By Monroe Roark
A proposed bill that
would change the powers of the chairman of the Henry County
Board of Commissioners will not be brought before the Georgia
General Assembly during the current legislative session.
State Senator Rick
Jeffares, who last week published a “Notice of Intention to
Intro-duce Local Legislation” in the Henry Daily Herald (the
county’s legal organ), said Tuesday morning that the bill would
not be dropped during this session but he would receive an
opinion letter from legal counsel regarding two issues in the
proposed bill and he would pass that along to county
Here is the text of the
notice published last week:
“Notice is given that
there will be introduced at the Regular 2013 Session of the
General Assembly of Georgia a bill to amend an Act providing for
a new Board of Commissioners for Henry County, approved March
28, 1974 (Ga. L. 1974, P.3680), as amended, so as to provide
that the Chairperson shall vote only in the case of a tie; to
provide that the Chairperson shall preside over meetings of the
Board but shall not make or second motions before the Board; to
provide that the County Manager shall establish the agenda for
Board Meetings and shall have the power to hire, discipline, and
terminate employees of the Board; to provide for related
matters; and for other purposes. Signed by Senator Rick Jeffares,
The issue was debated in
social media in the days following the announcement, with
speculation brewing that this action was retaliatory in some way
because of current Commission Chairman Tommy Smith’s position on
various issues, such as Jeffares’ appointment to the Henry
County Water and Sewerage Authority, which Smith has said he
does not support.
Jeffares said Tuesday
that Smith has taken no specific action on any issue that
motivated him to consider this bill. He said that he has gotten
calls from county commissioners regarding parliamentary
procedures and decided to look into the matter, which included
examining the county’s charter.
“According to Robert’s
Rules of Order, if you are presiding over a meeting, correct
parliamentary procedure dictates that you ask for a motion or a
second,” said Jeffares, who noted that Smith has been advised by
county attorney LaTonya Wiley that he has the legal right to
make such motions.
In addition to addressing
parliamentary procedure, the written opinion Jeffares has sought
is expected to also address the authority of the commission
chairman to hire and fire certain country employees, another
issue about which commissioners have expressed some concern,
A meeting of the Henry
County legislative delegation was scheduled for Monday morning
in Atlanta to address this proposed bill and other matters. Four
members of the delegation attended the meeting, according to
Jeffares, who could not attend because of floor leader meetings.
There are ten senators and representatives in the Henry County
“It’s hard to get them all
together at this time of year,” said Jeffares, noting that the
legislative session is now in its busiest time.
As of Tuesday morning,
the senator had received 29 contacts in favor of his proposed
bill and 18 in opposition.
Smith said Tuesday that
Jeffares met with him for a few minutes Friday but said very
little in the way of addressing these concerns. He said Jeffares
spoke about the changing demographics in Henry County and
possibility of a Democratic commission chairman in a future
term, but did not say anything about Smith’s ability to vote or
make motions in meetings, or the issue of taking away the
chairman’s authority to set the agenda for board meeting, which
was also in the proposed bill.
added that he received an estimated 50 phone calls, text
messages and e-mails within a few hours of the notice’s
publication last Wednesday.