November 2022
Review the Legislative Toolkit to Get Prepared for the 2023 Legislative Session

The 2023 Legislative Toolkit is now available on the ACCG website. The Toolkit includes policy briefs on ACCG's top three Legislative Priorities, information on the association's Guiding Principles, and the Policy Objectives. The top three Legislative Priorities for 2023 are Funding for Mental Health ReformEmergency Medical Service (EMS) Medicaid Reimbursement, and Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) Program.

The 2023 Legislative Toolkit is a resource that will aid Georgia's county government officials in becoming more engaged in the state's policy-making process while asserting the collective voice of county commissioners in legislative affairs. County officials are encouraged to share this information with their legislative delegations ahead of the 2023 session.  

Access the 2023 Legislative Toolkit by clicking here.  

Questions regarding any issues outlined in the Toolkit should be directed to a member of the policy staff.

ACCG Webinar: Federal Funding and Investment Opportunities for Local Governments 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
This webinar presentation is targeted at Georgia local governments planning for and implementing, federal funding via the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CLFRF) under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and programs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
Emphasis will be on how the funding streams relate to each other and best practices for Georgia local governments to consider.
Click here to register in advance for this webinar.
State News
Gov. Kemp Announces New Agency Leadership Appointments

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Kevin Tanner will head the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), following Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald's retirement. Monica Johnson will serve as Interim Commissioner until Mr. Tanner's start date on December 16.

"Marty and I are thankful for Commissioner Fitzgerald's service and wish her all the best as she takes well-earned time to spend with her family," said Governor Brian Kemp. "I am also grateful for Ms. Johnson's willingness to step up and ensure that those living with disabilities in Georgia continue to receive quality services until the new commissioner comes on board. Kevin Tanner is a capable and dedicated leader who has made significant contributions to both the state and his community over more than three decades of public service. It is thanks to his forward thinking approach as head of the Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission that Georgia is now implementing meaningful improvements in how we address mental health. The Department will be in good hands under his leadership."

Governor Kemp also announced that Commissioner Robyn Crittenden has accepted a position in the private sector and will be resigning as head of the Department of Revenue, effective November 25. Deputy State Revenue Commissioner and General Counsel Frank O’Connell will serve as Interim Commissioner until a new head of the Department is appointed.

"Over the past two decades, Robyn has ably led three state agencies and served as the 28th Secretary of State. As the first African-American woman to serve as a statewide constitutional officer in Georgia -- along with her many other achievements -- Robyn has both made history and made our state better," said Governor Brian Kemp. "Marty and I are very proud of her contributions and congratulate her on this exciting new chapter in an already distinguished career. We also appreciate Frank O'Connell's service and leadership as he steps into the interim commissioner role."

Georgia Senate and House Republicans Select New Leadership

On Friday, November 11, the Georgia Senate Republican Caucus elected its leadership for the 2023-2024 legislative session. The Senate will now be presided over by newly elected Lt. Governor, Burt Jones (R-Jackson), with the Senate majority electing Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) as president pro tem; Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) as majority leader; Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) as majority whip; Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) as majority caucus chair; Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) as majority caucus vice chair; and Sen. Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) as majority caucus vice chair. The Senate Democratic Caucus will elect its new leadership on November 28.    

On Monday, November 14, Georgia House Republicans nominated and elected its leadership for the upcoming session. With House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) stepping down, the party nominated previous majority leader Rep. John Burns (R-Newington) to serve as the new speaker and Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) to again serve as speaker pro tem. The full House membership will officially vote on these positions in January. Additionally, the Republican caucus elected Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) as majority leader; Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) as majority caucus chairman; Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) as majority caucus vice-chairman; and Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Marietta) as majority caucus secretary and treasurer. The House Democratic Caucus will elect its leadership on November 22. 

ACCG congratulates all these legislators and looks forward to working with them on sound public policy next legislative session. 
Annexation Arbitration – City Lawsuit Challenges its Constitutionality 

Following an annexation arbitration panel’s finding in favor of Barrow County, the City of Winder and Meritage Homes of Georgia filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s annexation arbitration law. Among other measures, the city argued that “the Alternative Dispute Resolution for annexation proceedings found at O.C.G.A. § 36-36-115 is violative of the Georgia Constitution and should be declared unconstitutional” because it delegates municipal zoning and home rule powers to the arbitration panel and violates separation of powers. On October 10, the Superior Court of Barrow County ruled in the county and state's favor, upholding the constitutionality of the annexation arbitration statutes. This decision may get appealed by the city.   
Service Delivery – City Lawsuit Challenges the Funding of Unincorporated Roads  

On October 28, in another lawsuit brought by the City of Winder against Barrow County (this one involving Service Delivery Strategy renegotiations), the Court of Appeals of Georgia held that “County roads, regardless of their specific geographic location, benefit all residents of the county — as does their upkeep.” The Court further stated that, under the plain language of the SDS statute, because the county roads do not primarily benefit the unincorporated area, unincorporated residents are not solely burdened with the costs of their upkeep. The Court also ruled that the statutory listing of revenues to fund unincorporated services is not exhaustive and should be liberally construed to capture all unincorporated revenue sources. This rejected Winder’s contention that the list of revenue sources set forth in the SDS statute (property taxes, insurance premium taxes, assessments, or user fees) are the sole means which the County may fund services that primarily benefit the unincorporated areas/residents. The city’s attorneys have asked that this decision be reviewed by the Georgia Supreme Court. 

For more information, please see the Court of Appeals opinion
Alcohol Licensing – Counties Must Now Issue Renewals through Statewide Portal

Adhering to legislation passed during the 2020 session, the Georgia Department of Revenue is now requiring renewals of local alcohol licenses to go through the statewide Alcohol Licensing Portal (ALP). On September 6, the ALP was upgraded to a version which changes to program’s visual layout.

  • For DOR’s updated guide for local jurisdictions, please click here.
  • For DOR’s renewal guide for taxpayers/licensees, please click here

If you have any questions, please contact DOR’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Ryan Hallock, at [email protected].       

2023 Annual Base State Revolving Fund Call for Projects Period Now Open

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) opened the 2023 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Annual Base Funding call for projects period on Monday, November 14, 2022. It will close on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. 

Click here for more information.

GEFA to Offer Webinar Series in December

In December, a free webinar series funded by GEFA will be offered on the topics of the EPA requirements for lead service line inventories and tools for locating and managing septic tanks within your service area.

Click here for more details on the webinars.

Apply for Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation's BRACE Community Improvement Grant 

The purpose of the BRACE Grant Program is to reduce litter, blight, and illegal dumping on public property and encourage local code enforcement efforts. Funded through the Solid Waste Trust Fund (SWTF), the grant program is designed to prioritize assistance for communities to address these challenges. Grants of $2,500 or $5,000 will be made in January 2023, and priority will be given to communities of 2,500 or less. The application deadline is December 2, 2022.

Click here to learn more about the BRACE grant.
Federal News
Register for NACo's 2023 Legislative Conference

Registration is now open for the 2023 NACo Legislative Conference. The conference will take place February 11 - 14 in Washington, D.C. Attendees have the opportunity to engage in policy and educational sessions, interact with federal officials, and participate in congressional briefings and meetings.

Click here for more information.

NACo Releases Advocacy Toolkit

ACCG joins NACo in requesting that county officials reach out to their members of Congress and ask for their support in the passage of a bipartisan behavioral health legislative package by the end of this year. To assist in these efforts, NACo has released a new toolkit to educate county leaders and enhance advocacy around the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) which is also an ACCG Federal Priority. 

The MIEP Advocacy Toolkit includes resources designed to assist county officials in educating federal partners and the public on the importance of providing access to federal health benefits for those awaiting trial and verdict decisions. Included in the toolkit are template letters to members of Congress, sample op-eds and letters to the editor to submit to local newspapers, talking points and social media posts to further engage with federal policymakers.

FCC Helps Promote Affordable Broadband with New Grants

The Federal Communications Commission recently kicked off the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 appropriated $14.2 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides qualifying low-income households discounts on broadband service and connected devices. This outreach program will provide up to $60 million in grants to outreach partners, including local governments, to develop innovative strategies to reach out to historically unserved and underserved communities in the pursuit of these ACP funds. Eligible applicants must submit applications for the National Competitive Outreach Program by January 9, 2023. 

For more information, please click here.  

Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Program Application Deadline Approaching

Counties interested in applying for a SMART grant have until this Friday, November 18 to submit their applications. This new discretionary grant program will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years to fund transportation projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities today.

Click here to learn more about the SMART grant program.

Reminder: FEMA Opens Applications for Over $3 Billion in Mitigation Grant Funding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for over $3 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants. State and local governments are eligible to apply for funding through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) programs. The application period will close at 3:00 p.m. ET on January 27, 2023. 

Click here for more information.
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ACCG is YOUR county association. We are here to advance all 159 Georgia county governments. Please feel free to contact a member of the policy team if they can assist in any way.