by Hatcher Hurd / Appen Newspapers
December 02, 2008 MILTON - State Rep. Jan Jones probably doesn't talk about the weather without mentioning the need for a new Milton County, but she does not see her elevation to the Republican State House whip as a bully pulpit to that end.But that is because she sees the course for a new county as sailing fairly straight as it is. Will being the whip help?"Well, itcertainly won'thurt," Jones said. "We already have a very strong North Fulton team, as evidenced by the passage of the three cities [Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek], which we got passed in pretty much record time."
Jones saw getting legislation for those cities as the first step before going on for a new county. That came from the North Fulton legislative team's influence as a whole, she said.In addition to her new role, state Sen. Dan Moody is the Senate caucus chairman, state Rep. Wendell Willard is chairman of the House Judiciary and state Rep. Mark Burkhalter is House chairman pro tem.
"As each of us takes on more roles, such as my appointment as majority whip, it helps," Jones said. "I think we are all unified in the conviction that it is time for a vote now. We are now ready to take that constitutional amendment forward."
The amendment would allow any former existing county that had since merged with another county to reconstitute itself. The state Constitution limits the number of Georgia counties to 159. The only possible county that could be affected is Fulton, which merged with Milton County in the north and Campbell County in the south in 1932 as an economic bailout of the two faltering counties during the Great Depression.
A feasibility study commissioned by the Legislature should be out next month, Jones said."I think the effect of the study will be to let the legislators and the people of Georgia see it is a very reasonable desire and request to let North Fulton choose its own county government. I think it will show the reconstituted Fulton and Milton counties will have the same revenues as they do now on a per capita basis," she said. Bonded indebtedness and SPLOST commitments would be continued to pay out as before. That would mean the libraries commissioned in the most recent bond referendum would be built and paid for in the prescribed manner by both counties.
"It will take a few years to get this all in place. There would be a transition period," she said.As whip, it will be Jones' job to assist the majority leader and keep members advised about key floor and committee votes. It will be her job to count noses to be sure legislation the party supports will get the support it needs to pass. In short, she will manage the legislative agenda of the party."Being the whip, I will be monitoring and influencing the flow of information," she said. "I view it as information central. I will be supplying information and perspective on the issues to the Republican Caucus."
Every piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the House goes through the whip's office, which then issues a daily report. Around 10 deputy whips will assist Jones in the process."During the session, it will be a working job. I said I wanted the job to do something in the party - not to be something - and I think I got that."