Wednesday, February 28, was Crossover Day – the last day a bill from one chamber could move to the other chamber – and several bills of importance to cities moved closer to becoming law. Eleven days remain in the session, with the General Assembly scheduled to adjourn “sine die” on Thursday, March 29.
GMA appreciates the many city officials who contacted their legislators this week to ask for specific action on these bills. We encourage you to continue to stay in touch with your House members and Senators to discuss legislation brought forth in the weekly Gold Dome Update.
New Poles, Small Cells, ROW & Broadband Bills Cross Over
SB 426 by Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) on small cells and new poles passed the Senate on Crossover Day and is now pending in the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee. The current version of the bill reflects some local government recommendations, but many areas of concern related to community aesthetics, equipment size requirements, new pole limitations, and compensation for renting public assets still remain. GMA is opposed to this legislation
SB 402, the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere “ACE” Act, also by Senator Steve Gooch, is now pending in House Ways and Means Committee. This legislation would enable 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.
HB 887 – Broadband Ready Communities 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. This legislation is pending in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GMA supports this legislation.
Other Highlights from Crossover Day:
The House voted 154 to 16 on a successful amendment to SB 2 – Business Licensing and Permitting Fee Schedule by Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) – which stripped the proposed mandated permitting processes on local governments. The remaining bill, which dealt only with state government processes, then failed on the House floor with a vote of 66 to 106. This vote was reconsidered, which means that SB 2 is eligible to be voted on again at some point in the session. GMA is opposed to the original version of this bill.
SB 404 – Preemption of Base Rate on Fire Sprinkler Meters by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) would preempt local authority from charging separate fees for standby water service for sprinkler system connections which are more than the costs to maintain these connections. An amendment was added at GMA’s request to allow for sprinkler system connection charges to be included in a customer’s base rate. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.
SB 418 by Senator John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) to preempt local government ordinances on retail sales on items such as puppies and cigarettes failed on the Senate floor with a vote of 19 to 34. GMA opposed this legislation.
Pending in House Committees:
SB 452 – Immigration Detainees by Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would mandate that peace officers and local governments detain suspected illegal aliens, securely transport them to federal or state detention facilities, or notify the United States Department of Homeland Security whenever a police officer, in the course of an investigation, receives verification that a suspect is an illegal alien. The bill provides state level immunity for an officer carrying out this action, but not for the local government itself. GMA is opposed to this legislation unless language is added to indemnify local governments for the costs of housing detainees and to pay for the costs of any lawsuits or judgements as a result of this mandated detention.
SB 385 – Solid Waste Tipping Fees by Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) would increase the tipping fees at municipal solid waste disposal facilities from $1.00 per ton to $3.00 per ton effective July 1, 2018. GMA is opposed to this legislation.
SB 453 – Incorporation Standards by Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) would require new cities created after Jan. 1, 2019 to provide at least five services and also prohibits new cities from being formed within three miles of an existing city. GMA is evaluating this legislation.
SB 386 – ATL Transit Commission by Senator 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 legislation.
Pending in the House Rules Committee:
SB 371 – Sales Tax Accountability by Senator Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) would allow designated local government finance officers to request sales tax information for all vendors that filed a report for that period with the Department of Revenue. The designated finance officer of the local government will be allowed to use information provided by the Department of Revenue to research sales and use tax errors, the underreporting of sales and use taxes, the misuse of sales and use tax exemptions, sales and use tax avoidance, and/or any fluctuation in the distribution amounts of proceeds of sales and use tax. GMA supports this legislation.
Pending in Senate Committees
HB 811 – Sales Tax Collections by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would grant the Department of Revenue the authority to contract with a third party service to assist the department in the identification of taxpayers that are noncompliant with the remission of taxes. GMA supports this legislation.
HB 876 – Preemption on Regulation of Wood 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 693 – Preempt Local Enforcement of Collections for Solid Waste 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 is opposed to this legislation.
HB 930 – ATL Transit 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 10 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. GMA is evaluating this legislation.
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 email@example.com. GMA will be glad to help you find your member's office and provide you with a personalized legislative briefing.