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Local officials give legislators information on needed, unneeded legislation
by Liz Marino
lmarino@neighbornewspapers.com
January 09, 2013 11:00 AM | 1588 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons stands with District 35 State Sen. Donzella James, D-College Park, during a break in the meeting between Douglas legislators and local officials last week at the County Courthouse.
From left, Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons stands with District 35 State Sen. Donzella James, D-College Park, during a break in the meeting between Douglas legislators and local officials last week at the County Courthouse.
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Members of the legislative delegation which represents Douglas County met with local elected officials last week to get input on issues expected to come before the Legislature during its 2013 session which begins Monday.

Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons and city council members drafted a resolution in support of the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act, which would offer tax incentives for businesses locating in and revitalizing the downtown areas across the state.

Another issue, which was opposed by members of the judicial body present, was decriminalizing minor traffic offenses.

“Making traffic violations a non-crime will be a disaster,” said Senior State Court Judge Neal Dettmering. “It will be impossible to enforce without a penalty.”

Reforming some laws governing juveniles is a move in the right direction, said Juvenile Judge Peggy Walker.

“The plan is good if it is funded for community mental health as opposed to residential treatment,” she said. She also encouraged passage of a bill to give more discretion and authority to associate juvenile court judges.

Douglas County School Superintendent Gordon Pritz and members of the school board brought the issues of funding and local board control to the legislative delegation.

Pritz said he hopes the state will reduce austerity cuts, which have reduced local funding by $85 million in the last 10 years.

These cuts have caused the school system to implement three furlough days the last two years and five the previous years, increase classroom size and reduce staffing levels by 40 percent through attrition.

The board also would like to see legislation passed to offer school system support staff the same retirement program offered to teachers and for a fuel tax exemption for school systems.

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