The 2016 Legislative Session has come to an end, and we’ll be learning over the next couple of months about the bills that passed and how they will impact municipal government. But while we learn about what has changed, it’s equally important to look to the future. In coming weeks, GMA will be holding meetings to plan out the legislative platform for 2017. I encourage all of you to be a part of shaping that document.
The cities in Georgia are a diverse lot—some can boast to be the home of Fortune 500 companies, while others claim to fame is the best BBQ joint in the county. Even within our discussions of issues, we may have differing views. For example, my transportation issue may be congestion, while another city is worried about how large trucks coming through the town square are impacting the infrastructure.
This is why it is so important to be a part of the policy-making process. GMA represents the interest of all cities at the Capitol. In order to do that, we need to hear all views from around the state. We have an excellent lobbying team, but they are only as good as the information we provide them. If you can’t make one of the meetings, be sure to contact GMA and let them know about issues your city is facing.
The second step is to attend GMA’s Annual Convention in June. There, the six policy committees will be meeting to discuss legislation that passed this session and then focus on proposals for 2017. These discussions typically involve lawmakers, giving us an opportunity to ask them our questions directly and provide feedback on their proposals. After the policy committee meetings, there are concurrent sessions that cover a variety of topics and provide ideas, resources and inspiration for us to take back home. Don’t come to Savannah expecting to be idle! The GMA Convention is packed with activities and learning opportunities. You owe it to yourself, your city and your taxpayers to make the most of the meeting.
Finally, after the policy document is adopted at Convention, take time to look through it and familiarize yourself with it. This is an election year for legislators. Many will be asking you for your vote. Ask them where they stand on the issues that are important to your city. And follow up with them. After the election, remind them of the issues and let them know you’ll be following their actions in the 2017 Legislative Session.
The legislative process is all about communication, and it starts with you communicating your concerns and issues with GMA.