Legislative Update
Volume 10 , Issue 8     
March 8, 2019
County Issues Survive Crossover Day
With Crossover Day now in the rear view, bills that remain alive are moving ahead full speed. Please see below for the list of bills of interest to counties that survived Crossover.

*Note: Please access the bill summaries, hyperlinked in each title in the Passed/Did Not Pass lists, and today's Facebook Live Legislative Update for additional information.
Please carefully review the following two bills and let Todd Edwards ( tedwards@accg.org) know any specific recommendations, as well as your justification, you may have to make needed improvements. ACCG will continue to work with the authors and other stakeholders involved. 

  • HB 315 - Local Bids - Consultants Who Help Draft Cannot Have a Conflict of Interest
  • HB 493 - Local Plan Review and Permitting - Expand Private Party Participation
Sovereign Immunity Waiver Bill Passes the House. Please Discuss with Your County Attorney.

HB 311 passed the House of Representatives yesterday. This bill would waive the sovereign immunity of the state, counties and cities in certain circumstances. Persons would be able to sue a county (and other governments) asking for a court order to stop the county from violating a provision of the U.S. or state Constitutions, a state statute, a state regulation, or a local ordinance other than a zoning ordinance. Lawsuits by parties that actually enter into written contracts with counties and other governments would be able to sue regarding those contracts (consistent with existing law as interpreted by the courts).The bill adds a requirement of prior notice before any such lawsuit could be filed. In addition, the bill allows an unsuccessful bidder to challenge the award of a contract (but not for monetary damages), only if that lawsuit is filed within 10 days of the awarding of the contract.

The county would still be able to assert any other defenses against such lawsuits, other than sovereign immunity. This bill is in response to several Georgia Supreme Court decisions in the last few years that removed citizens’ and others’ ability to ask for such court decisions. This bill would not waive sovereign immunity for claims seeking monetary damages. It would also expand the immunity of county officials and employees from lawsuits brought against them in their individual capacity. For further information, please discuss this bill with your county attorney.
EMSC Transparency Bill Passes the House

HB 264 requires that any person who promotes or opposes matters before a local coordinating entity regarding the Emergency Medical Systems Communications (EMSC) Program is subject to transparency and lobbyist disclosure laws. Additionally, this bill adds:
  • New administrative requirements regarding members and chairpersons of local coordinating entities
  • New conflict of interest provisions which exclude members of coordinating entities who are owners or employees or agents of an EMS provider submitting proposals for contracts within the territorial zone
  • New procedural requirements for the proposal of modifying territorial zones and methods of distributing calls among ambulance providers participating in the EMSC Program
  • New accountability standards for ambulance providers in each health district
  • On and after July 1, 2019, each ambulance provider will be required to submit a monthly report regarding the accountability standards

This legislation has changed dramatically from the original version, please review carefully and provide any feedback to Debra Nesbit ( dnesbit@accg.org ). Click here for details.
Active County Engagement, Local Government Collaboration Helps Stop Preemption Bills
ACCG's defensive actions stopped many bills which would have been detrimental to home rule and effective county governance.
Two examples include the stoppage of HB 302/ SB 172 (preemption on local design standards) and HB 523 (preemption of local control on short-term rentals).

HB 302/ SB 172 sought to prohibit counties and cities from regulating "building design elements" in single or double family dwellings. Local governments could no longer enact a slew of design standards including, but not limited to, exterior building color and the style or materials of roof structures or porches. The defeat of this legislation is attributed to the partnership between ACCG, the Georgia Municipal Association, and the direct participation of numerous counties and cities statewide which engaged in the legislative process.

Introduced only last week, HB 523 would have preempted local control over many aspects of short-term property rentals, including overturning existing local regulations that have been developed by counties and cities through extensive public hearings to take into account the interests of all interested parties: the rental property owners, neighbors, and other businesses that operate in the lodging arena (bed & breakfasts, hotels, motels).

ACCG offers a special thank you to those county officials who reached out to their House members to preserve local control over their community's design standards and the appropriate treatment of short-term rentals.
See below for the full list of bills of significance to counties which did not pass.
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. 
Watch Today's Livestream of the Legislative Update
Did you miss today's Facebook Live Legislative Update? Don't worry - we've got you covered! Just click on the ACCG Tv logo to start watching!
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!
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!