Municipal Desk Reference


Most Recent Additions
This December 10, 2014 webinar reviews the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) new rules on cell tower siting and the placement of facilities in your rights-of-way. The FCC's new rules change the regulatory landscape and require cities to make siting decisions more quickly.

Published Date: December 13, 2014

All cities are required to file their annual immigration reports with the Department of Audits and Accounts on or before December 31, 2014. The 2014 report will include activity from December 1, 2013 – November 30, 2014.

Published Date: December 12, 2014

In a much anticipated decision arising out of multiple civil actions against Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, a private for-profit probation company, the Supreme Court of Georgia held on November 24, 2014, that private probation companies, such as Sentinel, are constitutionally allowed to supervise misdemeanor probationers. The court added, however, that lower courts cannot toll a probationer’s sentence after it has been imposed, saying that misdemeanor “sentences are fixed at one year and once a sentence has been served, jurisdiction over the defendant ceases.”

Published Date: November 25, 2014

There is recent news on the sovereign immunity front.

Published Date: October 6, 2014

GMA is pleased to provide for municipal officials a review of the key features of the Georgia open meetings and open records laws.

Published Date: September 26, 2014

The city of Duluth is facing a rather unusual and somewhat tenuous set of circumstances; our Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the Gwinnett County Superior Court’s decision to throw out a case against the city in a negligent hiring claim involving a drunk, off-duty police officer’s use of excessive force upon a citizen.

Published Date: September 5, 2014

The United States Supreme Court recently held in Riley v. California that police may not search cellphones seized during lawful arrests, without first obtaining a proper warrant.

Published Date: August 6, 2014

During this recorded live webinar, presenters provided an overview of land bank authorities (LBA), including changes enacted to the Land Bank Act of 2012 and how to determine the need for a LBA. Also discussed is how to establish or restart a LBA, as well as funding considerations. Special considerations for small and/or rural communities were also addressed.

Published Date: June 18, 2014

GMA has prepared three tutorials highlighting Georgia’s laws on weapons and firearms. Part 1 covers existing law, changes to such existing law, and background information. Part 2 covers government buildings, and Part 3 covers courthouses, schools, polling places, public housing, commercial service airports, and the discharge of firearms. Additionally, GMA has prepared a PowerPoint presentation of the tutorials and a quick summary of the new laws.

Published Date: June 11, 2014

Legal activity affecting Georgia’s cities was in high gear recently. In a matter of weeks, we saw the Georgia Gen­eral Assembly (guns) and the United States Supreme Court (prayers opening legislative sessions) weigh in on matters of great impact and importance to the daily operation of our cities and our lives.

Published Date: June 8, 2014

The typical mixed bag of appellate rulings resulted in yet another Supreme Court reversal of our Court of Appeals, calling for the second such discussion in the last four columns. This time it was Georgia’s whistleblower statute at issue, and whether it can be utilized for city/county in-house complaints involving claims of retaliation for disclosing a violation of, or noncompliance with a city or county law, rule or regulation to either a supervisor or a government agency.

Published Date: May 9, 2014

lllSo, Gerry and Judy McManus bought their Lawrenceville dream home with bay windows and large porches on 7.5 acres back in 1997. But, for the past four years they have been embroiled in a nasty little legal spat with Gwinnett County. The McManuses sued Gwinnett County because of water runoff issues.

Published Date: April 4, 2014

While our Georgia appellate courts have been busily working on the usual array of tax, condemnation and immunity issues, the rumble on the distant horizon is not coming from Atlanta. It is coming from Washington, D.C. It is coming from Everytown, U.S.A.

Published Date: March 10, 2014

In an effort to address growing technological needs from Georgia’s vast and varying courts, the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts (GAOC) has taken the legislative position that general legislation allowing local courts to establish technology fees is warranted and neces¬sary.

Published Date: January 6, 2014

This publication is to familiarize city officials with some of the important basics in the area of alcoholic beverage regulation.

Published Date: January 1, 2014

The purpose of this publication is to provide a step-by-step guide to the present annexation laws contained in Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated for use by lay persons, city officials, city staff and particularly, local government attorneys.

Published Date: January 1, 2014

GMA is pleased to provide this revised Georgia Model Municipal Charter as an aid to city officials who wish to modernize their existing city charter.

Published Date: January 1, 2014

Redistricting, or "reapportionment" is the redrawing of the boundaries of an elective political district.

Published Date: January 1, 2014

GMA conducted a one hour webinar on December 5, 2015 to highlight recent changes to Georgia’s immigration laws and to review reporting requirements for SAVE and E-Verify.

Published Date: December 6, 2013

All local governments receiving proceeds from SPLOST must publish a SPLOST report in a newspaper of general circulation within that city or county and on the government website, if they have one, by December 31 of each year.

Published Date: November 27, 2013

Preclearance of voting issues, including municipal districts, precinct locations and annexation approval, is no longer required because of a decision from the United States Supreme Court earlier this summer.

Published Date: October 30, 2013

Ah, the storm water run­off case. Well, the ones you read about in the paper usually fit the de­scription. The majority of others would be bet­ter described as rain wa­ter runoff cases.

Published Date: October 8, 2013

The fate of cities’ Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) agreements in at least 17 counties are in limbo following a ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday, Oct. 7, that declared “baseball arbitration” unconstitutional because it delegates taxing powers to the courts, a violation of the separation of powers provision of the Georgia Constitution.

Published Date: October 7, 2013

A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the city of Dahlonega in determining how Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenues would be split.

Published Date: September 19, 2013

Creating an effective code enforcement program begins with an understanding of state law and the various legal tools available to local governments.

Published Date: September 13, 2013

During the 2013 legislative session, SB 160 passed which makes significant changes to Georgia’s state immigration laws and the immigration mandates placed on Georgia’s cities. These changes take effect on July 1, 2013, and should only be enforced on or after such date. This FAQ has been developed to help cities answer questions about the changes to the state immigration laws.

Published Date: July 1, 2013

On May 8, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released two model notices concerning the health insurance Marketplace (the Exchange). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires the creation of the Exchange.

Published Date: May 15, 2013

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 for use. Starting May 7, 2013, all employers, public and private, are required to start using the new Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.

Published Date: May 15, 2013

This one-page factsheet reviews the changes made to Georgia's ethics laws during the 2013 Legislative Session.

Published Date: April 16, 2013

This resource is provided by the Georgia Secretary of State.

Published Date: January 14, 2013

During the 2012 legislative session the Georgia General Assembly overhauled Georgia’s tax system in large and meaningful ways. One of the changes to Georgia’s tax system will provide for an exemption to the sales tax used in manufacturing starting in 2013.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

Over the past two legislative sessions HB 110 underwent numerous changes in attempts by the General Assembly to place some statewide guidelines on local governments registries of vacant and foreclosed real property.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

Over the past few years there has been a growing problem related to internet cafés and other business establishments of a similar sort which utilize the sales of phone cards, internet time, or other similar sales as a subterfuge to skirt Georgia’s gambling laws.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

During the past few legislative sessions there have been bills introduced that would limit the abilities of local governments in regulating pawnshops and secondhand dealers.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

The Georgia General Assembly, in 2011, enacted legislation allowing local governments to call for referenda concerning whether Sunday package sales of beer, wine and potentially liquor should be allowed in that jurisdiction

Published Date: June 28, 2012

Cities throughout the state of Georgia have issues relating to derelict property and GMA often gets questions related to the options cities have in controlling this growing problem.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

Recent legislation on knives provides that local governments cannot restrict knives more than allowed by a specific part of Georgia law, except in government buildings and courthouses.

Published Date: June 28, 2012

During the 2012 legislative session Senate Bill 352 was passed which created the first statutory provisions in Georgia relating to prosecutors in municipal courts. The legislation allows, but does not mandate, cities to create an office of prosecuting attorney for the municipal court.

Published Date: June 14, 2012

According to Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, GMA and other groups had a lot to do with the changes to the state's open meetings and records law passing during the 2012 legislative session.

Published Date: June 8, 2012

Georgia cities that have a prosecuting attorney's office for their municipal court are required to submit copies of the resolution or ordinance creating the office to the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia.

Published Date: May 30, 2012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that the Obama Administration is eliminating 46 regulations on traffic signs to provide more flexibility for state and local governments.The deadlines requiring that certain street name signs be replaced by 2018 to meet minimum retroreflectivity standards and requiring larger lettering on those street name signs are among the deadlines that will be eliminated.

Published Date: May 15, 2012

This guide provides an explanation and guidance to the recent changes in the tax code that affect a municipality’s revenue.

Published Date: May 15, 2012

A comprehensive revision of the Open Meetings/Open Records law was passed during the 2012 Legislative Session and has been signed by Governor Nathan Deal.

Published Date: May 10, 2012

Q&A from Ask GMA.

Published Date: May 9, 2012

On February 8, 2012, Superior Court Judge David Barrett entered a 52-page final consent order in the litigation between Gwinnett County and the cities.

Published Date: April 27, 2012

Federal transportation rules require local governments to establish and implement a sign maintenance program addressing minimum sign retroreflectivity requirements by January 22, 2012.

Published Date: February 27, 2012

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), in cooperation with GMA and ACCG, has developed a Statewide Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreement.

Published Date: February 7, 2012

The Georgia immigration laws which passed during the 2011 legislative session can be very confusing. To help cities understand their responsibilities more clearly, the following short bullet-pointed summary has been created to guide you through the law.

Published Date: January 12, 2012

The State Ethics Commission has provided an opinion on the use of city equipment and city staff to complete ethics filings.

Published Date: October 6, 2011

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation during the 2011 Legislative Session that expanded the scope of Georgia’s cities responsibilities to comply with the federal work authorization program, currently known as E-Verify, and with the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.

Published Date: September 29, 2011

During the 2011 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed legislation, Senate Bill 240, creating a definition for “personal transportation vehicle” in Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia, dealing with motor vehicles. The new definition greatly overlaps with an existing definition in the same Title of the Code for “motorized cart.”

Published Date: August 3, 2011

During the 2011 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 256, which provides comprehensive regulation of 9-1-1 charges on prepaid wireless services.

Published Date: July 12, 2011

FAQ on the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.

Published Date: June 30, 2011

Except for in very specific instances, gambling is illegal in the State of Georgia. Over the past few years a growing problem has come into Georgia’s cities with internet sweepstakes cafes and similar businesses.

Published Date: May 27, 2011

Before January 1, 2011, all cities and counties in Georgia are required to adopt outdoor watering restrictions in conformity with O.C.G.A. § 12-5-7(a.1).

Published Date: November 2, 2010

GMA in cooperation with GEMA and ACCG has produced a Sample Municipal Emergency Management ordinance.

Published Date: August 13, 2010

Legislation passed during the 2010 Legislative Session enacted O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-171 which provides, in part, that: “No county or municipality shall impose any health and safety standards or conditions based upon the age of a manufactured home.”

Published Date: August 13, 2010

The passage of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act of 2010 brings many changes to Georia's Ethics in Government Act.

Published Date: August 12, 2010

Unlike paper documents, there is a large amount of data embedded within electronic documents that is not always apparent.

Published Date: January 7, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission recently established timeframes of 90 days for collocations and 150 days for all other tower siting applications reviewed by state and local governments.

Published Date: December 15, 2009

The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (“GINA”) is federal legislation enacted to protect covered individuals from discrimination on the basis of genetic information.

Published Date: December 14, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released Fighting Fraud with the Red Flags Rule: A How-To Guide for Business.

Published Date: July 15, 2009

The Georgia Attorney General’s office has issued an “extensive internal memorandum” to two state legislators responding to various questions about the "Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act," which mandates participation in the federal E-verify and SAVE programs by cities in certain instances.

Published Date: February 11, 2009

Q&A from Ask GMA.

Published Date: February 9, 2009

The purpose of this publication is not to provide a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of sign regulation. The materials are intended to highlight several, but not all, areas where legal issues commonly arise concerning municipal sign regulation.

Published Date: January 9, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission adopted regulations in 2007 requiring all utility companies and other entities that act as creditors, and provide certain types of accounts, to enact "red flag policies" to protect consumers from identity theft.

Published Date: September 30, 2008

Georgia law provides specific powers to enable local governments to embark on projects that will foster public/private partnerships and spur economic growth. Tax Allocation Districts (TADs) are one of the legislative tools available to support cities’ community and economic development ventures.

Published Date: March 4, 2008

This handbook was drafted by staff of GMA and ACCG, with substantial input from staff at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, to provide informal guidance to arbitrators of disputes under Article 7, Chapter 36 of Title 36 of the Georgia Code.

Published Date: January 25, 2008

On May 23, 2007, the governor signed into law HB 2, the "Fair Annexation Act." The law went into effect on September 1, 2007, and any annexations that take place on or after that date must be in compliance with the provisions in HB 2.

Published Date: October 1, 2007

In April 2006, Governor Perdue signed into law the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (SB 529).

Published Date: September 1, 2007

This publication is intended to serve as a guide to municipal governments for simplified procedures to follow in the course of a council meeting.

Published Date: June 1, 2007

The Georgia Smoke Free Air Act went into effect on July 1, 2005.

Published Date: August 1, 2005

During a one-week special session in May, 2004 the General Assembly passed legislation (HB 1 EX) that will fund the newly created system of circuit public defenders which will provide indigent representation in superior and juvenile court.

Published Date: June 1, 2004

Part I and Part II of this series looked at the public display of both city-owned and privately owned holiday displays. Part III examines the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Published Date: October 9, 2003

The second of three articles on religious displays and the First Amendment, this article looks at private displays on city property

Published Date: October 9, 2003

The first of three articles on religious displays and the First Amendment, this article reviews city-owned displays, city-owned displays on city property and the Edorsement Test.

Published Date: October 9, 2003

This guide is an overview of the current law governing occupation taxes and regulatory fees and should be helpful to municipal officials when implementing occupation tax and regulatory fee ordinances.

Published Date: July 1, 2003

This publication provides an overview of the legal and policy considerations in establishing travel policies.

Published Date: July 1, 2003

Q&A about occupation taxes and regulatory fees.

Published Date: December 19, 2001

In the 1993 Legislative Session, the Georgia General Assembly distinguished between occupation taxes and regulatory fees.

Published Date: December 19, 2001

Georgia Law requires that contracts for public works construction projects be awarded in an open and competitive manner.

Published Date: December 19, 2001

Q&A about Georgia's Public Works Construction Law.

Published Date: December 1, 2001

Q&A about Christmas bonuses.

Published Date: February 1, 2000

Organizations & Other Online Resources