This is the Legislative Week 11, 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. 

  

TRANSPORTATION: Conference Committee on HB170 Convenes with Hopes of Reaching a Solution Before Sine Die

 

Following three approved amendments to House Bill 170, the Transportation Funding Act passed through the Senate by the smallest possible margin on a 29-25 vote. The first of the approved amendments removes the annual fee charged on cars and commercial vehicles. According to a fiscal note developed for the Senate version of the bill, removal of these fees will reduce the bill's estimated revenue by $201.3 million in FY 2016, increasing to $210.4 million in FY 2020.  The second passed amendment requires GDOT to document efficiencies within the department's operations.  Lastly, an amendment was approved that calls for the creation of a Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure with members from the House and Senate.  The committee would be charged with introducing one or more tax reform bills that would be subject to mandatory up or down votes during the 2016 legislative session.

 

With the House and Senate passing different versions of the bill, the bill now goes to a  Conference Committee with hopes of working out any differences in an effort to get both chambers to agree. 

 

To provide a little background, a conference committee is a special committee consisting of three members from each house appointed by the presiding officers to seek a compromise when the two houses have passed different versions of the same bill and insist on their respective positions. If the members are able to reach agreement, a copy of the compromise version of the bill is distributed to members of each house. In each house, a vote is taken to agree or disagree with the conference committee report. In order for a bill to then be passed out of a conference committee, the bill must be voted on without changes by both chambers. If they cannot agree, another conference committee can be appointed; otherwise, the bill dies.

 

Speaker David Ralston appointed Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts (R), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R), and Rep. Calvin Smyre (D) to represent the House in the conference committee.  In the Senate, Lt. Governeor Casey Cagle appointed Transportation Chair Tommie Williams (R), Sen. Steve Gooch (R), and President Pro-Tem David Shafer (R) to the committee.

 

Gov. Nathan Deal "has warned key lawmakers that he will order them into a special session if they fail to pass what he considers to be an adequate transportation funding bill by the time the regular session ends Thursday."  

 

The Council for Quality Growth will continue to participate in each phase of the advocacy process as we work toward finding a solution that will both raise the necessary funding in a manner capable of being passed in both chambers.

 

As a background from last week, the changes the Senate made to HB170 are below.

 

Changes adopted on the Senate floor include:

 

  • Removal of the $25/50 per year Highway Impact Fee that was in the As-Passed Senate Committee version;
  • Creation of the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure, which is charged with introducing and considering one or more bills or resolutions relating to tax reform during the 2016 Legislative Session and if recommended, at the discretion of the Speaker shall received an up or down vote without any amendments and sent to the Senate and at the discretion of the Senate President shall be sent directly to the floor of the Senate for consideration for an up or down vote without amendments; and
  • Include in the GDOT annual report to the General Assembly (required in Section 32-5-27.1) to bring forward all efficiencies found within the bureaucracy of the GDOT and how those funds have been redirected to road construction.

Highlights of the changes to the Senate Substitute for House Bill 170 include:

  • A 24 cents-per-gallon state excise tax on gasoline and diesel, down from the House's 29.2 cents-per-gallon proposal;
  • A $5 per day rental car fee charged to all rentals, regardless of rental purpose;
  • A $250 million annual payment toward debt service for the state Department of Transportation, to allow the department to free up a matching amount toward its motor fuel fund to pay for projects statewide; 
  • An ability for local cities and counties to collect sales tax on motor fuel up to $3.39 per gallon for initiative including special option local sales taxes, optional education sales taxes and local option sales taxes.
It should also be noted the Senate passed the FY2016 budget, which includes in a bond package $100 million for transit and $100 million for roads and bridges.  

This is the next 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 into the future and stands ready to assist the Legislature to ensure this happens.


 

House Bill 106: A Local Solution to a State Transportation Funding Issue

 

In an added effort to help raise the $1-1.5 billion for local governments transportation needs, the Senate passed a substitute version of House Bill 106 last week.  

 

The law today mandates a 1 percent increase when implementing a sales tax such at this.  Under this bill, the proposed sales tax could be less than 1 percent, a fractional T-SPLOST.

 

In greater detail, the bill would amend the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) to allow those regions which did not pass a regional transportation referendum in 2012 to bring another call before the voters. (In 2012, the TIA split the state into 12 different regions, 9 of which failed to approve the measure). Current law requires the General Assembly to authorize a regional TIA vote. This bill would allow a majority of the county commissions in the region to make the call. The bill would allow up to a 1% sales tax in .05% increments for a period of 10 years.

HB 106 would also allow a county that is not participating in a regional transportation sales tax to call for a local transportation referendum if the county is also levying either a SPLOST, a second LOST or a MARTA sales tax. The bill would allow up to a 1% sales tax in .05% increments for a term of five years in such situations. Further, HB 106 would allow for a referendum on a sales tax at a rate of .75 percent or greater only if a county and all qualified municipalities in the county have entered into an intergovernmental agreement  on the sharing of revenue. Without an intergovernmental agreement, the county can call for a referendum at a rate or .70 percent or less, and the proceeds would be allocated based on the percentage of general fund expenditures on transportation operations and maintenance for each local government of the aggregated total expenditures of all local governments within the county. 

 

Senate Transportation Chairman Tommie Williams (R) suggested that allowing a majority of county commissions to implement their own special purpose local option sales taxes for transportation may please the state's business community as locals are given more power.  "What this would do is let locals raise a good deal of money for their own projects," said Sen. Williams. "It could actually help solve some of the congestion issues."

 

To read a full summary of the bill by the Senate Research Office, click HERE

 

GA. GENERAL ASSEMBLY SCHEDULE


The House and Senate have set a schedule that has the legislature in Tuesday and Thursday this week ending at Legislative Day 40, "Sine Die," bringing an end to the 2015 Legislative Session on April 2nd.  To view the full legislative schedule, click HERE.

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Ride Sharing Services a Must for Georgia

Atlanta, like many like many cities across the United States, faces significant transportation challenges. Limited access to public transit, decades of urban sprawl, and a lack of investment have all made owning a car a definite requirement for living in the Metro Region.

 

The impacts of this forced choice are now obvious: heavy roadway congestion, soaring costs for individuals and families, carbon emissions, and air pollution. With the city's population expected to keep on growing, new transportation choices are desperately needed. Despite these negative outcomes, 80% of the seats in cars on road are empty. Encouraging people to share vehicles and reduce their impact has been one key strategy utilized nationwide to ease the transportation pressure, but achieving that goal has been its own challenge.

 

In the last few years, however, mobile technology has changed the game. Mobile technology platforms like Lyft and Uber have allowed allow people to request rides on demand, connecting drivers with passengers in a new way. Ride sharing is now available in over sixty cities across the country, and cities and states are rushing to catch up with how quickly ridesharing is changing the face of transportation nationwide.

 

Lyft, Uber, and other services deliver a safe, affordable, and convenient way to get around when other transportation options are unavailable. But, ridesharing platforms don't only serve those who need a ride at the tap of a button. A recent economic study conducted by Lyft found that 78% of passengers spend more money and frequent local businesses more because of the platform. 

Additionally, ridesharing has even begun to have an impact on the way we socialize-and for the better. A study of passengers found that over 90% feel they are more likely to avoid driving while impaired because of the availability of the service.

The potential of ridesharing platforms to deliver dynamic transportation to previously underserved communities and areas of Atlanta is significant.


Ridesharing is making it easier to get around in cities from San Francisco to Honolulu, connecting people, and reducing the impact of personal vehicle ownership. Calculating the benefit of ridesharing for Atlanta is still difficult, but if the experience of other cities is anything to go by, the Region has much to look forward to.


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

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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.

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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 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
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15; Senate Read Second Time
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 Second Time
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 (R)
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 106: State Highway System
Sponsor: Rep. Jay Roberts (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/9/15; Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/26/15
This bill would amend the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) to allow those regions which did not pass a regional transportation referendum in 2012 to bring another call before the voters. Current law requires the General Assembly to authorize a regional TIA vote. This bill would allow a majority of the county commissions in the region to make the call. The bill would allow up to a 1% sales tax in .05% increments for a period of 10 years.

HB 106 would also allow a county that is not participating in a regional transportation sales tax to call for a local transportation referendum if the county is also levying either a SPLOST, a second LOST or a MARTA sales tax. The bill would allow up to a 1% sales tax in .05% increments for a term of five years. HB 106 would allow for a referendum on a sales tax at a rate of .75 percent or greater only if a county and all qualified municipalities in the county have entered into an intergovernmental agreement  on the sharing of revenue. Without an intergovernmental agreement, the county can call for a referendum at a rate or .70 percent or less and the proceeds would be allocated based on the percentage of general fund expenditures on transportation operations and maintenance for each local government of the aggregated total expenditures of all local governments within the county. For further analysis, click HERE.
Council Position: Support

House Bill 116: Underground Water Supply Protection Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Alex Atwood (R)
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: CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
Following three approved amendments to this bill, the Transportation Funding Act passed through the Senate by the smallest possible margin on a 29-25 vote.  The first approved amendment removes the annual fee charged on cars and commercial vehicles. According to a fiscal note developed for the Senate version of the bill, removal of these fees will reduce the bills estimated revenue by $201.3 million in FY 2016, increasing to $210.4 million in FY 2020.  The second passed amendment requires GDOT to document efficiencies within the department's operations.  Lastly, an amendment was approved that calls for the creation of a Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure with members from the House and Senate.  The committee would be charged with introducing one or more tax reform bills that would be subject to mandatory up or down votes during the 2016 legislative session.

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 24 cents-per-gallon, down from the House's 29.2 cents-per-gallon proposal.

 

Changes adopted on the Senate floor include:

 

  • Removal of the $25/50 per year Highway Impact Fee that was in the As-Passed Senate Committee version;
  • Reduction in the Electric Vehicle Fee per year to $95 for non-commercial use and $195 for commercial use (down from $200 and $300 respectively);
  • Creation of the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure, which is charged with introducing and considering one or more bills or resolutions relating to tax reform during the 2016 Legislative Session and if recommended, at the discretion of the Speaker shall received an up or down vote without any amendments and sent to the Senate and at the discretion of the Senate President shall be sent directly to the floor of the Senate for consideration for an up or down vote without amendments.
  • Include in the GDOT annual report to the General Assembly (required in Section 32-5-27.1) to bring forward all efficiencies found within the bureaucracy of the GDOT and how those funds have been redirected to road construction. 

Highlights of the changes to the Senate Substitute for House Bill 170 include:

  • A 24 cents-per-gallon state excise tax on gasoline and diesel, down from the House's 29.2 cents-per-gallon proposal;
  • A $5 per day rental car fee charged to all rentals, regardless of rental purpose;
  • A $250 million annual payment toward debt service for the state Department of Transportation, to allow the department to free up a matching amount toward its motor fuel fund to pay for projects statewide; 
  • An ability for local cities and counties to collect sales tax on motor fuel up to $3.39 per gallon for initiative including special option local sales taxes, optional education sales taxes and local option sales taxes; 
  • 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
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/13/15; Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/23/15

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: Senate Passed by Substitute on 3/19/15; Pending in Senate Rule Committee
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. Additionally, the bill gives the Executive Director of GRTA as a voting member of the Board.

Click HERE for a summary prepared by the Senate Research office. 
Council Position: Support

House Bill 214: MARTA/GDOT Commissioner
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: Combined with House Bill 213
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 Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/25/15
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: Support

House Bill 369: Distribution of Sales and Use Tax

Sponsor: Rep. Randy Nix (R)

House Committee: Ways & Means

Senate Committee: Finance

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15; Senate Read and Referred

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: Neutral


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 Agreed to Senate Substitute; House Sent to Governor on 3/27/15
This bill assigns the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission to the Department of Agriculture, changes the appointments of 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 Second Time

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
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15; 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 

 

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 Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/25/15; HOUSE TABLED

This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of Tucker, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.  In the substitute passed by the Senate, the city boundaries were redrawn.  Thus, the bill now must be reproved by the House, otherwise a conference committee will be appointed.

Council Position: Neutral

 

House Bill 520: City of LaVista Hills

Sponsor: Rep. Tom Taylor (R)

House Committee: Governmental Affairs

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: Senate Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/20/15; Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/25/15; Senate Transmitted House on 3/25/15

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. The Senate Committee passed as a substitute with a new map that shifts residents from Tucker to Lavista Hills. In the substitute passed by the Senate, the city boundaries were redrawn.  Thus, the bill now must be reproved by the House, otherwise a conference committee will be appointed.

Council Position: Neutral

 

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

 

House Resolution 743: House Study Committee on Annexation, Deannexation, and Incorporation

Sponsor: Rep. Jan Tankersley (R)

House Committee: Intragovernmental Coordination

Status: House Passed/Adopted on 3/27/15

This resolution creates the House Study Committee on Annexation, Deannexation, and Incorporation. The committee will review current annexation, deannexation and incorporation laws and procedures and consider ways of addressing negative impacts and ensuring that the process is clear, open, equitable, and in the best interest of the citizens of Georgia. 

Council Position: Support


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 Passed/Adopted as Amended on 3/24/15; Senate Agreed to House Amendment on 3/25/15
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 Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/27/15; Senate Disagreed to House Substitute on 3/27/15
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
House Committee: Natural Resources & Environment
Status: Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/13/15; House Second Readers; Heard in House Subcommittee on 3/25/15
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 Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute 

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; Heard in House Committee on 3/25/15

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 Passed/Adopted by Amendment on 3/26/15

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 Committee Favorably Reported with Amendments on 3/20/15; Pending in House Rules Committee

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

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

House Committee: Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications

Status: Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/13/15; House Committee Favorably Reported on 3/26/15

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 30, 2015

The Council for Quality Growth | 770-813-3370 | jt@councilforqualitygrowth.org 
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