ELECTION 2014: Know your Georgia governor

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/13/2014

In the lead-up to Election Day, it’s a good idea to take a look back at some significant actions by incumbents. For Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal is again vying for the votes of truckers and others.

It is no small task for Georgia voters to keep up with even the most notable actions taken by the governor during his time in office. While many professional drivers can recall precisely the actions relative to trucking that have been taken, others may welcome a helpful reminder.

With that in mind, below are some actions relevant to trucking that the Republican governor has taken during his four years on the job.

During his first year in office, Deal ratified a freeze in the tax collected on fuel purchases.

Georgia’s tax is a two-part tax. A 4 percent portion of the tax is calculated twice per year and is based on the average price per gallon of fuel in the state at the time. The rate can change every six months on Jan. 1 and July 1.

The governor decided weeks ahead of the scheduled July 1, 2011, rate increase to freeze the state’s fuel taxes to help consumers avoid more pain at the pump.

As required by state law, the Georgia Legislature approved the freeze through the end of 2011.

Two years ago, the governor signed into law a bill touted to benefit transportation priorities such as increased freight flows from the deepening of the Savannah Harbor.

The two-year old law waived a requirement to balance funds by congressional districts for interstate improvements, certain freight corridor projects, and other projects of regional significance.

“These exemptions acknowledge that the interstates and freight corridors are a state priority, with the cost not being borne solely by one or two congressional districts,” Deal said in prepared remarks at the time.

Late last year toll booths were demolished along the Georgia 400 in Atlanta. During his run for governor four years ago, Deal said he would remove tolls on the roadway once all bond debts were paid off.

“I made a promise that the tolls would end when the bond debt was paid, and I’m proud to stand here today to mark the end of that debt,” Deal stated at the time.

The state Department of Transportation now uses fuel tax revenue to maintain the Georgia 400.

In 2014, Deal signed into law three bills of note. The first new law stiffens the punishment for truck, rail or container cargo thieves.

Offenders who steal cargo from trucks loaded with controlled substances or pharmaceuticals face up to 25 years behind bars and/or fines up to $1 million based on the value.

Another provision covers fifth wheels and any antitheft locking device attached to the fifth wheel. Any attempt to alter, move or sell a fifth wheel could result in 10-year prison terms and/or $100,000 fines.

Also signed into law is a bill that requires any driver on multilane roadways to move to the right if they are being overtaken by another vehicle. Drivers traveling the speed limit are also required to yield to vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit.

A separate bill signed into law this year includes a provision to allow the speed limit in urban areas with more than 50,000 people to be raised to 70 mph – up from 55 mph and 65 mph.

Specifically, the rule change requires that traffic studies be performed by the Georgia DOT before travelers on urban interstates could be authorized to drive faster.

To view more information on Gov. Deal’s actions on transportation issues, visit votesmart.org.

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