House Bill Aims to Reform JIA Board
HB1361, introduced by Rep. Barbara Reece (D- Menlo), aims to amend Georgia law dealing with the qualifications for appointment to the Jekyll Island Authority’s Board of Directors.
- Current law only provides geographic criteria for JIA board membership, meaning the board is required to have members from certain counties and regions in Georgia. It’s up to the Governor to select people within these geographic areas whom he feels would be a good fit for the JIA board.
- Presently, the majority of JIA board members come from the finance, development, and business communities.
- HB1361 would amend the existing law so as to require board appointees to have expertise in areas relevant to the important tasks they would be called upon to perform as stewards of Georgia’s barrier island State Park.
- Examples of areas of expertise that would be represented on the JIA board if HB1361 were to become law include: public land planning and development, outdoor recreation, hospitality and tourism, marine biology, ecology or conservation management, public education, and Jekyll’s history and culture.
- There is widespread agreement that JIA board appointees should be held to high ethical standards, particularly with respect to conflicts of interest that might impact their conscientious performance of their duties.
- Adherence to such standards is especially important since the JIA board is, and may continue to be, involved with development projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
- HB 1361 addresses this concern by requiring board members to disclose any connections with any individual, firm or corporation that aims to do business with the JIA, and by banning the JIA from entering into a contract in which a board member or JIA employee has a personal interest.
- Failure to comply with the new ethical standards would be grounds for dismissal from the JIA.
HB 1361 has been assigned to the State Institutions and Property Committee, where it will be discussed and then sent to House floor for a vote if it wins the approval of the majority of the Committee’s members.