During a surprise visit, Rep. George Bandy showed up at a town hall meeting Monday night at Pine Hill Baptist Church in Phenix City to address the citizens about why he chose not to sign the landfill bill introduced by Rep. Lesley Vance.
The bill would have prevented any landfills from being built within one mile of the Chattahoochee River.
“I’ll just get right to the point with the landfill deal,” Bandy said. “The request that we received from the county commission included an exemption.”
He said that HB 975 excluded Phenix City and other municipalities from the bill. However, both the Russell County Commission and the Phenix City Council voted unanimously asking all the members of the local delegation to sign the bill.
“I got my first call after they asked me to sign right here,” Bandy said holding up the bill. “I don’t think you sent me down there to sign right here. If my signature was that important, why didn’t they come to me?”
Bandy said that he didn’t sign the local bill because he believed that it would allow the city to pollute the river.
“To pass that bill is to put you in a worse position than had we not passed it,” Bandy said to the more than 100 people in attendance at the meeting.
Vance and residents of south Phenix City did not agree. Vance said all local bills exclude municipalities, but he also introduced a statewide bill that did not exclude any municipalities.
“If he felt that way, then why didn’t he sign the statewide bill, which didn’t exclude all the cities,” Vance said. “All he had to do was sign off on the local bill. He just trying to find a way to get himself out of the spot that’s he’s gotten himself in with the local people, and I don’t think he’s going to be able to do it, especially with the people who live out there.”
Fletcher Tolbert, who addressed the group before Bandy arrived, said he does not believe Bandy’s explanation.
“I still feel he lied,” said Tolbert, who lives next door to the proposed landfill sight.
Tolbert said Bandy visited with him and assured him he would give his support for the bill.
“Now he says if he had signed the bill that it would have done me more harm than good. I’m not buying it,” Tolbert said.
Before Bandy spoke, Tolbert asked the citizens of Phenix City to send Bandy a strong message during the next election.
“When a man shakes my hand and looks me in my eye then I’m looking for him to do what he says,” Tolbert said. “So come election day, I’m going to do him a favor too. Next year we need to do all we can to get Mr. Bandy and Mr. Penn out of office.”
Still, Vance is hopeful the bill will be passed next session.