June 26, 2020
Volume 11, Issue 11
Final Day of 2020 Legislative Session
What County Officials Need to Know
Today is the final day of the 2020 legislative session. Issues that are significant to Georgia's counties are still under consideration. Read on for further information on those bills. Please also watch for Action Alerts for any immediate assistance needed today.
Senate Adopts FY 2021 Budget Conference Committee Report
The FY 2021 Budget Conference Committee Report was adopted by the Senate and will be up for a vote by the House today, Day 40 of the legislative session. The Conference Committee restored many items critical to counties, such as grants to counties for public health, forestland protection grants, and public defender funding.
Key Legislation Still In Play

COVID-19 Liability Protection for Businesses and Counties Legislation

House Bill 167 , titled the "Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act", and Senate Bill 359 titled the "Georgia Pandemic Business Safety Act" both address liability for businesses, health care providers, local governments, and other entities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. County government employees and county government facilities are included in the definition as being afforded liability protection from such lawsuits.
Action Needed: ACCG supports this legislation. Contact your House Member and ask them to vote in favor of COVID-19 liability protection for businesses and others found in HB 167 and SB 359. 
2020 Elections Bill Still in Flux and Running Out of Time

As of Thursday, June 25, and after several changes in House Committee, Senate Bill 463 aligns federal and state voter registration deadlines for primary runoff elections; allows poll workers to live outside of the county in which they work; reduces the age of citizens allowed to move to the front of the voting line from 75 to 70; and prohibits any state or local government entity from mailing out absentee ballot applications. This bill has been recommitted to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.  ACCG is neutral on this bill.   
Paired Down Short-Term Rental Legislation Reemerges

Senate Bill 162 allows counties and cities to regulate the occupancy or rental of residences - short term rentals, defined as properties rented for less than 30 consecutive days - within their jurisdictions; however, local governments cannot "prohibit all such occupancies or rentals" within the county or city. This bill has been recommitted to the House Rules Committee, so stay tuned.  ACCG is neutral on this bill.           
Cyber Security Legislation Revived

Senate Bill 464 was substituted in House Committee on Thursday to now incorporate the language of HB 1049, which did not make Crossover. Among other provisions, SB 464 now authorizes any portion of a local government meeting which includes discussions or votes on cyber security issues to be held in executive session. It also exempts local government records, data, and information concerning cyber security from the Open Records Act.  ACCG supports this bill; however, there will likely not be enough time left for it to make it through the legislative process.            
Magistrate Pay Increase Bill Heads to House for Agree, Disagree

House Bill 765 , legislation that increases the pay of Magistrate Court judges by 5%, passed the Senate and is now back in the House for an agree or disagree. The effective date was changed to January 1, 2022.  ACCG opposes this legislation.
Senate Passes Bill to Lessen Impacts of Sales Tax Refunds

Among other things, House Bill 846 establishes rules for direct-pay permits for large businesses that directly pay state and local sales taxes to the Department of Revenue (DOR). In the event that these permit holders later obtain a refund of sales taxes, HB 846 will allow counties and cities to have their portion of such refunds paid out over the same number of months that the overpayments were originally made. Under current law, such refunds are paid all at once, which can have significant cash-flow impacts for counties and other local governments. ACCG supports HB 846, which was passed in the Senate today and returns to the House to agree or disagree with the Senate’s changes to the bill. ACCG supports this legislation.
Authorizing Local Public Hearings Via Teleconference Passes House

House Bill 413 was substituted with language which authorizes local governments to hold public hearings by teleconference when necessitated by emergency conditions.  It has passed the House and is now awaiting Senate agreement or disagreement.   ACCG supports this legislation.  
Bill Revising Tax Appeals Attorney's Fees Provisions Moves Forward

Senate Bill 410 passed the House and will return to the Senate for further action. SB 410 makes changes to the rules on payment of attorney’s fees in tax appeal cases. Under present law, counties must pay a taxpayer’s attorney’s fees if the final assessed value of a property is 85% or less than the value set by the board of equalization. SB 410 would retain that rule in cases when the appeal is brought by the taxpayer. However, where the appeal is brought by the board of assessors (BOA), such attorney’s fees will be owed if the final value on appeal is 85% or less than the BOA’s proposed value. County boards of commissioners still have the right to prohibit BOA appeals where the BOA’s value was reduced by 20% or less by the board of equalization or hearing officer. 
New Conferees Appointed for EMS Transparency Bill

New Conferees were appointed for House Bill 264 which deals with EMS Transparency and the registration of lobbyists. ACCG will continue to monitor this legislation to determine if any of the provisions will impact local EMS Coordinating Councils. 
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ACCG is YOUR county association. We are here to advance all Georgia county governments. Please feel free to contact a member of the policy team if they can assist in any way.