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State Road and Tollway Authority
Contact: Garland Favorito
March 17, 2017
Georgians Celebrate First Victory against Permanent Tolls Extension of Credit to Private Parties also struck down
ATLANTA GA – Citizens activists are cautiously celebrating their first victory today in a battle to prevent Georgia from becoming a permanent toll road state. On Thursday, the House Transportation Committee voted to strip the permanent toll road language from the highly controversial SB183. The committee also voted to further revise the bill language so that the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) could not extend credit directly to private organizations and individuals, another controversial point. The new, amended bill also appears to close a loophole that may have allowed tolls on existing road capacity.
Citizens had spoken out against another clause that removed the competitive bid requirement however, that clause was included in the committee substitute bill that was passed Thursday. Proponents argued that the original language was consistent with current Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) procedures that allow “value engineering” in lieu of competitive bidding.
The original SB183 sailed through the Senate by a 50-1 vote before hitting a brick wall of vocal activists who discovered the bill content as it reached the House Transportation Committee. A rubber stamp of approval was expected for Sen. Brandon Beach’s bill in the committee since it was co-sponsored by three of Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leaders.
However, committee members significantly altered the bill before passing it Thursday, much to the pleasure of attendees who had unanimously spoken against the bill in the first hearing on March 9. Those attendees were particularly complimentary towards Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner who they felt made a concerted effort to understand the bill, listen to their concerns and find common ground to make the legislation as palatable as possible for all viewpoints.
The revised bill now moves to the Rules Committee where it will likely receive passage to the House floor for a vote. Georgians cannot relax if the House votes to pass the measure. Once SB183 passes the House, the House and Senate versions will be sent to a Joint Committee that will decide which version should be adopted. That committee could discard the House version and send the Senate version to the House for a floor vote.