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Gold Dome Update
No. 5| February 9, 2018

Ten Legislative Days Until 'Crossover Day'

The General Assembly will convene on Monday, February 12, for legislative day 19, with “crossover day” – the 28th day of the session – slated to be on Wednesday, February 28th. Crossover day is the last chance a bill introduced in one chamber can make it across to the other chamber for consideration. Amendments to legislation, however, can occur throughout the remaining meeting schedule of the legislature.
 
Telecom Bills Pending Consideration
There are several telecommunications bills pending action in both chambers. SB 402 – Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act – was introduced by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) this week. This act would enable Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), in consultation with Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), to implement a long-term policy approach to broadband deployment along interstate highways and state rights-of-way through various approaches including public-private partnerships.
 
This legislation would also enable the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) 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.
 
HB 887 – Communications Services Tax and Rural Internet – by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) was also introduced this week. 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. GMA is evaluating this legislation.
 
GMA continues to have concerns with HB 533 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) and SB 232 by Sen. Steve Gooch, (R-Dahlonega). GMA continues to express concerns that these proposals give virtually unregulated access and special privileges to those seeking to put wireless service facilities in the public rights-of-way.

GMA key priorities include:

  • 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 engineering and deployment plans within the jurisdiction; and
  • Receiving fair compensation from private companies placing equipment in the public rights-of way and on public property.
GMA will continue to work with the authors on these bills.
 
Bills Passed out of House Committees to House Rules Committee
HB 327 – TAVT Changes by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Ways & Means Committee. The bill would amend the existing TAVT law to address several issues that have been pointed out since the State changed the way that motor vehicles were taxed in 2013. HB 327 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. 
 
Additionally, HB 327 would address the State/Local split by removing the existing formula that requires local governments to "true up" each month. For years 2019 - 2024, this formula would be replaced with a local government guarantee that supplies each local government with the amount of ad valorem revenues that they were receiving in 2012, plus 20% of the leftover in year 2019, 25% in year 2020, 30% in year 2021, 35% in 2022, 40% in 2023, and 55% in 2024. In 2025 a 70% local rate would lock in, and the formula would change to a jurisdictional model with 49% going to the school system, 23% going to the municipality, and 28% of all TAVT revenues within the incorporated limits going to the county.
 
HB 381 – Abandoned and Derelict Mobile Homes by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week. This legislation would create a process for landowners to get rid of abandoned and derelict mobile homes left on their property by irresponsible tenants. The legislation allows landowners to request that a local government send an employee to assess the condition of mobile homes to make a determination if such mobile homes should be classified as abandoned. However, the legislation clearly stipulates that there would be no requirement or mandate that a local government appoint a local government agent. GMA supports this legislation.
 
HB 693 –Preemption of Solid Waste Liens Authority by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill 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.
 
Senate Committee Passes COPS Bills
The Senate Public Safety Committee passed the Compensation of Police and Sheriffs (COPS) package of bills this week. The bills are now pending in the Senate Rules Committee, and may be heard on the floor of the Senate next week.
 
SB 366 - Law Enforcement Wage Study Act by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would require counties and municipalities to perform wage and compensation studies for employees of their law enforcement agencies every five years. Local governments will not be mandated to utilize the pay scale but will have to annually submit the pay scale of each government to the Department of Community Affairs. Failure to complete the study or submit the pay scale annually will result in the loss of qualified local government status.
 
This legislation would also create a financial need-based grant fund administered by the Department of Community Affairs subject to an appropriation by the General Assembly for local law enforcement agencies. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.
 
SB 367 – Law Enforcement Estates by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) would allow payments to be made to the estate of law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMT’s, emergency management specialists, state highway employees or prison guards who either die or suffer brain damage while in the line of duty. GMA supports this legislation.
 
SB 368  – Law Enforcement Technical Support sponsored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) would allow the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide technical support and assistance to local law enforcement departments that lack access to certain resources and support. The support and assistance from the council would include grant funding, training, equipment, operations and other official needs. GMA supports this legislation.
 
SB 369 – POAB Supplement by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) would require local governments to submit five dollars of each fee collected from pre-trial diversion programs to the Police Officers’ Annuity Benefit Fund. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.
 
Senate Transit Bill Introduced,   House Transit Bill Anticipated Next Week
SB 386 – Atlanta Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission by Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) was introduced this week. This legislation 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. 

The ATL Commission would be comprised of 11 initial members, with the governor chairing the commission, including the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation, the CEO of MARTA, the mayor and council president of Atlanta, chairs of Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties, two mayors elected from Clayton and DeKalb counties from a caucus of mayors in each respective county. 

If other county jurisdictions pass a new Transit SPLOST or the MARTA tax, the chair of such commission serves on the board. If the county and all of the cities in the county enter into an intergovernmental agreement to levy the new Transit SPLOST, then a mayor elected by a caucus of mayors within the county will serve on the ATL Commission Board. 
 
Other Legislation
SB 371 – Sales Tax Accountability by Sen. Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) passed out of the Senate Finance Committee this week and is now pending in Senate Rules. The bill 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.

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.

Georgia Municipal Association
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Atlanta, GA 30303