February 23, 2018 | No. 7
The General Assembly is planning to be in session Monday the 25th for Day 27 and Wednesday the 27th for Day 28, “crossover day.”
Action Needed
SB 426 - Restrictions on Local Control of Rights-of-Way: Small Cell Antennas and New Poles
This week the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee passed SB 426 by Senator Steve Gooch to grant nearly unregulated access and special privileges to private companies seeking to put small cell antennas, new poles and other telecommunications equipment in public spaces.
GMA is currently working with the author to address the following concerns:
  • Maintaining local control and authority over rights-of-way access;
  • Maintaining local control over community aesthetics by setting reasonable size limitations for wireless antennas and new poles in the rights-of-way;
  • Efficiency in the permitting process that maintains local ability to negotiate on placement sites;
  • Obtaining information from wireless providers related to deployment plans within the jurisdiction; and
  • Receiving fair compensation from private companies placing equipment in the public rights-of way and on public property.
Please reach out to your Senators to communicate about municipal concerns as expressed above and the importance of maintaining local control of the rights-of-way.

SB 2Local Governments: Business Licensing & Permitting Fee Schedules
by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) mandates cities and counties to establish and publish a time frame and fee schedule related to the processing and issuance of occupational licenses and permits for businesses, professions or occupations.  Additionally, the local government would have to require the applicant to pay 50 percent of the fee up front.  After payment of half of the fee, the local government would be required to verify with each applicant that an application is complete. If a local government does not meet its published deadline, the fee owed would be reduced by 10 percent for each ten days that the published deadline is not met. City officials should contact House members to express concerns over the need for this unnecessary mandate on local government permitting processes. This legislation could be voted on as early as Monday, February 26. GMA is opposed to this legislation.
House Rights-of-way, New Poles and Small Cells Update:
HB 887Communications Services Tax by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) creates 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. GMA is evaluating this legislation.

HB 336Broadband Strategy for All of Georgia by Rep. Don Parsons (R-Marietta), and known as the “Broadband Strategy for All of Georgia Act,” would create a voluntary certification program for local governments as “broadband ready communities” through the Department of Economic Development. The local government would not be eligible for certification unless there is a broadband network projects ordinance that outlines the process for reviewing applications and issuing permits. GMA supports this legislation.
HB 518Rights-of-Way: Compensation for Telecommunications Equipment by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R – Gainesville) would amend the compensation due to cities for placement of telecom equipment in the public rights-of-way. This legislation would first allow telecoms who do not have retail end users, but are instead wholesalers, to pay no more than 3% of recurring local service revenues in a jurisdiction for use of the rights-of-way. Additionally, it would create a flat rate for those telecoms who don't have retail end users or wholesale users in a jurisdiction of $100 per linear mile. GMA is opposed to this legislation.

Passed the House, Pending in the Senate:
HB 327TAVT Changes by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) changes the language on used car sales, by adding a section to apply to unlicensed dealers of used cars and addressing the taxable base of leased vehicles. The bill also changes the state/local split by removing the current formula and replacing it with a local government guarantee. GMA supports this legislation.
HB 693Repeal of Solid Waste Liens by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would remove the authorization for cities, counties and authorities to use liens as a method of collecting unpaid solid waste assessments. GMA opposes this legislation.
HB 876Wood Frame Construction Regulation Preemption by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) would preempt local governments from regulating wood as a construction material if state minimum standards are met. GMA is opposed to this legislation.
HB 826Alarm Verification Exclusions by Rep. Geoff Cauble (R-Locust Grove) would require law enforcement to be dispatched to a location immediately upon the triggering of an alarm in cases where the alarm site or alarm user is a banking institution, firearms wholesaler or retailer, or a pharmaceuticals retailer, and has contracted with an alarm monitoring company for no alarm verification. GMA supports this legislation.

Pending in the House Rules Committee:   
HB 703Public Safety Mental Health Support Bill by Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon) would create the Governor’s Office of Public Safety Support which shall respond to and provide counselling services or critical incident support services to all requesting public safety officers for incidents that include death or other tragedies. The newly formed office may use local incident support services providers including but not limited to chaplains, mental health professionals and peer groups. The new office shall also provide training courses in stress management.  This bill shall only become effective if the funds to create the office and provide the services are appropriated by the General Assembly. GMA supports this legislation.
HB 930Atlanta-region Transit Link "ATL" Authority by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) would create an Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Authority to operate, plan and provide transit services in the 13 county metro Atlanta region. The ATL Board would be comprised of 14 members, with ten chosen from districts by a caucus of legislators, county chairpersons in each district, and a mayor selected from a caucus of mayors in each district. The legislation authorizes a county-level transit special purpose local option sales tax which could be levied for up to 30 years upon approval of the voters in the county. The legislation would call for taxes on for-hire ground transport (limos, taxis, ride share companies) in the metro Atlanta non-attainment area. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.       
HB 948 – Preemption of Retail Sales by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) would prohibit municipalities from placing bans on the sale of goods or products regulated by either the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. This legislation would remove local authority to regulate sales on retail items, including the retail sales of cats and dogs. GMA opposes this legislation.

Passed Senate, Pending in the House:
SB 371Sales Tax Accountability by Sen. Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) would allow local governments to request information included on the vendor's sales tax certificate for all vendors that filed a report for that period with the Department of Revenue to be used by designated finance officer in the discharge of their duties. GMA supports this legislation.

SB 402Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) enables the Georgia Department of Transportation in consultation with Georgia Technology Authority to implement a long-term policy approach to broadband deployment in interstate highways and state roads' rights-of-way through various approaches including public-private partnerships. It also enables the Department of Community Affairs to recognize local governments as ‘Broadband Ready Communities’ through a voluntary certification program if the local government adopted ordinances or policies promoting jurisdiction-wide broadband deployment and streamlined processes to grant quicker access to the public rights-of-way. GMA supports this legislation.

Pending in Senate Rules Committee:  
SB 404Standby Water Service Fees Preemption by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) would preempt local authority to charge fees for standby water service for sprinkler system connections. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.

SB 418Preemption of Local Ordinances on Tobacco, Pet Sales and Other Retail Sales by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) prohibits cities from placing restrictions or bans on the sale of goods or products regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. This legislation would remove local authority to regulate sales on retail items, including the retail sales of cats and dogs. GMA is opposed to this legislation. 
SB 452Immigration Detainers by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would require peace officers and local governments to detain suspected illegal aliens, securely transport them to federal or state detention facilities, or notify the United States Department of Homeland Security whenever such peace officer, in the course of an investigation receives verification that a suspect is an illegal alien.  Additionally, the legislation would require municipal court judges to inquire and determine at the time of sentencing whether the person to be sentenced is lawfully present in the United States under federal law and whether United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on such person. Finally, the legislation also requires municipalities detain, arrest, and transport any person confined in a jail who is determined to be an illegal alien as authorized by state and federal law. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.       
 SB 386Atlanta-region Transit Link "ATL" Commission & Transit SPLOST by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would create an Atlanta-region Transit Link "ATL" Commission administratively attached to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. The ATL Commission would be charged with developing a plan, in consultation with the metropolitan planning organization, to provide regional transit services under a unified brand. GMA is evaluating this bills.
SB 453Municipal Service Requirements and Incorporation Restrictions by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) would require any city created after January 1, 2018 to provide a minimum of five services in order to remain an active municipality. The bill would also establish a three mile distance requirement for the incorporation of new cities in the vicinity of existing cities.  An exception would be provided if residents of an area have been denied a petition to annex into the existing city. GMA is evaluating this bills.
Failed to Pass Committee prior to Crossover Day:
SR 846Establishing a Cap on the Number of Georgia Cities by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) proposes a Constitutional amendment to cap the number of municipal corporations in Georgia at 539 if approved in a referendum. GMA is opposed to this legislation. 
SB 469Building Codes by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) would preempts the authority of cities and counties to adopt and enforce ordinances applicable to building design elements for single family homes and duplexes. Local regulation of number and types of rooms, interior layout of rooms, location of garage doors, and materials for roof structures or porches would be preempted to the extent they go beyond certain state minimum codes or are applied differently to manufactured homes. Such design elements could be regulated locally in very limited circumstances such as designated historic structures and districts. GMA is opposed to this legislation.
Advocacy Tools
GMA encourages you to visit its 2018 Legislative Session web page to keep up with all the bills GMA is working on during the 2018 session. Capitol Connection

GMA wants city officials to be part of the effort to connect City Hall to the Gold Dome in the 2018 elections. GMA's 2018 Connection will give you the tools to connect with the candidates and follow the issues important to cities.

Local Legislation Update
If you are interested in seeing if local legislation has been introduced that impacts your city, or surrounding local governments, subscribe to GMA's Local Legislation Update and receive an email when any local legislation has been introduced and assigned to a committee. To subscribe, visit GMA's 2018 Legislative Session web page and look for the Local Legislation Update heading on the right hand-side of the page, enter your email in the space provided and click the subscribe button. If you received the Local Legislation Update last year you do not have to subscribe again to continue receiving it. Note: GMA provides this email of local legislation as a service to its members. GMA does not lobby the Georgia General Assembly on local bills and resolutions.

GMA on Twitter
If you use Twitter, please follow GMA at @GACities. You can use the #gmapol hashtag to keep up with Tweets about the legislative session from GMA and its lobbying staff.

Free Parking at GMA
When visiting Atlanta to visit your legislators or other state officials, city officials may park at GMA for free. GMA's offices are two blocks away from the Capitol.

Visit the Capitol, GMA Staff Can Guide You
GMA is here to help you navigate the corridors of the Gold Dome easily and effectively. When you come to Atlanta to visit your legislative delegation, please let GMA know by contacting Kenyetta Williams at (678) 686-6206, or kwilliams@gmanet.com. GMA will be glad to help you find your member's office and provide you with a personalized legislative briefing.
Copyright © 2018 Georgia Municipal Association, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 105377
Atlanta, GA 30348