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Bills on broadband, transit pass through chambers during Crossover Day
Steve Gooch
Senator Steve Gooch - photo by For the Dawson County News


Two broadband expansion bills sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), Senate Bills 232 and 426, passed the Senate on Crossover Day yesterday. Each bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

 

“Thank you to my colleagues in the Senate for joining me in support of these broadband expansion bills,” said Gooch in a press release. “We have been working on these bills for a long time, and I am proud of our Chamber for taking action. Expanding broadband access has long been a top priority of the Senate, and we have taken another step toward providing rural Georgians with the services they need for economic development, telehealth, education and quality of life.”

 

Senate Bill 232, also known as the Facilitating Internet Broadband Expansion (FIBRE) Act, allows Georgia’s 41 electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) to deploy broadband, wireless and VoIP services to rural Georgia. The bill also sets the regulations for EMCs seeking to provide these services with a goal of creating a competitive marketplace for broadband expansion into rural areas.

 

Senate Bill 426, or the Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development (BILD) Act, streamlines the permitting and deployment of a new wireless technology known as 5g – or small cell broadband – for private companies wishing to utilize public rights of way.


In addition, the bill also permits the construction of small wireless technology poles on certain existing structures and allows for construction of new utility poles in areas lacking current infrastructure, while protecting historic districts.   


Rep. Tanner’s transit overhaul bill passes House


State Representative Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, announced yesterday that the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 930 by a vote of 162-13.


This measure would create a new regional governance and funding structure for transit in the metropolitan Atlanta region.


“This measure would create a seamless, unified transit governance and funding structure across metro Atlanta, and I’m proud that after years of work on this measure, it passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support,” said Tanner in a press release. “I’d like to thank Speaker Ralston for his leadership on this issue and his commitment in creating a statewide transit commission. I’d also like to thank the commission members and all local leadership around the metro Atlanta area who have provided valuable input throughout this process.”


“Many members of the House served on the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, and they did incredible work,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). “I’d like to thank Reps. Coomer, Oliver, Shaw, Smyre and Taylor for their service on the commission. Additionally, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen leadership like that exhibited by the House Transportation Chairman Kevin Tanner. Chairman Tanner worked hard, fairly and thoroughly on this legislation.”


The bill intends to improve the coordination, integration and efficiency of transit in the metropolitan Atlanta region and promote a seamless and high-quality transit system for the 13-county metropolitan Atlanta region. Metro Atlanta is defined as the 13-county region currently under the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s (GRTA) jurisdiction, namely Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale counties.


The bill would create the Atlanta-region Transit Link (the “ATL”), a regional transit governance structure that would coordinate transit planning and funding and would oversee all Metro Atlanta transit activity, including planning, funding and operations.


The ATL would be governed by a 14-member board of directors and would develop the regional transit plan, the official multiyear plan for the provision of transit services throughout the Metro Atlanta region.


This bill would also improve access to transit funding for the region from state and local sources, and the measure would preserve the current operational and funding autonomy of transit providers, such as MARTA.


HB 930 is a product of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, which was established by House Resolution 848 during the 2017 legislative session to study Georgia’s transit needs and analyze ways for the state to adequately plan and provide for those needs. The commission held hearings across the state during the summer and fall of 2017, and the commission will continue its work through the remainder of 2018.


HB 930 will now go to the Senate for consideration. If passed by the Senate, HB 930 would require the governor’s signature in order to take effect.


For more information on the House Commission on Transit Governance Funding, please click here.


For more information on HB 930, please click here

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