Politics

As New Session Begins, Atlanta Mayor Renews Objection To State Control Of Airport

The start of the 2020  legislative session has brought with it more questions about whether Georgia lawmakers will try to exert some control over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The start of the 2020 legislative session has brought with it more questions about whether Georgia lawmakers will try to exert some control over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms began her week with an appearance in front of the Georgia Senate, which last year passed a proposal for a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It was legislation that stalled in the state House.

The start of this year’s Georgia legislative session has brought with it more questions about whether lawmakers will try to exert some control over the airport.

Speaking to Senators on Monday, Bottoms touted the important relationship between the state and the city. She delivered a similar message the next day to the House.

“I don’t think we should tamper with the world’s best airport,” Bottoms said to reporters. “I think that any interruption in the airport in terms of leadership and oversight will be disruptive. One, for the operations of the airport but also for the people who use the airport.”

Bottoms said she’s taking steps to address concerns lawmakers have, including an executive order asking for the creation of an inspector general’s position for the city. It would act independently of the mayor’s office and is meant to prevent corruption.

Unlike the state Senate, the Georgia House last year stopped short of considering a full takeover of the airport, but the idea of a legislative oversight committee took hold.

House Speaker David Ralston seems to think that idea remains viable, despite Mayor Bottom’s opposition.

“Is there a proper role for legislative oversight of the operation of the airport? That’s something I think we can have a discussion about,” Ralston said.

Bottoms took yet another opportunity to reach lawmakers Wednesday morning, when she spoke before the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.

The chamber supports the city on the issue.

“We believe in Delta, we believe in that airport, we believe in the mayor,” Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark said. “Now, could there be oversight or other things? We’re going to let her have that discussion with the governor, lieutenant governor, the speaker and members of the General Assembly.”

It’s a discussion the mayor appears eager to get out in front of.

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