Seabaugh proposes to limit city use of radar
By Sarah Fay Campbell
State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh has "pre-filed" four bills in anticipation of the Georgia General Assembly session that begins Jan. 11.
One bill, increasing oversight and regulation of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, was discussed in Friday's issue of The Times-Herald. Here, Seabaugh discusses three other bills.
Senate Bill 295 would prevent municipalities from running radar on interstate highways. SB 294 would eliminate the yearly $25 charge for vanity license plates, and Senate Resolution 793 is a constitutional amendment that would add the language of the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the Georgia Constitution.
Senate Bill 295
* Seabaugh said he has had several constituents "contact me about certain cities that have seven or eight patrol cars sitting on the interstate running radar," Seabaugh said. "They question whether that is... the best utilization of the resources of law enforcement officers in that particular city," Seabaugh said.
He feels that some police departments use interstate-based speeding tickets as a revenue source.
"I believe that is wrong," he said. "There are a lot of cities that will annex in an interstate just so they can sit there and run radar," he said.
Seabaugh said he wants to very clearly state that he is "in no way saying I am not for law enforcement. I believe we ought to have adequate law enforcement."
Sheriff's deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers are the proper agencies to be conducting speed enforcement on the interstate, Seabaugh said.
"It's very obvious to me, when we have situations were cities are putting seven or eight patrol cars on the interstate -- they are not about trying to protect their citizens," Seabaugh said. "They're about trying to raise revenue.
"That, to me, is an abuse of the power that they have been granted."
Senate Bill 294
* Seabaugh said he had someone ask him why people with vanity license plates have to pay an additional $25 each year to renew their tag.
"I thought it was a very good question," Seabaugh said.
Many specialty car tags, such as those for wildflowers, wild life, spay and neuter, and breast cancer, cost $25 each year because that money is going to benefit the particular cause.
When someone gets a vanity plate, that money is just going to state coffers. The $25 charge the first year goes to cover the cost of manufacturing the license plate.
"The intent was to cover the government's costs of generating the tag. But why should the government be making money beyond that when they are not incurring the cost, at the expense of the taxpayer?" Seabaugh asked.
Senate Resolution 793
* SR 793 proposes a constitutional amendment to limit the powers of the state and local governments.
The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The Georgia version would say that "all powers not delegated to the state or local governments by this Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the state or local governments, are reserved to the people of this state."
This resolution also grew out of a discussion with a constituent.
Seabaugh said someone approached him and asked why Georgia's Constitution "does not recognize and reserve power to the people?"
Seabaugh said he asked the man what good such an amendment would do.
The answer was that it would give a Georgian legal standing if someone felt the state, or a local government, had overreached its legal boundaries.
As a constitutional amendment, the resolution will require a 2/3 majority in the Senate and the House. It would then be put on the ballot for the 2010 election. If passed by a simple majority, the language would be added to the state constitution.
"This could be a very intriguing debate in the Georgia State Senate this coming year," Seabaugh said. "Because it is a pure expression that, basically, the people are the boss," he said.
"Whenever the state government tries to start exercising powers in areas where they really haven't been granted that power, this will empower to people to put a check on that abuse of power," Seabaugh said.