Legislative Update
Volume 10 , Issue 12     
April 3, 2019
2019 Session Concludes with Many Victories for Counties
The very late evening of April 2 marked the end of the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly. This year's session presented many victories for Georgia's counties as the ACCG policy team lobbied both defensively and proactively to help protect home rule and preserve local control. In addition, the team's concerted efforts with the Georgia Municipal Association's legislative advocacy staff on issues of shared significance exemplified the collective strength of Georgia's local governments like never before.

As always, ACCG would like to thank all county officials from across the state for their active engagement. Another successful round of 40 days under the Gold Dome would not have been possible without our members. From testifying during various committee meetings to frequent interaction and conversations with your House and Senate members, every effort was greatly appreciated. Thank you for helping us do our part to advance Georgia's counties!
ACCG and GMA policy teams on Sine Die, Legislative Day 40.
Major Health Initiatives Pass During the 2019 Session
Many major health initiatives passed this session. HB 186 reforms aspects of the Certificate of Need (CON) process and increases transparency reporting by medical providers, while
HB 321 continues the hospital provider fee which provides funds to increase the pull down of federal Medicaid dollars and implements new transparency requirements for hospitals. HB 514 creates a Behavioral Health Commission to study and make recommendations regarding the state’s mental health system (an ACCG priority), and SB 115 and SB 118 provide for telemedicine and require insurers to cover those services.
EMC Authorization to Provide Broadband Passes
SB 2, which authorizes Georgia’s EMCs to provide broadband, finally crossed the finish line this legislative session. Several safeguards on prohibiting EMCs from cross subsidizing broadband from their electric or gas divisions or not being able to charge excessive amounts for other broadband providers to access EMC poles have been incorporated, but language limiting EMCs to only serve unserved areas has been removed. The language from HB 499, authorizing broadband infrastructure in electric easements, was included.  
Constitutional Officer Pay Raise Bill Clears
SB 171, requires that counties provide their local constitutional officers (sheriff, tax commissioner, probate judge and clerk of court) an additional 5 percent pay increase. While ACCG opposed the bill, we were able to get several beneficial amendments, including a January 1, 2021, effective date in order for counties to prepare their budgets for this drastic change.     
Marketplace Facilitator Bill Stalls Over Rideshare Dispute
Two bills ( HB 276/ SB 128) that would have significantly enhanced sales tax collection for the state and local governments failed to gain passage. These bills would have required companies such as AirBnb, Uber, and Amazon to collect sales taxes on all transactions facilitated by their platforms. However, the Senate insisted on a carve-out for rideshare companies (Uber, Lyft) by exempting transportation services from paying any sales taxes, instead proposing a per-ride fee. This power struggle between the chambers ended with no version of these bills passing.
Major Transportation Bills Stalled
Legislation related to transit, jet fuel sales tax exemptions, regulation of e-scooters, new fees on ride-hailing services and oversight of airports stalled in the final days of the session. ACCG supported HB 511 which would have created a new agency to oversee transit statewide and the heavily debated HB 447 would have continued the exemption of sales tax on jet fuel. Both pieces of legislation failed to pass this year. A few transportation bills did reach final passage - HR 37 which creates the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics and SR 479, a Senate Study Committee that will review e-scooters and other innovative mobility technologies and how local governments, state agencies and universities can work with the companies providing this technology.
Short-term Rental Preemption Bills Fail to Gain Passage
In the final days of the session, an effort was renewed by homesharing companies (AirBnb, VRBO) and the realtors to partially preempt local government regulation of short-term rentals. In contrast to the broad preemption proposed by HB 523, SB 162 would have prohibited total bans on short-term rentals throughout a county’s or city’s jurisdiction. After ACCG’s efforts for a reasonable compromise were rebuffed, SB 162 failed to gain traction on sine die. As a result, counties retain their current regulatory authority over short-term rentals. 
Revisions to Georgia Procurement Mandate Passes
HB 322 makes a few needed revisions to legislation passed last session that requires local governments to post bid and proposal opportunities on the Georgia Procurement Registry. It squeaked by in the closing minutes of Sine Die, but only after the Senate agreed to remove a controversial measure that authorized Dalton Utilities to issue revenue bonds without first having to go to voter referendum, a bill that had already failed on its own the last two sessions.   

Appropriations and Legislation that will have Positive Impact on County Budgets

Governor Kemp's FY 2020 budget includes $150 million to replace Georgia's voting equipment. Click here for more information on the 2020 budget.

More Tools for Local Control
Other Legislation that Passed and Awaits the Governor's Signature
Access the Legislative Tracking Database for a compilation of all bills ACCG is following. 
Voting Machine Update from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
Legislative Update from ACCG Policy Staff
Saturday, April 27
10:45 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

Looking for an in-depth overview of what transpired during the session? We've got you covered! Attend the Legislative Update session at the 2019 ACCG Annual Conference in Savannah/Chatham County to hear from our policy team. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to hear directly from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about the new state's new voting equipment. Visit the conference website for more information.
Questions? Email the
ACCG Legislative team:

Registration for the 2019 Annual Conference is now available!
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 2019 Legislative Toolkit when conversing with your state legislators!