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No ATL senators on committee to study potential state take-over of ATL airport

By David Pendered

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on Wednesday appointed 13 members to a Senate committee that is to recommend by Dec. 1 ways the state could take over management of Atlanta’s city-owned and city-managed airport. Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor, did not appoint a senator from Atlanta.

Atlanta did not request any state assistance to run its airport.

The 13-member committee is comprised of five Democrats and eight Republicans.

Various proposals have been floated for decades for the state to assume control of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This committee was created by a resolution approved by the Senate to consider, “the transfer of operations of [the airport] to an authority.” The notion is to create a state authority to oversee the airport.

Cagle characterized the intent of the study committee as, “adding value to this tremendous asset.”

Cagle’s comment continues some of the talking points that emerged in this year’s legislative discussion. Rather than characterizing the issue as a potential state take-over of a city-owned asset, lawmakers described their goal as ensuring the economic viability of a state gem.

This is Cagle’s characterization, in a statement released Wednesday:

  • “Atlanta’s airport has generated over 400,000 jobs and $70 billion in economic impact for our state. Year after year, Hartsfield-Jackson earns the title of busiest airport in the world and sets new records for productivity and connectivity across the globe. I have full confidence that Sen. [Burt] Jones and the members of this committee will work diligently to give our state’s economy every competitive edge by adding value to this tremendous asset.”

Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson), who sponsored the legislation that created the committee, said in a statement:

Burt Jones

Burt Jones

  • “Hartsfield-Jackson is a major asset to our state, and it’s been bringing new businesses and jobs to communities across Georgia for decades. But to maximize this asset’s potential, it’s vitally important we continue evaluating the state’s involvement and role in the airport’s operations. I commend Lt. Gov. Cagle for his strong leadership in guiding our state’s economy to achieve record job growth, and I’m optimistic this committee’s work will only strengthen that momentum going forward.”

This is the relevant language in Senate Resolution 882:

  • “WHEREAS, in the interest of pubic welfare, national security, and economic stability, the transfer of operations of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to an authority might best serve and protect the citizens of the State of Georgia; and
  • “WHEREAS, study is needed to determine what federal laws and regulations must be complied with in order to accomplish a transfer of the airport to an authority and what obligations must be considered in making such a decision.”

Cagle appointed the following senators to the Senate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Operations and Authority Creation Study Committee:

  • Chairman: Burt Jones;
  • Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta);
  • Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain);
  • Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton);
  • Ed Harbison (D-Columbus);
  • Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla);
  • Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega);
  • John Kennedy (R-Macon);
  • David Lucas (D-Macon);
  • Butch Miller (R-Gainesville);
  • Jeff Mullis (R-Chicamauga);
  • Valencia Seay (D-Riversdale);
  • Freddie Powell-Sims (D-Dawson).



David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Chris Johnston June 21, 2018 10:27 am

    And why should any Senators representing Atlanta City be involved? Their position is set and they would be a road block. Note that a number of Senators representing metro Atlanta outside Atlanta City are involved.Report

  2. Victor M. Beasley June 22, 2018 5:56 pm

    The Atlanta Senators should be involved because of the impact that any decisions made would have on Atlanta, not just the metro area. That is part of how a representative government such as ours works. To assume that they would be a “road block” is actually quite foolish. If the state takeover is counter-productive to the city, then maybe they should be a “road block”. Your point of view seems to suggest that a major undertaking could take place in your back yard, but you should have no input in the matter, even if it causes harm to you and your property(???).Report

  3. Chris Johnston June 23, 2018 7:15 pm

    Victor M. Beasley, the position of the six Democrat Senators representing City voters is known – the City will not relinquish any control. These Senators would obstruct any and every consideration to the contrary.
    They will have an opportunity for input when the committee reports to the Senate.Report

  4. William Washington June 24, 2018 9:41 am

    It’s simple. Just like the Senators placed on the committee. Their position is set as well. It’s a money grab plain and simple. Ever since Maynard Jackson became Mayor of Atlanta the Gold Dome and their cronies lost the ability to control the letting of contracts to the ‘traditional’ good old boy constituency. They have always despised Atlanta Mayors for awarding bids to minority contractors. They just want the entire state to be subject to one and only only “good ole Boy” network. That’s it plain and simple. Call it what it is. Dont be naive.Report

  5. Chris Johnston June 24, 2018 10:12 am

    William Washington, just imagine how great the airport could be if it didn’t (1) serve as a slush fund for the City, (2) serve as an income source for members and descendants of the Maynard Jackson fan club, and (3) serve as a refuge for City politicians about to lose their patronage jobs when a new Mayor takes over.Report

  6. Chris Koch June 24, 2018 10:39 am

    The fair market value of the airport must be in the billions. Imagine if the state paid the city FMV plus annual rent. That would be more than enough money to expand MARTA, and to finish the BeltLine.Report

  7. Chris Johnston June 24, 2018 12:08 pm

    The City has entertained previous offers to sell the airport to private operators.Report

  8. Chris Johnston June 24, 2018 12:11 pm

    If the State paid the City FMV and owned the airport, why would they pay rent in addition?Report

  9. wrights_of_weigh June 29, 2018 2:39 pm

    This may not end well. Just examine the State takeover of the Western & Atlantic Railroad right-of way, two centuries ago.
    State Properties Commission…NC&St.L railroad/L&N/Family Lines/CSX lease and operation, and the loss of jobs involving CSX abandoning switching of through freight trains at Tilford yard off Marietta Boulevard, in northwest Atlanta, to allegedly improve their network operating metrics. And then there’s the issue of reparations of those whose sweat equity was alleged to have helped build CSX into the corporate player of rails, involved in (sometimes) moving tomorrow?!Report


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