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Talks of airport takeover weaken as 2020 legislative session begins

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    ATLANTA, Ga (WGCL) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms returned to the state legislature for a second day in a row. She spoke to lawmakers in the House of Representatives, reaffirming her desire to continue a good working relationship with lawmakers, some of whom are pushing for a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Mayor also reaffirmed her stance that she is opposed to efforts by the state to take over airport operations.

“My position has not changed since last year,” Bottoms said Tuesday. “I don’t think that we should tamper with the world’s best airport. I think that any interruption in that airport in terms of leadership will be disruptive, for the operation of the airport but also for the people that use the airport,” she explained.

The Atlanta City Council staunchly opposed any form of takeover as Senator Burt Jones pushed a bill to take the reins citing corruption and questionable contract bids with airport leaders.

“It is running well,” Bottoms said. “What we’ve had are some problems that don’t have anything to do with how airport is operated. What we’ve done with the inspector general will give us more oversight in terms of procurement and the processes that we’ve heard concerns about from our state lawmakers,” Bottoms added, explaining that the city’s new inspector general position will help keep operations in order.

The original airport takeover bill at first proposed a complete takeover. Then other bills scaled the efforts down to a possible government oversight committee.

Monday, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan said his office will wait and see what happens in House of Representatives. House speaker David Ralston was clear that he doesn’t think an airport takeover is a good idea.

“I’m not sure that in a session where we are being asked to cut the budget that it’s a good time to take on an enterprise like the Atlanta airport,” Ralston told reporters before the start of the 2020 legislative session. “I was clear last session that I had very serious concerns that that was not the best solution a state takeover. Nothing has changed my mind on that.”

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