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2015 Legislative Report #2
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February 2, 2015 

2015 GEDA Legislative Monitor Report #2

Following a week off for budget hearings, the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly reconvened Monday, January 26, 2015 for Day 5 of the session. The House and Senate completed Day 8 on Thursday, January 29, 2015 and adjourned until Monday, February 2, 2015; Day 9.

Budget
The House of Representatives passed the FY-2015 Supplemental Budget on Thursday and forwarded HB 75 to the Senate for review and passage. The Governor’s budget recommendations for the Department of Community Affairs, Department of Economic Development, and the Technical College System of Georgia were included in the House version of the FY-2015 Supplemental Budget (See 2015 GEDA Legislative Monitor Report 1 for details).

Bills
House Resolution 47 and Senate Resolution 57 were adopted on Tuesday, January 27. Both resolutions commended the Georgia Economic Developers Association on its efforts to improve the economic development climate of the State of Georgia. 

An additional one hundred six bills were introduced in the House during week two of the session for a total of one hundred eighty House bills. The Senate introduced an additional thirty-one bills for a total of sixty-five Senate bills. GEDA will focus on tracking bills that directly affect the membership’s ability to create jobs and investment. Please contact Kevin Shea, GEDA President, if you identify a bill(s) that you feel GEDA should track.

HB 8 - Representatives Brooks of the 55th, McClain of the 100th, Dawkins-Haigler of the 91st, and Thomas of the 56th
Amends Chapter 4 of Title 34 of the OCGA, relating to the minimum wage, so as to provide for a substantive and comprehensive reform of provisions regarding the minimum wage law; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to raise the minimum wage from the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour to $6.20 per hour. Upon the effective date of this Code section, the minimum shall be not less than $15.00 per hour. Beginning January 1, 2016, and each successive January thereafter the minimum wage will be adjusted for increases in the cost of living. The bill also provides that employees that work for tips can receive a credit toward satisfaction of up to 50 percent of the minimum wage requirements. The bill list certain employers and individuals that the minimum wage requirements do not apply.
Assigned to the Committee on Industry and Labor.

HB 57 - Representatives Dudgeon of the 25th, Drenner of the 85th, Brockway of the 102nd, Geisinger of the 48th, Setzler of the 35th, and others.

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 3 of Title 46 of the OCGA, relating to the generation and distribution of electricity generally, so as to provide for financing solar technology by retail electric customers for the generation of electric energy to be used on and by property owned or occupied by such customers or to be fed back to the electric service provider; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to create the ‘Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015’ to allow individuals and certain commercial applications to utilize solar energy procurement agreements to finance the upfront costs of construction and installation of solar technologies. ‘Solar technology’ is defined as a system that: (1) generates electric energy that is fueled solely by ambient sunlight; (2) is installed upon property owned or occupied by a retail electric customer; and (3) is connected to the service provider’s distribution system on either side of the electric services provider’s meter. The capacity limit for a residential application is ten kilowatts, and one hundred and twenty-five percent of the actual or expected maximum annual peak demand of the premises the solar technology serves for a commercial application.
Assigned to the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications. The bill was read for the second time in the full committee on 1/26/15 and favorably reported on 1/28/15.

HB 60 - Representative Setzler of the 35th
Amends Title 48 of the OCGA, relating to revenue and taxation, so as to exempt motor fuels from state sales and use taxes; to provide for increases in the second motor fuel tax and excise tax on motor fuel; to provide for the reduction of personal income taxes; to provide for a flat rate income tax structure; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes an annual incremental reduction of the state income tax to a rate of 5.5 percent for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2022. The bill proposes to impose an excise tax on distributors who sell or use motor fuel within the state. The excise tax would increase incrementally to a rate of 221/2 cents per gallon by 2022.
Assigned to the Committee on Transportation.  The bill was read for the second time on 1/26/15. This bill is NOT the transportation bill introduced by the House Transportation Committee.

HB 75 - Representatives Ralston of the 47th, O’Neal of the 146th, and England of the 116th
The bill creates the FY-2015 Supplemental Budget. Passed the House 1/29/2015

HB - 97 Representatives Turner of the 21st, Caldwell of the 20th, and Cantrell of the 22nd
Amends Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50 of the OCGA, relating to inspection of public records, so as to provide that all public bodies shall disclose certain communications, terms and conditions of agreements, and incentives and offers made regarding certain matters; and for other purposes.

The bill would create the ‘Open Agreements Act”. It proposes to prohibit any agency from entering into a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits two or more parties from disclosing any communications, terms, conditions, interactions, or agreements between or among the parties to such contract or instrument. Unless exempted from this article, all agencies would have to fully disclose without delay any communications regarding and any terms and conditions of any agreement, incentive, or offer made or entered into by the agency. Any individual who, on behalf of an agency, enters into a nondisclosure agreement would be subject to sanctions. The Attorney General is designated to enforce the provisions of the bill. Any citizen of this state would be authorized to initiate civil action to enforce and compel the disclosure of those matters covered under a nondisclosure agreement entered into in violation of this code section.
Assigned to the Committee on Governmental Affairs.  The bill was read for the second time 1/28/15.

HB 120 - Representatives Rutledge of the 109th, Welch of the 110th, Powell of the 171st, Knight of the 130th, Strickland of the 111th, and others
Amends Code Section 48-8-111 of the OCGA, relating to the procedure for implementing a special purpose local option sales tax, so as to provide for an additional purpose for the tax; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to add ‘a capital outlay project or projects that are owned, operated, or administered by the state and located, in part or in whole, within the special district’ to the list of authorized SPLOST projects.
Assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means. The bill was read for the second time 1/29/15

HB 122 - Representatives Martin of the 49th, Ramsey of the 72nd, Hamilton of the 24th, England of the 116th, Jones of the 47th, and others
Amends Code Section 48-7-40.16 of the OCGA, relating to state income tax credits for low-emission vehicles, so as to reduce to zero the amount of such credit; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to remove the tax credit for the purchase of a new low-emission or new zero emission vehicle purchased on or after July 1, 2015. The bill states that the amount of the credit shall be $0.00.
Assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means.  The bill was read for the second time on 1/29/15.

 

HB 170 - Representatives Roberts of the 155th, Burns of the 159th, Hamilton of the 24th, England of the 116th, Stover of the 71st, and others
Amends various provisions of the OCGA, so as to provide for additional revenue necessary for funding transportation purposes in this state, and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to create the Transportation Funding Act of 2015. The bill states that all revenue obtained from fees assessed on alternative fueled vehicles shall be dedicated to funding public transit in this state. Any sales and use tax levied by a county, municipality, consolidated government, or other political subdivision of this state on the sales of motor fuels would be discontinued when the most recent authorization expires. When current sales and use tax authorizations expire, a county, municipality, consolidated government, or other political subdivision of this state may each levy an excise tax of up to 3 cents per gallon on motor fuels by adoption of an ordinance. A county, municipality, consolidated government, or other political subdivision of this state may increase the excise tax up to an additional 3 cents per gallon if the increase is authorized by passage of a local referendum. 6 cents per gallon is the maximum excise tax authorized. The bill would also prohibit current joint county and municipal sales and use tax on the sale of motor fuels.
An excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon is authorized on distributors who sell or use motor fuel within the state, and a rate of 33 cents per gallon on distributors who sell diesel fuel within the state. The definition of ‘transportation purposes’ is changed through an amendment to Code Section 48-1-2 to include roads, bridges, public transit, rails, airports, buses, seaports, and all accompanying infrastructure and services necessary to provide access to transportation facilities. Code Section 48-8-3.1 is amended to provide that sales of motor fuels would be exempt from state sales and use taxes levied. Sales of motor fuel, other than gasoline, purchased for purposes other than propelling motor vehicles will be fully subject to state sales use taxes unless specifically exempted. The bill also repeals Code Section 48-9-14 relating to the second motor fuel tax. The bill amends the ‘Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Act’ and authorizes the Board of the Department of Community Affairs to provide preference to eligible projects in tier 1 and tier 2 counties. The Board is also authorized to make every effort to balance any loans or other financial assistance among all regions of the State.

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