By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
TSPLOST doubts, parimutuel betting discussed at town hall
Placeholder Image

Other bills introduced by Rockdale's legislators:

Ramsey: SB311, Metals Accountability and Disposal (MAD) Act - addresses sales of scrap metal that might be from graveyards or government property; requires seller to be licensed funeral director to sell funeral/mortuary related metals, requires seller to be government department director to sell government property such as manhole covers

Kendrick: HB780 - prohibits credit checks for employment unless an employee's credit history is related to the job

Kendrick: HB781 - requires a third party to verify foreclosure information, other foreclosure process changes

Dickerson: HB680 - would allow licensed vendors to give food to charities without going through regulations

Dickerson: HB681 - would make it a misdemeanor to alter or Photoshop a person's image onto an obscene image on a pornographic site

Stephenson: HB609 - would require policy coverage for telemedicine services, such as medical diagnoses provided over video or other telecommunications

Dawkins-Haigler: HB276 - requires a parent teacher conference if a student receives failing grades on two consecutive report cards

Rockdale's legislative delegation aired doubts about the transportation sales tax vote even taking place this year and also discussed charter schools, Rockdale's school tax cap exemption, metal theft, and parimutuel betting at Wednesday night's town hall meeting.

Five of Rockdale's six legislative delegates - District 43 Senator Ronald Ramsey, District 92 Rep. Pamela Stephenson, District 93 Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, District 94 Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick - attended the town hall meeting at Rockdale Career Academy, which had about 20 people in the audience. Ramsey said District 17 Senator Rick Jeffares was in a committee meeting.


Ramsey, who sat on the Governor's Transit Governance Task Force, updated the audience on the difficulties in forming a governing agency to oversee the transit projects and dollars that would be collected by the regional one penny transportation sales tax slated to be on the ballot July 31.

Initially, it looked like GRTA was going to be the agency to oversee the projects, but now disagreements with Cobb and other counties make it doubtful legislators will agree in time on a transit governance agency, he said.

"I think the (TSPLOST) vote will get pulled for July," said Ramsey. He said another local town hall on the TSPLOST might be scheduled after more is known about what will happen.

Parimutuel betting

 Ramsey also described Senate Resolution 1025, which he introduced Wednesday, proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize parimutuel betting, or betting on horse races, that the public would have to vote on. The resolution also proposes a pilot program for parimutuel betting at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.

"I think it's such an easy fix to the HOPE scholarship," he said, referring to the shortfall in the Ga. Lottery-funded college scholarship program. He said though HOPE funds are shrinking, "No one wants to trim the fat on the Lottery Commission." He pointed out the Lottery only puts in 26 percent instead of the mandated 35 percent of its funds for the HOPE and pre-K programs.

Ramsey described another parimutuel betting bill that had not been introduced yet. "They haven't come to a consensus." He said Sen. Rick Jeffares and other Republican members supported Senate Resolution 1025.

School tax exemption referrendum

Audience member Jim Roppo said he would like to see another referrendum held on Rockdale's exemption from the school tax cap that limits most Georgia school districts to 20 mills. Rockdale's limit is 30 mills, which was passed by a voter referrendum in 1965.

"It would be nice to give the voters another chance to say 'Yea' or 'Nea'," Roppo said.

Post I Commission Republican candidate Sam Smiley said the referrendum could be called either by the Board of Education or by the General Assembly. He asked the delegates at the meeting if they would support calling for a referrendum.

Stephenson said based on the information presented that night, she would. However, "We have to do our dilligence as well," she said, and contact the Rockdale County Board of Education.

Charter school bill

The delegates also answered questions about the House bill passed Wednesday that would amend the state constitution via referrendum to allow the state to create charter schools.

The question proposed for the ballot would ask if the state constitution should be amended "to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon request of local communities?"

Stephenson said the bill itself was not much different than the bill that had failed to get enough votes earlier this month but that more lobbying was involved this time around.

Ramsey said based on his experience, "it will sail through the Senate." He said Senate leaders did not support public education.

"The leadership wants to take public education and shrink it to a size you can fit in a bathtub" and take the money that would fund public education for other things, Ramsey said.

Audience member Jim Roppo said, "I don't know if charter schools are the answer," but that maybe another way needed to be tried.

Ramsey said, "I just don't think taking away from the core is the answer."