The coal ash pond dewatering bill authored by state Rep. Jeff Jones received unanimous committee approval Tuesday afternoon, moving the public notification legislation one step closer to law. By making it through the state House of Representatives before the crossover deadline, and now ready for a vote by the full Senate, puts it in a rare group of bills to be so successful this session.

Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee Chairman Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, said it was the committee’s intention to get the bill to the floor quickly.

“We did have this in subcommittee and we did take testimony in subcommittee, so my plan is to get you to present your plan before the full committee, and we’ll move through it quite rapidly,” Harper said during a hearing this week.

Jones opened by thanking the entities involved in working through and crafting the bill’s language during the legislative process.

“I’m like the father who’s got photos of his kids — I can show you as many photos as you want, but there’s been a lot of work that’s gone to bring the bill to this point,” Jones, R-St. Simons Island, said when presenting the bill to the committee. “A lot of negotiation, compromise, both with Georgia Power — and I want to compliment them for their work and their participation — as well as with (the state Environmental Protection Division).”

Jones also went through the process of explaining the bill one more time for the senators.

“HB 879 achieves an expanded public notice when coal ash ponds are being drained into the local waters within a community, by requiring that an ad be placed in the legal organ in that community once the commencing of the coal ash dewatering — as it’s called, or pond draining — has begun,” Jones said. “And the purpose of that is just to give the locals the opportunity to know what’s going on in their communities.”

Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, has been tasked with getting the bill passed in the Senate.

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