Capitol Update_ Issue 5
Last week was the sixth week of the legislative session, concluding with Legislative Day 22. It was a full week of fun (admittedly, we have an unusual idea of "fun"), which included our annual "Building Georgia Legislative Day" at the Capitol. It was a wonderful pleasure to spend the morning with our members who could attend and to talk with them about our advocacy efforts and what they can do to stay involved in the process.
Transit Governance _ Funding
As we've been saying for some time, the topic of transit governance and funding will be the biggest issue of this legislative session. Last Tuesday, House Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) finally dropped his highly anticipated transit governance and funding bill (HB 930) in a standing-room-only press conference with Speaker Ralston, Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash and Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott (Nash and Ott both serve on the House Transit Governance & Finance Commission). Of course, your ACEC Georgia government affairs team was there too. 

Each speaker highlighted the fact that transit is at the center of every conversation with companies that are considering expanding in or relocating to Georgia -- and that creating a true regional transit system is one of the most important steps the state can take to expand our economic growth and prosperity, as well as our consistent national ranking as the No. 1 state in which to do business.  

HB 930 would use the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) as the new governing entity for transit planning, capitol project approval and funding in metro Atlanta, with all existing transit agencies (MARTA, Cobb Transit, Gwinnett Transit, etc.) continuing to serve as transit operators. The GRTA Board is currently appointed by the Governor. That would change under Tanner's proposal, and the 13 counties already under GRTA would be divided into 10 districts, with a representative from each district who would be elected in a manner similar to GDOT Board members (see below), but with the addition of county commission chairs and a mayor from the district as additional "voters". In addition, the Speaker and Lt. Governor would have appointees to the board and the Governor (or his designee) would serve as chairman. 

GRTA would be the conduit for all funding, and ultimate approval, of capital projects. This is different from SB 386 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R - Alpharetta), (the other major transit governance bill which we discussed in last week's Capitol Update), which creates more of a direct partnership between local governments and MARTA, with a new planning board created within GRTA, while leaving the existing GRTA board intact. 

One of the new funding mechanisms in HB 930 is a 1% transit-only T-SPLOST, that unlike existing SPLOST referendums, could be put in place for up to 30 years, in order to make the transit plan eligible for federal matching funds (federal transit funding eligibility requires at least a 20-year guaranteed funding source). There would also be an additional 50 cent per ride fee placed on all ride share programs (i.e. Uber, Lyft) collected by the ride share company and distributed to the area of service. Lastly, a 1% sales tax on all concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport would be distributed to the transit region. 

Just as in SB 386, all transit modes within the Atlanta region would be branded "ATL" - a name first suggested by Sen. Beach, who has said for many years that he wants folks to be able to "fly into ATL and take the ATL to the ATL." 

Sen. Beach and Rep. Tanner have been working together for several months and each has stressed that they share common goals, that their bills are not so far apart and that they are both committed to finding a consensus between the two approaches. Expectations are that the House and Senate bills will move to passage by their respective chamber and then differences between the two versions will be worked out in a House-Senate Conference Committee after Crossover Day.
GDOT Board Elections
GDOT Board elections were held last week under the Gold Dome and were largely uneventful, with only one district having an election for an open seat on the Board and the rest being uncontested reelections of incumbent board members. Board Chairman Jamie Boswell (Congressional District 10), Emily Dunn (Congressional District 9), Johnny Floyd (Congressional District 2), Stacey Key (Congressional District 5) and Dana Lemon (Congressional District 13) were unanimously re-elected to the board. 

Jerry Shearin of Paulding County was elected as the newest member of the Board to represent the 14th Congressional District in northwest Georgia. Shearin is a former Paulding County Commission Chairman and works with McAdams Insurance Agency. He fills the seat formerly held by Roger Williams, who retired from the Board. 

GDOT Board members serve staggered five-year terms and are elected by congressional district, with all of the state legislators who represent a part of each congressional district serving as the "voters" for those elections, which are conducted by secret ballot in the State Senate chamber.  

We are especially happy to announce Emily Dunn, Stacey Key and Dana Lemon's re-election to the GDOT board immediately following their appearance on Engineering Georgia magazine's list of "100 Influential Women to Know." Coincidence? We think not.
Statewide Procurement Registry
With business development being one of our three pillars of the ACEC Georgia Value Proposition, we are working closely with the Associated General Contractors to make the procurement process much more efficient and easy for you to navigate. In that regard, HB 489 is a great piece of common sense legislation that would require all local governments in Georgia to advertise procurement opportunities for goods, services and all public works with the statewide, online Georgia Procurement Registry, which is managed by the Georgia Department of Administrative Affairs, in addition to advertising in the official legal organ and other media outlets. This would create a "one stop shop" listing of all local government procurement in Georgia. 

This bill had a hearing last week in subcommittee and was passed out with a favorable recommendation to the full House Governmental Affairs Committee. We expect the bill to move quite swiftly through the rest of the legislative process, with very few people opposing it.
Professional Licensing Boards
For many years (and many different Secretaries of State), engineers have been frustrated by the less than optimal customer service levels relating to professional licensure. This is not a problem with the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Licensing Board (PELS Board) members, who are appointed by the Governor and who each work tirelessly to try to make the system work better. And it's not the Secretary of State's fault either. The reality is that the PELS Board members efforts are hamstrung by a systemic problem that exists across all licensed professions - a Professional Licensing Division that is underfunded and therefore, under-staffed and spread far too thin. And, this situation persists year after year because the General Assembly refuses to fund the Professional Licensing Division at a level which would allow for more reasonable staffing levels. Particularly when the licensed professions are already paying for it - professional licensing generates around $45 million in fees and fines, but is appropriated only around $13 million to operate. That's quite a delta! 

Engineers are not alone in this and ACEC Georgia is working toward a solution to fix this systemic issue across all licensed professions. First, we are supporting HR 158 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), that would amend the Georgia Constitution (if approved by the voters) to allow all fees collected by a government agency (such as the PELS Board) to be appropriated back to that agency. This could allow the PELS Board to determine the staffing level necessary to achieve the desired level of service and then set a licensure fee that would support that staffing level. The bill passed out of the House Chamber nearly unanimously last Wednesday. The Senate has assigned it to the Appropriations Committee. We hope for a hearing soon, but typically the Senate doesn't take up House legislation (and visa-versa) until after they've passed out their own bills leading up to Crossover Day on February 28. If it does ultimately pass, the question will be on the ballot this November for the people of Georgia to vote in favor of this new process. 

Meanwhile, we are drafting legislation that would create a professional licensure study committee that would work after this year's legislative session to analyze all viable options to allow all licensure boards to create the level of service they need to deliver good customer service and to protect the health, safety and welfare of all Georgia citizens. The study committee would work toward a final report that would provide the new Secretary of State and General Assembly with a range of options to choose from moving forward with the licensing division. We have discussed this plan with all four Republican candidates for Secretary of State and each of them have expressed their support for this initiative. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
The Week Ahead
The General Assembly will be in session for Legislative Days 23 through 26 this week, meeting Tuesday through Friday.
Legislation ACEC Georgia is Following
HB 55 - By Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) is a proposal to institute term limits for the members of Georgia's professional licensing boards (limiting appointees to no more than eight consecutive years of service). As with last session, this legislation is unlikely to move forward. STATUS: Assigned to House Regulated Industries Committee. 

HB 59 - By Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) modifies Georgia's existing historic structures tax credit by eliminating the caps on non-residential structures and by making the tax credits more readily transferable. STATUS: Passed out of House Ways & Means Committee February 27, 2017 and Full House March 3, 2017. Passed out of Senate Finance Committee by substitute on March 22, 2017. Bill has been recommitted to and is now pending in the Senate Finance Committee. 

HB 68 - By Rep. Andrew Welch (R-McDonough) would require the creation of an emergency pull-off shoulder for the entire length of any GDOT road construction zone. As with last session, this legislation is unlikely to move forward. STATUS: Assigned to House Transportation Committee. 

HB 150 - By Rep. Allan Powell (R-Hartwell) would allow the State Road & Tollway Authority (SRTA) to place a hold on the motor vehicle registration of anyone who fails to pay tolls, after sufficient notice and opportunity to respond and pay the tolls and associated fines. It would also allow unpaid tolls and fines to be collected via state income tax refund set-off. More importantly, the version which passed the Senate on the final day of last year's session also includes language that extends the sunset on use of the Consumer Price Index in calculating Georgia's motor fuel excise tax for an additional four years, to July 1, 2022. STATUS: Senate Passed on March 30, 2017. House agreed to Senate version 145-23 on January 30, 2018. It is now on the Governor's desk awaiting signature. 

HB 158 - By Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) the "Destination Resort Act" is one of two identical companion bills [the other being SB 79 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta)] that would allow for the construction and operation of two destination casino resorts in Georgia. One would be somewhere in the metro Atlanta area near a convention center district (think downtown Atlanta, near the Georgia World Congress Center) and with a minimum of 1,000 rooms and $2 billion in investment. The other would be located somewhere outside the metro area, also near a convention center (think Savannah), with a minimum investment of $450 million. One company cannot operate both resorts. A 20% tax on gross receipts that will go to the HOPE scholarship (70%) and needs-based scholarships (30%). The Act would require the approval of an amendment to the Georgia Constitution, which would be placed on the November 2018 ballot. STATUS: Assigned to House Regulated Industries Committee. 

HB 189 - By Rep. Sheila Nelson (D-Augusta) the "Contract Cancellation Act" would require any service contract with a state agency or local government to "contain specific performance and cost parameters" and require the service provider to submit quarterly reports to the governing authority showing the provider's compliance with those performance criteria. It would also allow all contracts to contain a provision allowing governing authority to unilaterally terminate the contract if the contractor fails to comply with the performance criteria or if projected annual costs exceed the cost established by the contract. Obviously, performance and cost criteria can be affected by conditions outside of the service provider's control, including acts of God (such as weather), actions of third parties or even the actions (or inaction) of the governing authority itself. This bill did not move until very late in the process and we are still working alongside other stakeholders (AGC, ABC and AIA) to understand the motivation behind the bill (i.e. what exactly is the problem this bill is trying to solve?) and to work with the Senate committee to educate them on the potential unintended consequences of this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Government Affairs Committee on March 1, 2017 and the full House on March 6, 2017 by a vote of 156-13. Assigned to the Senate State & Local Government Operations Committee. 

HB 201 - By Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) would exempt transit busses and school buses from Georgia's motor fuel excise tax. STATUS: Assigned to House Ways & Means. 

HB 204 - By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would prohibit anything other than actual ad valorem property taxes from being included on property tax bills (i.e. no solid waste or stormwater fees on tax bills). There has been significant opposition to this legislation from local governments, particularly local stormwater authorities. The Senate passed a substitute version that gutted Rep. Harrell's original bill and replaced it with language exempting 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt corporations from the definition of innkeeper. Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) chaired a Joint House Senate Study Committee which explored issues relating to stormwater fee collections, including placing them on property tax bills. Consensus of that joint committee seemed to fall on the side of leaving that issue alone. STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on February 16, 2017 and out of the full House on February 28, 2017 by a vote of 111-61. Passed out of the Senate Finance Committee by substitute on March 22, 2017. Bill has been recommitted to and is now pending in the Senate Finance Committee. 

HB 215 - By Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) would clarify language on the special district mass transportation sales and use tax and who is considered a qualified municipality that can issue general obligation bonds as necessary. STATUS: Assigned to House Ways & Means.

HB 248 - By Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) seeks to provide a legal framework for the operation of autonomous motor vehicles on public roads. However, the legislation also presents some significant concerns that it may actually stifle the use and development of this emerging technology in Georgia if passed as is. STATUS: Assigned to House Transportation. 

HB 271 - By Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) seeks to clarify and expand shore protections in coastal Georgia. STATUS: Passed out of the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee on February 23, 2017 and the full House on March 3, 2017 by a vote of 174-0. Assigned to Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee. 

HB 317 - By Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) would lower the current annual fee for alternative fuel vehicles from $200 to $100, meaning alternative fuel vehicles would pay approximately half as much to maintain Georgia's roads as the drivers of conventional fuel vehicles, while having the same maintenance impact on those roads. ACEC Georgia opposes this legislation. STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee. 

HB 364 - By Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) is identical to SB 58 by Sen. Josh McKoon and would completely eliminate the $5.00 per night hotel/motel room fee that makes up a significant portion of the new transportation revenues created by HB 170 in 2015. ACEC Georgia opposes this legislation. STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee. 

HB 379 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) would create a new Georgia Public Road Authority which would be a public corporation established to provide financing alternatives for the construction of public roads throughout the state, including tolled facilities and public-private partnerships. STATUS: Assigned to the House Transportation Committee. 

HB 489 - By Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) is a great, common sense bill that would require all local governments in Georgia to advertise local government bid opportunities for goods, services and public works with the Georgia Procurement Registry managed by the Georgia Department of Administrative Affairs, in addition to the official legal organ and other media outlets. This would create a "one stop shop" listing of all local government procurement listings in Georgia. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out of the House Government Affairs Committee on February 15, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee. 

HB 653 - By Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) would allow certain professional licensing boards to suspend the license of a person upon notice of nonpayment or default on a federal educational loan or service conditional scholarship, but the licensing boards are not required to do so. STATUS: Assigned to House Regulated Industries.  

HB 673 - By Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) would require all drivers in the state of Georgia to use a hands-free device when driving. There would be a fine from $150-$300 for your first offense up to a defensive driving course and incarceration for subsequent offenses. STATUS: Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee where we expect a hearing this week. 

HB 674 - By Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) would waive the government's sovereign immunity in cases for declaratory judgments or other injunctive relief. STATUS: Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. 

HB 694 - By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would require each distributor to file motor fuel taxes electronically by the twentieth day of each calendar month for the preceding month's activities. However, there was a meeting in the Senate Finance Committee last week where Sen. Ligon made an attempt to add some language exempting non-profit hotels and such from the taxes created and collected in HB 170. The HB 170 coalition team (including the entire ACEC legislative team) showed up in full force in objection. The bill was tabled until the author of the new language could provide precise data of the amount in taxes this would be. ACEC will continue to fight this legislation and all other legislation that attempts to affect HB 170. STATUS: Assigned to House Ways & Means Industries Committee where it was passed out on January 29, 2018. The full House chamber passed the bill 161-0 on January 31, 2018. This bill is currently tabled in Senate Finance Committee. 

HB 702 - By Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins) would create a new service cancelable education loan program for students in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) who work in federal civil service positions at defense installations in Georgia. STATUS: Pending in House Higher Education Committee.  

HB 704 - By Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) would change when the current eight-year statute of limitations would begin to run in connection with construction waste bury pits on residential property. STATUS: Passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 8, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee. 

HB 720 - By Rep. Sandra Scott (R-Rex) would prohibit companies from discharging an employee for discussing their wages with another employee, increasing the existing fine to $1,000. STATUS: Assigned to House Industry & Labor Committee.  

HB 753 - By Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simon's Island) would exempt nonprofit conference centers from the $5 per night hotel/motel fee created by HB 170. The bill defines 'nonprofit conference and retreat center' as a nonprofit facility that furnishes for value overnight lodging to the public while they are attending seminars, retreats, or other similar learning program. ACEC Georgia opposes this legislation.  STATUS: Assigned to House Transportation Committee. 

HB 778 - By Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) would transfer career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) programs in the state's K-12 systems from the State Board of Education to the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: Pending in House Higher Education Committee. 

HB 781 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) would provide comprehensive reform of Georgia's sales and use tax for educational purposes (E-SPLOST, to allow for a range of maintenance, operational and educational programs to be included in the list of things that could be funded by an E-SPLOST (subject to local vote approval), which is currently limited to capital expenditures only (HR 992 is the constitutional amendment bill necessary to implement this legislation). STATUS: Passed out of House Education Committee on February 8, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee. 

HB 791 - By Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), similar to HB 674, would waive the government's sovereign immunity in cases for declaratory judgments or other injunctive relief. STATUS: Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. 

HB 884 - By Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin) would allow local water systems to include or remove themselves from state fluoridation requirements by a referendum called by the governing authority of the local government. STATUS: Pending in House Health & Human Services Committee. 

HB 833 - By Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram) is a housekeeping bill introduced on behalf of SAMSOG dealing with certain educational and licensing requirements for land surveyors, most notably eliminating the hydrology related educational and examination requirements for all surveyors (unless they opt-in). ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out of the House Regulated Industries Committee on February 14, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee. 

HB 858 - By Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) would add any business, profession, or occupation for which state licensure or registration is required by state law, unless the state law regulating such business, profession, or occupation specifically allows for regulation by local governments professions to have an option of how to pay their occupation tax. Either by the application or the amount set by the local government to not exceed $400. STATUS: Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee. 

HB 899 - By Rep. Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas) would prohibit the use of a lack of previous experience with the specific construction delivery method to be used on a project (such as CM at risk or design-build) as a disqualification of bidders for that public works project, as long as the bidder is otherwise qualified to do that type of work and scale of project and meet bonding requirements. STATUS: Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee. 

HB 930 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) would reconstitute the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) as the new governing entity for all transit planning, capitol project approval and funding in metro Atlanta, with all existing transit agencies (MARTA, Cobb Transit, Gwinnett Transit, etc.) continuing to serve as transit operators. The 13 counties already under GRTA would be divided into 10 districts, with a representative from each district who would be elected by state legislators in a manner similar to the GDOT Board, but with the addition of county commission chairs and a mayor from the district as additional "voters". In addition, the Speaker and Lt. Governor would have appointees to the board and the Governor (or his designee) would serve as chairman. CIDs could create special taxing districts of less than an entire county (think Cumberland CID in Cobb County for transit to SunTrust Park and The Battery). GRTA would be the conduit for all funding and ultimate approval of capital projects. The bill creates a new 1% transit-only T-SPLOST, that could be put in place for up to 30 years. There would also be an additional 50 cent per ride fee placed on all ride share programs (i.e. Uber, Lyft) and a 1% sales tax on all concessions at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. All transit modes within the Atlanta region would be branded "ATL" - a name first suggested by Sen. Brandon Beach. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: First hearing was held last Thursday in a special subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee. Pending in House Transportation Committee. 

HR 158 - By Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), that would amend the Georgia Constitution (if approved by the voters) to allow all fees collected by a state government agency to be appropriated back to that agency. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee on January 29, 2018 and the full House on February 14, 2018 by a vote of 166-1. Now pending in Senate Appropriations Committee. 

HR 284 - By Rep. Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas) created a House Study Committee on State & Local Construction Management to look at CM At-Risk vs. Design-Build and other methods of contracting to determine their impacts on the ability of small firms to compete for contracts, as well as potential efficiencies and cost-savings. STATUS: The study committee met several times over the summer and fall, however, there has been no final report issued at this time. HB 899 (see below) is a direct result of the study committee's work.  

HR 389 - By Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), but an initiative of Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), created the House Rural Development Council to try to find solutions to the problems of loss of population, limited access to quality health care, poor infrastructure, diminished quality of educational opportunity, scarcity of employment opportunities and overall lack of economic growth in rural Georgia. STATUS: The study committee was held over the interim and you may read the final report HERE. 

HR 943 - By Rep. Marc Morris (R-Cumming) is a resolution proposing to create a Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission to work on the issues surrounding the erroneously marked boundary line between Georgia and its neighbors to the north. STATUS: Passed out of House Committee on Interstate Cooperation on February 5, 2018. Passed the full House on February 13, 2018 by a vote of 159-3. Pending in Senate Rules Committee. 

HR 992 - By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is the constitutional amendment required to implement HB 781 (see above). STATUS: Passed out of House Education Committee on February 8, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee. 

HR 1091  - By Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) is a resolution that would create a House study committee to assess the possibility of an Athens to Atlanta Rail Line (similar to the "Brain Train" proposal that was promoted several years ago).  STATUS: Pending in the House Transportation Committee.  

SB 2  - By Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) the FAST Act ("Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency - Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed") seeks to eliminate duplicative rules, regulations and red tape to create a more efficient and transparent permitting process for Georgia businesses. It would require state agencies and local governments to set forth a specific turnaround time for processing licenses, permits and approvals as well as associated fees, including making available an expedited process available for an additional fee. If the agency fails to meet its timeline, the fee for that service would be reduced. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee on February 15, 2017 and the full Senate on February 17, 2017. Passed out of House Small Business Development Committee on March 28, 2017 but was recommitted by the full House on March 30, 2017. Passed again out of the House Small Business Development Committee on February 15, 2018. Pending in House Rules Committee, where it will likely sit until after Crossover Day (since it's already crossed over).

SB 3 - By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) the "Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act" would expand career education in grades 6 through 12, including new opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and cooperative learning and to provide a means of industry credentialing for those programs. It also requires closer collaboration between the Georgia Department of Education and the Technical College System of Georgia relative to identifying and addressing critical workforce needs through career education. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: A Conference Committee was appointed on March 30, 2017 to hammer out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill but which failed to report. This means another conference committee will be held to determine the fate of the bill. 

SB 17 - By Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) is the so-called "Mimosa Mandate" bill (formerly known as the "Better Brunch Bill") to allow local governments to authorize the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on Sundays starting at 10:30 a.m. (current law prohibits this activity until 12:30 p.m. on Sundays). STATUS: Passed out of Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee on February 7, 2018 by a 6-4 vote and out of the full Senate on February 13, 2018 by a vote of 38-18. Now pending in the House Regulated Industries Committee. 

SB 19 - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would require the State Treasurer to create an "Expenditure Database of the State of Georgia" that would show all expenditures made by any state entity to all vendors and which would be fully searchable online by a variety of search criteria. Vendor is defined in the legislation as anyone providing equipment, materials, goods, supplies or services to any state entity pursuant to a contract. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee. 

SB 26 - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would require local school boards to use "competitive sealed bidding" for any professional services contracts that exceed $50,000 in any calendar year. The bill only applies to local boards of education. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Education & Youth Committee. 

SB 27 - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would require attorneys fees to be awarded to prevailing condemnees in condemnation cases. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee. 

SB 54 - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) creates new regulations around autonomous vehicles. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee. 

SB 58  - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would completely eliminate the $5.00 per night hotel/motel room fee that makes up a significant portion of the new transportation revenues created by HB 170 in 2015. ACEC Georgia will be joined by many organizations in opposing this bill.  STATUS: Assigned to Senate Education & Youth Committee.

SB 67 - By Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) the "Bring Small Businesses Back to Georgia Act" is a regulatory reform bill focused on small businesses (defined as an independently-owned business having less than 50 employees or less than $4 million in gross annual sales). It would amend the administrative procedures act relative to state agency rule making authority, requiring a cost-benefit analysis, expanded notice and hearing requirements, as well as requiring amendment or repeal of two existing rules for every new rule proposed. It would also require hearings by standing legislative committees of jurisdiction and review and reports every four years by each agency of all rules and regulations, their efficacy, complaints received, etc. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee. 

SB 79 - By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) the "Destination Resort Act" is one of two companion bills [an identical bill will be introduced in the House by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah)] that would allow for the construction and operation of two destination casino resorts in Georgia. One would be somewhere in the metro Atlanta area near a convention center district (think downtown Atlanta, near the Georgia World Congress Center) and with a minimum of 1,000 rooms and $2 billion in investment. The other would be located somewhere outside the metro area, also near a convention center (think Savannah), with a minimum investment of $450 million. One company cannot operate both resorts. A 20 percent tax on gross receipts that will go to the HOPE scholarship (70 percent) and needs-based scholarships (30 percent). The Act would require the approval of an amendment to the Georgia Constitution, which would be placed on the November 2018 ballot. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries. 

SB 89 - By Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) would create a Georgia Freight Railroad Program within GDOT and would facilitate the expenditure of additional appropriations by the General Assembly for purposes of improving freight and passenger railway and crossing infrastructure. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 7, 2017 and the full Senate on February 15, 2017 by a vote of 49-0. Pending in House Transportation Committee. 

SB 116 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) exempts properties deemed to be "water-neutral" from all local government stormwater fees. The bill defines water-neutral as "a property designed to achieve control of water runoff from a 25-year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual" as certified by a professional engineer. STATUS: Bill was assigned to Senate Regulated Industries on February 7, 2017. The Senate decided to have a study committee (SR 224) on storm water management fees (SR 224) look further into the issue. The study committee recommended that the utility determining the fees should use best practices that will be developed jointly by The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), along with other organizations. No further action on this bill is expected. 

SB 210 - By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) the "Georgia Government Accountability Act" would create a Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee that would be tasked with reviewing individual state agencies and departments to determine if they should be abolished and their responsibilities transferred to another agency. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Government Oversight Committee. 

SB 232 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), the "Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act" would create incentives for public and/or private entities to expand gigabit or higher broadband services to areas within the state where such services are not currently available. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. 

SB 233  - By Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) is a drastically scaled down version of the so-called "religious liberty" or RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) bills that have been introduced over the past several years. This version would simply make Georgia subject to the existing Federal RFRA statute that was passed in 1993. Opponents in Georgia's business community believe this legislation would result in significant damage to our state's economy and welcoming, business-friendly reputation... sentiments that have been echoed by Governor Deal, Speaker Ralston and other leaders... and which have grown even louder with Georgia in the running for the Amazon HQ2 project and the 50,000 jobs it would bring. ACEC Georgia opposes this legislation.  STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Rules Committee. 

SB 251 - By Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) would allow for the levy of a retail sales and use tax by DeKalb County for public transportation through MARTA. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee. 

SB 312 - By Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would allow an expedited service fee of $50 for all corporate documents filed thorough the Secretary of State's Office. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee where it awaits a hearing. 

SB 315 - By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) would create the new crime of unauthorized computer access to protect individuals and businesses from ransomware and other computer related attacks. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on February 1, 2018. Passed by substitute by the full Senate on February 12, 2018 by a vote of 41-11. Pending in House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 

SB 319 - By Senator John Albers (R-Alpharetta) the "Consolidation of Fire Safety Services in Georgia Act" would create a new Department of Fire Safety, led by a Commissioner of Fire Safety and would combine the myriad fire safety related departments, inspectors and training activities into one, unified agency. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on February 1, 2018 and passed the full Senate on February 13, 2018. Pending in Senate Rules. 

SB 324 - By Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta) would allow any municipality to contract with any county abutting that municipality's corporate limits for the construction and maintenance of a bridge within the limits of both the municipality and county. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 8, 2018. Pending in the Senate Rules Committee. 

SB 338 - By Sen. William Ligon, Jr. (R-Brunswick) makes numerous changes to the state administrative procedure act designed to create greater public involvement in and legislative oversight of the state agency rule making process. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 1, 2018 and the full Senate on February 8, 2018 by a vote of 37-18. Pending in the House Judiciary Committee.  

SB 353 - By Senator Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) would establish civil enforcement and penalty authority in the Safety Fire Commissioner for violations related to the regulation of boilers and pressure vessels. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on February 1, 2018 and the full Senate on February 12, 2018 by a vote of 53-0. Pending in House Insurance Committee. 

SB 379 - By Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) filed in response to the major power outage last year, would provide for the creation of the Georgia Major Airport Operations and Management Board, for the purpose of transferring ownership and operation of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from the City of Atlanta to the new state authority. The Governor has made it clear that this legislation will not fly with him, so don't expect this bill to get off the ground. STATUS: Pending in Senate Transportation Committee. 

SB 386 - By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) creates a new transit-only SPLOST that a county could impose to fund transit capital improvements. This new Transit SPLOST would be exempt from the existing cap on local sales taxes (allowing Fulton & DeKalb counties to use this new funding tool). Local governments would enter into an intergovernmental agreement with MARTA for the provision of transit services and MARTA would be operator of those services. A new "Atlanta-region Transit Link 'ATL' Commission would be created within the existing Georgia Regional Transportation Authority to serve as the Atlanta region's transit planning entity (along with the Atlanta Regional Commission). ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: 
The bill had its first hearing last week. Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee. ACEC expects another hearing this week.

 

SB 402 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would have Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) create and implement a long-term policy for right-of-ways in Georgia for broadband services and other communication technologies. The bill would also require DCA to oversee the Georgia Broadband Ready Community Site designation program which would require at least 1 gigabit of broadband service all public services per site. This is one of a three part legislative initiative. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee where is awaits a hearing. 

SB 404 - By Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) encourages the use of residential fire sprinkler system by prohibiting local water systems from charging a fee for standby water service for sprinkler system connections. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Natural Resources and Environment. 

SB 415 - By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) would require all nursing homes to have a backup power source that would all areas of the facility in the case of a power outage. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. 

SB 425 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is identical to HB 833 (see above), which would eliminate the hydrology related educational and examination requirements for all surveyors (unless they opt-in). ACEC Georgia supports this legislation.  STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
 

SB 426 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) is the "Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act" (BILD Act), would limit the ability of local governing authorities to prohibit, regulate, or charge for use of public rights of way, under certain circumstances, to wireless providers in order to facilitate the growth of broadband services in rural areas of the state. This is part one of a three-part legislative initiative to achieve this goal. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. 

SB 432 - By Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta) would provide for the expiration of certain tax credits relating to exemptions from state sales and use taxes. The dates range from 2019 to 2022 and the subject of the tax exemptions covers a large spectrum of items, places, and organizations. STATUS: Assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. 

SR 152 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) created a "Joint Study Committee on Stream Buffers in Georgia" to look into best practices from around the southeast and recommend new stream buffer legislation in 2018 that would "strike the proper balance between water protection and private property rights." ACEC Georgia supported this legislation.  STATUS: Passed out both chambers last session. Committee was co-chaired by Sen. Ginn and Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) and held several meetings around the state in the fall. The committee concluded that certain areas needed further study by the legislature. Meanwhile, the Georgia EPD will create a manual of best practices, which should resolve these issues. 

SR 224 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) created a "Joint Study Committee on Storm-Water Management Fees" which met several times over the summer and fall in different cities around the state. STATUS: The study committee recommended that the utility determining the fees should use best practices that will be developed jointly by The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), along with other organizations. 

SR 312 - By Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) would place a fee on expedited processing and filing of corporate documents in the Secretary of State's office. Provided the fee not exceed $50 per filing. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Economic Development and Tourism. 

SR 502 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) encourages the Congress of the United States and Federal Agencies to do all within their powers to develop policies and funding sources to help bring high-speed broadband access to rural America. STATUS: Assigned to Senate Rules Committee and was passed out on January 25, 2018. The full Senate Chamber passed the bill 50-0 on January 31, 2018. It is currently waiting to be assigned to a House committee. 

SR 576 - By Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) will no longer require proceeds from corporate filing fees in the Secretary of the State's office to be deposited into the general fund. Rather, the General Assembly may dedicate any part or all of the funds to go back into administration of the office. STATUS: Prefiled, has yet to be assigned to a committee. 

SR 577 - By Sen. Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) will no longer require proceeds from licensing fees in the Secretary of the State's office to be deposited into the general fund. Rather, The General Assembly may dedicate any part or all of the funds to go back into administration of the office. STATUS: Prefiled, and has not yet been assigned to a committee.
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