2022 Capitol Update – Week 6
2022 Capitol Update – Week 6
February 21, 2022
This past week, Georgia state lawmakers met for Legislative days 16 through 18. There are now three calendar weeks until the Crossover Day deadline (March 15th), though only 9 legislative days are scheduled between now and Crossover.
The various Cobb County cityhood bills continue to move steadily through the legislative process and may soon be subject to voter approval during the May primary election this year. The proposed city of Mableton passed the House Government Affairs Committee this past week and is now eligible for consideration by the House Rules Committee to be put on the calendar for debate on the House floor. The proposed city of Lost Mountain passed the Senate this past week by a vote of 33 to 19, but it must be considered by the House again before going to the Governor’s desk, as the Senate State and Local Government Operations committee amended the bill, making a slight tweak to local ordinance voting majorities by future city council members. The proposed city of Vinings is currently on the Senate Rules calendar for Tuesday, Legislative Day 19, for consideration by the Senate. The proposed city of East Cobb was agreed to by the House by a vote of 96 to 62. The Governor signed this legislation on February 15th—meaning the question of whether to create the new city of East Cobb will be on ballots of East Cobb County voters on May 24th!
The Speaker of the House’s bipartisan omnibus Mental Health Parity Act received its first hearing this past week. The 74-page bill aims to increase access to mental health services to better serve Georgian residents and their families. Currently, Georgia is 48th in the nation for mental health services which serves as the primary driving factor for this bill. The nearly three-hour long meeting featured emotional stories about the lack of accessibility and how that has affected nearly every family in the state.
This past week, Senate Bill 521 by Senator Jeff Mullis was introduced. This legislation proposes to allow the transfer of services of an existing municipality to a newly incorporated or proposed municipality. Currently, in instances where a newly incorporated city is created, the county must continue to provide services (i.e. police and fire departments) to that area until the transition period is complete. SB 521 would clarify that any newly formed city, that includes sections of an existing city that has been de-annexed from the former municipality, would be required to continue to provide services to the citizens in that area until the transition is complete. The legislation also proposes terms and conditions for the purchase of physical assets by a newly incorporated city from an existing municipality. This legislation was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
We currently do not have movement to report on HB 476, our bill to make the PELS Board an independent agency. This bill is in the fortunate position of having already met the Crossover deadline last year. As such, we continue to expect that each of the respective chambers will focus their attention on their own chamber’s legislation that has not met that deadline before pivoting to taking up bills that have crossed over from the other chamber.
The week ahead: the legislature will meet next week for Legislative days 19 and 20.
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. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. 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: This legislation has gone back and forth between the House Insurance and Labor committee and the House Rules committee. HB 389 has passed the Insurance and Labor committee and is currently in the Rules committee.
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.
HB 961 – By Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) clarifies that any defendant that is apportioned a percentage of fault in a lawsuit is only financially responsible for the percentage that is assigned. STATUS: Passed House Judiciary; currently pending on the floor (it has been postponed, but it can be called up at any time by the Speaker for a vote).
HR 627 – By Rep. 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 329 – By Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) is the Senate version of HB 961 by Rep. Efstration, the only difference is the effective date as the Senate version would only apply to lawsuits that are filed after the effective date while the House version would apply to all active and pending cases. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Judiciary.
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. Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
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. Passed the Senate Feb 15. Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
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. This legislation was heard by the Judiciary committee last week, but no action was taken on the bill.
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 Rep. 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.