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July 11, 2016

Georgia lawmakers front and center on transportation at SLC

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Policy makers and elected officials this week are attending the 70th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) in Lexington, Kentucky.   The gathering is an opportunity for the region's state legislators, legislative staff and government officials to exchange ideas on the pressing policy issues of the day.  Various forums and panel discussions throughout the five day meeting feature state and national policy experts.

 

Sen. Steve Gooch presenting to SLC
Sen. Steve Gooch presenting to SLC

 

Georgia Senators Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) and Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) each presented on the topic of transportation and infrastructure. Sen. Gooch addressed the Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs committee breakfast, which focused on the federal surface transportation legislation and its impact on SLC states.  In December of 2015, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed in to law, allowing long-term authorization.   State departments of transportation can now operate with a degree of certainty regarding the planning and implementation of significant infrastructure projects.  Senator Gooch outlined Georgia's efforts to address major road and bridge repair by highlighting the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170).

 

Sen. Beach presenting to SLC plenary luncheon
Sen. Beach presenting to SLC plenary luncheon

 

Sen. Beach joined Virginia Delegate Ronald Villanueva for the plenary luncheon panel.  Each of the speakers detailed plans for commuter and light rail systems within their states including those major factors driving the cost-benefit analysis for start up or expansion, primary funding sources, and lessons learned. Senator Beach shared anticipated plans for Atlanta to include a half penny sales tax referendum for transit expansion on the November ballot.  The city's option to put the levy before voters is made possible by passage of SB 369 during the 2016 legislative session.