The chairman of the Georgia House Transportation Committee plans to resign his seat in the state legislature, according to two well-placed Republicans.
State Rep. Jay Roberts, who surprised some capitol watchers last week when he forwent a bid for majority leader, will leave the seat he’s held for the last thirteen years in the coming weeks, sources say. The expectation is that he will remain in the legislature at least until the May 11 caucus meeting, in which GOP lawmakers will elect a new majority leader.
The Republican did not respond to multiple inquiries Monday by Tipsheet, but two separate sources in the legislature confirmed his plans. “It’s the worst-kept secret in the capitol,” quipped one GOPer with knowledge of Roberts’ plans.
Capitol sources say Roberts has been lobbying Governor Nathan Deal to be appointed as planning director at the state Department of Transportation. The position has remained vacant since January, when the former director was named commissioner. A spokesman for Deal did not respond when asked if the governor had made any final determinations for the position.
Both measures ultimately passed the legislature in the final days of session, but it was Roberts’ roads framework, in which the legislature agreed to set aside $900 million annually for transportation improvement projects, that caused the most sparks.
To finance the new roads tab, House and Senate negotiators agreed to create a new statewide hotel lodging tax and to raise the motor fuels sales tax. That plan didn’t sit well with the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform, which actively opposed the proposal and argued the bill would raise gasoline prices in Georgia to the ninth-highest in the nation.
Roberts, with some assistance from Gov. Deal, ultimately muscled the plan through both chambers on the second-to-last day of the legislative calendar.
“To put this together, a lot of people worked really hard,” Roberts, sounding like a proud father, said earlier this month after the bill’s passage. “I think now we have a sense of accomplishment as a whole that we can move the state forward with transportation and have a reliable, sustainable source of funding.”
His departure would make the second senior Republican in as many weeks to signal intent to leave the General Assembly. Last week Majority Leader Larry O’Neal said he would resign his middle Georgia seat in exchange for a permanent judgeship on Georgia’s Tax Tribunal.