House Bill 921, introduced in the Georgia House by Representative Matt Dollar (R – Marietta), aims to stifle the ability of local Development Authorities around the State to promote economic growth. Introduced as a bill to increase transparency, the bill will impose new reporting requirements for how authorities may make decisions and will force authorities to comply with increased regulations. Development Authorities were established to “develop and promote trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities.”
Independence from the political process allows Development Authorities to remain sheltered from unfriendly campaign expenditures and gives them the ability to seek investment based solely on the criteria of what would be best for their municipality or city. The General Assembly promoted this by mandating that only one member of any Development Authority could be someone that was also elected to the local government. This independence has ensured that political support does not play a central role in the allocation of development opportunities throughout the state.
This legislation will irreparably disrupt Development Authority independence, by requiring Development Authorities to provide quarterly reports to local governing bodies. The reports will have to discuss new projects being considered, progress on existing projects, and will have to provide any information that could “assist” with the needs of the county. This legislation will result in local governing bodies exerting direct influence on the decision making process of Development Authorities. The disclosures required by this bill will give local governing bodies four opportunities during every year to undercut any progress made by a local Development Authority and will force Development Authorities to be constantly conscious of the opinion of the local governing body. Additionally, the disclosures proposed by the bill will make it nearly impossible for Development Authorities to maintain any confidentiality in their discussions with developers. Both results will hinder the ability of Development Authorities to promote and develop trade, commerce, and industry.
Local Development Authorities have played strong roles in the growth of cities and municipalities across the state and the Council for Quality Growth will continue to partner with local Development Authorities in this pursuit. A bill that will stifle the ability of Development Authorities across Georgia to engage businesses will hurt the growth of cities and municipalities around the state.
credit: Council for Quality Growth