Legislative Notebook: Macon-Bibb would merge appointment powers

March 12, 2013 

The mayor of the consolidated Macon-Bibb County would take over the jobs of both the mayor of Macon and the Bibb County Commission chairman, at least when it comes to joining or making appointments to local boards and authorities, under a new state House of Representatives bill.

Bodies such as the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority now have both the mayor and the county commission chairman on their boards. House Bill 571 makes that tweak and a few others to prepare for consolidation, which it also shifts to officially happen Jan. 1, 2014, rather than two weeks later as previously scheduled.

It puts Macon city police under the Bibb County Police Civil Service System and allows the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce president to leave the transition task force and designate someone else in his place. State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, is carrying the bill that has bipartisan support.

It also still refers to Payne City being a part of the merger though its voters opted out of consolidation.

“There is always a possibility that things could change by day 40,” said Peake, a reference to the last day of the annual legislative session, due by April. The Legislature could yet edit House Bill 571. Lawmakers also have the power to revoke certain city charters.

E-proof of insurance coming to your phone

Drivers would be able show police an electronic copy of their vehicle insurance via mobile phone or tablet under a bill approved unanimously by the state Senate.

“You’d have to download an application that the insurance company provides you,” explained state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, Senate sponsor of House Bill 254. The card displayed on the screen would be just as good as a paper card, according to the bill.

Drivers still have the option of a paper card, Jones explained, and police are not allowed to search anything else on the phone or tablet.

The state House already has approved the bill in principle but must still vote to accept minor changes made in the Senate before the bill goes to Deal’s desk.

House proposes WR medical funds

Middle Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins would get a $16.4 million Health Services Center, under a bond package in the fiscal 2014 budget approved by the state House.

The school has been pushing for cash since at least last year to expand facilities for teaching medical trades such as practical nursing, radiology and cardiovascular technology.

Houston Healthcare already has pledged to donate a site on Cohen Walker Drive for the building.

The budget for the year beginning this July still needs the nod from the Senate and Gov. Nathan Deal.

Crossbred cats seek Georgia habitat

Georgia cat fanciers may get the chance to own fairly unusual felines that are a mix between domestic cats and their African and Asian wild cousins under a bill in the state house.

Right now, animals like Motzie, an Oklahoma resident who appeared at a House Game Fish and Parks Committee hearing, cannot live in Georgia because he is the descendant of domestic cats and wild African cats that were imported to the United States 20 or more years ago.

That makes him a wild animal under Georgia law, meaning Motzie’s owner, Deborah-Ann Milette, can only pass through the state with her pet. She took the animal to the Gold Dome on the way back from a visit to Florida to help lobby for the bill.

“They don’t fit the characteristics of being inherently dangerous to humans,” said state Rep. Chuck Martin R-Alpharetta. He said one of his cat-fancying constituents brought the issue to his attention.

The bill is not finalized and has no time to become law during this year’s annual legislative session. Martin said he aims to craft a bill that speaks to several part-wild felines and hold thorough hearings next year.

-- Maggie Lee

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