On February 8, Brunswick-Glynn County Library Manager Lori Hull visited the State Capitol in Atlanta to represent our libraries at an event affectionately known as "Hot Dog Day." Public library staff from across Georgia serve our legislators Varsity hot dogs as we remind them about the important roles that libraries play in our communities. Pictured above, left to right, are State Librarian Julie Walker, State Representative Jeff Jones, and Lori Hull.
Rep. Jones is a strong supporter of Georgia Public Libraries and in particular the Glynn County Public Library.
"Unfortunately Rep. Hogan and I were unsuccessful in obtaining $2 million in state funding from the House Appropriations Committee that would have been used for a much needed $4 million renovation project for our local library," explained Rep. Jones. "There is a possibility that the Senate may still appropriate the funds. And I want to give a big `Thank you` to the Glynn County Board of Commissioners for appropriating $1.5 million towards the project. We are fortunate that we have a vibrant, busy library in Glynn County."
Pictured: Rep. Jeff Jones with Georgia House Pages; Christopher and Anna, and the Honorable Speaker David Ralston.Read more
By Representative Jeff Jones
This week completed week five, and the 20th day of the session. With “cross-over day”, the 30th legislative day looming and only 20 session days remaining until adjournment, the pace of committee hearings and legislative activity increased dramatically.
Spencer Pass Law - HB 767 (I voted YES): - The House voted to add utility service vehicles and workers in the fields of electric, natural gas, water, waste-water, cable, telephone, or telecommunication services to the list of those covered under Georgia’s Spencer Pass Law, also known as the “Move Over Law.”
Brunswick and Glynn County, meet the Village of St. Simons Island — the proposed name of the new city that residents of St. Simons and Sea islands will vote on if the Georgia Legislature allows it.
State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, said the charter for the Village of St. Simons Island is now in the hands of legislative services, which is writing it in the form of legislation. He presented it last week.
By Rep. Jeff Jones
The House reconvened on Monday, February 1 to start our fourth week of the 2016 legislative session. With a month of session behind us, we are hard at work in the General Assembly passing legislation that will hopefully have a positive impact on all Georgians. Numerous bills have been approved and passed out of their respective committees and many made their way to the House floor this week for a vote before the entire House of Representatives. I discuss a variety of these bills later in this newsletter.Read more
By Representative Jeff Jones
One year-ago – Earth Day, April 22, 2014 – the Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources, announced that the State of Georgia would no longer enforce a long-standing provision requiring a 25-foot marsh protection buffer. (View EPD Director Jud Turner’s letter) The marsh buffer stipulation, which appears in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, requires marsh front developments - whether large or small, commercial or residential - to observe a 25-foot buffer. The buffer’s purpose is to protect salt marshes from upland soil erosion, and runoff from construction and from commercial or residential marsh-side developments.
As a resident of coastal Georgia serving my first term in the Georgia House of Representatives, I was extremely concerned about the prospect that our coastal marshes were unprotected by a buffer and the possibility that our environmentally and economically important marsh buffers would continue unprotected.
Throughout the end of 2014, I continued to read, listen and learn more about coastal marsh protection issues. In the process, coastal residents and legislators voiced strong concerns and objections to EPD's decision to cease enforcement of the buffer provision. The EPD Director justified the decision to stop buffer enforcement because he said that language in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act was confusing, EPD's enforcement was inconsistent across the state and that the 2004 letter from ex-EPD Director Carol Couch, which had been acceptable for over 10 years was not enforceable as law (View Carol Couch’s 2004 memorandum). For example, for more than a decade, the agency had been enforcing the buffer on coastal salt marsh, but not on freshwater wetlands, which have their own, separate complexities, issues and challenges. Upon reading the language in the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, I began to better understand the confusion about the Act's applicability to coastal salt marsh and became convinced that we needed a legislative remedy.Read more
From the Desk of Representative Jeff Jones
Legislative Update Week 11, March 27, 2015 - Crunch Time!
We returned to Atlanta and reconvened the House of Representatives on Monday, March 23, 2015. This is quite literally crunch time as legislators in both the House and Senate work to get legislation they have sponsored pushed through the process and on to the floor of the House and/or Senate for a vote.
It’s interesting to see the types of bills that come before the General Assembly anywhere from mundane, but necessary, laws to bring Georgia tax code in line with Federal tax code, to a bill allowing the non-traditional zero-emission Tesla automobile to be sold in Georgia not following the traditional auto manufacturer-franchised dealer network (current Georgia law prevents vehicles from being sold “direct to the public” from the manufacturer.) I sit on the Motor Vehicles Committee that heard that bill, and I voted to pass it out of committee. The “Tesla” bill, like many others, may or may not make it through the Senate, and may or may not be signed into law. Again, just another example of the type of bills that are considered.Read more
From the Desk of Representative Jeff Jones
Legislative Update Week 10, March 20, 2015 - House Considers Senate Bills after "Crossover"
In my last weekly legislative update, I explained that last Friday, March 13, 2015, was “Crossover Day”, the 30th day of the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly. “Crossover Day” is a significant point in each year’s 40 day session because it is the last day for “general bills” to “pass” in the House or Senate to “crossover” to the other body for their consideration. With Crossover Day behind us, we returned to Capitol Hill to focus on legislation that has already been passed by the Georgia Senate. To ensure that every bill is fully vetted before its final passage, we spent most of our time this week in committee meetings reviewing Senate legislation. This coming week will very busy as well with committee to review Senate bills.
Ed Note: Below are discussions of a number of bills that have passed the Senate. Only those bills where I indicated my vote as YES or NO have actually come to the House floor for a vote. All of the other bills and resolutions are in the discussion or negotiation stage, but are bills that I thought you may want to read about.
Marsh Buffer Bill (SB101)
One bill of particular importance to Coastal Georgia, that “crossed over” from the Senate to the House, is the Marsh Buffer Bill, Senate Bill 101 (SB101). This bill purports to re-establish the 25 foot Marsh Buffer that has been in existence for many years along Georgia’s coastal marshes. In April 2014, the Director of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the DNR proclaimed that the EPD would no longer enforce the buffer because doing so was not founded in law. The Director further explained that the 25 foot buffer had been enforced for years by virtue of a letter written by then DNR Commissioner Carol Couch. The current EPD Director dismissed the letter, and its establishment of the 25 foot buffer, as being unenforceable.
After careful study of SB101, I reached the conclusion that it contains such large, gaping holes as to render it almost totally devoid of meaningful, enforceable buffer provisions.
In response, I have submitted a “substitute” to SB101, which is officially numbered as “SB101 Substitute LC 40 0902ERS”. (This numbering is important in identifying the correct bill.)
The substitute bill does two things:
1. Inserts a date of December 31, 2015 in the existing bill so that all “new” shoreline stabilization projects are subject to a 25 foot. buffer, unless a variance is granted. SB101, as presented, does not achieve this.
2. Moves language that deals with Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 exemptions to a location earlier in SB101. The current location of this section effectively exempts any project that has a Federal permit from the buffer provision, regardless of size, scope or impact.
Moving the language to an earlier section ensures that EPD must review requests for buffer variance projects, even if those projects have Federal permits.
The question we have to answer is “Do we want local control or Federal control of what happens to our marshes?” In my opinion, this control MUST BE local, not federal; hence we need the substitute bill I have proposed.
Tom Barton of the Savannah Morning News recently penned the following editorial regarding SB101, and this was distributed to house members earlier today. Dead Marsh Walking by Tom Barton (Click Here)Read more