Sine Die Date Set
Ten days have been completed of the 40 day legislative session. Thanks to all of the Mayors’ Day attendees who participated in GMA’s policy committees and took the time to listen to the candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor share their vision for Georgia and answer questions of concern to municipal officials. Video clips of each of the candidates’ addresses can be found on the 2018 Connection website.

The General Assembly has set Thursday, March 29 as the final day of the Legislative Session. Crossover Day – the last day legislation can move from one chamber to the other – has been set for Wednesday, Feb. 28. Click here to see the entire schedule for the remainder of the session.

Broadband, Small Cell and Rights-of-Way Management
This week Senator Steve Gooch convened an industry stakeholder meeting to discuss the future of broadband deployment in rural Georgia and to provide an update on SB 232. GMA expects there to be a new version of this bill in the coming weeks and maintains concerns of unregulated access and special privileges to those seeking to put wireless service facilities in the public rights-of-way. This legislation would make it easier and cheaper for telecom corporations to place small cell wireless facilities in the public rights-of-way (ROW) in areas with the most dense populations. GMA concerns include maintaining local control and authority over ROW access, public safety, community aesthetics, the permitting process and fair rates of compensation for doing business in the public rights-of-way. A similar piece of telecom legislation, HB 533 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), is being marked up by the sponsor and is expected to be unveiled in the coming days.

Legislation Passed by the Senate Finance Committee
HB 181 - Sales Tax Certificate Information by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans) - 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. 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. In situations where confidential tax information is shared with the designated finance officer of the local government, such information can only be used for research and analysis. This information would only be allowed to be shared with the governing authority of the local government during an executive session.

Please let your senate member know of the importance of passing this legislation when it is taken up on the floor of the Georgia Senate. GMA supports this legislation.

Pending in Senate Finance Committee
HB 61 – Internet Sales Tax by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) seeks to require "delivery retailers" that have gross revenues in excess of $250,000.00 or conducts 200 or more retail sales in the state to collect and remit sales and use taxes. The bill also outlines the procedure for remission, and penalties for non-compliance. GMA supports this legislation.

Pending House Bills of Interest:
HB 302 - Taxpayer Bill of Rights by Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange) would change the wording in the public notice required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. This legislation would clarify whether the increase is a result of increased property values (revenues), or a millage rate increase. GMA supports this legislation.

HB 327 - Title Ad Valorem Reform (Committee Substitute reconsidered) by Rep. Shaw Blackman (R-Bonaire) 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. GMA supports legislation.

HB 679 - Annexation Restrictions Related to Municipal Elections by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) would prevent any annexation or deannexation from becoming effective within 90 days prior to a municipal election. GMA is working with the author on this legislation

HB 693 - Preemption of Solid Waste Liens Authority 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 756 – SPLOST Reporting Date Flexibility - HB 756 would change the date that local governments are required to report their SPLOST activities in the newspaper from December 31st to one-hundred and eighty (180) days after the most recently completed fiscal year. This would give local governments with a December 31st fiscal year the same amount of time to report as those with a June 30th fiscal year. GMA supports this legislation

HB 632 – Early Voting in Municipal Elections by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) would allow cities with a population under 1,000 to shorten the period for early voting for municipal elections and run-offs. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.

Mayors Visit D.C. to Meet with President Trump
Fourteen Georgia mayors were among 100 mayors from around the country who met with President Donald Trump this week for “Mayors’ Day at the White House: A Conversation with President Trump.”

The White House invited mayors to this event to discuss municipal infrastructure needs and to build relationships between mayors and administration officials. The meeting took place in the East Room of the White House, where President Trump kicked off the program by telling mayors he would announce in his State of the Union address a $1.7 trillion investment in infrastructure.

“We’re partnering with the state and local governments, like yours, to find the most innovative ways to rebuild our roads, bridges, waterways, and airports on time and under budget,” said the president.

Vice President Mike Pence also spoke to the group, and the final part of the meeting featured a panel discussion with cabinet officials including representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce. Agency representatives took questions from several mayors and highlighted the administration’s priorities, including funding for regionally significant projects and streamlined regulations and permitting times to allow local projects to be completed more quickly.

This event was an opportunity to connect with the White House and federal officials to share local stories and talk about municipal capital improvement needs around the country. Georgia’s cities will need $11.2 billion over the next five years to pay for critical needs ranging from water and sewer, transportation, and public safety to green infrastructure and recreation facilities.

Local Government Permitting Best Practices
GMA’s “Local Government Permitting Best Practices” guide, which identifies best practices for streamlining permitting process, is now available. The guide focuses on three main categories: Improving transparency and communication; standardizing the process; resources to improve performance and accountability; and planning. This guide also includes several sample land development permitting process flow charts and links to more than a dozen “example” city websites where the reader can find policies, procedures, workflow processes, development resource guides, and other resource information.

The guide was created in partnership with city officials to address concerns raised by state legislators that led to the introduction of SB 2 during the 2017 session which would have mandated certain processes for all local governments in the issuance of regulatory permits and licenses.
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 GMA will be glad to help you find your member's office and provide you with a personalized legislative briefing.
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