State Rep. Doug Holt, R–Social Circle, was fascinated by politics, but after a 10-year stint at the Gold Dome, he’s deciding to return full time to the private sector to pursue other passions.
Holt announced Monday he will not seek reelection to the 112th House district in 2014, a significant move for a man who has run opposed in every election –primary and general – except for the year he was first elected, 2004. The 112th district covers the majority of Newton County, except the southwest and central-west portions, and all of Morgan County.
"Part of (the decision) is it’s simply going to be 10 years next year, and it’s been a great opportunity to do something I was always fascinated by, policymaking as well as the politics of it. I’ve had a real good run at it," Holt said Monday. "I’m very thankful for the support folks have given me…I’m ready to go back to focusing on private pursuits."
Holt said he plans to return full-time to his information technology consulting firm, Newton Computing Corp., which he formed in 1996. Holt, who is Newton Computing’s sole employee, does computer programming contract work for companies, including writing computer applications and offering database support for Microsoft Windows and the IBM AS/400 platform.
Priorities for 2014
Holt’s main priority for the 2014 legislative session is passing H.B. 688, a bill he introduced in January 2012 that would give the Georgia Public Service Commission the ultimate authority other the installation of new power lines.
The current process, required under previously-passed H.B. 373, requires utility companies to have public meetings when installing new power lines, but ultimately requires any conflicts over easements or rights-of-way to be worked out between the companies and individual property owners. Since utility companies have the power of eminent domain – the ability to take property and pay fair market value for it – Holt believes the process needs more review.
"I’m still genuinely convinced we have a flaw in the existing statute with how power companies are supposed to go through the potential use of eminent domain," Holt said Monday.
Holt’s efforts to get the bill out of committee and to a vote have been opposed by utility companies’ lobbying efforts, he said.
"Honestly, it’s been a very large frustration for me," he said.
Holt created a nine-page document about the power line issue, which can be viewed as a PDF on DougHolt.org.
Holt also plans to introduce a new bill that would give school systems incentives to gather more data about the effects of parental responsibility on students’ performance. While the form of the incentives hasn’t been selected yet, Holt said he thinks there is support for studying this issue further.
"Everybody agrees parental responsibility is the key to educational success, but we really have very little solid mass data on its role," Holt said.
While other states have similar parental responsibility bills, Holt said local school systems often see the bills as just another mandate. The key will be to create an incentive that actually provides value for the school system.
Holt said his biggest accomplishment, which he pointed out was accomplished with the help of other legislators, was the passage of H.B. 2 in 2007, the Fair Annexation Act.
"In short, (the law) created a review process that allowed the folks on all sides of the issue to comment to slow down an annexation and make sure property rights are better protected. That was the core of the issue, protecting folks’ property rights," Holt said.
Part of the motivation was what some officials saw as aggressive annexation tactics by certain cities, including Social Circle, according to articles from the time. Holt and others felt large property owners who wanted to be annexed into a city, could do so to the detriment of smaller surrounding landowners, who had no say in the process, according to the articles.
According to the official summary of the bill, a city with an independent school system – like Social Circle – is not allowed to annex unincorporated county without the consent of the county. The bill sets up a binding arbitration process in certain cases where there are disputes.
Holt said he was proud of his responsiveness to constituents – having a 24-hour response rule for people in his district – and the help he was able to provide to constituents. He said he particularly enjoyed cases where he was able to help residents with issues without having to pass additional legislation to avoid putting more laws on the books.
In his press release, Holt said he was proud of Georgia’s responsible government during the Great Recession.
"Georgia continues to be one of the most fiscally responsible states in the union as shown by the Tax Foundation ranking us as the lowest among the states in revenue extracted per person and fourth lowest in debt. This discipline has also allowed us to remain one of fewer than 10 states that have the highest possible AM bond rating by all three ratings agencies," Holt said.
He also said the state had managed to attract manufacturing jobs to help it recover from the recession.
Holt thanked his wife, Julie, and son , Ray, 11, for their support during his time in office.