State House District 50 - Angelika Kausche