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News & Press: Legislative Reports

General Assembly Sets Sine Die Day

Wednesday, February 3, 2016  
Posted by: Karen Ewing
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GEDA Legislative Liaison Report #3

The 2016 General Assembly reconvened on Monday, January 25; Day 9 of the 40 Day session.  The Assembly recessed Thursday, January 28; Day 12.

The House and Senate adopted resolutions setting the calendar for adjournment (sine die) on Thursday, March 24, 2016. Monday, February 29 will be Day 30—cross-over day—when a bill must move from one chamber to the other to be considered for passage by both chambers.

Four current or past GEDA members chair Senate committees or fill a leadership position.  Senator Frank Ginn assumed the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee following the resignation of Senator Tolleson.  Senator Brandon Beach assumed the Chair of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee.  Senator Jeff Mullis remains Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.  Senator Steve Gooch is now the Senate Majority Whip and Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Before the start of the 2016 session of the General Assembly there were discussions about authorizing casinos, horse racing, and pari-mutuel wagering; continuing education reform and changes to funding; expanding the list of illnesses that could qualify for medical marijuana use; extending “religious freedom” protections; and expanding MARTA.  Bills have been introduced to address most of those issues during the first three weeks of the session.  

Budget

HB 750 - The House of Representatives passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.

Bills

A description of bills that may be of interest to GEDA members are listed below. 

HB 733 – Stephens of the 164th

Amends Article 3 of Chapter 13 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to excise tax on rooms, lodgings, and accommodations, so as to reduce the amount of a certain fee imposed by innkeepers and to expand the types of innkeepers that must charge such fee; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to reduce the $5.00 lodging fee authorized during the 2015 Session in HB 170.  The bill proposes to reduce the fee from $5.00 to $2.50 on any room, lodging, or accommodation rented or leased.   This expands the list of lodging providers that are subject to the fee.  The bill strikes the definition of extended stay rentals.

HB 734 – Representative Spencer of the 180th

Amends Titles 36, 41, and 51 of the OCGA relating to local government  nuisances and torts, respectively, so as to provide for the facilitation of space flight activities in this state; to provide for definitions; to prohibit local government regulation of noise associated with space flight operations; to provide that space flight operations shall not constitute nuisances under certain conditions; to limit the liability of space flight entities related to injuries sustained by participants who have agreed in writing to such a limitation; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to remove barriers to space flight particularly as it relates to noise and limited liability.

HB 746 – Representative Benton of the 31st   

Amends Chapter 1 of Title 34 of the OCGA relating to general provisions relative to labor and industrial relations, so as to allow employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members; to provide for definitions; to provide for conditions to take leave and for other purposes.

The bill would apply to businesses that employ 10 or more employees as well as the State of Georgia and its political subdivisions.  The bill doesn’t mandate that businesses offer sick leave to employees, or if they do offer sick leave that they have to allow employees to use earned sick leave to care for immediate family members.  The use of sick leave by employees to care for immediate family members is limited to five days.  Employees must comply with the terms of the employer’s employee sick leave policy.

HB 749 – Representative Werkheiser of the 157th

Amends Code Section 50-8-34 of the OCGA relating to councils of regional commissions membership, terms, of membership, voting, officers, and powers, so as to authorize such councils to meet by teleconference or similar means; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to allow Regional Commission Councils to use teleconference or similar means in the same manner as boards, bodies, and committees of state government.

HB 763 – Representative Houston of the 170th

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to general provisions regarding the state sales and use tax, so as to remove the sunset for the exemption regarding certain food and food ingredients; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to remove the June 30, 2016 sunset of the sales tax exemption for the sales of food and food ingredients to a qualified food bank.

HB 773 – Representative Houston of the 170th

Amends Chapter 26 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority, so as to increase the outstanding bond limit; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to increase the cap on one time bonds and notes for the single-family residential housing program from $1.3 billion to $5 billion.

HB 781 – Representative Raffensperger of the 50th

Amends Chapter 80 of Title 36, Article 1 of Chapter 2 of Title 45, and Chapter 1 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to general provisions applicable to counties, municipal corporations, and other governmental entities; general provisions regarding eligibility and qualifications for public offices; and general provisions relating to state government, respectively, so as to require that individuals appointed to authorities, boards, councils, and commissions be United States citizens; to provide for other residency requirements; to provide for a definition; to provide for enforcement; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to require that appointments to a ‘local governing body’ shall be a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the local jurisdiction for 1 year immediately preceding the appointment.  It would also require that individuals appointed to serve on a state authority, board, council, or commission must be a citizen of the United States and legal resident of the state for 4 years immediately preceding the appointment.

HB 785 – Representative Dudgeon of the 25th

Amends Title 36 of the OCGA relating to local government so as to provide for the creation of townships; to provide a short title; to provide for the requirements for the creation of such townships; to provide for boards of township supervisors; to provide for officers, meetings, elections, and filling of vacancies for such township supervisors; to provide for certain immunities; to provide that property within such townships shall not be subject to municipal annexation; to provide for an audit; to provide for a transition of services; to provide that a county shall continue to provide services in the township that not specifically delegated by law to the township; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to authorize by local act the creation of townships in the unincorporated areas of any county in this state.  The township must be composed of a single, contiguous geographical area wholly within one county containing at least 2,000 acres and minimum of 500 parcels of property that qualify for homestead exemption, and in which at least 10 percent of the total geographical area is used or is zoned for purposes other than residential uses.

HB 822 – Representative Coomer of the 14th

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to sales and use tax, so as to provide for a change in a definition, to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to define ‘energy used in agriculture’ as qualifying for a sales and use tax exemption.

HB 824 – Representative Alexander of the 66th

Amends Title 34 of the OCGA relating to labor and industrial relations, so as to require all employers to implement paid sick leave for employees; to provide for definitions; to provide for exceptions; to specify purposes for which paid sick leave may be taken  and the rate at which paid sick leave accrues; to require advance notice of intention to use sick leave under certain circumstances; to provide for verification of the need for sick time in certain circumstances; to provide for record keeping; to prohibit discrimination against an employee for inquiring about or using paid sick leave; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to require that all employers implement paid sick leave for employees.

HB 840 – Representative Stephens of the 164th

Amends Title 12 and Title 27 of the OCGA relating to conservation and natural resources and game and fish, respectively, so as to change provisions relating to rules and regulations used to establish criminal violations; to authorize the grant of wildlife exhibition permits for use by the film industry; to provide for related matters; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to allow for the purchase of a film production wildlife permit.  The permit authorizes the permit holder to transport, possess, or transfer wildlife for any permit purpose related to film production.  Possession of a permit shall not exempt the holder form any other local, state, or federal requirements.  The annual fee for a ‘resident film production wildlife permit’ will be $300.00, and the annual fee for a ‘nonresident film production wildlife permit’ will be $600.00.

HR 1017 – Representative Dudgeon of the 25th

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide that the General Assembly may by general law authorize local boards of education to impose, levy, and collect development impact fees and use the proceeds to pay for a share of the cost of additional educational facilities; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.

The resolution proposes to allow local school systems that have had enrollment growth of at least 15 percent over the preceding five year period to impose, levy, and collect development impact fees within any area of its school system.  The proceeds of any development impact fee imposed shall be used to pay for a share of the cost of additional educational facilities to serve new growth and development in the same area in which those fees are imposed.  The development impact fees must be authorized by local act of the General Assembly.

HR 1051 – Representative Dudgeon of the 25th

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution as to provide that the General Assembly may provide by law for townships for the limited purposes of exercising the power of zoning and the regulation of land use development with the boundaries of such townships and provide for the funding and operation of such townships; to provide for submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.

The resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution to allow for the creation of townships.

SB 252 – Senator McKoon

Repeals Code Section 48-13-50.3 of the OCGA relating to an excise tax on hotel and motel room rentals, so as to repeal such provision; to provide for an effective date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to repeal a section of the Hotel Motel Tax law that authorizes the collection of an excise tax on hotel and motel room rentals, including the $5 per night fee authorized in the 2015 transportation bill, HB 170.

SB 264 – Senator Beach of the 21st

Amends Title 20 of the OCGA relating to state government so as to provide for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing; to provide for definitions; to provide for conditions for horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering; to provide for the regulation and operation of horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering; to provide for licensing of facilities and persons participating in horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering; to adopt the Interstate Compact on Licensure of Participants in Live Racing with Pari-mutuel Wagering; to prohibit certain conduct; to provide for penalties and for other purposes.

There are currently seven ‘religious freedom’ bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate.  The first bill, SB 129 was introduced last session by Senator McKoon and proposed to create the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  SB 284 by Senator Kirk would create the First Amendment Defense Act of Georgia (FADA). HB 756 by Representative Tanner would allow businesses to refuse services for marriage ceremonies by citing their religious beliefs. HB 757 by Representative Tanner creates the Pastor Protection Act.  HB 816 by Representative Mitchell would allow students to conduct voluntary prayer at, or before certain school events.  HB 837 by Representative Setzler would apply protections in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to Georgia courts.  HB 870 by Representative Strickland would prohibit schools from joining athletic associations that prohibit students from expressing their religious beliefs.

SB 280 – Senator Hill of the 32nd

Amends Title 48 of the OCGA relating to revenue and taxation, so as to provide for the revision of personal income tax rates; to eliminate itemized adjustments to Georgia taxable net income except for limited mortgagee deductions, charitable contributions, and medical expenses; to increase the personal exemption from state income tax; to repeal the corporate net worth tax; to provide that this Act shall to provide that this Act shall not abate or affect prosecutions, punishments, penalties, administrative proceedings or remedies, or civil actions related to certain violations; to provide for a short title; and for other purposes. The bill proposes to change the tax rates on taxable net income for person’s filing an individual tax return, married persons filing separately, and head of household and married persons filing a joint return. It would also lower the income tax rate to 5.4 percent of all taxable net income for the applicable taxable year beginning January 1, 2017.  The bill proposes to increase dependent exemptions.

SR 724 - Senator Ligon of the 3rd

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide that the General Assembly may provide by law for the creation of townships for the limited purposes of exercising the power of zoning and the regulation of land use and development within the boundaries of such townships and provide for the funding and operation of such townships; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.

SR 756 – Senator Hill of the 32nd

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide for prioritized funding requirements regarding certain appropriations Acts; to provide for procedures, conditions, and limitations; to provide for the authority of the General Assembly with respect to the foregoing; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.

The resolution proposes to reduce state personal income tax rates to 5 percent over several years based on revenue deposited in the general fund that exceeds $23 billion annually.

SR 675 – Senator McKoon of the 29th

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution  to declare English as the official language of the State of Georgia; to provide for findings; to provide that official state actions be in English; to prohibit any requirement that any language other than English be used in any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications; to prohibit discrimination, penalties, or other limits on participation against persons who speak only English; to provide for exceptions; to provide for certain rights of action; and for other purposes.

 


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