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Secret schemes

There is a bill proposed in the Georgia General Assembly to keep economic development plans secret.

Senate Bill 159 would allow documents relating to an economic development project proposed by a private person or entity to remain secret, even though those documents are presented to or are in the custody of a public agency.

So if this bill becomes law, it would mean that you, the citizen paying the bills for the public agency such as the city building department or county planning department, would not know about this until it’s announced.

Sound like a fair deal?

The bill says the document would only become public at the time the private person or entity announces the project.

It would not allow feedback from taxpayers, citizens or residents that may be impacted from the proposed “economic development project.” So for example, if this bill were law, would Wal-Mart and The Home Depot projects have been kept secret?

Would any new industry at the county industrial park be kept secret, even if area residents object to it?

Yes.

Does that sound fair?

There is no argument that a private entity may develop and maintain plans for a project in confidence. However, one those documents are provided to the public’s representative, then the public’s right to review the documents in the possession of their public officials should be paramount.

Sen. John Bulloch and Rep. Gene Maddox, please vote “no” on this unfair, secret-scheming piece of legislation.