A bill strongly supported by conservationists now pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee is HB 811, the 'fees bill,' that seeks to resolve the years-old problem created by the legislature's willingness to pass laws collecting fees to support various programs, and then stealing the funds collected for use in other, unrelated expenditures.
HB 811 is an attempt to stop the looting of these program funds by simply stopping the collection of any fees not appropriated to the programs under which they were collected. If 20% or more of the funds collected in any year are not appropriated to the program under which they were collected, then the affected fee is cut by that amount automatically the next year. The incentive to dip into the funds is countered by the fact that opportunities for such looting are diminished each time it is done.
HB 811 was passed by the House with only 5 votes in dissent. The bill came through the House Governmental Affairs Committee, but the Lt. Gov. did not assign it to the equivalent Senate Committee, State and Local Government Operations. Cagle sent HB 811 to the Appropriations Committee, one of the sites of the looting described above, so that it would die there.
Sierrans need to contact Sen. Jack Hill, Chair of Senate Appropriations, at his Capitol office at 404-656-5038, to urge that HB 811 be passed to the Senate Floor for vote, and enactment, so that the Solid Waste Trust Fund will be available for cleaning up tire dumps all over Georgia, and the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund can be employed cleaning up the state's toxic sites that are contaminating groundwater.
One important reason the Sierra Club supports HB 811 is to remove a huge barrier to passage of wastewater permit and discharge fees. 39 states have such fees which support their water protection programs. Georgia has no wastewater discharge fee which results in disasters such as the recent Ogeechee River fish kill, worst in state history. 38,000 dead fish say pass HB 811!