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Ga. lawmakers may have to stop diverting fees

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers are mulling a new law that would force them to uphold old laws they already passed.

House Bill 881 would prohibit lawmakers from diverting about $40 million in fees and fines from the purposes for which they were intended. The money is collected for programs that clean up old tire dumps or abandoned landfills and teach teenagers how to drive.

The bill would also reduce the fees and fines if too little of the money goes to the program for which it was created. In previous years, the cash has been diverted to help fill budget holes as the state's economy languished. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the House and now goes to the Senate.

"We have used all these resources we had to keep correctional officers in prisons, State Patrol officers on the road and teachers in the classroom," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, whose committee is considering the bill.

In 2005, lawmakers passed Joshua's Law and tacked on an extra fee onto fines for some traffic offenses to pay for drivers education courses across the state. But last year none of the $11 million collected went to the program.

"Which is more important, your child's life, or wasting money on pork?" asked Alan Brown, whose pushed for the law after his son, Joshua, was killed in a single-car accident in 2003.

Advocates like Brown have been complaining for years that the state has been diverting money meant for important programs.

In the early 1990s, lawmakers approved two pools of money to help clean up hazardous waste sites, update unlined landfills, improve solid waste collection and recycling and get rid of dumps along roads and streams. The money comes from landfill fees that residents pay in their garbage pickup bill and from a $1-per-tire charge for new tires.

So far, $200 million has been collected, but just $76 million has gone to the two funds, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

"I know in this county, if we had done something like that, we wouldn't have gotten re-elected," said Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker.

He said county residents have paid $1.5 million into the hazardous waste trust fund over the years and gotten nothing back.

Comments

kevin 2 years, 1 month ago

this should be a no-brainer. Vote these people out. What are they doing diverting funds that were legally to be spent on something else? If we can't trust these politicians to uphold their own laws no less, how do they expect us to vote for such crooks? GDP, give us some names here please.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Why do you need names? The answer is simple - majority are Republicans, they are responsible so vote out those with an R by their name. If in doubt, do the research to see exactly how your representatives voted. I know the resistance to researching facts so I will get you started. http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/default.aspx has links to house votes and senate votes, even past years. To find the date of passage of a bill, you can research the bill itself. Before re-electing anyone, you should know how they vote and not the political rhetoric they echo for support.

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Karl 2 years, 1 month ago

Jan is correct. Kevin just likes to come on this site and b**ch and moan and never wants to do anything that would cause him to do anything more than that, like actually do his own research.

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BuzzG 2 years, 1 month ago

Hah! There are at least as many dishonest politicians with a D by their name. And they spend money even faster than those with an R. Both parties want to get their snouts up to the trough. That is why we need for the Tea Party to become a real party.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

You need more research. We are talking about Georgia stat government. The State Senate has 20 Democrats and 36 Republicans while the State House has 63 Democrats and 115 Republicans. Thus, definitely more dishonest Republicans in the state legislature.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

So, if we "vote out those with an R by their name" as you suggest in your first post, we could expect to have 234 dishonest Democrats in the legislature. And this would be an improvement........how? Are you saying your corrupt, sleazy politicians are better than my corrupt, sleazy politicians?

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Though I appreciate your math, you are overlooking the fact that the total should be 236. This is because the 234 is the total of Democrats and Republicans currently serving. The optimal choice would be to elect more independents. People that do not owe an allegiance to a party or forced to echo the established beliefs of a single party. In the federalist papers, you will find statements from our founding fathers about the dangers of allowing political parties to be established. Both parties have many people that obviously only consider the interest of big business, the NRA and large contributors. Of course, politics will never get better as long super pacs are allowed to smear opponents to get their chosen few elected. If only people would take the time to check the validity of the outrageous charges these pacs level.

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