Key Vote Analysis
Doug Haines (Democrat, Incumbent)
Please note that the opinions expressed in this section are not those
of Athens Grow Green Coalition, Inc., but are those of the candidate to
whom they are attributed.
According to a study recently released by the Athens-Clarke County Department
of Housing & Economic Development, affordable housing for very low
income residents continues to be a challenge in Athens. What can be done
at the state level to help? What have you done, and what will you do,
to improve access to decent, stable affordable housing for those of low
and very low income?
Assuring access to affordable housing will take more than simply building
more low-cost (but good quality) housing, although that is certainly part
of the equation. Keeping people in the homes they already have, providing
resources that help the working poor hold onto their jobs, and raising
the wages they receive are important too. In my first term as your State
Senator, we have made progress, but there is still a lot to be done. I
supported Ballot Question 2, a proposed amendment to our State Constitution
that would allow for a special tax status for affordable housing; this
will help keep construction and operating costs, as well as rents, down.
Keeping people in their homes is more humane and less costly than trying
to help them after they've been made homeless. To that end, I sponsored
the nation's toughest predatory lending bill, which went into effect this
month, to stop people, especially the elderly who are most often the victims
of this crime, from being bilked out of their homes. I also sponsored
legislation that would have ensured that mobile home park tenants had
the right to make a matching offer if the park was to be sold. For many
Georgians, manufactured housing is the only affordable option. The bill
was defeated by lobbying led by the building and apartment management
industry, but I will introduce it again. Finally, we can seek federal
funds available to cities like Athens that our local government has so
far not attempted to access.
What can be done at the state level to ensure that our water is clean
and plentiful? What have you done, and what will you do to improve water
quality? What have you done and what will you do to ensure that we have
enough water, both for our use and to maintain a healthy aquatic habitat
in our rivers and streams?
I am pushing regional solutions which include multi-county facilities
which better conserve water and offer significantly better technologies
for controlling pollution. I am working on a legislative package to devise
cost-effective means of dealing with drinking water and wastewater needs
through legislation and regulatory mechanisms. I have worked on water
policy issues for more than a decade and authored one of Georgia's key
water policy laws, the inter-basin transfer law, before I was elected.
As a public interest lawyer, I successfully prosecuted many cases against
Clean Water Act violators. Prior to my election, I testified on water
issues before the Georgia House and Senate and before the US House of
Representatives. Since my election I have played a key role in the establishment
of the North Georgia Metropolitan Water Authority and the Water Policy
Study Committee which is charting the water future for the rest of Georgia.
The biggest source of water pollution in GA is erosion and sedimentation
caused by development. To combat this, we can tie Georgia Environmental
Facilities Authority funds, which go to local governments for infrastructure,
to their success in improving control of erosion and sedimentation. Communities
implementing wider riparian buffers, or which can show enforcement of
erosion and sedimentation regulations, would be given priority for GEFA
Next session, the General Assembly is likely to vote to increase the
minimum riparian buffer. I will fight for this, as well as to ensure that
priority is given to considering all important uses of water, including
drinking water, agriculture, and support of aquatic system integrity.
Growth and development
Athens has been nationally recognized as one of the fastest sprawling
areas in the U.S. What can be done at the state level to curb sprawl?
What have you done and what will you do to help prevent sprawl and its
Why don't we like sprawl? First, the cost - for infrastructure, police
and fire protection, roads. It's bad for the economy. It costs more to
build subdivisions the way we have. And second, the environmental impacts
- on air and water quality, and loss of open space. Part of the picture
in slowing sprawl is the Greenspace program; our transportation policy,
and regulatory and incentive programs.
I supported the Community Greenspace initiative, which is a great start.
I made sure that the TDR enabling legislation was amended to make it easier
for ACC to implement this market-driven land preservation tool. There
are other innovative solutions. DCA has funds available for local governments
for infrastructure improvements; we can make sure that communities that
implement "smart growth" policies - like protecting greenspace,
encouraging infill and mixed-use development - are given higher priority
for receiving these funds. We will need to regulate the use of septic
tanks. It is now customary for subdivisions to use septic systems for
wastewater and wells for drinking water. But there are no safeguards in
place to ensure that septic systems are maintained, so they fail, and
when that happens our drinking water sources become polluted. This is
an example of better environmental control and enforcement that are needed,
for public health reasons, that will slow down sprawl. We need to continue
to find innovative programs that allow local governments to coordinate
federal and state dollars that are available for "smart growth"
Air quality, water quality, and public health are all negatively impacted
by our excessive dependence on the automobile for transportation. What
kinds of alternatives to automobile transportation do you support? What
have you done and will you do to help us to expand our transportation
choices here in Athens?
We need to have a vision of transportation for the future which takes
into account more than just road-building; and we need to start now to
create the infrastructure for the future. We took the first step toward
creating that infrastructure by passing GARVEE bonding, which allows the
state to borrow money at historically low rates based on the federal transportation
funds we expect to receive in the future. This will allow us to build
transportation systems that look to the future, that will move people
efficiently and effectively, with more choices than just automobiles;
this must include commuter rail. By investing in infrastructure that will
allow people to travel by more efficient, less polluting means than the
automobile, we'll save money in other areas, and we'll give our area relief
from air pollution. This is especially true for Athens, with the growing
congestion on 316.
In order to make commuter rail viable, ticket prices would need to be
affordable. We should not expect rail tickets to completely cover the
costs of running the line. We subsidize roads astronomically; road users
don't pay anywhere near the true cost of building and maintaining our
roads. So why impose that kind of cost analysis on rail or other alternative
But providing commuter rail is only part of the picture. We have to be
prepared to receive rail. The local transportation system has to be ready
to move the rail commuters - many of whom will likely be UGA students
- efficiently and effectively. If we have a well-functioning transportation
system here, and in Atlanta, commuter rail will become a reality.