This is the Legislative Week 9, 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. 

With the majority of action concerning to the Council resolved by Crossover Day, the report below discusses an Amendment to Senate Bill 36, recognizes the Council Day at the Capitol Resolution and an in-depth look at the Transportation Funding Act. Additionally, the Council Bill Tracker at the bottom of the report has been fully updated to reflect Crossover Day changes, including cityhood bill passage and other legislation of interest.

Senate Bill 36: Council Asks for Amendment

The Council asked for an amendment to Senate Bill 36, the Aquifer Storage legislation, that prevented potential unintended inhibitors to the development community in urban areas.

The final clause of the first sentence of 12-5-82 appeared to impose an affirmative obligation to "restore and maintain" all aquifers of the state.  This could potentially result in cleanup of groundwater in urban areas and other parts of the state to stringent drinking water levels even in situations where groundwater is not actually used as a drinking water source.  This could have had a significant negative impact on redevelopment of environmentally impacted sites across the state (because the cost to cleanup groundwater to drinking water standards can be very expensive) and could limit the ability that developers have now to use engineering controls and institutional controls as alternative approaches to address groundwater contamination at properties.   

Senator Josh McKoon, after hearing from members of the Council and understanding their concerns, offered an amendment that would limit the legislation to the Floridan Aquifer only, which passed without objection.  The Council would like to thank  Senator McKoon and the bill's author, Senator Ligon for working with the Council to clean up the bill's language and avoid the unintended consequences for development in the Metro Region.

Council for Quality Growth Day Recognized by Senate Resolution 463

 

Senate Resolution 463 recognized March 11, 2015, as the Council for Quality Growth Day at the State Capitol.  The Resolution commended the Council for its work representing the growth and development industry over the last 30 years.

 

In celebration of Council for Quality Growth Day, the Council hosted its 3rd annual legislative lunch at the State Capitol.  With over 150 people in attendance, the event was a resounding success and even received a mention in the AJC  after a quick visit from Congressman Barry Loudermilk.  In addition to Council members and members of the Council BOD, attendees included Congressman Barry Loudermilk, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams, and a number of State Representatives and State Senators and local County Commissioners and Mayors.

 

The Council would like to extend a special thanks to Council Board Member State Senator Brandon Beach for also attending, and to the following companies for sponsoring the Legislative Lunch:

 

ACEC GA, ATKINS, Atlanta Gas Light, Comcast, Cumberland CID, Edward Andrews Homes, Frogue Clark, LLC, Fulton County Development Authority, Georgia Power Company, Jackson EMC, McGuire Woods, Morris, Manning & Martin, North Fulton CID, Spruce Street Partner, Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco, and Winter Construction.

 

 

TRANSPORTATION: Now What?

 

The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on the  House transportation funding bill, House Bill 170, last week, on Thursday, with House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts presenting the bill.  The tone of the Committee appeard evenly split, with several Senators indicating they would like to see changes made, against those who commended the House legislation.  

 

The Council expects several alternatives and options to be introduced this week, including multi-jurisdictional splost, guarantees of 25% of all future revenue growth in Georgia dedicated solely to transportation, and the possibility of a tax on fuel for ships refueling at the Port of Savannah.

 

Assuming however, a similar version of the House bill passes through the Senate, this will arguably be the largest and most far reaching transportation bill we have seen in years.  Aimed at meeting transportation needs by addressing the $1+ billion funding shortfall for maintenance and modernization of Georgia's roads and bridges, passage of the bill would ensure all funding intended for transportation is actually used for that purpose.  

 

Rep. John Yates (R), a member of the House for over 20 years, stated that "Georgia is so far behind other states in the region in having revenue available for transportation and we can never furnish the proper transportation needs with the present revenue that is available."  Rep. Yates further explained that he "believe[s] that it would have been irresponsible to have voted against HB 170; so I voted yes."   In a recent poll conducted by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, 98% of Georgia voters understand the strong connection between transportation infrastructure and economic growth.

 

Key changes proposed by the bill cover not only what is taxed and how that tax is collected, but more importantly how tax revenues are being spent. Currently, Georgia's state funding mechanism is a combination of motor fuel sales tax and excise tax. This legislation converts that mechanism to an excise tax only funding model.  The current 4% state sales tax paid on the total purchase of gas at the pump is eliminated and is replaced with a $0.29 per gallon excise tax.

 

The proposed legislation closes a loophole that currently diverts 1% of state gas tax revenue, the "fourth penny," to the state's general fund for other purposes.  If this bill is approved, taxes collected from transportation can only be used for transportation.  

 

The bill defines transportation purposes specific to the local excise tax and includes roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all related infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to transportation facilities.

 

Further, any future SPLOST and ESPLOSTs levied by local governments must use the revenue generated from gas taxes to fund transportation, whereas such funds can currently be spent on transportation or other non-related capital outlay projects.  Additionally, any HOST, LOST, and MOST taxes may not be applied to motor fuel.  To aid in making local governments whole, future LOST, HOST, and MOSTs will be levied at 1.25% rather than the current 1% beginning July 2016.


 

In another effort to make the tax more equitable, owners of alternative fuel vehicles will have to pay a small annual fee -- $200 for personal use vehicles and $300 for commercial vehicles.  Currently, new alternative fuel vehicle drivers do not contribute to transportation funding though they do use Georgia roads, bridges, and highways.  The bill also repeals the existing tax credits for electric vehicle purchase and low-emission vehicles.

 

State and local governments will continue to work together in improving transportation throughout Georgia.  Under this legislation, preference for loans may be given to eligible projects in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, but also to projects that have local financial support.

 

Lastly, this legislation prohibits the Governor from suspending the collection of motor fuel or aviation fuel taxes, unless a state of emergency has been declared.

 

The House-passed version includes:

  • Extension to July 1, 2016 for collection of taxes on motor fuel for LOST,  ELOST and HOST taxes (from July 1, 2015 in current version);
  • MOST will stay at the proposed 1.25% but will not be collected on motor fuel;
  • Allowance of collection of taxes on diesel fuel;
  • Transportation projects will not be considered Level 1 projects.

The Council offers sincere thanks to Chairman Jay Roberts, Speaker David Ralston and members of the House of Representatives on the passage of the legislation and the work they and both sides of the aisle put into seeing it across the first finish line. Leaders lead and on this issue, we want to thank those for their leadership.

 

Chairman Mark Hamilton (R) during the debate said it very clearly, ""I'm tired of kicking the can down the road, ""The reason our roads and bridges are in such bad shape is we have not had the courage to step up." 

 

This is the much needed first step in addressing our transportation funding needs, by closing the funding gap needed with over $1.5 billion in new transportation funding. 

  

The Council stands steadfast in our desire to obtain the $1.5 billion needed to ensure safety, transparency, and economic growth well in to the future and stand ready to assist the Legislature to ensure this happens.

 

 

GA. GENERAL ASSEMBLY SCHEDULE

The House and Senate have set a schedule that has the legislature in Wednesday through Friday this week ending at Legislative Day 33, with the current schedule set to "Sine Die" and end the 2015 Legislative Session on Day 40 on April 2nd.  To view the full legislative schedule, click HERE

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A Recent Supreme Court Decision and Potential Impacts on Senate Bill 142
The Supreme Court of the United States ("SCOTUS") delivered its opinion on T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell just weeks ago.  Now, with the introduction of Senate Bill 142, will the two affect each other?

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Council for Quality Growth Publishes Op-Ed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in Support of House Bill 170, the Transportation Funding Bill

Georgia's billion dollar-plus and growing annual funding shortfall to adequately maintain and improve our state's transportation system is a major threat to our economic competitiveness. With a whopping 54 percent of state transportation funding coming from the federal level, the problem promises to worsen if we cannot become more self-sufficient.

 

Read More

 
House Bill 445 "More Take Home Pay Act"
The "More Take Home Pay Act", introduced this week as House Bill 445 by Rep. John Carson, would create a single income tax rate of 4%, down from the current 6%, increase the state sales tax from 4% to 5%, and eliminate a number of current exemption from the tax code, and would bring back the grocery tax over a three year phase in period, while eliminating certain tax credits. 

 

Read More

 


Senate Bill 4: The "BeltLine Bill"

As the cost of providing public infrastructure continues to rise and the amount of public funding available becomes more constrained, a growing number of public entities are looking for innovative ways to deliver things like trails, transit, and parks.

 


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Council Supports House Transportation Funding Bill with Testimony
Council Chairman Tim Lowe provided testimony before the House Committee in support of the legislation that funds much of the $1.5 billion needed for transportation and infrastructure.




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Senate Bill 59: Public-Private Partnerships (P3)
The Council for Quality Growth, along with many partner organizations, supports Senate Bill 59, the Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act (P3), which passed the Senate on March 11th by a 51-0 vote and now awaits a hearing in the House Government Affairs Committee. Many other states, in particular Virginia, where the models originated, have embraced greater use of public private partnerships.  As the population of Georgia continues to grow, there is an increasing need for the construction of new public facilities, including schools, hospitals, emergency response centers, prisons and courthouses.  

 Read More

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Council for Quality Growth Spotlight:

 

A New Federal Approach to Transportation Funding

 

An immediate concern for Georgia is the dwindling resources to fund critical transportation infrastructure needs. Resolving Georgia's transportation needs by finding alternative solutions is a top priority for the 2015 legislation session. 

The state is effectively seeking an estimated $1.5 billion in new revenue for transportation infrastructure.  


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Competencies and Core Education in Elementary and Secondary Education Bill Passes Senate
Senate Bill 2 unanimously passed in the Georgia State Senate, and seeks to lessen high school drop-out rates, strengthen Georgia's workforce, and attract more businesses to the state. 

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 2015 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 2015 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 or that remains 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: Inter-basin Transfers
Sponsor: Rep. Harry Geisinger (R) 
House Committee: Natural Resources and Environment
Status: House Second Readers
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 14: Acceptance of Federal Funds with General Assembly Approval
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Turner (R)
House Committee: Appropriations
Status: House Second Readers
This bill would prohibit any local government or agency or state agency, bureau, board or commission, public entity, department or office from accepting federal funds without the expressed approval of the General Assembly.  This could be interpreted to include Community Improvement Districts.
Council Position: Oppose

House Bill 21: Transit Authority
Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15
This bill removes the population threshold for a local government to form a transit authority, changes the definition of "metropolitan area" to include an unincorporated city and the area "suburban to such city," and requires a new transit authority in a municipality to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with an existing transit authority before its formation.
Council Position: Support

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

House Bill 33: Code Enforcement Officers
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Taylor (R)
House Committee: Judiciary Non-Civil
Status: House Second Readers
This bill makes it a misdemeanor to hinder or obstruct a code enforcement officer in the discharge of their duties.
Council Position: Oppose

House Bill 49: Electronic Tax Bill Delivery
Sponsor: Rep. Brett Harrell (R)
House Committee:  Ways & Means
Senate Committee: Finance
Status: House Passed/Adopted 2/20/15; Senate Read and Referred
This bill allows a local tax commissioner or collector to send, at the request of the 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: House Second Readers
This bill would eliminate the "4th" penny on gas and shift 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: Support

House Bill 97: Prohibits Non-Disclosure for Local Agencies
Sponsor: Rep. Scot Turner
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Status: Withdrawn

This bill prohibits local agencies from entering into non-disclosure agreements. According to the bill, all agencies shall fully disclose without delay, any communications regarding any terms and conditions of any agreement, incentive or offer 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 initiate civil action to compel the disclosure of any matters covered in a non-disclosure. 

Council Position: Oppose

House Bill 116: Underground Water Supply Protection Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Alex Atwood
House Committee: Natural Resources
Status: House Second Readers
This bill would prohibit the use of water aquifers in 11 coastal counties. While this has a local impact as of now, the Council has concerns this could have state-wide implications.
Council Position: Oppose

House Bill 170: Transportation Funding
Sponsor: Rep. Jay Roberts (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred

Currently, the Bill:
  • Calls for the conversion of the sales tax on motor fuel, currently at 4% to an excise tax, adjusted annual to keep pace with fuel efficiency of vehicles to 29 cents a gallon.
  • Phases out all local sales taxes on motor fuel (through local SPLOSTs). This allows local governments to honor their bond obligations and delivery of projects already approved by their voters.
  • Future Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Education Special Local Option Sales Taxes (ESPLOST) may be levied on motor fuels but the portion of revenue generated from gas taxes must be used for transportation purposes. 
  • Any collection of future MOST taxes will now be collected at 1.25% versus the current 1%.
  • Repeals the $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles.
  • Expands the definition of transportation purposes to include roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all related infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to transportation facilities.
  • Removes the Governor's ability to suspend collection of motor fuel and aviation fuel taxes, except when a state of emergency is declared.
Council Position: Support

House Bill 174: Urban Redevelopment Law
Sponsor: LaDawn Jones (D)
House Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/13/15

This legislation revises terminology within the Urban Redevelopment Law. Specifically, the outdated terms "Slum Area" and "Slum Clearance and Redevelopment" are replaced with  "Pocket of Blight" and "Pocket of Blight Clearance and Redevelopment" respectively. It also eliminates the definition of slum area and adds new definitions to the new terms.  The latest version of this bill strikes the originally proposed definitions for 'sponsoring local government' and 'surface transportation project.'

Council Position: Support

 

House Bill 213: MARTA 50/50
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred
This bill calls for an independent auditor to complete an audit every four years. A complete report of the findings would be filed with the Governor, the State Auditor, and the chairperson of MARTOC, allowing MARTA to lift the 50/50 revenue split. However, if an independent management audit was due but not submitted, then the 50% restriction will remain intact. Also, the bill proposes elimination of the Board's ability to reserve any amounts that could have been used to subsidize operations that were unused.
Council Position: Support

House Bill 214: MARTA/GDOT Commissioner
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred
This legislation restores voting privileges on the MARTA Board to the GDOT Commissioner until at least 2017.  Further, the latest version of the bill caps fines at $300 for violations of MARTA's Code of Conduct.
Council Position: Support

House Bill 215: Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R)
House Committee: Ways & Means
Senate Committee: Finance
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred
The bill will add a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and by reorganizing the current Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST). Currently, HOST is only applied to homes within unincorporated county limits, but the proposed bill seeks to apply this tax to all homestead properties in the county.  

The legislation proposes an increase to an 8% sales tax, and would eliminate direct HOST funding to cities. The additional penny increase would allow the full amount of HOST proceeds to aid the property tax of homeowners. Though nothing would be distributed directly to DeKalb's incorporated cities, the relief offered by the tax increase would be distributed equally to both city and unincorporated residents.

Council Position: Evaluating

House Bill 369: Distribution of Sales and Use Tax

Sponsor: Rep. Randy Nix (R)

House Committee: Ways & Means

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15

This legislation concerns conflicts that may emerge between cities and counties that do not reach an agreement on ESPLOST funding.  Currently, a city may refuse to reach an agreement with a county.  If this happens, the city can petition the county from getting its ESPLOST dollars.  In this bill, unless there is an agreement between the county and city, money may be disbursed based on the FTE formula.  This bill is still being worked on, and Rep. Nix is working with the Department of Revenue to work out some of the details.

Council Position: Evaluating


House Bill 397: State Soil and Water Conservation Commission
Sponsor: Rep. David Knight (R)
House Committee: Agriculture & Consumer Affairs
Senate Committee: Agriculture and Consumer Affairs
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/9/15; Senate Read and Referred
This bill assigns the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission to the Department of Agriculture, changes the appointments the the Governor to 3 state-wide at large seats; removes funding ability for water reservoirs, and requires oversight and final approval by the Erosion and Sediment Control Overview Council.
Council Position:  Neutral

House Bill 445: More Take Home Pay Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)
House Committee: Ways & Means
Status: House Second Readers

Currently the bill:
  • Cuts the income tax burden on Georgia families by over $2.5 billion
  • Households making $29,500 or more will see an increase in take home pay
  • Households bringing in $48,000 (the median Georgia household income) will keep $400 extra annually
  • Reduces income tax rate to 4% over a period of three years (2016: 4.5%, 2017: 4.25%, 2018: 4.0%)
  • Keeps itemized deductions and personal tax exemptions
  • Raises general state sales tax by 1% on January 1, 2017, which will raise the current tax of 4% to 5%
  • Phases in a grocery state sales tax over a four year period (2016: 0%, 2017: 3%, 2018: 4%, 2019: 5%) with each 1% contributing $130 million to the state budget.  Food stamp purchases will be exempt from the grocery tax.
  • Implements a flat communications service tax beginning on January 1, 2016: state telecom: 5%, state cable: 5%, state direct broadcast satellite (DBS): 7%, local telecom: 1.25%, school telecom: 0.75%, local cable: 2%
  • Increase the current cigarette excise tax over three years (2017: $0.45, 2018: $0.55, 2019: $0.65)

Council Position: Evaluating


House Bill 464: Water Conservation Facilities and a Shift from Ground-Water Usage

Sponsor: Rep. Bruce Williamson (R)

House Committee: Ways & Means

Senate Committee: Finance

Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/11/15; Senate Read and Referred

This bill proposes to amend O.C.G.A. Article 2 of Chapter 7 of Title 48, so as to sunset tax credits relating to water conservation facilities and a shift from ground-water usage.  Under the latest version of this bill, the tax credit for water conservation facilities will be repealed on Dec. 31, 2016, and the tax credits for a shift from ground-water usage will be repealed on Dec. 31, 2016.

Council Position: Evaluating

 

House Bill 514: Creation of City of South Fulton
Sponsor: Rep. Roger Bruce (D)
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15
This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of South Fulton, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.
Council Position: Neutral 

 

House Bill 515: City of Tucker

Sponsor: Rep. Billy Mitchell (D)

House Committee: Governmental Affairs

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/11/15; Senate Read and Referred

This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of Tucker, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.

Council Position: Evaluating

 

House Bill 520: City of LaVista Hills

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Taylor (R)

House Committee: Governmental Affairs

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: House Passed/Adopted as Amended on 3/11/15; Senate Read and Referred

This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of LaVista Hills, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.  An amendment to the bill redrawing the corporate limits of the City was adopted to the version that passed the House vote.

Council Position: Evaluating

 

House Bill 521: Fulton County Homestead Exemption

Sponsor: Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R)

House Committee: Intragovernmental Coordination

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred

This bill would allow voters to double Fulton County's basic property tax homestead exemption to $60,000.  Aimed at putting money back in homeowners' pockets, this bill would a $353 property tax break for the owner of a $275,000 house, whereas the owner of a $150,000 house would pay no county general fund property taxes.  If passed, residents would vote on the measure during the 2016 presidential primary.

Council Position: Evaluating

 

House Bill 522: Fulton County Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption

Sponsor: Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R)

House Committee: Intragovernmental Coordination

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/5/15; Senate Read and Referred

This bill would provide an additional $30,000 homestead exemption for senior citizens age 70 or older who have lived in their homes for more than 10 years.  If passed, residents would vote on the measure during the 2016 presidential primary.

Council Position: Evaluating


Senate Bills

Senate Bill 2: Competencies and Core Curriculum in Elementary and Secondary Education
Sponsor: Senator Lindsey Tippins (R)
Senate Committee: Education & Youth
House Committee: Education
Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/3/15; House Committee Favorably Reported on 3/3/15
To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE 
Council Position: Support

Senate Bill 4: Surface Transportation Projects in Urban Redevelopment Areas
Sponsor: Senator Steve Gooch (R)
Senate Committee: Economic Development and Tourism
House Committee: Transportation
Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/20/15; House Second Readers
This bill allows for surface transportation projects in Urban Redevelopment Areas. It also expands the projects that fall under the urban redevelopment provisions to include transit facilities and improvements, sidewalks, streetscapes, trails, and bicycle facilities.
To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE
Council Position: Support

Senate Bill 36: Prohibits Aquifers in Certain Coastal Counties
Sponsor: Senator William Ligon (R)
Senate Committee: Natural Resources and the Environment
Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/13/15
This bill would prohibit the use of water aquifers in 11 coastal counties. While this has a local impact as of now, the Council has concerns this could have state-wide implications.  Further, the latest version of the bill requires that the Board of Natural Resources adopt regulations that provide for the protection and preservation of only the Floridan aquifer, no longer including any aquifer that provides high-quality drinking water.
To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE
Council Position: Neutral

Senate Bill 59: Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act
Sponsor: Senator Hunter Hill (R)
Senate Committee: Economic Development & Tourism
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/11/15; House First Readers

The bill amends 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.  Further, the latest version of this bill adopted an amendment stating that multiyear leases which are not terminable at the end of each fiscal year shall be considered a debt and counted against any debt limitations in place. 


 

Additionally, another adopted amendment allows for anyone with a "security interest" in the project to participate in condemnation proceeds, not just those providing financing toward the capital investment.

To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE
 
Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 85: Development Authorities

Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)

Senate Committee: Economic Development & Tourism

House Committee: Governmental Affairs

Status: Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/3/15; House Second Readers

This bill is intended to rectify an internal inconsistency within the definition of "Project" in the Development Authorities Law (the "Law").  This definition in the current version of the Law contains both a lengthy listing of categories of allowable projects, as well as a broad discretionary provision, which was included as a subsequent addition to the law in order for this definition to mirror the comparable provision in the Downtown Development Authorities Law.  

 

By deleting the older, specific, definitional provisions, while retaining the general discretionary provision already in the law, this bill would eliminate unnecessary confusion and debate, without seeking to change past practices or expand or reduce any development authority powers.  

For further analysis, click HERE.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 101:  Soil Erosion and Sedimentation

Sponsor: Senator Ben Watson (R)

Senate Committe: Natural Resources and the Environment

House Committee: Natural Resources & Environment

Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/2/15; House Committee Favorably Reported on 3/13/15

The bill provides for a buffer against coastal marshlands within which certain land-disturbing activities are prohibited. The buffer would be measured in the same way the 25-foot buffer is laid out in the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, with a few exceptions established.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 125: Authorize the Collection of Tolls

Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)

Senate Committee: Transportation

House Committee: Transportation

Status: Senate Passed/Adopted as Amended on 3/2/15; House Second Readers

This bill would allow the state to continue to toll drivers even after construction costs have been recouped.  This stands to affect the to massive toll projects, costing over $1 billion to construct, currently underway along I-75/I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties and along I-75 in Henry and Clayton counties.

To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click  HERE

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 140:  City of South Fulton

Sponsor: Senator Donzella James (D)

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: Senate Read and Referred

This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of South Fulton, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.

Council Position: Neutral

 

Senate Bill 142: Permits for Infrastructure
Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)
Senate Committee: Regulated Industries and Utilities
Status: Senate Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/5/15; Senate Read Second Time
This bill regulates procedures governing applications for zoning and permits for critical infrastructure projects. This addresses local governments and specifically states that "no local government shall provide for a moratorium with respect to any critical infrastructure projects."  The latest version of the bill defines "critical infrastructure projects" as:

(A) Electrical power transmission lines;
(B) Electrical power substations;
(C) Water and sewage treatment facilities;
(D) Water reservoirs, water storage facilities, and sewer lines;
(E) Cellular telephone towers and emergency 9-1-1 system facilities; 
(F) Natural gas transmission pipelines and power stations; or
(G) In-ground fiber optics systems.

Further, the latest version of the bill made some concessions, now allowing for moratoria of 90 days or less for items (C), (D), and (G) in the event a court or other applicable law declares such a moratoria invalid.
Council Position: Support

Senate Bill 170: Procedures for Disposition of Property

Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)

Senate Committee: Transportation

Status: Senate Read and Referred; Heard in Committee on 3/4/15 -- No Vote

When property is acquired for public road purposes but later abandoned, the current law requires that private property owners sharing a common boundary must be notified.  Under the proposed bill, however, if the acquired property is located within a subdivision with a duly formed property owner's association, notice of abandonment of the property may be provided to the property owner's association in lieu of notice to the individual owner.
Council Position: Support

Senate Bill 191: Prohibiting Local Governing Authorities from Adopting Ordinances

Sponsor: Senator Lindsey Tippins (R)

Senate Committee: Transportation

Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/13/15

This bill prohibits local government authorities from adopting or enforcing ordinances which mandate marking requirements or standards which are different from those contained in state law or the rules and regulations of certain departments of this state.  Instead of passing state marking requirements or standards for how to illustrate the presence of underground utility lines and allowing local governments to use the state standards or come up with their own, this bill requires local governments to comply with state standards.

The bill would amend Chapter 9 of Title 25 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the same Code Section amended in last year's "Call Before You Dig" bill relating to blasting or excavating near utility facilities.

To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Resolution 43: Senate Special Tax Exemption Study Committee

Sponsor:  Senator John Albers (R)

Senate Committee: Finance

Status: Senate Read Second Time

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

Council Position: Support

March 16, 2015

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