Legislative Notebook: Preservationists win change to road bill
A bill that preservationists said could put new roads over unstudied historic sites such as Native American ceremonial mounds got an amendment this week meant to give historians a chance to dig around before bulldozers are brought in.
Senate Bill 346 would exempt local- and state-funded road projects that cost less than $100 million from review under a state environmental and cultural preservation law.
Environmental impact reviews are covered under other laws, bill sponsor state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, has said. He wants the waiver so projects can start faster.
But archaeologists and other preservationists said nothing else on the books requires review of those projects' potential impact on cultural resources. Without such a law, they fear Georgia would never know about sites such as unmarked burial grounds, deserted settlements, Civil War trenches and other places that could tell more about the state's history.
In front of an audience packed with archaeologists, a House committee this week approved keeping the historical review requirements on the books.
The full House and Senate must approve the changed bill to send it to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk.
BROADBAND THIN IN THE COUNTRY
It's a common lament in the country: The Internet isn't so good. The consequences are more serious that draggy movie streaming.
State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, told the state House this week that the top complaint he gets from his constituents is a lack of broadband.
People are worried about locating businesses in rural areas or are unable to work from home, said Tanner, asking his colleagues to approve Senate Resolution 876, which creates a House-Senate study committee on high-speed broadband. The committee would hold hearings later this year and perhaps recommend legislation for next year.
In some places, solutions are rather non-traditional. A group of seven southwest Georgia counties, for example, has teamed up to roll out broadband in places where utility companies have not gone.
The House approved the resolution, as did the Senate. It's now on Gov. Nathan Deal's desk.
Georgia has a lot of official things. Our official prepared food is grits. State gem? Quartz.
But the state's official doghouse is empty. But House Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun, is looking into that.
The "adoptable dog" would have been the state's official pooch under a bill passed by the state House earlier this year. The point is to bring attention to the dogs in shelters that need homes. Alas, the Senate has yet to vote on the bill.
Meadows wants to give the adoptable dog another chance. This week in a Rules Committee hearing, he asked a committee member to amend the adoptable dog language onto another bill that could carry it to the governor.
Over in the Senate, a committee approved a separate bill to make the English bulldog the state dog. It's no surprise that Senate Bill 410's sponsor, state Sen. Ellis Black, R-Valdosta, went to the University of Georgia. Athens state Rep. Bill Cowsert, the majority leader, was the second signer on the bill.
The full Senate, however, did not vote on it.
Telegraph writer Maggie Lee compiled this report.