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State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) hosted a legislative breakfast February 1 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, giving attendees an update on issues under the Gold Dome, including his bid for Georgia’s 9th Congressional district seat. Photo by Denise Ray

Tanner shares plans to run for Collins’ 9th Congressional District seat

BY DENISE RAY
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State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-District 9) addressed a crowd of nearly 100 constituents February 1 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, giving a state legislative update to a crowd of Republicans and Democrats, alike, sharing his intent to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representative later this year.

The State budget, transportation and mental health issues were served up by the life-long resident of Dawson County to what he described as a diverse crowd. A philosophical Tanner reminded his audience that “we can disagree but not be disagreeable. I’m encouraged that we’ll get a lot of big things done this session in the state legislature, but there are a lot of challenges out there.”

Legislation

Currently the legislature is working on bills from last year and new ones. If last year’s bills are not passed before adjournment, they are considered “dead” and would have to be re-introduced when the new legislature convenes the next year. Bills are bi-annual and follow the two-year election cycle, Tanner said.

House Bill 276 - The Marketplace Facilitator bill— was just passed after being introduced last year. The bill makes the marketplace facilitator (the dealer) responsible for the tax due on all sales sourced to Georgia and made through the marketplace. This includes sales by small marketplace sellers based in other states who would not otherwise be required to collect and remit Georgia sales or use tax. The measure will take effect April 1.

The bill leveled the playing field, Tanner said. Brick and mortar retailers were held accountable, investigated and online retailers were not as vigorously regulated.

“Brick and mortar retailers championed this one,” he said.

Budget

The three days following the MLK holiday are dedicated to budget hearings. House and Senate appropriations committees come together and are briefed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp who shares what he wants to see and what his priorities are, Tanner told his audience. “The real work begins within the subcommittees of the appropriations committee,” Tanner said. “The economy is trudging along very, very strong. Revenue has come back over the last month or so and we look forward to that continuing.”

One of the things the governor can do is set revenue projections, Tanner said. “He tells us here’s how much revenue we’re going to collect next year. We then write a budget, he presents it. The budget cannot go over the governor’s expected revenue.”

Tanner said that if revenue continues to increase, the governor might put the additional monies into areas where funding has been cut. Traditionally the budget is presented as a conservative one, he said.

“I don’t have a crystal ball; he’s not told me that. I just know that revenue has picked up and the economy is moving along very strong. Unemployment is down and the Marketplace Facilitator bill is going to shore up those revenues as we start collecting them April 1,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s totally in his [Gov. Kemp] control and it’s his decision.”

Transportation

Tanner is chair of the transportation committee of the house. GDOT prepared a 10-year plan, which lays out its priorities for 10 years to be reviewed by committee members.

“There are a whole lot of roads in this state and a whole lot of problems with them, but [U.S.] Transportation Secretary Chau is working hard to resolve them,” Tanner said. “The good thing for us is that she’s from Gainesville; she was the district engineer in Gainesville. She’s got a place in her heart for our area.”

Concerns about the transportation of freight is something Tanner is looking to resolve.

“We have an unbelievable amount of freight coming into the state and the port of Savannah and it is expected to continue to grow,” Tanner said. By the year 2040, it is estimated that the amount of freight on trains and rail will double,” he added.

“Our roads won’t be able to handle that. We’ve got to find ways to support more freight on rails and get it off of our roadways.” To rectify the situation, Tanner said innovative ideas are being considered.

There is an opportunity to work with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to possibly alleviate some of the freight on roadways. Norfolk Southern Railway has a line that runs very close to the airport. Airlines are looking to fill up empty baggage space with freight. Currently there is a 70 percent occupancy of space, Tanner said.

Bid for U. S. Congress

After much prayer and time spent talking with people in the 9th District of Georgia, Tanner said he would throw his hat into the ring on January 30 and run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Doug Collins.

Just a day before Tanner’s announcement, Rep. Collins said he would campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Kelly Loeffler. Gov. Kemp appointed Loeffler to fill out former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term when he retired at the end of 2019 for health reasons.

State Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) announced he would also run for the 9th District U.S. House seat.

The 9th District, which includes a large section of northeast Georgia, including Dawson, Hall, Lumpkin and many other counties, has been held by Collins since 2013.

“I’ve been in the General Assembly—at the end of this session it’ll be eight years—and I never thought that anybody should make a career out of serving in the General Assembly so I knew that at some point my time was drawing short and it was time to let someone else have an opportunity to serve. An unexpected opportunity presented itself [when Collins announced his intention to run for senator].”

If elected, Tanner will represent 20 counties across northeast Georgia. “All I know is I’m supposed to be obedient,” Tanner said. “I feel like I’m supposed to run and take this step out on faith and work hard.” Tanner plans to take his decades of service to Washington with his belief that hard work and willingness to work with both sides of the aisle is necessary for success.

“Somebody told me Washington’s so broke we can’t fix it. I believe that sometimes, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if good people are called for the right purpose, with good attributes and for the right reasons and cannot make a positive difference, then our country is completely lost. We might as well all give up and go home—there’s no reason to be here.

“I’m not willing to accept that yet. I’m willing to go and try to make a positive difference, to give positive input for the future of our country and really bring what we have in this room and in North Georgia there, which is the ability to have different ideas and still work together for the common good of the people we are there to serve and not just be a talking head all the time on a news channel.”

Tanner spent 27 years in public service and previously served as Dawson County manager prior to his four terms as Georgia’s District 9 Representative.

Currently Tanner serves as chairman of the Georgia House Transportation Committee and has been a member of the Appropriations, Education, Special Rules, Natural Resources and Intergovernmental Coordination committees.

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