Legislative Week 3: Transportation Bill Drops and a Bill Aimed at Local Agencies, including County and City Governments, Development Agencies and Others Concerns the Council

This is the Legislative Week 3, 2015 Edition of the Council's "Under the Gold Dome," a weekly publication covering the 2015 Georgia General Assembly Session.  As a reminder, this publication comes out each Friday during the Session. 

We have the beginnings of a Transportation Bill, as the House Speaker and House Transportation Chairman, with others, hosted a press conference on Wednesday to unveil the "Transportation Funding Act of 2015," setting the stage for the funding debate to likely last until the final days of Session. House Bill 170 was dropped on Thursday morning by House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, with some of the key provisions including:

  • Conversion of the Sales Tax on Motor Fuel to an Excise Tax, ajusted annual to keep pace with fuel efficiency of vehicles;
  • Continuation of current SPLOSTS approved by voters until their planned expiration dates;
  • Allows counties and cities to levy an excise tax up to 3 cents each (6 cents total) for local trnasportation projects, by approval of county commission of city council;
  • Allows additional excise taxes on motor fuel beyond 3 cent limit woudl be subject to votor approval;
  • Institute a user-fee of $200 for non-commercial alternative fuled vehicles and $300 for commernical alternative-fuled vehicles;
  • Recapitalize the Georgia Tranpsortation Infrstructure Bank to create a revolving, self-susatining loan and grant fund is created to incentivize local governments, CID's. authorities, etc. to provide matching funds for local constrcution projects. 
This bill is a huge step in solving our transportation funding needs, by closing the funding gap needed with over $1 billion in new transportation funding, without a state tax increase.  By converting to an excise tax from a motor fuel tax, the state will have created the effect of reallocating the "fourth penny" that had been redirected from the motor fule tax to the general fund.   Additionally, the House leadership is committed to a bond package that will focus on critical bridge maintening, transit and other essential transportation projects.

Realistically, this legislation will see changes as it moves through the House and the Council will continue to remain engaged at the Capitol throughout the process.  It will be interesting to see if other pieces of transportaion focused legislation re-emerge , such as multi-county SPLOSTS and Fractional SPLOSTS.  You may recall, the Council actively engaged with support of House Bill 153 in the 2014 Session, which would allow counties, pending an intergovernmental agreement with local municipalities, to levy, pending voter approval, a special option sales tax of less than 1%.

Once concering piece of legislation was filed by Cherokee County State Representative Scott Turner (R), House Bill 97, which  prohibits local agencies from entering into non-disclosure agreements. According to the bill, all agenices shall fully disclose without delay, any communications regarding any terms and conditions of any agreement, incentive or offered made or entered into by the agency, directing the Attorney General to sanction any individual, on behalf of an agency who enters into a non-disclosure agreement in violation of this proposed law. Furthermore, it allows any citizen, in addition to the Attorney General, to intiate civil action to compel the disclosure of any matters covered in a non-disclosure 

It appears intent of the legislation is to end the practice of Development Authorities, County, and Municipal governments from negotiating incentives to attract businesses and jobs to their communities.  However, the changes in the law inevitably have collateral and unintended consequences such as the effects on local school boards and CIDS.  This legislation is bad for local governments and especially Development Authorities and would make Georgia noncompetitive with the remainder of the country.  It woudl impact, for example, cities such as Sandy Springs from negotiating with Mercedes-Benz when discussing a move from New Jersey to the Perimter area. 

Particularly troubling in the legislation is OCGA 50-18-78(c) which requires agencies to "fully disclose without delay" the "terms and conditions of any agreement".  This is not limited to a "nondisclosure agreement" as defined in section (a), but "any agreement" whether it relates to nondisclosure or not.  

Local governments, CID's School Boards and Development Authorities have played strong roles in the growth of cities and municipalities across the state and the Council for Quality Growth will continue to partner with local agencies in this pursuit. A bill that will stifle the ability of any of the above mentioned agencies across Georgia to engage businesses will hurt the growth of cities and municipalities around the state.

The Council will be working with out member partners in order to ensure education of legislators and policymakers Under the Gold Dome on legislation that is damaging to ecnomic development in the region and state.

Look for the next Under Gold Dome on February 6th for a recap of the Week.  

The House and Senate have set a schedule that has them in Monday - Wednesday, for Days 9-11next week and Monday - Thursday the week after, putting the Session at Legislative Day 15 on Thursday, February 12.
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Next Week's Spotlight: 

Senate Bill 59: Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

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Craft Breweries: Their Economic Impact in Georgia: Senate Bill 63 Dropped on Wednesday.
 

Craft breweries in Georgia, and in the Metro Atlanta Region specifically, have grown in popularity for many years now.


 

For many residents, the hope is that Georgia will become a popular destination for beer connoisseurs, similar to other states, such as Colorado and California. 


 

House Bill 314 was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly in the 2014 Session and a new piece of legislation was dropped this Session, Senate Bill 63, sponsored by State Senator Hunter Hill, allow GA breweries to manufacture malt beverages on their premises for off-premises consumption. 

 
Read More
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Council for Quality Growth's Board of Directors State Government Affairs Task Force Established
The Council Board of Director's has established the 2015 Government Affairs Task Force, consisting of members of the Council Board of Directors. 

The Task Force is charged with establishing the Council's Legislative Agenda, as well as directing the Council and providing input on legislation before the Georgia General Assembly.  

Click HERE to view the full Government Affairs Task-force. 
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CLICK HERE
 to view a PDF version of the Council's Legislative Agenda.

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Georgia Senate Press Office: Senate in a Minute

During Session, the Georgia Senate Press Office films a daily recap of the Georgia Senate's actions.  


 

CLICK HERE to view the daily recaps for the 2014 Session.

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House of Representatives Floor Notes


 

Each Session day the Georgia House publishes a recap of the legislative day that occurred in the House.  

 

CLICK HERE to view the daily recaps for the 2014 Session.

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Council's Legislative Bill Tracking
Below is a listing of filed bills, including their sponsor, location and bill analysis.  This represents legislation the Council is actively involved with (denoted by a *) or that is of interest to Council Members.  
If you have a specific question about a piece of legislation, email  Director of Government Affairs and Policy at JT@CouncilforQualityGrowth.org

House Bills

House Bill 4: Interbasin Transfers
Sponsor: Rep. Harry Geisinger (R) 
House Committee: Prefiled
Status: No Committee Assignment
This bill removes the restriction in Georgia law for inter-basin water transfers from all rivers with an annual average flow of 15 billion gallons of water a day,  if the county where the river flows agrees to the water withdrawal.
Council Position: Support

House Bill 21: Transity Authority
Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Status: House Second Readers
This bill removes the population threshhold for a local government to form a transit authority, changes the definition of "metropolitan area" to include an unincoporated city and the area "suburban to such city" and requires a new transit authority in a municiplaity to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with an exisiting transity authority before its formation.
Council Position: Evaluating

House Bill 27: Creation of City of South Fulton
Sponsor: Rep. Roger Bruce (D)
House Committee: Prefiled
Status: No Committee Assignment
This bill creates a charter for the propose City of South Fulton, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.
Council Position: Neutral

House Bill 49: Electronic Tax Bill Delivery
Sponsor: Rep. Brett Harrell (R)
House Committee:  Ways & Means
Status: In Committee
This bill allows a local tax commisisoner or collector to send, at the request of a citizen, their tax bills electronically. 
Council Position: Support

House Bill 60: Motor Fuel Tax and State Income Tax
Sponsor: Rep. Ed Setzler (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Status: In Committee
This bill would eliminate the "4th" penny on gas and shit it to the motor fuel tax, currently at 3%, while gradually raising the fuel excise tax from 7.5 cents to 22.5 cents by 2022 and a gradual decrease of the state's income tax rate to a flat 5.5% by 2022, down from the current rate of  6%.
Council Position: Evaluating


Senate Bills

Senate Bill 59: "Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act"
Sponsor: Senator Hunter Hill (R)
House Committee: Economic Development & Tourism
Status: In Committee

The bill would amend Georgia law to allow for public agencies to engage with private-sector parties in public-private partnerships to meet current and future needs for government facilities and infrastructure. This would allow private firms to submit unsolicited proposals for projects that have been identified as a public needs.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Resolution 43: Senate Special Tax Exemption Study Committee

Sponsor:  Senator John Albers (R)

Senate Committee: Finance

Status: In Committee

This bill creates a Study Committee to examine the current state tax exemptions and the impact had on the Georgia economy, to understand their value an assess which exemptions help stimulate the state's economy and beneift all Georgians through job creation.

Council Position: Evaluating

January 30, 2015

In This Issue
The Council for Quality Growth | 770-813-3370 | jt@councilforqualitygrowth.org 
http://www.councilforqualitygrowth.org
5901-C Peachtree Dunwoody Road
Suite 500
Atlanta, GA 30328