2022 Capitol Update – Week 7
2022 Capitol Update – Week 7
February 28, 2022
Georgia lawmakers met to convene for Legislative Days 19 and 20 this past week—officially marking the halfway point to Sine Die (the last day of session, scheduled for April 4) and 8 Legislative Days until the Crossover Day deadline of March 15. The legislature is certainly feeling the heat of the election year and the approaching deadlines. As such, the legislature kept quite busy last week and promises to continue to stay busy this week!
Unlike other election years, this November’s election includes all legislators and all statewide constitutional officers—all of whom are barred from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions until after the legislative session. With what promises to be an interesting (and busy!) upcoming election season, there has been an increase in the number of controversial bills that are designed to encourage voter turnout in the May primary elections. While it may seem as though a majority of the news coming out of the Gold Dome centers around these controversial issues, discussions around good public policy continue to prevail over other topics.
This past week, Governor Kemp signed into law the proposed Cities of Lost Mountain and Vinings—which will allow voters within the geographic areas of the proposed cities to decide on cityhood via referendums scheduled for May 24th. The proposed city of Mableton is the only Cobb County cityhood bill that has yet to be signed by the Governor. This bill is currently pending in the House Rules Committee, which is the committee charged with determining which bills will be debated and voted on the House floor.
This week, we anticipate a possible vote on the amended FY 22 Budget in the Senate, and for a recap of the major funding priorities included in the “little” budget, you can review our week 2 Capitol Update here. Discussions on the House side on the “big” budget for FY 23 continue, but the House will likely take a vote on it in the next two weeks.
No movement to report on our PELS Board bill (HB 476) this week.
The week ahead: the legislature will meet to convene for Legislative Days 21-24 this week.
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.
HB 1438 – By Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) is the House version of SB 558 (see below). STATUS: Awaiting House Committee Assignment.
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.
SB 558 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) proposes to revise meeting notice provisions for the election of board members for the Department of Transportation as well as clarifies other provisions regarding public-private partnership negotiations and exempts some records from public disclosure requirements. STATUS: Awaiting assignment to a 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 was placed on the Rules calendar for LD 20, but it was postponed for the next legislative day.
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 yet.
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. Currently in Senate Finance.
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 the House Government Affairs committee.
HB 1406 – By Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) proposes to change zoning ordinances by local governments that revise single-family residential housing classifications, this would include requiring public hearings on a proposed ordinance and adoption of the proposed change at 3 separate meetings of the governing body proposing the ordinance change. STATUS: Assigned to the House Government Affairs committee.
HB 1429 – By Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) would allow a local government to elect, by majority vote of the governing authority, to exempt certain short term rentals (used for 14 days or fewer in a year for rental purposes) from certain taxes that local governments levy on short term rentals. STATUS: Awaiting House committee assignment.
HB 1439 – By Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) proposes changes to a municipality’s ability to object to a petition to de-annex territory from a city’s limits. This bill would require that any objection by a municipality would need to be based on a material increase in cost to the city, proposed increase in density, infrastructure demands, and delivery of services. STATUS: Awaiting House committee assignment.
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.
SB 521 – By Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) would require any existing municipality to continue to provide services (i.e. police and fire departments) to any de-annexed portions of a city that is annexed to be part of a newly formed city throughout the transition period. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Water & Environmental
HR 579 – By Rep. 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 is back in the House Rules committee pending action.
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; passed the Senate 33 to 19; the Governor signed this legislation Feb 22, 2022.
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; passed the Government Affairs committee Feb 17th; currently pending in House Rules.
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; passed the Senate 33-19; the Governor signed this legislation Feb 23, 2022.
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; agreed to by the House on Feb 14 and signed by the Governor on Feb 15, setting up a referendum for city incorporation in May.
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.