2022 Capitol Update – Week 9
2022 Capitol Update – Week 9
March 14, 2022
Last week was an incredibly important week in Georgia politics! In addition to lawmakers convening for Legislative Days 25 through 27, this past week was “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 as undeclared/independent candidates).
There were a few last-minute surprise incumbents who announced they will not be seeking re-election, including a stalwart of the State Capitol and one of our favorites: Senator Jeff Mullis, who chairs the incredibly powerful Senate Rules Committee (excuse us if we’re still a little emotional about him leaving). In all, 47 incumbents (~20% of the legislature) have either declined to seek re-election or have decided to run for other elected offices. Last year, all legislative districts were redrawn, so some voters will see odd things on their ballots, such as two incumbents listed in the same race (in those instances where two incumbents were drawn into the same district).
Speaking of qualifying, we would like to take a moment to congratulate ACEC Georgia member Representative Brad Thomas (House District 21) for his re-election, as he was only person to qualify for his seat.
Friday was the last legislative day before Crossover Day and the House of Representatives did not adjourn until 6:55pm after taking up 28 measures. In all, the House and Senate voted on over 50 measures this past week including:
- HB 1013: the Speaker’s Mental Health Parity Act, aimed at increasing access to quality healthcare for mental illness, ensuring mental health parity for providers, strengthening workforce development initiatives, and creating and expanding upon resources for frontline responders and communities. This landmark and much needed legislation passed 169-3 and has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- HB 910: the “little budget” is the amended budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022, which ends June 30, 2022. This budget includes $1.5 billion for a one-time state income tax credit for all Georgia filers ($250 for individuals, $500 for joint—and the proposal does not require you to do anything special on your return, but you must file your tax return on time to be eligible for this automatic credit). The Senate agreed to the House Amendment to the Senate Substitute on March 11th. The delta between the FY 2022 budget as passed last year and the amended version passed this year is an increase of $3 billion, resulting from stronger than projected state revenues.
- HB 911: the “big budget” for Fiscal Year 2023 passed the House by a vote of 155-3. The Senate Appropriations Committee will now consider the massive $30+ billion state spending plan for FY 2023. More on the big budget here.
- HB 304: is the temporary gas tax suspension, which is set to expire May 31, 2022. This bill proposes to suspend the collection of the 29.1 cents/per gallon state gas tax to help offset the rapid increase in gas prices consumers are experiencing. This bill passed the House by a vote of 150-0. The overall fiscal impact is estimated to be $400 million, but we expect some of that lost revenue to be replaced and Governor Kemp has made this a priority, backed by the state’s strong fiscal position and higher than expected tax revenue collections over fiscal years 2021 and 2022—a trend that is expected to continue into FY 2023 beginning July 1, 2022. We expect the proposal to be signed by the Governor within the next week.
- HB 934: by Rep. Rob Leverett would allow future special district mass transportation referendums (TSPLOST) to allow local government collections to continue for the full time period approved by voters, even after the total estimated amount posted on the referendum ballot has been collected (consistent with the way all other SPLOSTs are handled). HB 934 passed the House by a vote of 150-8.
- SB 586: by Sen. Steve Gooch passed the Senate 37-16. The bill proposes to allow counties to utilize design-build contracting methods for transportation related projects. SB 586 is now pending a House committee assignment.
No movement to report on our PELS Board bill (HB 476) this week; however, since this legislation has already met the Crossover Day deadline (which is tomorrow), we anticipate that any movement on this bill will be in the coming weeks as the Senate begins to focus on House bills that have crossed over.
The week ahead: Tomorrow is Crossover Day! The legislature will be meeting for Legislative Days 28 through 31 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. The committee has held two hearings on this legislation; however, no motion was taken during the hearing on this legislation on March 10th. Chairman Jasperse said they will revisit the topic in the future.
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: Passed the House Ways & Means Committee; passed the House by a vote of 150-8 on March 11th. Pending Senate committee assignment.
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; passed the House on March 8th by a vote of 164-4; assigned to Senate Finance 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: Passed the House Energy, Utilities, & Telecommunications Committee; in House Rules Committee, but the sponsor stated that he will not formally ask for the bill to be heard/voted on by the full House chamber.
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 Committee; passed the House by a vote of 157-2 on March 11th; pending Senate 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 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: Passed Senate Transportation Committee; pending in Senate Rules Committee.
SR 463 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would establish a joint study committee on the Electrification of Transportation. STATUS: Passed the standing Senate Rules Committee (legislation assigned to Rules must be heard by the “standing committee” before it can be eligible to be heard by the full committee for consideration on the Senate floor). Pending in 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 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 would require a licensing board to issue a decision on a license within 30 days of receipt of whole and complete application, including documentation that shows that the licensee meets substantially similar requirements and is in good standing (which is current code). STATUS: Passed House Regulated Industries; passed the House floor by a vote of 164-0; referred to Senate Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 961 – By Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) clarifies and reinstates a provision in the Tort Reform Act of 2005 that provides that a defendant in a lawsuit is only responsible for the percentage of fault attributable to their actions and not for the portions attributable to others (known as apportionment). ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Passed House Judiciary Committee; Passed the House 168-0; Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 1389 – By Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) proposes to shield whistleblowers (those who are victims or report victims of harassment) from employer retaliation when they report sexual or other types of workplace 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 closely monitoring this legislation and while we support the intentions underlying this bill, we believe that the potential unintended consequences that could result from how significant new state law causes of action are created should be carefully considered. STATUS: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee.
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 the House Rules Committee.
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 on 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 that the Senate version would allow the current apportionment rules to continue to be applied in cases that are filed after the effective date of the bill (as long as the underlying matter itself occurred before the effective date), whereas the House bill would require the new apportionment rules to be used for all cases filed after the effective date of the bill, regardless of when the underlying matter occurred. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.
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 by a vote of 50-0 on Feb 11th; Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
SB 379 – By Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) increases access to apprenticeship programs. ACEC Georgia is supportive of this innovative workforce solution to help expand the state’s skilled workforce. STATUS: Passed Senate Economic Development & Tourism; passed the Senate 42-4 on March 8th; assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
SB 438 – By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R- Marietta) revises contract retainage rules to 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 by a vote of 52-0 on Feb 15. Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 581 – By Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) is a clean-up bill that revises the Georgia State Plane Coordinate System introduced on behalf of SAMSOG in coordination with GPTQ Surveying and Mapping subcommittee. ACEC Georgia supports this bill. STATUS: Passed the Senate Science & Technology Committee; scheduled for the Senate Rules Calendar for Tuesday, March 15th (Crossover).
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 might benefit the business of engineering and, as such, will be monitoring this study committee’s progress. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Rules Committee (must be heard and passed out of the “standing committee” before it can be considered by the full committee for consideration for floor debate).
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 underlying premise of this bill, which is that regulatory fees should only be used to fund the purpose for which those fees are levied. STATUS: Passed the House on March 5, 2021, 91 to 65. Currently in Senate Finance Committee.
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 by a vote of 119-40 on March 5, 2021; Passed the Senate by a vote of 34-15 on March 29, 2021; House agreed to the Senate’s substitute version by a vote of 111-54 on March 3, 2022; Bill is now awaiting approval or veto by the Governor.
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 Committee.
HB 1180 – By Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) proposes to revise the makeup of regional commission councils and proposes the creation of an executive committee to oversee the commission. STATUS: Passed the House Government Affairs Committee; pending in House Rules 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 and is on the calendar for debate on the House floor for March 15th.
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; Passed the House by a vote of 110-51 on March 9th; Assigned to Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
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 their city’s limits. STATUS: Assigned to House Government Affairs Committee.
HB 1461 – By Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) proposes to amend state law related to objections to proposed annexations. STATUS: Passed House Government Affairs Committee; pending in House Rules Committee.
HR 666 – By Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) is the accompanying constitutional amendment to HB 1130 which would (if approved by Georgia voters) 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 residential property development for long term rental; 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 by a vote of 33 to 19; the Governor signed this legislation on February 22, 2022, setting up a referendum for city incorporation in May.
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 February 10th; passed the Government Affairs committee February 17th; passed the House by a vote of 134-2 on March 11th; pending Senate committee assignment
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 by a vote of 33-19; the Governor signed this legislation on February 23, 2022, setting up a referendum for city incorporation in May.
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 by a vote of 31 to 18; agreed to by the House on February 14 and signed by the Governor on February 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.