Legislative Update
Volume 8, Issue 6                
February 17, 2017

Legislature Reaches Half-Way Point in Session
The Legislature reached the half-way point of the 2017 session this week. With that were many changes to Single County T-SPLOST legislation, an ACCG priority, as well as more discussion on the topic of firefighter cancer insurance, fees on property tax bills, and TAVT Reform. More pressing issues that developed this week include lame duck legislation and a salary supplement mandate for superior court clerks. 

Single County T-SPLOST Passes Out of Committee
Single County T-SPLOST legislation, HB 134, passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and is now headed to House Rules. The bill has been modified and includes the removal of language regarding transit projects to be levied for a maximum of 20 years.
Cancer Insurance for Firefighters
HB 146 would require all local governments to provide a minimum amount of supplemental medical and disability cancer insurance for their firefighters, including volunteers.  ACCG’s insurance staff estimates that this coverage will cost approximately $400 per year per firefighter.  This bill has already passed the House  by a vote of 171 to 1 and is pending in the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee for a vote next Wednesday, February 22nd. This legislation is an alternative to adding cancer for firefighters under workers’ compensation.  The cost to place this type of coverage under workers’ compensation would be much greater.  Click here to see the memo ACCG drafted for the House of Representatives.
    HB 204 - No Fees on Property Tax Bills 
    HB 204 would prohibit local governments from placing any fees, assessments, or charges on property tax bills. If passed, this legislation would have substantial negative impacts on collection rates which, in turn, could give rise to the need to raise fees or shift certain fees to ad valorem taxes. This bill will likely be on the House floor next week, so immediate action is needed. Click here for more information. 

    HB 327 and HB 340 - Title Ad Valorem Tax 
    Two House bills, HB 327 and HB 340, substantially revise the Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) system, including the formula for distribution of TAVT proceeds between the State and local governments. More information is available here
    SB 2, the FAST Act  Passes Out of the Senate
    SB 2, also known as the FAST Act , passed out of the Senate today. This legislation mandates that cities and counties which either charge any regulatory fees (license or permit fees), or have any regulatory requirements, must establish a schedule for those fees and requirements. The schedule shall include timelines necessary for processing completed applications and a list of all documentation needed by applicants to meet regulatory requirements.  Whenever the local government does not meet its deadline for acting on a "complete" application, the associated fees will be reduced by 10 percent for each 10 day period that the application is not acted upon.  Several other requirements are also imposed.  For more information, please click here.  

    Please contact your House members with any concerns you may have with this legislation.         
     
    Rep. Barry Fleming Introduces Salary Supplement Bill for Superior Court Clerks

    Rep. Barry Fleming introduced HB 368 which mandates a $200 per month salary supplement for superior court clerks who become a “certified superior court clerk” through voluntary training provided by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.  Mandatory training is already required for superior court clerks when they take office that results in them being a “certified superior court clerk” and has been in effect since 1998.  Clerk’s currently receive a full time mandatory salary, COLA ’s, numerous salary supplements and many process passport applications and retain those fees for themselves.  Counties are currently mandated to pay for all the clerk’s training and reasonable travel expenses, as well as provide for the appointment of a clerk pro tempore for the time the clerk is away at training.  Essentially this supplement is a $200 a month salary increase for all clerk’s, since they have already obtained certified superior court clerk status. Please contact your legislators and let them know your position on this unfunded mandate.
    Rep. Andy Welch Reintroduces the Lame Duck Bill - HB 362
    Similar to last year’s legislation, HB 362 provides that all county commissioners elected after January 1, 2017, shall begin their term of office on the Monday following their election which is at least five days following their certification. Any action taken by a sole commissioner during the time between an election defeat and the new sole commissioner’s term in office shall be voidable if rescinded by the new sole commissioner during his or her first 30 days in office and all actions of a county taken between the date of an election and new members taking office must be made by a unanimous vote.  New this year, the legislation allows locals to opt out of the term-of-office provisions by adopting an ordinance in two consecutive sessions - following legal notice and public hearings.  For a full summary of HB 362, please click here.          
    Click on "This Week's Bills" to review the bills included in this week's Legislative Update.
    Access the Legislative Tracking Database for a compilation of all bills ACCG is following. 
    ACCG News
    Watch This Week's Legislative Roundtable
    Did you miss this morning's Legislative Roundtable? Don't worry, ACCG has you covered! Click here to access ACCG's Facebook page that features the latest Legislative Roundtable broadcast.

    Please remember to tune in every Friday at 8:30 a.m. via Facebook Live as ACCG will regularly host these live broadcasts to inform county officials about significant issues as they move through the legislative process. Friend the association on Facebook ( facebook.com/gacounty) to join the conversation. Feel free to ask questions and share your concerns as you're watching. You may also send inquiries to the ACCG policy staff via email once the Legislative Roundtable has concluded. 
    To learn the latest about what's happening at the Capitol, register for one of the upcoming ACCG District Days:

    February 22
    March 1
    March 8: This date has been cancelled. Commissioners are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two other dates.
    ACCG is YOUR county association here to advance all Georgia county governments. Please feel free to let us know when you're visiting the State Capitol this session, and a member of the policy team will gladly assist you as needed. Don't forget to use your 2017 Legislative Toolkit when conversing with your state legislators!