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Republican lawmakers hold up local bills

More than a half dozen bills that passed in the House during Crossover Day last week are now in limbo. These bills affect local counties and cities across the state.

Republicans led an effort to reconsider their passage after a failed attempt to double the homestead exemption for Fulton County property owners.  The House also voted to reconsider that “no” vote.

Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta) admits the increase in the homestead exemption is really an effort to shrink the size the Fulton County government by generating less tax revenue. It failed by one vote on Crossover Day thanks to Democrats.

“What we did today was simply get everybody in the House to return to a long standing tradition of respecting local legislation that passed by a majority of a local delegation,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

But Democrats were not impressed by the effort to hold hostage the local bills sponsored by their party’s members.

“Why drag all those people’s bills into it unless you’re just trying to be abusive,” complains Rep. Able Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta).

She complains residents will suffer if the Fulton legislation passes and says she will not be swayed to change her vote despite the fact that the local bills could be jeopardy.

A change in a county’s homestead exemption requires two-thirds of the Legislature to approve it, and then local citizens would vote in 2014.

In the House, 120 votes are needed to pass the measure but it only received 119 last Thursday. Lindsey immediately requested the House reconsider its actions so the measure wouldn’t die. Today’s vote means the measure could come up again for consideration later this session or next.

“We discovered last year with the Charter School Amendment that it’s awfully hard to get 120 votes,” he says. “It took us two tries to get that and it will take us two tries to get this, but we’re going to keep working at it.”

Several other bills dealing with changes to Fulton’s government have already passed the House this session including redrawing its commission districts, revamping its courts and elections offices, and making its tax commissioner an appointed position.

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