CAIRO — The Cairo City Council passed a resolution Monday night disapproving of several bills currently being debated in the state legislature that they say will reduce local autonomy.
Council member Jimmy Douglas said he has concerns with H.B. 523, H.B. 302, H.B. 566, H.B. 465 and S.B. 172.
"They're taking away local control as to what local cities and counties can do," he said.
Douglas said he wished to gauge council interest in passing a resolution opposing the bills, suggesting that each item of legislation be opposed as a group rather than individually. The council passed a resolution opposing the bills unanimously.
The Georgia Municipal Association has taken a stance against four of the bills this legislative cycle — H.B. 523, H.B. 302, S.B. 172 and H.B. 465. The first bill, H.B. 523, would regulate short-term rentals — an issue with which the city council is already working on an ordinance of its own. H.B. 302 and S.B. 172 would create pre-exemptions to local building and zoning designs, while H.B. 465 is a water customer "bill of rights" that would enact certain standards for billing and customer service.
In each case, Douglas said the proposed legislation would take away from the city's ability to come up with its own solutions.
GMA is also evaluating H.B. 566, which would require agendas for public meetings to be posted two weeks in advance. Any additions to agendas would have to meet certain criteria before they could be added.
"We'd always be two weeks behind," council member Lannis Thornton said.
While noting that he believes such rules would be hard on city staff, Mayor Booker Gainor took issue with the timeliness of the current policy of releasing agenda information, saying that it should be released to himself and his fellow council members earlier.
Typically, agendas for city council meetings are posted outside city hall on the Fridays before they take place. A mass email is also sent out with the agenda to entities including local media outlets and the chamber of commerce.
Several council members said the bill could possibly affect the timeliness of delegations which appear before the council.
"That's the way I read it," council member Jerry Cox said Monday night. "We couldn't have had some of these discussions that we had tonight because they were not on the agenda."
Douglas stated that he also plans on emailing local legislators to voice his concerns.