Legislative Update
Volume 10 , Issue 5      
February 15, 2019
ACCG Priority Issues, Agenda Items Move Quickly Through Legislative Process

Many ACCG priority issues and agenda items gained traction with the General Assembly this week. From small cell 5G to mental health, significant issues impacting Georgia's counties dominated conversations under the Gold Dome.
Home Builders and Realtors Team Up to Prohibit Local Zoning Design Standards 
Rep. Vance Smith introduced HB 302, a mammoth preemption bill that usurps local governments’ ability to regulate building design elements in single or double family dwellings. The proposed bill would prohibit the following local building standards:

  • Exterior building color
  • Type or style of exterior cladding material
  • Style or materials of roof structures or porches
  • Exterior nonstructural architectural ornamentation
  • Location or architectural styling of windows and doors including garage doors
  • Number and types of rooms
  • Interior layout of rooms
  • Types of foundation structures approved under state minimum standard codes

In short, if a house meets state minimum standard building codes, it can be built. The preemption does not apply to state or federal historic districts, mobile homes and homes governed by a neighborhood association or covenant. 

Please e-mail Deputy Legislative Director Todd Edwards ( tedwards@accg.org ) to let him know if and how this bill will impact your county’s zoning regulations, and share any concerns you may have with your House member(s).  
Constitutional Officer Pay Raise Bill Introduced
HB 334 will be introduced on Tuesday. This legislation provides for a 5 percent pay increase to all local constitutional officers (clerk of court, tax commissioner, probate judge and sheriff) as well as magistrate judges, effective Jan. 1, 2021. ACCG hopes to negotiate some revisions in this bill including the same requirements to which county commissioners must adhere - placing a notice in the county's legal organ for three consecutive weeks and announcing the intention to receive the raise at a public hearing.

Click here to view a county-by-county analysis of current constitutional officer salaries. Click here to review HB 334.
Small Cell Bills Advance in Both House and Senate
The small cell (5G) compromise bills negotiated over the past two years between ACCG/GMA and AT&T/Verizon advanced in both chambers this week. HB 184 passed the House Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, then passed the full House on Thursday by a vote of 170-1. In the Upper Chamber, SB 66 passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. For a brief summary of the bills, please click here. For a detailed section-by-section summary, please click here.  
Medicaid Waiver Will Assist Counties
Gov. Kemp announced this week his plans to work on legislation to move forward with a Medicaid waiver that will go into effect next year. Although it's too early to determine exactly what the waiver would include, priority would be given to low-income adults who are currently uninsured. Making coverage available to these individuals could potentially save county governments millions in indigent care and inmate health care costs. Furthermore, this coverage would help increase access to mental health treatment for indigent and inmate populations with the potential to greatly reduce the number of mentally ill persons in county jails.
Voting Machine and Elections Bill Introduced
HB 316 was introduced today establishing the guidelines for the state’s purchase of new voting machines. ACCG is reviewing the legislation and will provide a summary next week. Please make sure your elections staff reviews the legislation and provides their feedback to Deputy Legislative Director Todd Edwards ( tedwards@accg.org).
New Mental Health App to Help Georgia's Youth
Earlier this week, the Governor and state officials launched the new My GCAL App which can provide access to a mental health professional during a crisis. The app works on IOS and Android phones with the hope that young people with mental health issues will be more comfortable reaching out for assistance. The app also allows people seeking assistance to call or text a licensed professional. View the full press release here.
School Bus Legislation, an ACCG Agenda Item, Signed into Law
The Governor signed his first piece of legislation into law on February 15.  SB 25 corrects language that was passed last legislative session that created confusion about when a person must stop for a school bus on two-lane roads with a turning lane in the middle. The legislation clarifies that all cars must come to a complete stop on both sides of the road unless there is a grassy, concrete or other structure such as a median between the two directions of traffic.  Photo courtesy the Office of Governor Brian Kemp.

ACCG appreciates the General Assembly and the Governor for quickly moving to correct the error from last year. Click here to read State School Superintendent Richard Woods' statement on SB 25.
ACCG Supports Putting the "Trust" Back into Trust Funds
HR 164, authored by Chairman Jay Powell, is a proposed constitutional amendment that authorizes the General Assembly to establish, by statute, true and dedicated trust funds whereby fees collected for a specific purpose must actually go to that intended purpose rather than be redirected to the state's General Fund. For more than 15 years, ACCG has taken the lead in asking that trust fund revenues go to their intended purposes. 

Of particular interest to county governments are the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund (HWTF) and the Solid Waste Trust Fund (SWTF). As you’ll see from the documents found here, 65 percent of the HWTF fees and 69 percent of the SWTF fees have been redirected to the state's General Fund for the past 10 years. These funds are critical to cleaning up abandoned contaminated sites, leaking landfills, scrap tires, and illegal dump sites. The funds also support waste reduction and recycling efforts.

HR 164 has passed the House Ways and Means Committee. Contact the members of your House and Senate delegation and ask that they support HR 164. Any questions regarding HR 164 can be directed to Associate Legislative Director Kathleen Bowen ( kbowen@accg.org).
Changes Made to Local Government Procurement Mandate
This week, HB 322 was introduced, making changes to local requirements to post bids and proposals on the Georgia Procurement Registry (GPR). Under current law, if a local government extends a bid or proposal for goods or services valued at over $10,000, they must also post them on the GPR. This bill increases that monetary threshold to only goods or services valued at over $100,000. In return, however, locals must advertise the bid/proposal on the GPR for the same period of time “as set by ordinance or practice” of the local government.   
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. 
Marketplace Facilitator Act Introduced
HB 276 is another in a series of bills designed to modernize Georgia’s sales tax collections and keep up with the evolving online marketplace. This bill would require any online platform that hosts $100,000 or more in annual Georgia sales to collect and remit all sales taxes on those transactions. Many online platforms take the position that, because they are not the actual seller of certain goods or services (for example, AirBnB, Uber, etc.), they are not obligated to collect sales taxes.

ACCG supports HB 276, which would not create any new tax, but rather assist with the collection of sales taxes that are already owed but not being paid. Please contact Deputy General Counsel Larry Ramsey ( lramsey@accg.org) with any questions or concerns.
Model Resolution for Sales Tax Information Requests
Last year, the General Assembly approved SB 371 (an ACCG priority), which allows local governments to request information related to vendors that are currently paying sales taxes that are attributable to that local government. Following recent guidance published by the Department of Revenue, ACCG has developed a model resolution as a starting point for such information requests. The model resolution can be found here.
Watch Today's Livestream of the Legislative Update
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ACCG Legislative Communications Tools
As ACCG prepares for another successful session as the official voice for Georgia’s 159 counties, we want to remind our county officials of the various communications tools that will help keep them informed and engaged. Click here to read all about them!
News You Can Use
Articles Related to ACCG Policy Issues
The following are pertinent articles regarding some of the major policy issues that ACCG is covering. The full article can be accessed by clicking on the title.

AJC - February 15, 2019

Atlanta Business Chronicle - February 14, 2019

AJC - February 14, 2019

AJC - February 13, 2019

AJC - February 11, 2019

AJC - February 11, 2019
Have you registered for a 2020 Census Workshop sponsored by ACCG and GMA?
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!