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HB 887, Communications Services Tax and Broadband Ready Communities

Municipal Impact Position Contact
Evaluating Joel Wiggins, (678) 686-6270

Last Updated: 2/9/2018
Subject Area: Franchise Fees | Municipal Powers | Taxation |
Resources: bill text
This legislation would authorize the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) to create a voluntary certification program to recognize local governments as ‘Broadband Ready Communities’ upon enacting ordinances promoting jurisdiction-wide broadband deployment and streamlined processes to grant quicker access for broadband service providers to the public rights-of-way. 

GEMA would be charged with developing a model ordinance that local governments could adopt related to best practices for enabling broadband network projects.

GEMA would be tasked with identifying the most underserved or unserved parts of the state by broadband providers. Under this legislation, GEMA would then develop the ‘Georgia Reverse Auction Broadband Deployment Program’ to allow for state funding to service providers offering to provide broadband to those areas stet the least amount of state subsidies. The program would consist of a minimum of five rounds of grants, one per year for five years. 

HB 887 also restructures the way that communications can be taxed in Georgia. Firstly, the legislation removes the ability for local governments to charge franchise fees on cable and telecommunication providers. The local franchise fee is replaced by a structure that would allow the Department of Revenue to impose a Communications Services Tax on all satellite, telephone, cable, video, and audio transmission services. The state would retain four (4%) percent of satellite services, and a two (2%) percent of other communications services. The local governments would retain two (2%) of all communications services other than satellite service.
The legislation would distribute the revenues jurisdictionally to municipalities, counties, and consolidated governments. The amount to be distributed will be determined by a system designed to “true up” local governments. All communication service fees, taxes, etc. from 2017 will be used as a base year, and the average monthly amount would be distributed to local governments by DOR. The legislation would require all communications services companies to submit their receipts from 2017 to DOR in order to determine the base year figure. If any of the communications services taxes are left over after “trueing up” local governments the remainder will be distributed by a formula that divides the population of the cities and unincorporated areas of each county by the total population of the state.
The legislation requires all local governments to adopt an ordinance in order to collect communications services taxes. If an ordinance is not in place, then the state would retain said local governments revenues.

2/12/2018 - Assigned To House Committee


Rep. Jay Powell
District 171
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