Official Opinion 97-23
You have asked "whether the 25% solid waste reduction goal specified in O.C.G.A. § 12-8-21(c) expired on July 1, 1996." The cited Subsection provides, "It is the intent of the General Assembly that every effort be undertaken to reduce on a state- wide per capita basis the amount of municipal solid waste being received at disposal facilities during fiscal year 1992 by 25 percent by July 1, 1996. . . ."
"In all interpretations of statutes, the courts shall look diligently for the intention of the General Assembly, keeping in view at all times the old law, the evil, and the remedy." O.C.G.A. § 1-3-1(a). This Subsection is a part of the "Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act," O.C.G.A. § 12-8-20, and the goal it sets plays a further role in later requirements of the Act. Each city and county must have a program in its solid waste management plan for meeting the goal. O.C.G.A. § 12- 8-39.1. No permit, grant or loan may be issued for a municipal solid waste disposal facility unless the host jurisdiction and other jurisdictions which will contribute waste "are actively involved in, and have a strategy for," meeting the goal. O.C.G.A. § 12-8-31.1(e)(3). Permits for solid waste handling and for solid waste handling facilities are similarly conditioned. O.C.G.A. § 12-8-24(c), (g). Local jurisdictions and the Department of Community Affairs are
required to report on progress toward meeting the goal. O.C.G.A. §§ 12-8-31(d)(7), 12-8-31.1(d)(2).
In light of these provisions, the calendar date of July 1, 1996, was part of the goal but not the end of it. The heart of the legislation is the requirement of active involvement in programs for reducing waste. A directory deadline in such a context may not be read to override the greater intent that an act or process be performed. Cf. Hopping v. Cobb County Fair Ass'n, Inc., 222 Ga. 704, 706 (1966); O'Neal v. Spencer, 203 Ga. 588 (1948); Portland Audubon Soc'y v. Lujan, 768 F. Supp. 755, 758-59 (D. Ore. 1991) (statutory language held to contemplate completion of a process without regard to expiration of a period of time).
Therefore, it is my official opinion that the essential intent of Code Subsection 12-8-21(c) is the reduction of solid waste by 25 percent. This goal remains effective in applying related requirements of the "Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act," notwithstanding that the goal was originally expressed in terms of a calendar date which has passed. Jurisdictions which met the goal should continue the process of maintaining it; jurisdictions which did not meet the goal should continue the effort to reach it.
JOHN B. BALLARD, JR.
Senior Assistant Attorney General