Overnight, State Senator William Ligon (D3) and State Representative Don Hogan (D179) released a joint statement that they would no longer be pursuing SB 317, which would have mandated a binding vote on whether Glynn County would continue to have a police department or turn all county law enforcement operations to the Sheriff's office. The bill has drawn the ire of both the Glynn County Commission and the Association of County Commissioners, who contend that it violates the "home rule" clause of the state constitution.
The release stated that the pair would instead pursue a non-binding local resolution to be placed on the November ballot.
The complete release is quoted below:
GLYNN COUNTY PRESS RELEASE
Update on Local Legislation:
Advisory Non-binding Referendum to be Placed on November Ballot
Regarding Glynn County Police Department
JOINT STATEMENT BY: Sen. William Ligon and Rep. Don Hogan
As we move forward with a legislative response to the Grand Jury’s concerns regarding the Glynn County Police Department, Rep. Don Hogan and I continue to seek the best solution to provide the voters of Glynn County an opportunity to weigh-in on whether to continue operating two law enforcement entities for the county. We want to keep everyone updated before introducing the local legislation.
After additional discussions with various members of the Glynn County Board of Commissioners, Rep. Don Hogan and I are hopeful that some serious changes are being considered for their oversight of the Glynn County Police Department as well as for the internal policies of the department itself. Nonetheless, we still believe the voters of Glynn County need to make their voices heard at the ballot box so that the commissioners understand if voters have enough confidence in those reforms to retain a separate law enforcement agency for the county. Glynn County is only one of thirteen counties in the state with both a county police department and a sheriff’s office.
Therefore, we will no longer advance SB 317 to mandate a binding referendum. Instead, we will advance local legislation that will pose the ballot question as an advisory non-binding referendum. This would ensure that the members of the Glynn County Commission know the will of the people in this matter. Also, having this in the form of a non-binding referendum resolves any controversy over the constitutionality of having the question on the ballot.
If the people vote to abolish their Glynn County Police Department, it would be up to the Glynn County Commissioners whether to conform to the results of the referendum or not. The commissioners have the authority to simply abolish the Glynn County Police Department with a resolution. On the other hand, commissioners could make their own case to the people that enough reforms have been adopted to solve the problems identified by the Grand Jury and face reelection on the merits of those reforms.
Therefore, the local bill is being drafted to specifically direct the placement of the question on the 2020 Glynn County ballot as an advisory non-binding resolution. The will of the people can then be expressed at the ballot box in November. Rep. Hogan and I hope this new approach will allow our county to move forward in unity toward the best possible outcome for the citizens of Glynn County.