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GEDA Weekly Policy Update: Week 5

Friday, February 9, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly McLendon
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February 9, 2018


GEDA Weekly Policy Update: Week 5

Prepared by:



The General Assembly met for days 15-18 this week. As a reminder, the adjournment resolution, which contains the full calendar can be found here.

Bills of Note:

  • The much-anticipated broadband bill, SB402, was introduced by Sen. Gooch this week. The text of the bill can be found here. The bill touches on a number of areas, including:

· Giving the Dept. of Transportation (GDOT) the authority to plan for, establish, and implement a long-term policy with regard to the use of rights of way of the interstate highways and state-owned roads for the establishment, development, and maintenance of the deployment of broadband and other communications technologies throughout the state, including contracting with public or private entities to deploy broadband capabilities. Any revenue generated from such public-private partnership would be deposited into the general fund, with a portion to go to the Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA) to administer a broadband grant program;

· Establishing a certification process for counties and municipalities to be designated “Broadband Ready Communities” by DCA;

· Requiring that any comprehensive plan of a local government provide for the promotion of the availability and delivery of broadband services;

· Requiring that any service delivery strategy by a local government include the promotion of the availability and delivery of broadband services;

· Creating a tax exemption for certain equipment used in the deployment of broadband technology in certain counties (and for DCA to designate and publish such eligible counties);

· Giving the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) the authority to establish and implement policies and programs necessary to promote and facilitate universal broadband deployment in GA and to provide an annual report as to the status of attainment of such;

· Mandating DCA to develop a grant program for the provision of broadband services throughout the state via the OneGeorgia Authority or GEFA (subject to appropriations)

  • In an attempt to tackle metro Atlanta’s traffic gridlock, some legislators are looking to transit as a solution. Sen. Beach introduced SB386 to create a seamless regional transit system not hindered by county lines across Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties. The bill would.
    • Allow any county in the metro Atlanta region to impose a 1% sales tax for mass transit, if it is approved by county voters.
      • If the voters approve the tax, the county would join a new regional transit board under the Georgia Regional Transportation Agency (GRTA).
      • Any sales tax money raised in the county would be spent in the county. But the project list would have to be approved by the new regional board (to be named the Atlanta-region Transit Link (ATL) Commission.
      • Counties that wanted to expand transit would have to agree to allow MARTA to operate their transit system. MARTA would be re-branded “The ATL” by 2023.


  • Governor Deal announced on Tuesday that he will push for changes in a tax bill (HB821) that was introduced last week to give tax relief to Georgians by adjusting state taxes to account for the impact of the federal tax reform Congress passed in December. HB821 also eliminates the state sales taxes on jet fuel.
  • Now that the General Assembly is close to wrapping up passage of the amended FY18 budget, the Appropriations Committee is turning its full attention to the FY19 budget. Subcommittee hearings have started and expect to continue into next week.

Bill Tracking:

Note: Bills added for the first week are italicized. Movement on bills highlighted in red.

HB59 – Historic Tax Credits

Bill Sponsor: Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah)
Bill Status: Senate Recommitted on 1/8/18
Summary: The bill provides tax credits against state income taxes for the rehabilitation of historic structures, and provides re-approval of additional tax credits for current recipients of credits. The taxpayer will be allowed a tax credit against the tax imposed at such time as the certified rehabilitation is completed. An applicant seeking to claim a tax credit will submit an application to the GA Dept. of Community Affairs for pre-approval.

HB69 – Tier Tax Credit Claims
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram)
Bill Status: House Second Reader
Summary: Beginning on Sept. 1, 2019 and annually for 5 years, the DCA Commissioner will issue a report to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House, including a list of all counties and their tier tax credit classifications, as well as the following information: (A) The total number of employers that claimed a credit under O.C.G.A. 48-7-40; (B) The number of all credits earned and all credits applied during such tax year; and (C) An estimate of the number of jobs and overall economic impact produced by this code section.

HB70 – Tier Tax Credit System
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram)
Bill Status: House Second Reader
Summary: Amend O.C.G.A. 48-7-40 to provide that a county classified as a Tier 4 county wil be reclassified as a Tier 3 if at least 70% of the county’s workforce commutes outside the county for work. Additionally, if 70% of a county’s workforce commutes outside the county for work, Tier 3 counties will be reclassified as Tier 2 counties, and Tier 2 counties shall be reclassified as Tier 1 counties.

HB118 – Fantasy Contests Act
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown)
Bill Status: Senate Recommitted on 1/8/18
Summary: Provides for the licensing, registration, regulation, and taxation of fantasy contest operators. The bill creates the Registered Fantasy Contest Operators Act. Fantasy contest operators must register with the Commissioner of the Dept. of Revenue. A fantasy contest operator must pay an annual registration renewal fee and 6% of the fantasy contest operator’s gross fantasy contest revenues for the preceding 12 months. The registration application is exempt from public disclosure unless challenged in the courts.

HB158 – Georgia Gaming Commission & Destination Resorts
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah)
Bill Status: House Second Readers
Summary: To provide for the creation, membership, appointment, and duties of the Georgia Gaming Commission and to authorize the licensing of up to 2 destination resorts in this state.

HB205 – Regulation of Exploration & Extraction of Oil and Gas
Bill Sponsor: Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun)
Bill Status: Passed House & Senate; went to conference committee;1/29 House conference committee adopted
Summary: Provides for regulation of the exploration and extraction of gas and oil; provides the authority to create an Oil and Gas Board; requires development of rules and regulations related to drilling and extraction; amends provisions relating to drilling permits; increases the amount of bond security for drilling operations; provides for the authority of local governments; and to impose a severance tax on the extraction of oil and gas. The bill also defines ‘hydraulic fracturing.’

HB225 – Licensing & Sales Tax Exemption for Ride Share Networks
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla)
Bill Status: Senate Recommitted 1/8/18
Summary: Repeals an inoperable sales tax exemption related to ride share networks and imposes collection and remittance of sales taxes on certain persons that facilitate or broker and accept or process payment for certain sales. Individuals that utilize ride sharing networks would be required to pay a 4% sales tax for each trip.

HB257 – Local Government Authorities Reporting Requirements
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Jan Tankersly (R-Brooklet)
Bill Status: passed House; favorably reported Senate Government Affairs Committee
Summary: Consolidates reporting requirements to the Department of Community Affairs for local government authorities.

HB329 – Personal Income Tax
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla)
Bill Status: Passed House & Senate; went to conference committee
Summary: Modifies the rate of tax imposed on the Georgia taxable net income of individuals; provides for an inflationary index rate; adjusts the amounts of the personal exemptions and standard deductions based on the inflationary index rate; and provides for a non-refundable earned income tax credit. The current Georgia taxable net income rate of one to 6% of taxable income would be removed from GA Code and replaced with one rate of 5.4%. *Note: This is a potential vehicle for any additional tax policy this session.

HB650 – State Symbols & Monuments
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
Bill Status:House Second Readers - Referred to Government Affairs Committee
Summary: To allow local governments to relocate, remove, conceal, obscure, or alter certain monuments.

HB658 – Excise Tax on Rooms, Lodging, & Accommodations
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs)
Bill Status:referred to Ways and Means; 1/24 committee hearing; 1/31 passed House
Summary: To remove the sunset date on the collection of excise tax on rooms, lodging, & accommodations.

HB735 – Railroad Tax Credit
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Patty Bentley
Bill Status: House Second Readers; Referred to House Ways & Means
Summary: To create an income tax credit for expenditures on the maintenance of railroad track owned or leased by a Class III railroad.

HB753 – Lodging Excise Tax Exemptions
Bill Sponsor: Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons)
Bill Status: House Second Readers; Referred to Transportation Committee
Summary: To exempt nonprofit conference and retreat centers from the excise tax on rooms, lodging, & accommodations.

SB2 – The Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed (FAST) Act
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Mike Dugan
Bill Status: House withdrawn; Recommitted
Summary: The bill would require state and local government agencies that issue licenses or permits to establish turnaround times they would have to meet. If they fail to process a license or fee by the deadline, they would have to reduce the processing fee. The bill would also require Georgia’s professional licensing boards to issue provisional licenses for businesses either renewing their licenses or moving to Georgia from out of state. Finally, the bill would establish a system for ranking and comparing state and local agencies’ permitting processes based in part on fees they charge and how long they take to issue licenses or permits. Additionally, the bill makes it easier for the legislature to override state agency rules by requiring simple majorities of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate rather than 2/3 votes required in current law.

SB3 – Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Lindsey Tippins
Bill Status: Passed House & Senate; went to conference committee
Summary: Requires the State Board of Education to prescribe a minimum course of study in career education for students in grades 6-12. The course of study should include career exploration and career-oriented learning experiences that include participation in work-based learning programs like internships, apprenticeships, cooperative education, or employability skill development; and rigorous industry credentialing.

SB 6 – Georgia Regional Transit Council
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Steve Gooch
Bill Status: House withdrawn; recommitted
Summary: Creates the Georgia Regional Transit Council that will be attached to the Dept. of Transportation for administrative purposes. The Council is created to develop a state-wide strategic transit plan with the guidance of a recognized industry leader in delivering transit strategy for multijurisdictional entities that emphasizes first-mile and last-mile services, the development of a seamless transportation network with dependable trip times for commuters, the enhancement of limited access highways, road congestion relief, safety enhancements, and plans for a future of transportation innovations.

SB17 – The “Brunch Bill”/ The “Mimosa Mandate”
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Renee Unterman
Bill Status: Passed Senate Regulated Industries Committee as a substitute
Summary: To let local voters decide whether restaurants can serve alcohol and retail stores can serve beer and wine at beginning at 11 am on Sundays.

SB79 – Georgia Gaming Commission & Destination Resorts
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Brandon Beach
Bill Status: Referred to Senate Regulated Industries Committee
Summary: To provide for the creation, membership, appointment, and duties of the Georgia Gaming Commission and to authorize the licensing of up to 2 destination resorts in this state.

SB191 – Petroleum Pipelines
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Rick Jeffares
Bill Status: House withdrawn; Recommitted to Natural Resources Committee
Summary: Requires that on or after July 1, 2017, any construction of a new petroleum pipeline or an extension in this state requires a permit from the Director of EPD regardless of whether the petroleum pipeline company intends to exercise any power of eminent domain. The Director will conduct hearings to determine whether the location and construction of the portion of the petroleum pipeline for which the permit is sought are consistent with, and not an undue hazard, to the environment and natural resources of this state.

SB302 – Public Monuments
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Elena Parent
Bill Status: Referred to Government Oversight Committee
Bill Summary: To allow local governments to relocate, remove, conceal, obscure, or alter certain monuments.

SB328 – Repealing Tax Credits
Bill Sponsor: Sen. John Albers
Bill Status: 1/24/2018 Passed Senate Finance;Passed Senate
Bill Summary: This legislation is a result of Sen. Albers’ study committee examining the current tax credits in Georgia. This study committee met numerous times in 2017 and issued its final report in December ’17. The report suggested that the General Assembly repeal three tax credits for Federal Qualified Transportation Fringe benefits, private driver education, and diesel particulate emission reduction technology equipment. SB328 aims to repeal all three of these credits. Revenue related bills have to originate in the House but we anticipate the Senate attaching the repeal of these tax credits to another tax bill.

SB379 – Georgia Major Airport Operations & Management Act
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Burt Jones
Bill Status: Senate Hopper;Referred to Transportation Committee
Bill Summary: To create the Georgia Major Airport Operations and Management Board, provide for its membership, duties, powers, and responsibilities, ad to transfer certain authority pertaining to major airports from counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions to such board.

SB402 – Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Steve Gooch
Bill Status: Senate Hopper
Bill Summary: Allow GDOT to enter into public-private partnerships to deploy broadband statewide; create a broadband grant program at DCA; create “Broadband Ready Community” designations via DCA; require local governments to incorporate broadband deployment in comprehensive plans and service delivery strategies.

SR502 – High Speed Rural Broadband
Bill Sponsor: Sen. Steve Gooch
Bill Status: referred to Rules Committee; Passed Senate
Bill Summary: A resolution encouraging Congress and federal agencies to develop policies and funding sources to help bring high-speed broadband access to Rural America.

SR613 – English as Official Language
Bill Sponsor: Sen. David Shafer
Bill Status: Senate Hopper;Referred to Rules Committee
Bill Summary: A resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to declare English as the official language of the State of Georgia.



Glossary of Terms:

Effective - The bill has been signed into law by the Governor and will go into effect the date stated.

Recommitted -A parliamentary motion to reassign a bill which has been in one committee to the same or a different committee.

Second Read -In the House, second reading occurs automatically on the legislative day following the bill's introduction. In the Senate, second reading occurs on the legislative day after a bill is reported from standing committee, except that after the 35th day of the session, second reading occurs on the day a bill is reported from committee.

Conference Committee -A special committee consisting of three members from each house appointed by the presiding officers to seek a compromise when the two houses have passed different versions of the same bill and insist on their respective positions.

Pre-filed - A bill that is filed before the beginning of the legislative session

Withdrawn - A bill is removed from consideration

Referred - Placed into committee

To find your law makers click here.

To view the GEDA Public Policy Agenda for 2018 click here.




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