Cities and their residents are affected by the Georgia General Assembly and the United States Congress, as well as by the regulatory decisions made by state and federal agencies. Because of the implications of these actions for cities, GMA employs a team of governmental relations experts who advocate for sound public policy and work to mitigate or prevent measures that are not in the best interest of our members.
As we begin the 2021 legislative session, we can again anticipate that various bills will be aimed at addressing a perceived problem in one or a handful of communities. The problem with these proposals is their failure to recognize that the perceived problems do not exist in all 537 cities and 159 counties. Georgia is an extremely diverse state made up of cities of different sizes, economies, needs, challenges, strengths and community desires. That is why we so strongly advocate for home rule. We believe you—at the local level, in daily contact with your citizens—should be able to make the decisions right for your city.
We can also expect bills to give tax breaks to an industry or special interest. The reality is that tax breaks are merely tax shifts, and the question is, who bears the brunt of someone else’s break? At a time when the cost of government is increasing and revenues are declining due to COVID-19, we must examine the potential impacts of proposed changes to fiscal policy and protect the interests of cities.
In the January/February edition of Georgia’s Cities Magazine, you will read about our governmental relations staff and how they work on your behalf. Tom Gehl and his team of Charlotte Davis, Michael McPherson and Ryan Bowersox, with support from Rusi Patel and Emily Hirst from GMA’s legal department, work daily to fight for cities. We urge you to respond to their requests for your insights on legislation and closely follow the session by reading our weekly legislative alerts and website updates. We also need to count on you to maintain close contact with your state legislators. They respond to you, and we are most successful when our members are leading the charge.
At the federal level, the only thing certain is that there will be fundamental changes in the philosophy of governing. Becky Taylor, who leads our federal relations and research team, monitors Congress and works with our Federal Policy Council to advocate for municipal priorities. Please keep abreast of key issues as they emerge and share our policy positions with your congressional delegation members and staff.
Remember, we at GMA exist to serve you our members. We want to hear from you and count on you to make sure the interests of cities are always taken into consideration, both in Atlanta and Washington. Together, as Cities United, we can—and we will—make a difference.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.