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    Legislative Affairs



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    Happening Now:


    ACEC Georgia Capitol Update (March 14, 2017)



    Last week was perhaps the quietest week in an already uncharacteristically low-key legislative session. With legislators still recovering from the Crossover Day hangover, many of the committee meetings that had been scheduled for last week were cancelled and few substantive bills were voted on either in committees or on the floor. Of course, some of that is also part of the age-old posturing that goes on right after Crossover Day as each chamber suggests that they may be forced to slow walk the other chamber's bills unless that other chamber starts passing some of their chamber's legislation.

    The pace will start to pick back up a bit this week, as the House and Senate figure out which legislation really gives them leverage over the other chamber's leadership and therefore is legislation they want to move slowly on (or not at all) and which ones are just good bills that ought not get caught up in the crossfire of inter-chamber gamesmanship (and can, therefore, go ahead and move forward).

    HB 59 - By Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) modifies Georgia's existing historic structures tax credit by raising the cap on credits to $100,000 for residential structures and up to $5 million per individual non-residential structures, unless the non-residential project creates 200 or more full-time jobs or $5 million or more in annual payroll, in which case the cap is up to $10 million. The total amount of all credits is subject to an aggregate limit of $50 million per year. The bill also makes those tax credits more readily transferrable. STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on February 27, 2017 and the full House on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 139-27. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee.

    HB 73 - By Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) would provide a series of tax credit incentives to promote the revitalization of vacant rural Georgia downtowns. STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on February 9, 2017 and the full House on February 16, 2017 by a vote of 158-3. Pending in Senate Finance Committee.

    HB 76 - By Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) is a bill intended to correct the unintended consequences that resulted from last year's legislation changing the requirements and certifications for recordation of maps, plats and plans. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on January 31, 2017 and by the full House on February 8, 2017 by a vote of 166-0. Pending in Senate Judiciary Committee.

    HB 87 - By Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) would allow for up to three-year corporate registrations for certain types of businesses. STATUS: Passed out of the House Small Business Development Committee on February 23, 2017 and the full House on February 28, 2017 by a vote of 167-3. Assigned to Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee.

    HB 134 - By Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch) is legislation that was requested by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) to create more flexibility in the transportation SPLOST created by HB 170 and would also allow counties and cities to issue general obligation bonds pursuant to a transportation sales and use tax. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on February 16, 2017 and the full House on February 23, 2017 by a vote of 106-58. Passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on March 13, 2017. Pending in Senate Rules Committee.

    HB 160 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is one of two different bills (the other being SB 6) that would create a new state commission that would be tasked with coming up with a plan for how Georgia's myriad of transit services could be cohesively coordinated (at a minimum), integrated or even combined. The House plan would create a "Georgia Commission on Transit Governance & Funding" that would make a recommendation to the General Assembly for legislation to create a unified transit governance structure and to recommend funding sources for construction and operation of the unified transit structure on or before the end of 2017 and for legislation to be introduced in the 2018 session. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Transportation Committee on February 9, 2017 and the full House on February 16, 2017 by a vote of 166-1. Pending in Senate Transportation Committee.

    HB 183 - By Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) would recreate the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council as part of the Department of Community Affairs. STATUS: Passed out of the House State Planning & Community Affairs Committee on February 8, 2017 and the full House on February 15, 2017 by a vote of 166-5. Passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee on February 28, 2017 and the full Senate on March 10, 2017 by a vote of 51-0. The bill now goes to Governor Nathan Deal to sign into law or veto.

    HB 189 - By Rep. Sheila Nelson (D-Augusta) the "Contract Cancellation Act" would require any service contract with a state agency or local government to "contain specific performance and cost parameters" and require the service provider to submit quarterly reports to the governing authority showing the provider's compliance with those performance criteria. It would also allow all contracts to contain a provision allowing governing authority to unilaterally terminate the contract if the contractor fails to comply with the performance criteria or if projected annual costs exceed the cost established by the contract. Obviously, performance and cost criteria can be affected by conditions outside of the service provider's control, including acts of God (such as weather), actions of third parties or even the actions (or inaction) of the governing authority itself. This bill did not move until very late in the process and we are working to understand the motivation behind the bill (i.e. what exactly is the problem this bill is trying to solve?) and to work with the Senate committee to educate them on the potential unintended consequences of this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Government Affairs Committee on March 1, 2017 and the full House on March 6, 2017 by a vote of 156-13. Assigned to the Senate State & Local Government Operations Committee.

    HB 192 - By Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) would offer a reasonable level of protection to corporate officers and members of corporate boards of directors from being sued in their personal capacities for actions or decisions made in their director/officer capacities. This legislation would reverse an anti-business court ruling known as the Loudermilk decision. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2017 and the full House on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 128-40. Assigned to the Senate Banking & Financial Institutions Committee.

    HB 204 - By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would prohibit anything other than actual ad valorem property taxes from being included on property tax bills (i.e. no solid waste or stormwater fees on tax bills). There has been significant opposition to this legislation from local governments, particularly local stormwater authorities. STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on February 16, 2017 and out of the full House on February 28, 2017 by a vote of 111-61. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee.

    HB 271 - By Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) seeks to clarify and expand shore protections in coastal Georgia. STATUS: Passed out of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee on February 23, 2017 and the full House on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 174-0. Assigned to Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee.

    HB 338 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is Governor Nathan Deal's proposal to address chronically failing public schools across the state by creating a system of supports and interventions, including the creation of a Chief Turnaround Officer within the Georgia Department of Education to oversee those efforts. STATUS: Passed out of the House Education Committee on February 24, 2017 and the full House on March 1, 2017 by a vote of 138-37. Pending in the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

    HB 434 - By Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) would create an exception to current law prohibiting property taken by eminent domain from being converted to a non-public use for 20 years from the date of the taking. The bill would allow for a judicial proceeding to determine if the property is "blighted" and can, therefore, be taken and later converted to non-public use. This would facilitate the revitalization and redevelopment of distressed areas and properties. STATUS: Passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 24, 2017 and the full House on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 158-6. Pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    HR 284 - By Rep. Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas) would create a House Study Committee on State & Local Construction Management to look at CM At-Risk vs. Design-Build and other methods of contracting to determine their impacts on rural areas and small businesses, as well as potential efficiencies and cost-savings. Note, this is a House Resolution proposing a House study committee, so Crossover Day rules don't apply and Senate approval is not required. STATUS: Pending in the House Special Rules Committee (which handles study committees, among other things).

    HR 389 - By Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), but an initiative of Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), will create the House Rural Development Council to try to find solutions to the problems of loss of population, limited access to quality health care, poor infrastructure, diminished quality of educational opportunity, scarcity of employment opportunities and overall lack of economic growth in rural Georgia. STATUS: Passed out of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee on March 9, 2017 and the full House on March 10, 2017 by a vote of 162-0. Since this is a House Resolution proposing a House study committee, no further votes or approvals are required.

    SB 2 - By Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) the FAST Act ("Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency - Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed") seeks to eliminate duplicative rules, regulations and red tape to create a more efficient and transparent permitting process for Georgia businesses. It would require state agencies and local governments to set forth a specific turnaround time for processing licenses, permits and approvals as well as associated fees, including making available an expedited process available for an additional fee. If the agency fails to meet its timeline, the fee for that service would be reduced. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee by Substitute on February 15, 2017 and the full Senate on February 17, 2017 by a vote of 53-0. Pending in the House Small Business Development Committee.

    SB 3 - By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) the "Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act" would expand career education in grades 6 through 12, including new opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and cooperative learning and to provide a means of industry credentialing for those programs. It also requires closer collaboration between the Georgia Department of Education and the Technical College System of Georgia relative to identifying and addressing critical workforce needs through career education. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Education & Youth Committee by Substitute on February 14, 2017 and the full Senate on February 17, 2017 by a vote of 52-0. Pending in the House Education Committee.

    SB 6 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is one of two bills (the other being HB 160) that would create a new state commission that would be tasked with coming up with a plan for how Georgia's myriad of transit services could be cohesively coordinated (at a minimum), integrated or even combined. SB 6 would create a "Georgia Regional Transit Council" that would be required to make its recommendations by December 31, 2018 (or December of 2019, with the approval of the Lt. Governor and Speaker). The Senate plan only requires the council to issue a "strategic plan" for efficiency and coordination of transit services, which would also establish performance metrics and targets for transit operators based on criteria such as efficiency, cost effectiveness and customer service. The Senate plan also calls for a unified branding and marketing strategy. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 7, 2017 and the full Senate on February 22, 2017 by a vote of 48-0. Assigned to the House Transportation Committee.

    SB 89 - By Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) would create a Georgia Freight Railroad Program within the Georgia DOT and would facilitate the expenditure of additional appropriations by the General Assembly for purposes of improving freight and passenger railway and crossing infrastructure. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 7, 2017 and the full Senate on February 15, 2017 by a vote of 49-0. Pending in House Transportation Committee.

    SB 183 - By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would clarify and expand the powers and authority of the State Road & Tollway Authority in order to make it a more useful tool for financing and building transportation projects. STATUS: Passed by the Senate Transportation Committee on February 24, 2017 and by the full Senate on February 28, 2017 by a vote of 50-1. Pending in House Transportation Committee.

    SB 219 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) seeks to provide a legal framework for the operation of autonomous motor vehicles on public roads. STATUS: Passed by the Senate Transportation Committee on February 28, 2017 and by the full Senate on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 51-0. Pending in House Transportation Committee.

    SR 152 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) would create a "Joint Study Committee on Stream Buffers in Georgia" to look into best practices from around the southeast and recommend new stream buffer legislation in 2018 that would "strike the proper balance between water protection and private property rights." ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee on February 16, 2017 and the full Senate on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 48-1. Passed out of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee on March 9, 2017. Pending in House Rules Committee.

    SR 224 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) would create a "Joint Study Committee on Storm-Water Management Fees." STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on February 17, 2017 and the full Senate on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 48-1. Passed out of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee on March 9, 2017. Pending in House Rules Committee.


    The Week Ahead

    The General Assembly is in session Monday (yesterday) through Thursday this week, before taking Friday off for St. Patrick's Day. The schedule for the remaining days of the session is as follows:

    Today, Tuesday, March 14 - Legislative Day 33
    Wednesday, March 15 - Legislative Day 34
    Thursday, March 16 - Legislative Day 35
    Monday, March 20 - Legislative Day 36
    Wednesday, March 22 - Legislative Day 37
    Friday, March 24 - Legislative Day 38
    Tuesday, March 28 - Legislative Day 39
    Thursday, March 30 - Legislative Day 40/Sine Die



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