A nail that could spoil Sonny Perdue’s road trip

Sometimes, you can pick up a nail in your tire as you drive along the highway. You never feel it, you never see it.

But right then and there, the air starts to leak out of your best-laid plans, and 20 miles down the road you’ve got a flat.

That may have just happened to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s effort to reorganize the state’s transportation agencies.

The House on Tuesday passed a pair of measures that endorsed a statewide sales tax for transportation. Passage of the legislation was anti-climactic — roughly 150 of the 180 members of the chamber voted in approval.

But the real news was in a two-line amendment inserted in one of the measures, H.B. 277, with no objection — and thus, no fingerprints. It reads:

‘Authority’ means the entity that is the designated recipient of federal funds to be used for highway construction and other transportation purposes in this state.

No lawyer is involved in the writing of this blog, but we’ve received assurances that the above language means that all money collected under this proposal, should voters approve it, would be channeled through the state Department of Transportation, which the governor is determined to bring to heel.

Under Perdue’s proposal, to be found in H.B. 605 and S.B. 200, monies are funneled through a new State Transportation Authority.

The principle authors of the amendment were House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) and state Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who chairs the Democratic caucus.

But House Transportation Chairman Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) also put his name to the language. And that implies that the speaker was not opposed to it.

One suspects that many House Republicans have examined the situation, and see this:

The governor is now persona non grata with the constitutionally required board that governs the DOT — as witnessed by last week’s firing of Commissioner Gena Evans. The Senate has joined Perdue.

If the House emerges as the protector of the DOT board, the chamber would have enormous sway over that agency — and the billions of dollars it controls — for years to come.

Should this happen, of course, chances of an agreement between the Senate and House over a sales tax for transportation would be out the window.

3 comments Add your comment

[...] passage, including the rundown on amendments tacked on at the last minute. Jim Galloway of the AJC says one of those amendments could turn into a political mess. Galloway, who says he’s no lawyer [...]

Chris Broe

March 3rd, 2009
10:12 pm

Maybe you should have bought a tire hazard risk derivative and become even more of the problem instead of the solution, man.

jboy

March 4th, 2009
1:10 pm

The only change that will occur if Sonny get his way is that he’ll line his pockets with “kick-back” money he stands to gain by controling the Transportation funding. The whole issue is power grab and has been since last years appointment of Gena. I’m proud of the DOT Board, who acted (although late) to oust the cancer named Gena from the Commissioner spot. She has been the hold up on construction lettings since she came on. I can guarantee that Republicans will find that their popularity has fallen sharply come next election especially if they let Sonny dictate policy. That’s a promise.