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SB 524 ("THE BOND BILL") IS IN A NEW FORMAT
YET IS STILL DESIGNED TO SERVE THE SAME PURPOSE:

PREVENTING PUBLIC INPUT

Hearing: Tuesday, March 9th at 4 p.m. Room 450


As you may recall, S.B. 524, was designed to place a heavy
burden on any member of the public seeking judicial review
of a state agency action (e.g. a decision to permit a
landfill, a power plant or development of a marsh hammock).
In response to our outcry, the sponsor of the bill (Eric
Johnson) has crafted a new approach that is expected to be
heard by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday,
March 9, 2004 at 4 pm.

This bill will allow development even before an impartial
review of legality of the permit has been undertaken.

Please call members of the Senate Natural Resources
Committee and voice your opposition to this new version of
the bill. Also, please plan to voice your opposition to the
bill at the committee meeting on Tuesday.

While removing the bond requirement, the substitute bill
that will be considered by the committee takes a
dramatically different approach. As with the original bill,
the substitute is designed to place the public at a legal
disadvantage. It removes the so-called "stay rule" that
provides time for members of the public and neighbors of
proposed projects to challenge the legality of a state
action approving it. By taking away the stay rule,
activities that are possibly illegal can go forward
immediately. If the judge later finds that the action was
illegal, he or she may be powerless to undo any harm that
might have occurred.

This bill creates a legal hurdle that is not present in
Georgia law today and will only apply to environmental
appeals. This bill is unconstitutional.

While it is not as easy to explain the impact of this bill
in just a few sentences - the important message to take away
from this is that it places additional and unfair burdens on
members of the public and neighboring property owners
seeking to prevent illegal activity that are not just.
Please oppose this bill.

This bill dramatically changes the judicial system for the
benefit of a few developers. While it may seem like a mere
"legal procedure," consider some of the impacts:

. If you are challenging a permit because it is illegal, the
permittee will be allowed to continue the illegal activity
until the appeal is resolved (which could take months).
Let's consider an example: a landfill wishes to locate in
your community, or wishes to expand, you challenge the
permit but the landfill company gets to build the landfill
or continue dumping more garbage in the landfill regardless
of whether it is legal to do so. Several months down the
line, the judge is ready to rule, but consider the judge's
choice. The landfill has already been built, or tons of
garbage have already been deposited. What then? Now an
administrative judge may want to rule in your favor - but
that would require removing the landfill or ordering all of
the garbage to be removed, a difficult decision to make.

. Even assuming that the judge rules in your favor, it is
unlikely that the judge even has the power to order the
garbage removed! Now, an applicant might be able to stop the
landfill from being built while the appeal is in process by
requesting that the judge stop the action. However, the
public bears the burden of proving that this is necessary,
there is no process to appeal an incorrect decision, and
again, it is unclear whether the judge has the authority to
even issue that kind of order.

CALL MEMBERS OF THE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION!

Hugh Gillis-Chairman (404) 656-5080,
hgillis@legis.state.ga.us

Casey Cagle-Vice Chairman (404) 656-6578,
kccagle@bellsouth.net

John Bulloch-Secretary (404) 463-8056, jbulloch@rose.net

Rooney Bowen (404) 656-7580, rbowen@legis.state.ga.us

Jack Hill (404) 656-5038, jhill@legis.state.ga.us

George Hooks (404) 656-0065, ghooks@legis.state.ga.us

Ralph Hudgens (404) 463-1361, ralphhudgens@aol.com

Carol Jackson (404) 656-0094, senatorjackson@alltel.net

Brian Kemp (404) 463-1366, bkemp@legis.state.ga.us

Rene Kemp (404) 656-0070, rkemp@legis.state.ga.us

Dan Lee (404) 651-7738, dlee@gov.state.ga.us

Michael Meyer von Bremen (404) 656-0037,
mmeyer@legis.state.ga.us

Terrell Starr (404) 656-7586, tstarr@legis.state.ga.us

Eric Johnson, Ex Officio (404) 656-5109,
ejohnson@legis.state.ga.us

 
 




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