Rep. aims to postpone TSPLOST
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
February 08, 2012 01:10 AM | 5265 views | 46 46 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) and other lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would postpone the Transportation Investment Act referendum for two years to address what Setzler calls “fatal flaws.”

Setzler, who chairs the Cobb Legislative Delegation, said he and state Reps. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) have filed House Resolution 1350 and the enabling legislation, HB 938, which would:

* Eliminate the TIA referendum set for July 31;

* Ask voters to amend the state constitution in November to allow for a regional transportation mechanism, thereby solving the question of whether the TIA is constitutional or not;

* Allow counties to band together in whatever combination they want through intergovernmental agreements and call for a transportation referendum;

* Allow counties to opt in to the proposed tax once their county commissions have ratified a transportation project list;

* Call for a July 2014 transportation referendum;

* Give counties the option to levy a fraction of a penny for the 10-year tax;

* Require the county or counties who are sponsoring a fixed transit system, such as light rail, to agree to pay for the ongoing operations of that transit system after the 10-year tax.

Setzler said he and other lawmakers have questioned the legality of the tax for years.

“I believe the TIA in its current structure is not constitutional under the Georgia constitution,” Setzler said, adding that there was broad consensus among General Assembly members in 2008 and 2009 a constitutional amendment had to be approved to address the transportation funding regionally. But such an amendment was never passed.

“Secondly, I believe any long-term regional solution needs to have an opt-in process,” he said. “(The counties) form the regions themselves, and arbitrary regions are not established by the General Assembly, and most importantly that it gives counties the power of self-determination. That’s paramount.”

The project list itself is also flawed, he said.

“It has transit projects for which there is no long-term funding stream, does not address traffic relief … and it provides a substantial subsidy of the existing MARTA system, which was specifically prohibited in the TIA law,” Setzler said.

By postponing the vote for two years to eliminate these flaws, metro Atlanta can see real traffic relief, he said.

Setzler said the proposal should not come as a surprise to lawmakers.

“Proposals like this have been talked about for some time at the Capitol,” he said. “This is very similar to the plan proposed by the state Senate in 2009, which received overwhelming support though the state senate. This concept is not a new one at the Capitol, but one that I think is essential if we’re really going to deliver traffic relief.”

As to whether Gov. Deal would consider Setzler’s proposal, his spokesman, Brian Robinson, said Deal’s policy is not to comment on pending legislation.

Comments
(46)
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Of the People
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February 10, 2012
Representative Setzler claims to be a small government Republican, "Government closest to the people is more representative of the people" yadda, yadda, yadda. YET, his deeds say something completely different. He appears to believe that the people can't or should not decide on this. Ed, you voted for the legislation that began this process, let the people vote on a list that the people, via there local elected officials, and a process that included the participation of regular citizens at all stages of TIA development. A process which you could and should have played an active role in but you did not. Late to the game and wanting to take the ball and go home. Don't be a Sore Losermann.
SG68
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February 11, 2012
Wrong Of the People.

Even when Lee and mathews knew that a mojority of Cobb citizens were against the light rail they still kept it on Cobb proposed project list.

They did it because a select few special interest groups (the Cobb Chamber, Cumberland CID and MARTA) wanted it.

Why do you think they changed their minds and abandoned the light rail idea?

If the process had truly been open to the public that project would not have made the list in the first place.

We definitely need a do over and believe me a lot more scrutiny will be brought to bear.
James Bell
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February 09, 2012
The Constitutionality will be challenged. The legislature knew an amendment was necessary to hold a regional vote. County governments can opt out. The TIA law requires them to pass a resolution to hold the referendum in their county. No resolution... no referendum. There is the opt out.
SG68
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February 09, 2012
Interesting.

And where exactly is that requirement for a local resolution found in the enabling legislation?
COBBCSI
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February 10, 2012
If we don’t pass it than the state will penalize us that is taxation with equal representation. I think that how April 19th 1775 happened and the same reason the Tea Party happened. James is dead on this one.
HEINZ 57
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February 09, 2012
So it appears Representative Setzler adheres to the Senator John Kerry methodology of being for something before he is against it.

How original!
TCW(TheCobbWay)
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February 09, 2012
Maybe he was for it initially because he thought the TIA Roundtable would come up with something that actually made sense.

Since the Roundtable rascals perverted the intent of the legislation to their own local interests, I think it makes sense to go back to the drawing board and come up with some regionally significant projects.

THE TRUTH
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February 09, 2012
He is saying the bill is Unconstitutional. I don't believe the Representative is making the case that it somehow was made unconstitutional by what the Regional Roundtables did or did not do with the project list. He is simply stating that it "not Constitutional" and has "fatal flaws." Someone should ask if those flaws existed when he voted YES for the legislation. Follow up, if a bill has "fatal flaws" and is "not constitutional" then why would an upstanding constitutionalist like himself vote YES?
anonymous
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February 09, 2012
No he was for it because the legislators designed the TIA to fail. They thought local governments would never cooperate. They could then shift the blame for their inability to solve Georgia's transportation problems to local governments. Surprise Ed, the locals stepped up and got the job done. Now he and his cronies are afraid the people of Georgia may actually control their own destiny.
THE TRUTH
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February 09, 2012
"By postponing the vote for two years to eliminate these flaws, metro Atlanta can see real traffic relief, he said."

In what alternate universe does that make any sense? We wait two more years in addressing traffic relief in order to see real traffic relief. Does not compute Will Robinson.

Also, if this legislation were so Unconstitutional, why did Representative Setzler cast his vote for it in the first place?

SG68
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February 09, 2012
Most of the ridiculous projects on the TIA project list are so long term in their implementation, two years delay won't make much of a difference.

It would be worth the delay to come up with a legitimate project list that actually addresses our REGIONAL congestion problems.
THE TRUTH
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February 09, 2012
The Project list is LEGITIMATE and DOES address congestion relief. Jut look at the I-75 and Windy Hill project for a great example. Something that has been on the drawing board or wish list for 20 years is now a possibility with the passage of this referendum. There are plenty of others if you simply educate yourself the facts.
Suburb Bub
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February 09, 2012
Reading this article and these comments just saddens me. I'm extremely doubtful that our region will pass this bill, and even if the bill is passed, I believe some people and organizations most likely will continue to fight it. Why do we feel that our region will not benefit from a better transit system??? Big metro areas have transit systems. While the decision to build different rail lines is not that simple...the question is not whether we should be investing in our infrastructure, its where, when , and how we should be investing.

I sincerely hope cobb county chooses to move our region forward. This wont be a boondoggle or tax payer waste if we all get involved and really push the issue. I just hope you guys really look into this opportunity for our region and really pay attention and ask questions about how it benefits you.

Thomas Palmer
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February 09, 2012
@Suburb Bub: There is not the population density to guarantee the numbers of riders on light rail. The proponents have given several numbers as projected riders, so what is one to believe? People will not abandon their automobiles unless there is a cost saving and it is more convenient. Taxpayer subsidies will last forever...if you consider that "moving forward"...then promote this as a benefit.
Sue 4 Tea
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February 08, 2012
While I agree with most of Ed, Rich, and Matt's legislation, we need to take the CID's and regional authorities out of the legislation and the Constitution. These organizations are not answerable to the taxpayers/voters and are an intrinsic component of Agenda 21 which has been rejected by resolutions of the RNC and some Georgia Senators (no floor vote yet).

Let counties work out co-sponsored projects.

I have sent this change request to Ed. I hope he will make the required changes to their legislation.
Reynolds Wrap
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February 09, 2012
Take the tin-foil hat off, walk up from the basement, go outside, take a breath of fresh air, exhale...(REPEAT)
JOHNNYCRACKCORN
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February 08, 2012
Ed is on the right track!

We have 159 counties. The logical and sensible conclusion of this proposal is to consolidate the counties. When we get down to a dozen, we'd be saving enough money to four-lane every pig trail in Georgia.
excuseme but
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February 08, 2012
Setzler voted FOR this before he turned against it, right? He was asleep when it was explained, or what? The process may be less than perfect (thanks to sleepy legislators) but the fix is needed NOW, not 2 years from now. Many intelligent, informed people will vote FOR it because they recognize the need. Cobb, let's don't get left behind and wish we had voted for it. Our future is at stake and we are bogged down by traffic and fairly selfish people who are afraid of progress for a penny. Rome, GA's economy and growth is still paying for a similar mistake years ago.
Telecommuter
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February 08, 2012
Lets get real. This is the 21st century and we need a 21st century solution. Building more roads is NOT the solution. Yes our traffic is one of the worst in the country. But giving road building projects to 'good ole boys' is not the answer.

First of all, the traffic problem is 2 fold. First are the travelers passing thru the area on the interstate system. Have you noticed the % of cars with out-of-state (and out-of-area) plates? You need to study those traffic patterns and work to get these people off our area highways. What happened to the northern arc?

The second issue is that building roads (toll or not) is NOT a 21st century solution. Take these massive dollars that you want to spend building roads and use them as tax incentives for employers. There are many people in the metro area who have jobs which do not require them to fight traffic and sit in an office. If people can telecommute, not only does that get people off the road, it reduces our carbon footprint; reduces our dependency on oil and helps reduce the ozone levels in the area. Remember the Summer months with Red Alerts; they will be here again soon. Not having to commute for 2-4 hours each day reduces stress and makes workers more productive. And with telecommuters, the overhead costs of putting someone in an office is reduced tremendously. Hello employers, this is something you should get on the bandwagon for; tax incentives, healthier and more productive employees, and lowered operating expenses. Should be a no-brainer.

Why is it that in Cobb and metro Atlanta the thought to relieve traffic is always to build more roads? That was a 20th century solution, let's move forward, after all it is 2012.
Give Ed an A
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February 08, 2012
Rep. Ed Setzler for governor. We need someone like that in charge of our state.
GSUstudent
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February 08, 2012
Wrong, Mr. Setzler!!! You had over a year to protest whether or not this referendum was unconstitutional. We cannot delay this process any longer under the pretenses of the media attention and education that our residents have been under for the past year. If you don't want it to pass, move to another region. But for you to say that this will alleviate traffic in the region is a bold-faced LIE! We vote as a REGION, and we prosper as a REGION. Nothing more, nothing less.
TCW(TheCobbWay)
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February 08, 2012
@GSU Student

All Rep. Seltzer is saying is that we need a plan that holds forth a real REGIONAL transportation solution.

The only way to do that is to revisit the ridiculous project list that was formulated by a bunch of parochial politicians.

The current TIA project list is not even a step in the right direction.

It is a bunch of uncoordinated local transportation projects.

Let's not do something just to be doing something!!

Let's do it right the first time.

We won't get a second chance.
br548
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February 08, 2012
it is very simple. Vote No, now! If this is postponed it won't change the outcome of the plans nor the outcome of the vote. Let's put it on the ballot and be done with it.
SG68
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February 08, 2012
Except for the fact that the voters in the other counties and cities might vote yes for this boondoggle it may pass.

Remember that a huge misinformation campaign touting the supposed benefits of this boondoggle will be going on from now until the vote in July.

If it passes we will be stuck even if the voters in Cobb County vote overwhelmingly against it.
ol' retired doc
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February 08, 2012
This ghastly boondoggle needs to be scrapped and it

needs to be done now.
FROM TEXAS
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February 08, 2012
Yes this is the best idea yet TIA stands for Taxed into Alabama, if the TIA or TSPLOST gets enacted you will a mass exodus to Tennessee and Alabama. Setzler is right this is flawed and is unconstitutional; there will be a board in place that will only answer to only ARC and the Chamber Mob.

“I believe the TIA in its current structure is not constitutional under the Georgia constitution,”

He is correct and if home owners had more money to sue they would win!!

misterbill
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February 08, 2012
Good job, Ed. Some wise things to think about--if you could get the light rail , grow the burbs to the urbs group to read it!!
ProJour
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February 08, 2012
10 years from now, we'll be having the same conversation, just as we were having it 10 years ago. The situation is way to far out of hand; between the lack of funds and the lack of intestinal fortitude among our elected officials, the best we can hope for is a few more bandaids in a futile attempt to stem the hemorraging.
homeownernextdoor
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February 08, 2012
It takes a big person to admit rushing into the TIA might not be the best idea. Mr. Golick is my rep, and I hope he is successful in his efforts.

The phrase "do something, even if it's wrong" should not be the prevailing mindset.

TIC
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February 08, 2012
Precisely!!

and moving forward with the TIA, as it is currently proposed, is the wrong thing to do.

Of course, it may not be wrong for certain special interest groups that look at this as a golden opportunity to create their own little slush fund.

and

It's certainly not wrong for Kasim Reed since he was getting Cobb County taxpayers to pay for a light rail system in Atlanta

and

it isn't wrong for MARTA since they were basically being bailed out of some of their own self inflicted financial problems.

but

It is definitely wrong for Cobb County

and

if the other counties/cities were paying attention they would realize something much better could be formulated for the $7.2 Billion price tag.

Here's hoping that Ed and Rick are successful in their efforts.
evan gammage
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February 08, 2012
At this point, Setzler's grasp of the situation is far better than anything else I've heard. Delay this boondoggle.
cobb driver
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February 08, 2012
We need to start battling against HOT Lanes on the interstates in Cobb right now. Gwinnett drivers were charged $5.45 do drive a few miles on 85. We need to start letting our representatives know that we will refuse to pay to drive on roadways. No toll roads!
Last GA Democrat
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February 08, 2012
cobb driver:

Unfortunately, the whole point of the HOT lanes are based on the premise of most people refusing to pay exorbitant tolls to ride in the lanes. HOT lanes aren't designed to provide congestion relief on the entire roadway, but only in the lanes on which the tolls are placed as the more traffic is in the lanes, the higher the tolls are to push most of that heavy traffic out of the lanes. If you think that $5.00-plus tolls is high just wait until they raise the tolls to $10.00 and higher for the same distance like they are in California where rush-hour drivers get to sit in still crowded general purpose lanes while staring at virtually empty HOT lanes, save for the occasional bus and three-person carpools. Meanwhile monthly bills to ride in the HOT lanes in a single or double-occupant vehicle can run as high as $500.00 each month for the few desperate souls who choose to utilize the lanes.
Kennesaw Resident
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February 08, 2012
How about we just scrap it completely?
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