Stephens County Commissioner Dennis Bell was recently tapped to serve a second year as Chairman of the Public Safety and the Courts Policy Committee for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). The appointment was made by ACCG President Johnny Davis.
"Everything we do as part of the committee and as part of the ACCG touches local communities throughout the state." Bell said. “I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve as Chairman of this committee and to work on legislative issues that have a direct impact on our community."
The Public Safety and the Courts Committee considers issues pertaining to the funding and administration of the court system, criminal justice, public safety, law enforcement, corrections, jails and 911 operations. The committee also looks at alternatives to incarceration as a means of limiting the fiscal and social costs on county government. Additionally, the committee handles issues including emergency management, disaster relief and civil defense.
The committee is currently meeting via teleconference, and Bell said he will be organizing meetings regionally to meet with outside agencies such as County EMS, Police Officer Associations, local law enforcement agencies, and fire departments to find out their needs and priorities for the coming year. The committee will work to guide the related policies and legislative efforts of the ACCG based on those needs.
Last year, the Bell's committee helped promote Senate Bill 249, which passed both the House and Senate this session, and will allow jail officers to participate, for the first time, in the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund retirement system. The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
Bell will lead the Public Safety and the Courts Policy Committee with Warren County Commissioner John Graham, who was named Vice Chairman.
Legislative advocacy and public policy development are two of the primary services that ACCG provides to Georgia counties. The association uses a consensus-based policy committee process to bring together county commissioners and county staff to discuss issues of concern to county government that require changes to state and federal laws and agency policies. Policy committees develop positions on key issues, which become part of the Policy Agenda. The Policy Agenda is voted on by the membership during the ACCG Legislative Leadership Conference held annually in October. The ACCG policy team uses the Policy Agenda to guide advocacy efforts on behalf of counties during the legislative session.