During my first legislative session I was fortunate to be able to bring seven bills to the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives for a vote. Four of these bills had been originally introduced in the senate and three I personally authored.
I then had the honor to be present when Gov. Nathan Deal signed them into law.
Since the session ended I have been busy speaking to various groups and updating them on what occurred in Atlanta. I am also staying in close contact with constituents and assisting them with various issues.
Over the past couple of months I have started the process of researching and drafting legislation for next year.
I plan to discuss these bills with you over the next few months to get your thoughts and feed back prior to the next legislative session. Several of the bills I am working on come from my experiences as a law enforcement officer, county manager, business owner and father.
Toward the end of my tenure as a county manager the county was faced with an issue relating to sludge. This is the solid material that is left after human waste has been treated. In many cases it is dewatered and placed in a lined landfill.
An individual had applied to the state's Environmental Protection Agency for a permit to place sludge on property near the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall. The particular sludge the permit would apply to, had not been dewatered and would be sprayed on top of the soil on the property at the proposed site. This caused great concern within the community due to the close proximity to high density residential communities and major shopping locations.
Under current Georgia law the EPD does not have to take into account a county's or city's zoning or land use ordinance when considering whether or not to approve this type of permit. This is the case even given the fact that the state requires counties and cities to submit a comprehensive land plan to the state's Department of Community Affairs for approval. During this experience I learned that other communities in North Georgia had been placed in a similar position with the EPD.
I believe all of us recognize that our waste must go somewhere, but I feel it is important to give our local citizens a voice in this process. The best way this can be done is by giving our local elected officials some control through local zoning.
I have worked closely with the Association of County Commissioners, the EPD and other groups on this important issue.
As a result, I will be introducing legislation that will change the current law. Under my proposed bill an applicant for a sludge land application system will be required to submit a written verification that their proposed facility complies with local zoning or land use ordinances.
The bill also will require that any public hearing held by the EPD on the application must be held within the county or city where the sludge land application is located. This gives local citizens the opportunity to have their voices heard and their concerns taken into consideration prior to a decision being made. This will help ensure that the citizens and their elected officials have a strong voice in what happens in their individual communities across our state.
Within the last month I have met at the Governor's Office with his policy staff to discuss my proposal. I will continue to work over the next few months with his office and others to build support for this proposed change in the law.
If you have thoughts or ideas about this or other legislation, please call on me. I look forward to working with you as I work to move forward on this and other legislation that will be beneficial for our district.
Mark your calendars and plan to join me at a "Family Fun Day" at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Burt's Pumpkin Farm.
Gov. Deal and many other state and local elected officials from across the area will be there. I am honored to serve as your representative at the State Capitol. I am always available to assist you and encourage you to contact me with questions or your opinions.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached at (678) 776-5059, the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.