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Tanner to take on state board in upcoming legislation
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Editors note:

This is the first in a two-part series of legislation House Rep. Kevin Tanner plans to address in the 2015 session.

No longer a freshman representative in the Georgia House, Dawson County Rep. Kevin Tanner has several pieces of legislation hes working on for the 2015 legislative session.

Im looking forward to getting back to work, he said.

Here is a rundown on Tanners proposed bills:

Pardons and Paroles

One hot topic Tanner plans to address is increasing transparency within the states pardons and paroles board.

We are looking at it right now and gathering info relating to the pardons and parole board and what changes need to be made to increase transparency, he said.

Tanner said he has been working with the Georgia Sheriffs Association and prosecuting attorneys to research possible changes. There are a lot of people interested in seeing change in this area, Tanner said.

The issue has been especially hot in Dawson County since the pardons and paroles board granted clemency to Tommy Lee Waldrip. Waldrip was sentenced to death for his part in the murder of Dawson County native Keith Evans, who was beaten, shot and then buried in a shallow grave in April of 1991. Evans was scheduled to testify about an armed robbery inolving Waldrips son, John Mark Waldrip, but was killed days before his date for testifying.

Pardons and paroles board members turned down requests from the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and the Georgia Sheriffs Association to reveal how they voted and why they granted Waldrip clemency.

This is a state function, Tanner said. All the money that is spent is paid for by the citizens of Georgia. People want to be able to trust, and there has to be a sense of trust. But to not tell a victims family why, thats just not a good answer. When you pardon someone who has committed a very serious crime and the victims family are not notifiedthere needs to be changes made in that area.

Tanner said he understands the need for a certain level of secrecy, but wants to work to increase the transparency of the board. We will hopefully bring forward a positive piece of legislation to bring forward change, he said.

Aggressive Driving

Another piece of legislation Tanner is planning is one to clear up discrepancies in current legislation to include aggressive driving as a reason to charge someone with vehicular homicide.

Currently, aggressive driving is not one of those premises, Tanner said. We want to add aggressive driving so someone can be charged with vehicular homicide.

Tanner said the legislation also would allow someone charged with aggressive driving to face a charge of causing serious injury by motor vehicle.

Both vehicular homicide and causing serious injury by motor vehicle are felony offenses. Aggressive driving is described as intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person, while doing one or more of the following: overtaking and passing another vehicle; violating traffic lane markings; following too closely; violating signal, lane change, slowing or stopping laws; impeding traffic flows; reckless driving.

Tanner said he hopes to encourage more state agencies to increase the publics awareness of the consequences of aggressive driving.

The bill was brought to legislators in last years session, but didnt pass because of lack of time during the session.

The legislation was proposed after a Dawson County woman, Chelsea Gerrish, 20, was killed in a car accident when an aggressive driver attempted to pass a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The driver, Michael Williams, was also killed in the crash.

Tanner has received several awards for his work at the state level during his first term as a House representative. Thursday night at a meeting of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, he will be honored again. The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia will present Tanner with its 2014 ACCG Legislative Service Award.