February 21, 2019 8:00 AM
On Wednesday, Senate Bill 131 was introduced by Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) to create a state authority to oversee the now-Atlanta controlled Hartsfield-Jackson airport. Atlanta touts the Hartsfield-Jackson airport as Georgia’s largest economic asset, with an estimated regional impact of $64 billion and 448,696 jobs.
In December 2018, a Senate study committee led by Senator Jones examined a state takeover of the airport and recommended the creation of a state authority to oversee the economic asset. In support of the state authority, the study committee cited Atlanta’s recent bribery scandals and probes into misuse of airport funds and best practices for airport management. SB 131 is cosponsored in the Senate by four fellow study committee members, Brandon Beach, Mike Dugan, Tyler Harper, and Jeff Mullis, and one Senator not on the committee, Matt Brass.
The bill as written would create a state authority to oversee the airport controlled by the state legislature and constitutional officers, removing control of the airport from the city of Atlanta. Both the city of Atlanta and Delta Air Lines have vocally opposed the takeover discussions.
A complete analysis of the state takeover attempt was completed in January 2019. As discussed then, the state legislators wishing to create an airport authority will need to circumvent the Federal Aviation Administration, which has doomed state takeover attempts in other states.