2022 Capitol Update – Week 5
2022 Capitol Update – Week 5
February 14, 2022
This past week the Georgia General Assembly met for Legislative Days 12 through 15. The legislature is now past the halfway point to Crossover (the deadline for legislation to pass its original chamber) and activity in both chambers is starting to pick up.
The amended budget, HB 910, passed the House by a vote of 152-4 this past Friday. The entire amended budget passed by the House totals $29.9 billion. The House largely preserved the Governor’s ambitious promises made in response to a huge windfall in tax revenue and federal funding. The $1.6 billion proposal to fund a one-time tax credit to Georgia taxpayers is included in the House’s version of the amended budget, as well as $500 million to fund $5,000 raises to state and University System of Georgia employees. While it has yet to be ratified in law, the proposed one-time tax credit for Georgia income taxpayers will be an automatic credit applied after one’s taxes are filed by the deadline.
Additionally, the Cobb cityhood proposals were also active this past week—there are now four pending cityhood proposals in the county. The proposed city of East Cobb passed the Senate by a vote of 31 to 18; however, because the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations committee amended the legislation slightly (clarifying that city council members in the proposed cities must live in the districts they would represent), the legislation must go back to the House to be agreed upon before going to the Governor’s desk for a signature. The proposed cities of Lost Mountain and Vinings also passed the House this past week. The proposed city of Mableton by Representative Erica Thomas received a hearing in the special subcommittee on cityhood February 10th. It will be heard in the full House Government Affairs committee next. In other cityhood news, this past week the Speaker of the House has joined Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan in vocal opposition to the city of Buckhead movement.
There is no movement to report on our PELS bill, HB 476, which would allow the PELS board to operate as an independent unit administratively attached to the Secretary of State’s office.
We also have no movement to report on HB 1002, which proposes to designate the state marsupial as the opossum—it seems that this bill is playing dead.
The week ahead: lawmakers are scheduled to meet for Legislative Days 16-18.
Other Legislation ACEC Georgia is following
HB 100 – By Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) would exempt public mass transit, campus transit, and public school system buses from paying Georgia’s motor fuel excise tax. This bill would undermine the premise underlying the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170) – that all users of Georgia’s roads and bridges should contribute toward their upkeep. ACEC Georgia is opposed to this bill. STATUS: Assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 496 – By Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) is this session’s version of the perennial “truck weights bill” would allow trucks hauling forest products trucks to apply for an annual “forest product permit” that would allow them to exceed maximum truck weight limits. This is the House version of SB 118 Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) (see below). STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee.
HB 934 – By Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) allows a Single County Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) to be collected for the full amount of time (five years), rather than ending the collection once the estimated amount is collected. STATUS: Assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 1039 – By Rep. Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville) would extend the income tax credit for expenditures on the maintenance of railroad track owned or leased by Class III railroads. STATUS: Assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 1322 – By Rep. Allan Powell (R-Hartwell) aims to incentivize the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout the state. The legislation has several parts, including legislative findings to “establish a framework designed to encourage private sector investment in the development of electric vehicle charging equipment”; requires an electric supplier to file a tariff with the commission setting the rates, terms, and conditions offered to private providers of EV charging equipment by September 1, 2022 that does not discriminate between EV charging providers and requires all rates to be uniform amongst providers; prohibits electric suppliers from recouping costs of EV charging equipment from ratepayers; encourages (but not mandates) that EMCs develop a tariff for private EV charging providers “that complies with the spirit of this chapter.” This legislation is the House version of SB 492 (see below). STATUS: Assigned to the House Energy, Utilities, & Telecommunications Committee.
HR 203 – By Rep. Josh McLaurin (D-Atlanta) is a proposed amendment to the Georgia Constitution which would expand the current Constitutional dedication of all motor fuel excise taxes for “roads and bridges” and instead allow those funds to be used for all public transportation purposes, including “roads, bridges, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all accompanying infrastructure and services.” While ACEC Georgia is opposed to the diversion of existing revenue that is constitutionally dedicated to funding roads and bridges, we are also strongly supportive of the goal of finding additional funding mechanisms for the transportation purposes this proposal ultimately seeks to fund. STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee.
HR 623 – By Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) would create a House Study Committee on the Nancy Hanks Passenger Rail Line from Savannah to Atlanta. STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee.
SB 98 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) is a Freight & Logistics bill that would allow SRTA to negotiate public/private partnership investments in infrastructure that would provide a “substantial public benefit.” STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on March 3rd. Passed the full Senate on March 8 on a 53-1 vote. Referred to the House Rules Committee.
SB 118 – By Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) this year’s version of the perennial “truck weights bill” would allow trucks hauling forest products trucks to apply for an annual “forest product permit” that would allow them to exceed maximum truck weight limits. This is the Senate version of HB 496 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross). STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.
SB 492 – By Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) is the Senate companion to House Bill 1322 regarding EV charging deployment, framework, and requirements on electricity suppliers. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
SR 463 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would establish a joint study committee on the Electrification of Transportation. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.
Industry & Professions
HB 389 – By Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) proposes to change the classification of certain independent contractors by changing the definition of employment to encompass services performed for wages. The Department of Labor is authorized to make a contrary determination on a case-by-case basis. STATUS: Passed out of the House Insurance and Labor Committee on January 27th but was recommitted (sent back) to the committee on February 1.
HB 884 – by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) would expand existing law that created expedited licensure by endorsement for the spouses of military personnel relocating to Georgia. HB 884, however, would require a licensing board to issue a license within 30 days of receipt of application and eliminates all requirements that would ensure the license is similar to the Georgia license the applicant is applying for and waives all educational and examination requirements. ACEC Georgia remains committed to ensuring the standards for which our licensed professionals are upheld and, as such, has concerns with carveouts that diminish these standards. STATUS: Assigned to House Regulated Industries.
HR 627 – By Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester) would create a House Study Committee on Bureaucratic Hindrances to Businesses. This study committee would focus primarily on the relationship between governmental entities that regulate, oversee, or otherwise engage with businesses in the state. It’s similar to Senator Bruce Thompson’s proposed study committee on professional licensure (see below), however, the scope seems to include local governance. STATUS: Passed the House Small Business Development Committee; currently in Rules.
SB 45 – By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), is aimed at speeding up occupational and professional licensure through licensure by endorsement for new residents of Georgia who have licenses in good standing in other states that have requirements that are “substantially similar” to license for which they are applying for in Georgia. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Passed the full Senate of February 16th of last year by a vote of 37 to 15. Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee. This legislation is identical to HB 147 by Rep. Heath Clark, which was also assigned to the House Regulated Industries committee but has failed to receive a hearing.
SB 352 – By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) would expand the licensure by endorsement regime in place for spouses of military personnel to the spouses of first responders and healthcare workers. The legislation states that the existing license from the other state must be substantially similar in scope to the Georgia license an applicant (said spouse of the professions listed in the bill) is applying for, that the licensee must be in good standing, and that the licensee must not have had any disciplinary actions taken against them. STATUS: Assigned the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee; passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb 11th.
SB 438 – By Sen. Lindsey Tippens (R- Marietta) revises contract retainage and would bring Georgia in line with the 5% contract retainage practices of most other states. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on Feb 10th. Currently pending in Senate Rules.
SR 376 – By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) would create a Senate Study Committee on Occupational Licensing. Unlike Rep. Yearta’s proposed House Study Committee, the scope of this study committee is limited to the regulation of professional licenses. ACEC Georgia has a keen interest in any licensing reform that benefits the business of engineering and, as such, will be monitoring this study committee’s progress. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 137 – By Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville) would exempt compensation paid to an individual taxpayer for property that is condemned by the state of Georgia from ad valorem taxes. STATUS: The Public Finance & Policy subcommittee of the House Ways & Means committee held a hearing on this legislation Feb 8th but did not take a vote.
HB 302 – By Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) involves regulatory fees charged by local governments on business, occupations, and professions. The bill would require local government regulatory fees to approximate the cost of the service provided and prohibit the use of regulatory fee revenue to fund the general operation of the government. ACEC Georgia supports the effort to ensure that regulatory fees should only fund the purpose for which the fees are levied. STATUS: Passed the House on March 5, 2021, 91 to 65. The Senate Finance committee met to hear the legislation January 26, but no action was taken on the bill.
HB 328 – By Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) would establish a one-time right of way permit fee and reduce annual right of way use fees for telephone companies that is paid as due compensation for municipalities. STATUS: This legislation has passed both the House and the Senate; however, the Senate amended the bill during debate on the floor last year. The House must agree to the Senate substitute before the legislation can be considered by the Governor. This past week, a special subcommittee on Right of Way Governance in the House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee met to discuss the changes in the Senate; however, no action can be taken by the committee. The Speaker must call the bill during session for a motion to agree or disagree to the bill as amended by the Senate.
HB 844 – By Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) would prohibit local governments from restricting the long-term rental (over 12 months) of single-family detached dwellings on any property where such dwellings are authorized under the local zoning code or are not otherwise prohibited by the local land use plan. STATUS: Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 1093 – By Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon), similarly to HB 844 this bill prohibits local governments from banning long term rentals of residential homes and enforces such prohibition by denying the local government funding allocated through the Department of Community Affairs. STATUS: Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 1130 – By Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) proposes to create “educational development impact fees” to pay for a share of the cost of additional educational facilities. Currently, only municipalities and counties are allowed to establish development impacts fees, this legislation would allow school systems to also impose impact development fees. This legislation, however, is enabling legislation that must be triggered by a constitutional amendment (see HR 666 below). STATUS: Assigned to House Government Affairs.
HB 1180 – By John Corbett (R-Lake Park) proposes to revise the makeup of regional commission councils to allow one nonpublic resident of each county in the region to be appointed to the commission for a two-year term. It also proposes the creation of an executive committee to oversee the commission. STATUS: Assigned to the House Government Affairs committee.
HB 1181 – By Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-Tyrone) would prohibit the directors of development authorities to serve as the chairperson or chief executive officer of such development authorities. STATUS: Assigned to House Government Affairs committee.
HR 666 – By Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) is the accompanying constitutional amendment to HB 1130 which would revise the constitution to allow local boards of education to impose development impact fees and use the proceeds to pay for the share of the cost of additional educational facilities. STATUS: Assigned to the House Government Affairs Committee.
SB 494 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is the Senate version of HB 1093 that prohibits local governments from banning residents for long term rent; however, the only difference is that the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is given more authority and direction in enforcing the legislation. DCA can revoke the “qualified local government” status but reinstate such status after a period of six months, provided there are no future violations of the ban. DCA is required to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the bill. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
Water & Environmental
HR 579 – By Don Parsons (R-Marietta) would create a Georgia Commission on Sustainability and Economic Opportunity. This commission would be focused primarily on ensuring the business community is educated and incentivized to prioritize employee wellness and environmental responsibility. STATUS: Passed out of the House Small Business Development Committee but was recommitted (sent back) to the committee on February 3rd), but back in House Rules pending action by the committee.
SB 94 – By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) would allow habitable structures to be placed in the inundation zone below a Category II dam if an engineer of record were willing to certify that it would not create the possibility of loss of life. If a structure currently exists in the inundation zone of a Category II dam, the owner could hire an engineer of record to fortify the structure to prevent loss of life. Under either scenario there is an explicit prohibition on requiring the dam owner to fortify the Category II dam into a Category I dam. This year, Senator Ginn has filed SB 440 (see below) which similarly deals with dams. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee.
SB 440 – By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) proposes to increase the maximum water storage elevation of a dam from 100 acre-feet to 150 acre-feet. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee. The committee held a hearing on this bill on Feb 9th but did not take a vote.
HB 826 – By Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Marietta) proposes the creation of the city of Lost Mountain in Cobb County. If passed, voters located within the geographic area will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum before cityhood can become official. STATUS: Passed the House Government Affairs Committee; passed the House by a vote of 92-61; assigned to the Senate State & Local Government Operations committee.
HB 839 – By Rep. Erica Thomas (R-Austell) proposed the creation of the city of Mableton in Cobb County. If passed, voters located within the geographic area will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum before cityhood can become official. STATUS: Assigned to the House Government Affairs committee where it passed out of the Special Subcommittee on Cityhood on Feb 10th.
HB 840 – By Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) proposes the creation of the city of Vinings in Cobb County. If passed, voters located within the geographic area will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum before cityhood can become official. STATUS: Passed the House Government Affairs Committee; passed the House by a vote of 99-56; assigned to the Senate State & Local Government Operations committee.
HB 841 – By Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) proposes the creation of the city of East Cobb in Cobb County. If passed, voters located within the geographic area will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum before cityhood can become official. STATUS: Passed the House Government Affairs Committee; passed the House 98-63. Passed the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee, where it was amended; passed the Senate 31 to 18. Because the bill was amended by the Senate committee, the House must agree to the changes before it can be transmitted to the Governor.
HB 854 – By Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) proposes the creation of “Buckhead City” by de-annexing Buckhead from the City of Atlanta and making it its own separate city. STATUS: Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
SB 324 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) proposes the creation of “Buckhead City.” It has been assigned to the Senate Urban Affairs Committee, which consists of only Democratic Senators. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Urban Affairs Committee.