Legislative Update
Volume 9 , Issue 5        
February 9, 2018

Major Rural Broadband Legislation Introduced
The broadband recommendations from the House Rural Development Council were introduced this week via HB 887 by Rep. Jay Powell. Among this bill’s recommendations, cities and counties can apply to become designated Broadband Ready Communities if they develop efficient broadband permitting policies, the state will create a reverse auction program to help fund broadband deployment in rural areas, and telecommunications franchise fees and sales taxes will be replaced with a communications service tax.     

In the Senate, Sen. Steve Gooch introduced SB 402. Similar to HB 887, this bill develops a voluntary Broadband Ready Communities program. It also authorizes the Georgia Department of Transportation to utilize its Rights-of-Way for broadband deployment, provides grants for rural broadband deployment, requires local governments to target broadband deployment in their comprehensive plans, and recognizes broadband development sites.  

Encouragingly, neither of these comprehensive bills include the wireless industry’s language preempting local government management of the public right of way. As broadband is an ACCG legislative priority, county officials are encouraged to closely monitor both HB 887 and SB 402. Please contact Deputy Legislative Director Todd Edwards ( tedwards@accg.org) if you have any questions regarding broadband legislation.
TAVT Reform Bill Revived in the House

Rep. Shaw Blackmon (Houston County) has renewed an effort from the 2017 legislative session to make substantial changes to the Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) system, including a change to the state/local distribution formula, via HB 327. Rather than the current law which provides for annual adjustment of the state/local split based on prior year collections, under HB 327:

  1. local governments will continue to collect ad valorem taxes on pre-2013 vehicles;
  2. TAVT proceeds would first be paid to local governments to cover the difference between 2012 ad valorem tax receipts on motor vehicles and the current-year remaining ad valorem tax receipts; and
  3. the remaining TAVT proceeds would then be split between the state and local governments. The percentage split of these remaining proceeds would start at 80/20 (state/local) and adjust annually. Beginning in 2025, the formula would change to a split of 30/70 (state/local) of total motor vehicle taxes. For those transition years, the local share would continue to be distributed among local governments in the same way as at present.

In 2025 and beyond, the local share would be distributed as follows:
  1. for vehicles registered in unincorporated areas, 51 percent of the local proceeds would be paid to the county and 49 percent to the school system; and
  2. for vehicles registered in incorporated areas, 49 percent would be paid to the school system, 28 percent to the county, and 23 percent to the city.

HB 327 would also cause TAVT on used car sales to be calculated in the same way as TAVT on new car sales is calculated. As a general rule, TAVT on new cars is based on the retail sales price, less the “book” value of any trade-in. In contrast, presently TAVT on used car sales is calculated on the book value of the used car, less the book value of any trade-in. Because the “book” value is an average of retail and wholesale fair market value, it is almost always less than the actual sales price of the used car. By basing TAVT for used car sales on the actual retail sales price, HB 327 stands to substantially increase total TAVT receipts statewide. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Deputy General Counsel Larry Ramsey at lramsey@accg.org.
House and Senate Introduce Major Voting Machine Replacement Legislation - Subject to State Funding

HB 848 and SB 403 allow only optical scanning voting equipment to be used for federal, state and county primaries and elections by January 1, 2024. Paper ballots will be used to cast votes, but they can be marked by electronic ballot markers which will then be scanned. By August 1, 2018, the Secretary of State must issue a competitive public solicitation to select a vendor to supply this equipment statewide, with the selection announced by December 31, 2018.

All polling places utilizing these optical scanning voting systems will be equipped with at least one electronic ballot marker which must be certified by the Secretary of State. The bill sets out conditions which ballot markers must meet; procedures by which markers are examined, tested, approved and audited; public transparency; responsibilities of elections superintendents in examining and utilizing the equipment; and includes election superintendents in these processes.    

The purchase of this equipment, by the Secretary of State, is specifically conditioned on the General Assembly appropriating monies by July 1, 2019, and equipment must be in place statewide by the 2020 presidential primary.  

Any questions regarding this legislation can be sent to Todd Edwards at tedwards@accg.org.
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. 
Lt. Gov. Cagle Confirmed for March 7 County Day at the Capitol

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is confirmed for the March 7 County Day at the Capitol. He, along with the state's 911 Authority Director Michael Nix and DOR Commissioner Lynne Riley, will provide county officials with updates about pressing issues as they move through the legislative process.

There is ample time and space for you to register for the March 7 County Day at the Capitol. Registration for the February 28 County Day at the Capitol has reopened, but register soon as there are only a few spots left!

ACCG looks forward to hosting Georgia's county officials at the capitol. Please click here for more information.
To learn the latest about what's happening at the Capitol, register for an upcoming County Day:

February 28
March 7
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 2018 Legislative Toolkit when conversing with your state legislators!