This is the Legislative Week 12, the Final 2015 Edition of the Council's "Under the Gold Dome," a weekly publication covering the 2015 Georgia General Assembly Session.  
  

"Veni, Vidi, Vici"

 

It was declared "Sine Die" late Thursday night, with the House adjourning at midnight and the Senate a few minutes after, the first time in almost seven years the House and Senate have not adjourned concurrently.   The banging gavel brought the end to the 2015 Session, which saw Georgia successfully pass legislation that will raise an estimated $900 million dollars to fund our immediate critical transportation and infrastructure needs, such as the repairs of our roads and bridges.  As the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee made clear repeatedly, this legislation doesn't buy us a new pool and gazebo, but rather fixes the crack in the one we have now.

 

The Council for Quality Growth, along with a strong coalition, as a member of the Georgia Transportation Alliance made transportation our #1 priority this Session and, along with many others, worked to keep Georgia moving forward with the passage of the Transportation Funding Act.  

 

Henry Kissinger once said, "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been" and this Session, the Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and Members of the Georgia General Assembly led by taking Georgia boldly into the future, with over $1 Billion in transportation funding, as they cast their votes for this bill.

 

The Council for Quality Growth thanks the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch and the members of the Georgia General Assembly for their commitment and dedication this Session to the citizens of Georgia and for moving Georgia forward with this bill.

 

To View Bulleted Highlights included in the final adopted Conference Committee Report for House Bill 170

 

 

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Each year in the final edition of  "Under the Gold Dome" we publish analysis and summaries of major legislation that passed the General Assembly. This year, I have chosen to focus below on legislation the Council had direct involvement in, or a vested interested in, below.  

The Council Bill Tracker Summary has been updated with full analysis of legislation the Council tracked throughout the 2015 Session.

The 2015 Session was a banner year for the Council at the State Capitol.  Following our involvement with the Joint Transportation Funding Study Committee in the fall of 2014, the Council went right to work, along with a coalition of the Georgia Chamber and Metro Chamber, let by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, (of which the Council is a dues-paying Board Member) on the Transportation Funding Bill, House Bill 170.

Almost daily, the Council was active at the Capitol, whether in Coalition meetings, Committee Hearings, working the ropes on the House and Senate side or meeting with individual legislators, encouraging them to support legislation
to keep Georgia moving forward with House Bill 170. In addition to offering Committee Testimony before the House Transportation Committee in support of House Bill 170 (see below), Council Chairman Tim Lowe and Michael published Op-Ed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Marietta Daily Journal, as well as newspapers in the southern Region of this state, supporting House Bill 170 and encouraging the General Assembly to do the same, as well as sending out "Call to Action" email updates to our state-wide network of 10,000 people, encouraging members and other to call and email their elected officials to support House Bill 170.

We also hosted a  successful "3rd Annual Council Day at the Capitol" which saw the CQG recognized with a Senate Resolution
(see below) and a lunch that was attended by over 85 state legislators, Secretary Brian Kemp, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams and many Council Board Members.

The 2015 Session will likely be remembered for the two issues that successfully passed, transportation and education.  The highs of the transportation legislation, including MARTA restrictions lifted and Senate Bill 4 "The BeltLine Bill," the Governor's Opportunity School Districts and the Lt. Governor's Career Opportunity and Early Graduation legislation; medical reforms for children with serious illnesses with the "cannabis oil" legislation and a beginning of autism insurance coverage for children and families challenged with this neurodevelopment disorder.

We saw the passage of city-hood legislation for Lavista Hills and Tucker; the failure of South Fulton to receive final passage, UBER and LYFT dodging what could have been a much more severe bullet and finally the passage of Senate Bill 59, the "P3" legislation. 

While much will be said about this Session, positive and negative alike, the reality is I would call this Session a success. We took a first leap to fund transportation and again showed why Georgia is a place to do business and educate our future leaders, with passage of much needed education legislation.  The working-man, the business-man and the every-man all won this Session due to the hard work of many elected officials whose name you may or may not see in the local paper.  Despite the natural disposition of many to dismiss the passionate issues or work of members of the General Assembly and staff you never see, I can assure you, when history writes the book of this Session, the chapter will display leadership, passion, passion for legislation on issues for all Georgians to stand back and recognize that more good than the portrayal that we naturally are inclined to believe occurred, actually occurred. 

I want to thank the members of the Government Affairs Task Force for their commitment, direction and participation during this Session and look forward to their continued direction over the next year and the next legislative Session. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and direction over the last 5 months.

The members of the Government Affairs Task force include:
 
 

Andy Macke
Comcast Vice-President of External Affairs
(Chairman, Government Affairs Task Force)

Josh Belinfante
Partner, Robbins, Ross, Alloy, Belinfante, Littlefield and former Executive Counsel to former Ga. Governor Sonny Perdue

Laurel David
Partner, The Galloway Law Group

Doug Dillard 
Partner, PursleyFriese, and Torgrimson and former Council Chairman and named "Lawyer of the Year" for litigation and land use zoning in 2014 by Best Lawyer

Heath Garrett, 
Partner, Garrett McNatt Hennessey & Carpenter 360 and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson

Steve Labovitz
Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge and former Chief of Staff for the City of Atlanta and named "Georgia Super Lawyer" for Government Law in 2011-2013 by Atlanta Magazine

Tim Lowe
2015 Chairman, Council for Quality Growth and Chairman, Georgia World Congress Center Authority and President, Lowe Principal Management

Gerald Pouncey
Partner, Morris, Manning & Martin and Board Member of the North Georgia Water Management District and named one of the Best Lawyers in America for Environmental Law

Harold Reheis
Executive Vice-President, Joe Tanner & Associates and former Director of the Georgia EPD

Scott Selig
Vice-President, Selig Enterprises and Government Affairs Chairman for the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors 2012-2013

Michael "Sully" Sullivan
President & CEO, A.C.E.C and Georgia Transportation Alliance Chairman

Thank you all for a successful 2015 and I look forward to an even stronger 2016 Legislative Session.

James Touchton
Director, Government Affairs & Policy

Ride Sharing Service Bills Pass on "Sine Die"

Both ridesharing bills, House Bill 190 and House Bill 225, passed with overwhelming support on the final day of the legislative session.  

 

HB190, which addressed the insurance coverage concerns of ridesharing services, now requires all ride share drivers to:


 

Read More


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Council Thanks
Legal Intern Adam Kaye
The Council would like to recognize Adam Kaye for his help throughout this year's legislative session.  As the Council's legal intern, Adam worked tirelessly to provide summaries on important pieces of legislation, as well as ensured that the Council's Legislative Bill Tracking reflected the most up-date-changes at all times.  His help keeping the Council and Government Affairs Task Force current on all the substitutes of House Bill 170 is especially appreciated.

Adam is a first-year law student at Georgia State University with plans of pursuing a legal career in public-private partnerships and/or real property. Adam's resourceful nature, efficient work ethic, and sense of humor will certainly be missed at the Council.
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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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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

 

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

To view the Legislation sorted by issue-area focus versus the layout in this Summary:



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House Bills

 

House Bill 4: Inter-basin Transfers

Sponsor: Rep. Harry Geisinger (R) 

House Committee: Natural Resources and Environment

Status: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Passed; Effective Date: July 1, 2015

The Senate Agreed to the House Floor Amendment to the Senate Substitute As Amended which: authorizes counties to impose a transportation special purpose local option sales and use tax, of up to 1 percent, subject to voter approval, the proceeds of which must be used for transportation purposes; requires the joint county and municipality tax that is on motor fuel to be at the rate of 1 percent of the retail sales price of motor fuel, which is not more than $3.00 per gallon; and requires innkeepers must charge a $5 per night fee to customers, excluding extended stay rentals. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, 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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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 Act of 2015

Sponsor: Rep. Jay Roberts (R)

House Committee: Transportation

Senate Committee: Transportation

Status: Passed; Effective Date: July 1, 2015

  • Requires the Georgia Department of Transportation to annually submit a 10-year strategic plan outlining the use of department resources for the upcoming fiscal years.
  • Requires an additional, annual license registration fee for certain alternative fueled vehicles and heavy vehicles; innkeepers must charge a $5 per night fee to customers, excluding extended stay rentals.
  • Eliminates the prepaid state tax on the sales of motor fuel; exempts sales of motor fuel entirely from state sales and use taxes; increases the rate, and changes the method of computation, of the excise tax on motor fuel; requires local option sales and use taxes on motor fuel to be at the rate of 1 percent of the retail sales price of motor fuel, which is not more than $3.00 per gallon.
  • Revises the procedures in current law for imposition of the special district transportation sales and use tax; authorizes counties to impose a transportation special purpose local option sales and use tax, of up to 1 percent, subject to voter approval, the proceeds of which must be used for transportation purposes.
  • Reduces the income tax credit for the purchase or lease of new, low and zero-emission vehicles; sunsets the current tax exemption for jet fuel from the 1 percent of the 4 percent state sales and use tax on June 30, 2015, and imposes certain requirements on the use of any revenue for jet fuel taxes.
  • Limits the Governor's authority to suspend or modify the collection of any rate of state taxes on the sales of motor fuel and aviation gasoline; requires the General Assembly to ratify any suspension or modification.
  • Provides new criteria for any preference given by the Board of the State Road and Tollway Authority to projects eligible to receive financial assistance from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
  • Creates the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure to receive and report out tax reform legislation during the 2016 legislative session that will be considered in a separate legislative process.

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

Council Position: Support

 

House Bill 174: Urban Redevelopment Law

Sponsor: LaDawn Jones (D)

House Committee: Transportation

Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations

Status: Passed; Effective Date: July 1, 2015

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. The definitions remain unchanged. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

Council Position: Support

 

House Bill 190: Rideshare - Mandatory Insurance Coverage

Sponsor: Rep. Rich Golick (R)

House Committee: Insurance

Senate Committee: Insurance and Labor

Status: Passed; Effective Date: January 1, 2016

Requires all Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers to maintain a minimum motor vehicle liability insurance policy that:

 

  1. Recognizes the driver as a TNC driver and explicitly covers the driver's provision of TNC services;
  2. Provides a minimum of $100,000 for bodily injuries to, or death of, all persons in any one accident; with a maximum of $50,000 for bodily injuries to or death of one person; and $50,000 for loss of or damage to property of others, excluding cargo, in any one accident, during the time a driver is logged on to the TNC's digital network and available to accept a ride request until the driver is logged off. This coverage is required in the absence of any other liability coverage with such minimum limits; and
  3. Provides a minimum of $1 million for death, personal injury, and property damage per occurrence and provides uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of at least $1 million per incident during the time a driver accepts a ride request on the TNC's digital network until the driver completes the transaction or the ride is complete, whichever is later.

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

Council Position: Support

 

House Bill 213: MARTA 50/50

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Jacobs (R)

House Committee: Transportation

Senate Committee: Transportation

Status: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This bill extends the date for which the MARTA sales and use tax must be levied at the 1 percent rate from June 30, 2047 to June 30, 2057; thereafter, the tax is imposed at one-half of 1 percent; permanently suspends the restrictions on the use of proceeds of the tax as long as MARTA submits an independent management audit to certain officials every four years;removes language which currently allows local governments that enter into a new rapid transit contract for the provision of public transportation services and facilities to levy a retail sales and use tax at either .5 or 1 percent and, instead, requires any such levy to be at the rate of 1 percent; revises the Board of Directors of MARTA so that the Executive Director of GRTA is a voting member; adds clarifying language relating to Dekalb County appointments; staggers the terms of new Board members; revises Board approval provisions relating to the acquisition and disposition of unique property; requires inclusion of certain items in the independent management; authorizes suspensions from the system and property for violations of rules and regulations; and establishes an appeals process. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

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: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This bill increases the cost limit of projects for which DOT must perform value engineering studies from $10 to $50 million, with certain exceptions. Further, the bill specifies certain funds in DOT budgeting that relate to earmarked federal funds, the interstate system, and freight corridors. The Senate Committee Substitute, favorably reported by the Senate Finance Committee and passed by the Senate, specifies that a municipality incorporated after the effective date of this bill must maintain the roads, streets, sidewalks, and bicycle paths within its territory, or risk losing its per capita share of the EHOST proceeds to the county governing authority. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

Council Position: Support

 

House Bill 225: Regulation of Ride Share Network Services

Sponsor: Rep. Alan Powell (R)

House Committee: Regulated Industries

Senate Committee: Science and Technology

Status: Passed; Effective Date: Sections 2, 3, 5, 6 shall become effective on July 1, 2015; Sections 4 and 7 shall become effective on July 1, 2016

This legislation requires ride sharing companies to either pay sales tax on fares in the same manner as taxis and limousines, or pay an annual master license fee (Sections 4 and 7).  Additionally, the bill requires ride share network companies to subject themselves to private background checks, or be subject to background checks by the Department of Driver Service (Sections 2, 3, 5, 6).  To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

 

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: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This bill assigns the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission to the Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes.  In addition, HB 397 sets procedures for approval and dissemination of the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia.  The Senate Committee Substitute, favorably reported by the Senate Agriculture Committee and passed by the Senate, updates the titles of officials serving on the Commission from the University of Georgia, and amends the Erosion and Sediment Control Overview Council's membership from two representatives of the highway contracting industry to one representative from such industry and one representative of the electric utility industry. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

Council Position:  Neutral

 

House Bill 445: More Take Home Pay Act

Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)

House Committee: Ways & Means

Status: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

 

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; Repeal of Unused Tax Credits

Sponsor: Rep. Bruce Williamson (R)

House Committee: Ways & Means

Senate Committee: Finance

Status: Passed; Effective Date: July 1, 2015

This bill repeals the tax credit for water conservation facilities and qualified water conservation investment property, effective December 31, 2016.  Additionally, this legislation repeals the tax credit for the shift from ground-water usage, effective December 31, 2016.  Finally, this bill mandates that the Department of Natural Resources shall not accept applications for the tax credit for qualified donation of real property after December 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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This legislation proposes the incorporation of the City of Tucker in DeKalb County, contingent upon voter approval by the qualified voters of the proposed city on November 3, 2015.  The legislation establishes the city government structure, its powers and duties, as well as its corporate limits.

Other significant provisions include the following:

         Should voters approve the proposed city, the first general municipal elections will be held in conjunction with the 2016 presidential preference primary. Thereafter, general municipal elections will be held in November in each odd-numbered year beginning in 2017;

         Councilmembers will serve staggered four-year terms so that three seats are chosen every two years;

         The first mayor and initial councilmembers will take office on the first business day following the certification of the initial election; and

         Starting from the day the referendum results are certified, a two-year transition period will be carried out for an orderly transition of various government functions from DeKalb County to the City of Tucker.

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

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: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This legislation proposes the incorporation of the City of LaVista Hills in DeKalb County, contingent upon voter approval by the qualified voters of the proposed city on November 3, 2015.  The legislation establishes the city government structure, its powers and duties, as well as its corporate limits.


 

Other significant provisions include the following:

         Should voters approve the proposed city, the first general municipal elections will be held in conjunction with the 2016 presidential preference primary. Thereafter, general municipal elections will be held in November in each odd-numbered year beginning in 2017;

         The first mayor and initial councilmembers will take office on the first business day following the certification of the initial election; and

         Starting from the day the referendum results are certified, a two-year transition period will be carried out for an orderly transition of various government functions from DeKalb County to the City of LaVista Hills.


 

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

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session
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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Passed

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: Passed; Effective Date: July 1, 2015

This bill authorizes a local board of education to award a high school diploma to a student that completes certain requirements relating to postsecondary coursework. 


 

The Technical College System will annually identify areas of study where there is a critical need of trained personnel and provide that information to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education will annually provide the information to the local school systems to emphasize these shortages to high school students to assist them in selecting their career pathway.  If a student meets all of these requirements, then he or she meets the graduation requirements and is not subject to any other assessments. The rules and regulations of this Code section must be established by the State Board of Education, the State Board of the Technical College System, and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. 


 

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: Passed; Effective Date: January 1, 2015

Current law provides that certain projects or uses of land may qualify as rehabilitation or conservation in an urban redevelopment area.  Such stipulated uses of land may qualify for public and private funding for the purpose of combating the development or spread of slums.


 

Transit facilities and improvements, sidewalks, streetscapes, trails, and bicycle facilities are also added to the list of improvement projects that satisfy the urban redevelopment provisions of this chapter.

To maximize private enterprise's role in rehabilitating urban redevelopment areas, this bill establishes guidelines applicable to contracts and agreements for surface transportation projects entered into pursuant to this chapter.


 

Committee of Conference Report on SB 4 makes four major changes to SB 4 as passed by the House:

  • Includes a new section dictating that liens filed for taxes, fees, or assessments levied for projects in a special district (pursuant to Code section 36-42-16) have the same priority as municipal liens;
  • Restricts the application of the "Surface transportation projects" (as defined) to Beltline projects;
  • Restores silence on the issue of parties' responsibility for paying for the relocation of a utility, ostensibly, leaving the matter up to contractual arrangement or agreement by the parties;
  • Exempts trade secrets, private financial data, and private financial plans from public disclosure during and after the project bidding and selection process; 
  • Provides for the formation of a metropolitan planning process for the Atlanta Urbanized Area and Atlanta Air Quality region.  This language is taken directly from House Bill 433.

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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. 

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: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

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 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.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 85: Development Authorities

Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)

Senate Committee: Economic Development & Tourism

House Committee: Governmental Affairs

Status: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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.  

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 101:  Soil Erosion and Sedimentation

Sponsor: Senator Ben Watson (R)

Senate Committee: Natural Resources and the Environment

House Committee: Natural Resources & Environment

Status: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature; Rules and Regulations effective December 31, 2015

The Erosion and Sedimentation Act establishes a 25-foot buffer along the banks of all state waters, as measured horizontally from the point where vegetation has been wrested by normal stream flow or wave action, with certain exceptions. This bill establishes a 25-foot buffer along coastal marshlands, as measured horizontally from the coastal marshland-upland interface, which is determined in accordance with the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act and any rules and regulations promulgated under the Act. SB 101 also provides exceptions to the buffer requirement, as well as provisions for variances and variances by rule. The House amended the bill on the Floor to allow for variances where an alteration in the buffer area has been authorized by a federal Section 404 permit. The version that passed the Senate allowed for variances by rule for such situations.  To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 122: Uses of SPLOST Proceeds

Sponsor: Senator Jeff Mullis (R)

Senate Committee: Finance

House Committee: Ways & Means

Status: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

This bill allows an additional use for SPLOST proceeds to include the repair of capital outlay projects, including, but not limited to, roads, streets, and bridges, located, in part or in whole, within the special district that have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster. The House substitute adds an additional provision to include capital outlay projects that are owned, operated, or administered by the state and located, in part of in whole, within the special districts. To view a summary of the legislation by the Senate Research Office, Click HERE.

Council Position: Support

 

Senate Bill 125: Authorize the Collection of Tolls

Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)

Senate Committee: Transportation

House Committee: Transportation

Status: Passed; Effective Date: Upon Governor's Signature

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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: Did not pass 2015; eligible for 2016 session

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

April 7, 2015

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