I don’t know if every Georgia citizen agrees, but there is nothing more annoying than observing a rushed parker who is disability free taking advantage of a close “Handicapped Parking” space. According to this article from AugustaChronicle.com, the Georgia General Assembly is going to make the practice more costly for those who are caught.
ATLANTA, GA— A proposal moving through the General Assembly might make Georgia drivers think twice about parking in spaces reserved for the disabled.
Senate Resolution 1074, which passed the House Civil Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would add a 10 percent surcharge to the fine for illegally parking between the blue lines. That could mean an extra $10 to $50 a ticket for the violation, which currently draws a $100 to $500 fine.
The money brought in by the additional fine — along with similar charges for boating while intoxicated, reckless driving and riding a motorcycle without a helmet — would go to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission, a state agency that helps pay bills that Medicaid or private insurance can’t or won’t pay.
Rusty Kidd, the chairman of the commission, said the extra charge is needed because the current method for funding the trust fund, a 10 percent charge on fines for driving under the influence, isn’t bringing in enough money. Part of that is because judges are willing to reduce DUI charges to reckless driving, he said.
At the same time, injured veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq are part of an increase in the number of Georgians asking the commission for help.
“It’s not a tax increase, so to speak,” Mr. Kidd said. “It would be a surcharge on people who are violating the law.”
He pointed out that all the violations that would be subject to the surcharge are either likely to cause someone to need help from the trust fund or, in the case of the parking ticket, have a clear connection to laws meant to help disabled people.
The proposal is expected to bring in about $250,000 a year, Mr. Kidd said.
Some lawmakers are uneasy with the extra charges. Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, said the General Assembly has begun relying too heavily on creating special surcharges for a variety of state needs instead of putting those items in the budget.
“I don’t think it’s right to dump the responsibility for funding something that’s a statewide concern on just a select group of people,” he said.
American Bikers Active Toward Education of Georgia, which has pushed for the state to get rid of laws requiring adults to wear helmets while riding a motorcycle, doesn’t oppose the measure, said Edward Andross, the group’s legislative director.
But he said ABATE was concerned that it backs up what the group considers a faulty assumption that motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are more likely to end up costing the state money.
“This is just adding more fuel to the fire that if you don’t wear a helmet, you’re a burden … We’re not a burden to society,” he said.
Story by Brandon Larrabee, Morris News Service