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Woodstock Opposes Bill That Could Restrict Communication with Lawmakers

The Woodstock City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing a bill that would prohibit public employees from using government-owned computers to express their opinions on certain types of legislation.

The Woodstock City Council has come out against a bill that would ban city employees from using government property to communicate how they feel about legislation pending in the Georgia General Assembly.

The council approved the resolution unanimously. Councilman Randy Brewer was not present.

City Manager Jeff Moon, who told the council he thought the bill was "counterintuitive," brought forth the resolution for the council to consider.

He said with the way the bill is currently written, "we’d be technically breaking the state law" since he and city staff could not use government computers or email to inform lawmakers on how certain legislation would impact local governments.

He also said that even if the city wanted to transmit something to the legislature, another bill in the Georgia General Assembly would require him to register as a lobbyist.

Tell us: should public employees be prohibited from communicating with state lawmakers using government owned computers, email accounts, phones, etc.

Councilman Chris Casdia voiced his support of the city's resolution.

"I think we need to let our voices be heard," he said. "I think it’s silly."

House Bill 228 would:

  • ban public employees from using government owned computers or other devices to promote or oppose any legislation in the state legislature; 
  • ban any employee from advocating for the approval or veto of legislation by the governor's office; 
  • ensure that local school districts use email addresses of parents or guardians of students only for school related functions; 
  • prohibit school district employees from using email to promote or oppose any legislation under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly,
  • advocate for the approval or veto of any bill by the governor;
  • prohibit school district employees from advocating for or against the the ratification or approval of questions submitted to the voting public

Woodstock's resolution notes the bill "confuses" lobbying with communication, thus limiting local governments ability to participate in the political process.

"Without the sometimes unsolicited input of city employees who know the day to day operations of city government better than anyone, and who have discussed the affect of a particular piece of legislation with their elected officials, state legislators could be making uninformed and ill advised decisions that could prove costly for all involved," part of the resolution reads. 

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