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After snow days, it’s back to work quickly under Gold Dome

POSTED: February 3, 2014 6:28 p.m.

Last week, a winter storm brought snow and ice to many parts of our great state. The combination of icy roads and high volumes of traffic in Atlanta produced gridlock that forced many motorists to be stuck in hours-long traffic jams.


The Georgia National Guard, Georgia Department of Transportation and Georgia State patrolmen quickly got to work to help stranded motorists find shelter and clear the roads of ice, snow and abandoned vehicles. Many Georgians reached out to those in need with a true spirit of Southern hospitality. Given the conditions, the House postponed all legislative business on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30.


We returned to work on Friday and took up House Bill 176, the Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act, which should result in better cell phone service for Georgians. This legislation would allow previously approved wireless support structures and wireless facilities to be modified without additional zoning or land use review beyond what is typically required by the local governing authority that issues electrical permits.


House Bill 176 would streamline the permitting process for companies investing in wireless infrastructure, which would ultimately allow wireless telecommunication companies to increase the cellular bandwidth for Georgians. Increased cellular bandwidth is not only crucial for business and recreational communication, but it is also an essential factor in public safety and emergency response.


HB 176 received a favorable vote because of proposed changes to the original bill by members of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association. HB 176 will now go to the Senate for consideration.


Also passed on Friday was House Bill 715, which clarifies the acreage of land permitted for development on Jekyll Island. This bill states that the Jekyll Island Authority cannot convert more than 1,675 acres of the total land area of the island into developed land.


Additionally, HB 715 designates 12 acres for the expansion of an existing campground, 46 acres for public health, safety or recreation, and 20 acres for unrestricted use, which could be used for future commercial development. These standards were set and agreed on by many parties interested in protecting this treasure on the Georgia coast.


I am proud to serve on the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Overview Committee, and additionally, to serve as the legislative chair for this year.


A much-needed addition to the election bill passed in 2013 was made by SB 297, which passed the House on Friday. It gives candidates for municipal or county office the option to waive campaign finance disclosure requirements if that candidate intends to accept or expend less than $2,500 on their campaign.


This bill cuts unnecessary government regulations, so that citizens can more easily run for local office in their county or city. Campaign reporting by local candidates will now be done with local authorities.


In addition to passing these pieces of legislation this week, we also took time to recognize some of our brave Georgians in uniform. On Jan. 27, we celebrated Georgia National Guard Day in the House with House Resolution 1131. We also had the great privilege to Skype with troops who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.


It was an honor to show our appreciation to these incredible heroes.


I would love to hear your input on any bills that come before the House. I encourage you to call my office at the State Capitol in Atlanta at (404) 656-5099 or email me at jon.burns@house.ga.gov.

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