2022 Capitol Update – Week 8
2022 Capitol Update – Week 8
March 7, 2022
Last week, lawmakers met for Legislative Days 21 through 24. This week begins “qualifying week,” which is the 5-day period when candidates must officially file their paperwork to run for office within their respective political parties (or undeclared/independent classifications). Friday is the last day to file that mandatory paperwork in order to be eligible to run for any given regularly scheduled election in 2022. Qualifying is sometimes a turning point in the legislative session, because incumbents will finally know for certain if anyone is attempting to run against them in a primary or general election or whether they will run unopposed. As such, what happens this week may determine the fate of some of the controversial issues that the General Assembly has been discussing this session.
Last week, the Senate passed the amended FY 22 budget, which includes any funding increases or decreases for the fiscal year (FY) ending June 30, 2022 based on actual tax and fee collections over the course of the fiscal year. The next step in the process is for the House to vote to disagree with changes that the Senate made to the House’s version of the amended budget, so that a “conference committee” can be appointed (made up of 3 members each from the House and Senate) to reconcile the differences between the two versions. The conference committee report (the compromise version of HB 910) will then be voted on by both chambers and then sent to the Governor for his signature. The House will likely take up the “big budget” which will cover FY 2023 (which covers July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023) sometime this week.
On Tuesday, the House passed HB 961, by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), by a vote of 168-0. As some of our readers may recall, this legislation is one of ACEC Georgia’s priority bills. HB 961 clarifies that single defendants in lawsuits where damages are apportioned are only responsible for the damage apportioned to them (i.e. if you are sued and found to be responsible for 68% of a $1 million judgement, then you are only responsible for $680,000 and not the full amount). This legislation has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary committee.
Also on Tuesday, SB 581 was introduced by Sen. Larry Walker (on behalf of the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG)) in coordination with the GPTQ Surveying and Mapping subcommittee, which revises the Georgia State Plane Coordinate System that is used in property surveys and codifies a more universally recognized measurement of a foot, and includes other clean up language to the surveying licensure Code sections. Honestly, we don’t really understand what this bill does, because it’s highly technical (bills making opossums the official state marsupial are much closer to our technical level of understanding). However, we have been assured by several wise and knowledgeable surveyors that this is a very good and much needed bill to bring Georgia in line with more accurate national and international surveying standards. So, we will of course be working with them to get this bill passed, making sure that we have a surveyor close by at all times in the highly unlikely event that a legislator has a technical question about the bill (unlikely because opossum bills are more their speed too, if you get what I’m saying). This bill was assigned to Senate Science and Technology.
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 25-27 this week—Crossover will be next week on March 15th!
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 and is scheduled for a hearing in the Public Policy and Finance Subcommittee on March 7th (today).
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. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Passed the House Ways & Means Committee; pending in House Rules.
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 annual GDOT house-keeping bill 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. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Passed House Transportation; pending in House Rules.
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.” ACEC Georgia supports this bill. 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) is the Senate version of the GDOT housekeeping bill (see HB 1438 above). ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Transportation.
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. STATUS: Passed the House 162-6; assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor.
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 would require a licensing board to issue a license within 30 days of receipt of whole and complete application, including documentation that shows that the licensee has substantially similar requirements (which is current code). STATUS: Passed House Regulated Industries; pending in House Rules.
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. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Passed House Judiciary; Passed the House 168-0; Assigned to Senate Judiciary.
HB 1389 – By Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) proposes to shield whistleblowers from employer retaliation when they report sexual harassment. Currently, the bill is written incredibly broadly and some legislators have raised concerns about the vagueness of this legislation as currently written. ACEC Georgia is monitoring this legislation closely and supports the effort underlying this bill. STATUS: Assigned to House Judiciary.
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 yet 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. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. 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 379 – By Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) ACEC Georgia is supportive of this innovative workforce solution to help ease workforce restraints in the state. STATUS: Passed Senate Economic Development & Tourism; set for Senate Rules calendar for Tuesday.
SB 438 – By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R- Marietta) revises contract retainage and would bring Georgia in line with the 5% contract retainage practices of most other states. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. 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: Passed the House 119-40; Passed the Senate 34-15; House agreed to Senate Sub 111-54; Awaiting Governor Action.
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 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 1405 – By Rep. Shea Roberts (R- Atlanta) clarifies the process of appeals for zoning decisions and disputes through statute and “quasi-judicial” decisions. STATUS: Passed House Government Affairs; Pending in House Rules.
HB 1406 – By Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) proposes to change zoning ordinances by local governments that revise single-family residential housing classifications. STATUS: Passed House Government Affairs committee; Pending in House Rules.
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. STATUS: Assigned to Government Affairs.
HB 1461 – By Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) proposes to amend state law related to objections to proposed annexations. STATUS: Assigned to Government Affairs.
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. This legislation missed the 90-day deadline for the May 24th primary, so if this legislation passes, then Cobb County will have to either call a special election or it will be on the November ballot. 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.