The Council's Final 2016 Capitol Update
This is the Final, 2016 Edition of the Council's "Under the Gold Dome,"  a weekly publication that covered the 2016 Georgia General Assembly Session.  

The General Assembly completed Day 40 on Thursday, March 24th and adjounred "Sine Die" which marked the end of the 2016 Georgia General Assembly Session.  

Sine Die 2016: Georgia Senate
Sine Die 2016: Georgia Senate


The Council for Quality Growth was active throughout the 2016 Session, working on passage of the MARTA expansion legislation ( Senate Bill 330 and Senate Bill 369), as well as legislation pertaining to economic development, such as Senate Bill 426, and working to ensure onerous environmental legislation such as House Bill 966 did not receive passage. 

A letter from Council Government Affairs Chairman and Comcast Vice-President of External Affairs Andy Macke with his thoughts on the 2016 Session is below.

Council Members,
 
As we have come to the end of the 2016 Georgia General Assembly Session, I want to thank you, on behalf of the 2016 Council for Quality Growth's Government Affairs Task Force, for your support of the Council and our efforts at the State Capitol during the legislative session. 
 
As an organization committed to promoting economic development throughout Metro Atlanta, transportation has been, and will continue to be, a critical focus area for our legislative efforts. To that end, we are appreciative of Council Board Member and Senator Brandon Beach's (R-Alpharetta) leadership in seeking both road and transit expansion with Senate Bill 330. Unfortunately, election year politics and the inability of Fulton County Mayors to form a consensus around a funding split between transit and traditional road projects limited the scope of the legislation that ultimately passed on the 40th day of the session.    

Thanks to a compromise brokered by Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton), residents in the City of Atlanta will be able to vote on road and transit projects while the remainder of the County can vote on increased funding for road projects in the County.  
 
While we acknowledge the progress achieved in this legislative session, the future of transit funding outside of the City of Atlanta is far from certain.  Recognizing the impact transit has on attracting new jobs to metro Atlanta and retaining the talent required to fill them, the Council remains committed to an expanded and interconnected transit network. 
 
HB757, the "religious freedom" bill, created unwanted headlines for Georgia.  The specter of intolerance associated with the legislation threatened to negatively impact the State's ability to attract new jobs, major sporting events and capital investment.  The State also stood to lose a significant portion of the $6 billion economic impact the film and television production business had in 2015 as Viacom, Disney and Lionsgate Studios threatened to relocate current and future projects outside of Georgia.  The Council fully supports Governor Deal's wisdom and leadership to veto House Bill 757.
 
As I reflect on the 2016 legislative session, I would also like to recognize the efforts of the Government Affairs Task Force. Task Force members provided meaningful insight on legislative strategy and effectively advocated on issues important to the development community.  We also worked hard to further extend our brand at the capitol by hosting a legislative reception with many key members of the General Assembly and sponsoring a Senate Caucus breakfast. The Task Force also drafted white papers on transportation investment and testified at Senate and House Committee hearings. 
 
Thank you for your continued support of the Council for Quality Growth. We look forward to ongoing success at the local government level in 2016 and are beginning preparations for the 2017 legislative session.
 
Andy Macke
Chairman, Government Affairs Task Force
 
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As I have this Session, I will focus on bills that pertain to Council for Quality Growth Members, but will update on several others of note. The Governor vetoed on Monday, House Bill 757, which was commonly known as the "religious liberty" legislation, which had been a hotly debated topic during the 2016 Session. (You can read the Governor's full remarks HERE.)  It remains to be seen what the Governor will decide regarding the "campus carry" legislation, House Bill 859, which allows those with a Georgia weapons carry permit to carry a concealed handgun on Georgia's college campuses (except any property used for an athletic event or student housing).  The Governor has until May 3rd to make a decision on any legislation, whether to sign or veto.

MARTA Expansion

The Senate agreed to the House Substitute to Senate Bill 369 (originally the "fireworks" bill) on Thursday night, which sent the  revised MARTA legislation to the Governor's Desk.   We would like to commend State Senator Brandon Beach for his work on the original legislation, Senate Bill 330 and look forward to a continued discussion throughout 2016 on the expansion of transit options/MARTA expansion in North Fulton and DeKalb. Additionally, we would like to thank Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones for her work on the Senate Bill 369 compromise that passed on Thursday.

Highlights of the Passed Senate Bill 369 Bill Include:

1. Amends the MARTA Act to permit MARTA and the City of Atlanta to improve the transit needs inside the city.  MARTA and Atlanta will formulate a list of critical transit needs in the city and the city will be permitted in November, 2016 to ask the voters of Atlanta to approve an additional sales tax up to ½ penny to fund these additional transit projects in the city. The City of Atlanta will be able to call for the referendum that can take place as early as November, 2016, or, if so desired, November, 2017.

2. Amends HB170, passed last year to allow for two different transportation service districts in an effort  to address different transportation needs thereby allowing a transportation SPLOST for those Fulton County areas outside of the City of Atlanta and those areas exclusively inside the City of Atlanta.

3. For the Fulton County area outside of the City of Atlanta the different city mayors and County Commission Chair representing the citizens in unincorporated Fulton County may develop a list of transportation projects to address the critical needs in the different areas of the county.  A TSPLOST tax of up to 0.75% can be approved.  The overall list must be approved by these local officials representing at least 60% of the Fulton population outside of the City of Atlanta. The referendum may take place in any general election after July 1, 2016.

4.  For the City of Atlanta, the City may develop a list of transportation projects to address the critical needs within the city limits in Atlanta.  A TSPLOST tax of up to 0.5% can be approved.  The recommended list must then be approved by the County Commission in order to place it on the ballot for a referendum in Fulton County inside the City of Atlanta.  The referendum may take place in any general election after July 1, 2016.

5. The Fulton County Commission is charged with calling for a referendum after the local governments inside and outside the City of Atlanta submit a proposed list of transportation projects.  

TRANSIT and TRANSPORTATION Legislation

Senate Resolution 1085, carried by Senator Steve Gooch,  creates the Senate Regional Transit Solutions Study Committee,  in order to determine what role a region-wide transit system should play in relieving congestion in Atlanta, as traffic congestion in Atlanta is among the worst in the nation, by evaluating and proposing regional transit solutions. 

Also, the Committee will determine whether one comprehensive regional transit plan, a county-by-county plan, or a city-by-city approach would be more beneficial to Georgia.  This legislation passed the 2016 Session and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

House Resolution 1605, carried by Representative Chuck Martin, creates the House Study Committee on Regional Transit Solutions, similar to Senate Resolution 1085. The legislation passed the 2016 Session and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto .

Senate Bill 420, carried by Senator Lindsay Tippins, requires that a public referendum be held before any public funds are used for the building and maintenance of a fixed guided transit system, i.e. Bus Rapid Transit. The legislation does not apply to managed lanes or MARTA.   Senate Bill 420 passed the 2016 Session and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

Senate Bill 346, carried by Senator Brandon Beach, will exempt road projects under $100 million, that include no federal funding from the Georgia Environmental Policy Act. This bill passed the Georgia Senate on Thursday and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

Electronic Filing of Plats

House Bill 1004 , changes current law to allow for the electronic filing of plats and maps.   All images of maps, plats, or plans submitted for filing shall be an electronic image of a single page certified and presented to the clerk electronically in conformance with all specifications set forth in any rules and regulations promulgated by the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority.  The following can be electronically recorded: S ubdivision plats, Condominium plats, Condominium site plans, Condominium plot plans and Condominium floor plans.  Physical plats and maps are no longer required to be maintained in the superior court clerks office. This legislation was agreed to by the House and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

Water Liens 

Senate Bill 206,  carries by Senator William Ligon, was amended in the House to remove the prohibition from refusing service by a public or private water supplier based solely on a lien for a previous tenant or owner.  Any real property owner, lender, attorney closing a real estate transaction for the purchase of the property or anyone who has executed a contract to purchase property can request and receive a statement of water charges past due, late charges and interest charged from the utility. If the public or private water supplier does not deliver a statement within 10 business days, then the lien will be extinguished and will prevent them for denying water services to the new property owner or tenant.  This legislation was agreed to in the Senate on Thursday and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

City Hood

House Bill 514, which creates City of South Fulton, will allow voters in the qualified area to decide in November 2016, whether to create the new City of South Fulton.   This legislation passed and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

Senate Bill 208, which creates the City of Stonecrest, will allow voters in the qualified area to decide in November 2016, whether to create the new City of Stonecrest.  This legislation passed and now goes to the Governor's Desk for his approval or veto.

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The Council was honored with a privileged invitation Senate Resolution by Senator Brandon Beach, recognizing the work of the Council and our 31 year history.  You can see a clip below of the Lt. Governor and Senator Beach's remarks.  We would like to thank Senator Beach for the Resolution honoring the work of the Council.

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Selected pieces of legislation of interest to Council Members are listed below and a running list of legislation of interest to Council Members can be found at the bottom of this email.
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SOIL AND EROSION PERMITS

Senate Bill 326, requires local governments to issue or deny an application for a soil erosion and sedimentation permit  within 14 days, instead of the current 45 day window and would have required Level 2 designers and permit reviewers to be licensed in a field related to solil and erosion control. While the Council supports the concept of this legislation, there were concerns about local governments ability to adequately implement the proposed legislation. The legislation did not receive passage in the 2016 Session.

STREAM BUFFERS

House Bill 966, requires that a stream buffer be measured from the ordinary high water mark, as opposed to the point of wrested vegetation. The ordinary high water mark is defined in the bill as the line of demarcation along state waters established by the water's fluctuation and indicated by a number of  physical characteristics, including a clear natural line impressed on the bank, changes in character of soil and the presence of litter and debris, among others. The Council was opposed to the legislation and the impact it would have on development, due to the lack of clarity within the legislation. A substitute was introduced that removed the high water mark language and instead would have established the top of the bank would be the measure. The legislation did not pass in the 2016 Session.

REORGANIZATION OF DEKALB COUNTY GOVERNMENT

Senate Bill 378 proposing to reorganize the DeKalb County Government passed the State Senate on Friday and highlights include the abolishment of the CEO position by January 1, 2019 and increases the Board of Commissioners to 8 members (from the current composition of 7), while eliminating the two current super-districts and creates the position of County Manager.  The Commission Chairman will now be a county-wide elected position, salaried at $153,000 with defined responsibilities, such as directing the work of the County Manager.   The legislation is now in the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee for consideration.  The Referendum will occur on the November 2016 General Election ballot.  The legislation did not pass the 2016 Session.

TOWNSHIPS
Senate Bill 272, introduced by Senator William Ligon (R) and House Bill 785 ,  introduced by Representative Mike Dudgeon,  call for the statewide referendum to amend the constitution allowing townships to have zoning powers. Townships could levy up to a .5 mill property tax, annex and transition to cityhood.  Counties would have no say in the above decisions and counties must continue to provide all services and infrastructure to the area as they would any unincorporated area. Counties would have an opportunity to comment on township decisions, but there is nothing in law required that would give their comments the force of law.   This legislation did not pass the 2016 Session.

The Council has concerns about both pieces of legislation as a direct  attempt to prevent development and keep Georgia from moving forward. 

PROFESSIONAL LICENSES
House Bill 592, introduced by Representative Brett Harrell, allows for a professional license for structural engineers.   This legislation did not pass the 2016 Session.
TRANSIT CID'S
House Resolution 830, introduced by Representative Buzz Brockway, provides for an amendment to the State Constitution that would allow for the creation of Transit Community Improvement Districts. 

A constitutional amendment was proposed by State Representative Buzz Brockway providing for the creation of Transit Community Improvement Districts (TCID). The proposal states that TCIDs would be administered by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA) for the purpose of funding the extension of existing rail infrastructure, including rail lines, stations or terminals, cars and other associated capital expenditures. In order to create a TCID, the governing authority of the City or County or existing Community Improvement District in which the district is located must adopt a consenting resolution. 

The TCID would be able to levy taxes, fees and assessments on nonresidential property, with the consent of the property owner, within the district to fund transit expansion and improvements through a cooperation agreement jointly executed by the TCID governing Board and the MARTA Board of Directors.

The Council has concerns with this legislation and have addressed them with the author and potential impact on existing CID's.   This legislation did not pass the 2016 Session.

REPEAL OF HOTEL/MOTEL TAX
Senate Bill 252, introduced by Senator Josh McKoon (R), would repeal the $5 hotel/motel tax that was levied in 2015 with the passing of HB170. This legislation will not pass in the 2016 Session. This legislation did not pass the 2016 Session.

EDUCATION IMPACT FEES
Senate Resolution 624 , by Senator Michael Williams (R) from Forsyth County, currently in the Senate Education and Youth Committee, proposes a Constitutional Amendment  to allow for the collection of impact fees by a local school board.  The fees could be imposed if the local jurisdiction has seen a 15% enrollment growth in its school system in the preceding 5 years. 

Legislation was dropped by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R), who also represents Forsyth County, House Resolution 1017 and House Resolution 864 from Forsyth on Thursday that would allow for the same.

HB894, also sponsored by Rep. Mike Dudgeon,  is the enabling legislation for HR864, the Constitutional Amendment to allow for education impact fees.  The legislation allows school boards to impose impact fees if there has been enrollment growth by at least 15% over the preceding five-year period by adoption of a resolution and creation of an impact fee advisory committee, comments from local governments and adoption of an impact fee schedule. The fee shall be valid for three years and can be extended for additional three year periods as long as the system meets the conditions to levy.

The Council understands that impact fees are a viable and effective way for local governments to fund the expansion of government services needed as a community grows. However the Council has concerns with the proposed legislation and the unintended consequences that it would have on the development community.  

Cherokee, Fulton and Forsyth, if the legislation were to pass the General Assembly as a constitutional amendment in November would be eligible to impart education impact fees. The Council will work with members of the General Assembly as this legislation works it way through the Session.

Senate Bill 344 did not receive a vote in Committee and did not see passage in 2016.  House legislation on the same issue did not pass out of Committee and did not see passage this Session.

To learn more about Impact Fees in Georgia, Click HERE
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The Council sends to its members "Under the Gold Dome" weekly on Friday during the Georgia General Assembly Session and Council Members are encouraged to contact James Touchton, Director of Policy & Government Affairs with any questions.
 
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James Touchton
Director, Government Affairs & Policy
JT@CouncilforQualityGrowth.org
770-823-0781 (Cell)
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Council for Quality Growth's Board of Directors 2016 Government Affairs Legislative Task Force 
 
The Council Board of Director's has established the 2016 Government Affairs  Legislative Task Force, consisting of members of the Council Board of Directors and Members of the Council General Membership. 
 
The Task Force is charged with establishing the Council's Legislative Agenda, as well as directing the Council and providing input on legislation before the Georgia General Assembly.  
 
Members of the Legislative Task Force include:
 
Andy Macke
Comcast Vice-President of Government & Community Affairs
(Chairman, Legislative Task Force)
 
Josh Belinfante
Partner, Robbins, Ross, Alloy, Belinfante, Littlefield and former Executive Counsel to former Ga. Governor Sonny Perdue
 
Laurel David
Partner, The Galloway Law Group, named as Best Law Firm in Land Use and Zoning Law by Best Lawyers and U.S. News & World Report in 2015
 
Doug Dillard
Partner, Pursley Friese Torgrimson, and former Council Chairman and named "Lawyer of the Year" for litigation and land use zoning in 2014 by Best Lawyer.
 
Ashley Groome
Senior Vice-President of State Government Relations, McGuire Woods Consulting
 
Ann Hanlon
Executive Director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District
 
Steve Labovitz
Partner, Dentons, and former Chief of Staff for the City of Atlanta and named "Georgia Super Lawyer" for Government Law in 2011-2013 by Atlanta Magazine
 
Tim Lowe
2015 Chairman, Council for Quality Growth and Past Chairman, Georgia World Congress Center Authority and President, Lowe Project Management
 
Josh Mackey
Director of State Government Relations, FrogueClark, LLC.
 
Gerald Pouncey
Partner, Morris, Manning & Martin and Board Member of the North Georgia water Management District and named one of the Best Lawyers in America for Environmental Law
 
Harold Reheis
Executive Vice-President, Joe Tanner & Associates and former Director of the Georgia EPD.
 
Scott Selig
Vice-President, Selig Enterprises and Government Affairs Chairman for the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors 2012-2013
 
Michael "Sully" Sullivan
President & CEO, A.C.E.C and Georgia Transportation Alliance Immediate Past Chairman

Georgia Senate Press Office: Senate in a Minute

During Session, the Georgia Senate Press Office films a daily recap of the Georgia Senate's actions.  


 

CLICK HERE to view the daily recaps for the 2016 Session.

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House of Representatives Floor Notes


 

Each Session day the Georgia House publishes a recap of the legislative day that occurred in the House.  

 

CLICK HERE to view the daily recaps for the 2016 Session .

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Council's Legislative Bill Tracking
Below is a listing of filed bills, including their sponsor, location, and bill analysis.  This represents legislation the Council is actively involved with or that remains of interest to Council Members.  

If you have a specific question about a piece of legislation, email   Director of Government Affairs and Policy at JT@CouncilforQualityGrowth.org

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House Bills
 
House Bill 4:  Inter-basin Transfers
Sponsor: Rep. Harry Geisinger (R) 
House Committee: Natural Resources and Environment
Status:  Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill removes the restriction in Georgia law for inter-basin water transfers from all rivers with an annual average flow of 15 billion gallons of water a day,  if the county where the river flows agrees to the water withdrawal.
Council Position: Support
 
House Bill 14 : Acceptance of Federal Funds with General Assembly Approval
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Turner (R)
House Committee: Appropriations
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill would prohibit any local government or agency or state agency, bureau, board or commission, public entity, department or office from accepting federal funds without the expressed approval of the General Assembly.  This could be interpreted to include Community Improvement Districts.
Council Position: Oppose
 
House Bill 21 : Transit Authority
Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: Did not pass in the  2016 Session
This bill removes the population threshold for a local government to form a transit authority, changes the definition of "metropolitan area" to include an unincorporated city and the area "suburban to such city," and requires a new transit authority in a municipality to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with an existing transit authority before its formation.
Council Position: Support
 
House Bill 33 : Code Enforcement Officers
Sponsor: Rep. Tom Taylor (R)
House Committee: Judiciary Non-Civil
Status: Did not pass in 2016 Session
This bill makes it a misdemeanor to hinder or obstruct a code enforcement officer in the discharge of their duties.
Council Position: Oppose
 
House Bill 60 : Motor Fuel Tax and State Income Tax
Sponsor: Rep. Ed Setzler (R)
House Committee: Transportation
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill would eliminate the "4th" penny on gas and shift it to the motor fuel tax, currently at 3%, while gradually raising the fuel excise tax from 7.5 cents to 22.5 cents by 2022 and a gradual decrease of the state's income tax rate to a flat 5.5% by 2022, down from the current rate of  6%.
Council Position: Support
 
House Bill 97: Prohibits Non-Disclosure for Local Agencies
Sponsor: Rep. Scot Turner (R)
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill prohibits local agencies from entering into non-disclosure agreements. According to the bill, all agencies shall fully disclose without delay, any communications regarding any terms and conditions of any agreement, incentive or offer made or entered into by the agency, directing the Attorney General to sanction any individual, on behalf of an agency, who enters into a non-disclosure agreement in violation of this proposed law. Furthermore, it allows any citizen, in addition to the Attorney General, to initiate civil action to compel the disclosure of any matters covered in a non-disclosure. 
Council Position: Oppose
 
House Bill 116 : Underground Water Supply Protection Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep. Alex Atwood (R)
House Committee: Natural Resources
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill would prohibit the use of water aquifers in 11 coastal counties. While this has a local impact as of now, the Council has concerns this could have state-wide implications.
Council Position: Oppose
 
House Bill 369: Distribution of Sales and Use Tax
Sponsor: Rep. Randy Nix (R)
House Committee: Ways & Means
Senate Committee: Finance
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This legislation concerns conflicts that may emerge between cities and counties that do not reach an agreement on ESPLOST funding.  Currently, a city may refuse to reach an agreement with a county.  If this happens, the city can petition the county from getting its ESPLOST dollars.  In this bill, unless there is an agreement between the county and city, money may be disbursed based on the FTE formula.  This bill is still being worked on, and Rep. Nix is working with the Department of Revenue to work out some of the details.
Council Position: Neutral

House Bill 445:   More Take Home Pay Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Carson (R)
House Committee: Ways & Means
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
 
Currently the bill:
*    Cuts the income tax burden on Georgia families by over $2.5 billion
*    Households making $29,500 or more will see an increase in take home pay
*    Households bringing in $48,000 (the median Georgia household income) will keep $400 extra annually
*    Reduces income tax rate to 4% over a period of three years (2016: 4.5%, 2017: 4.25%, 2018: 4.0%)
*    Keeps itemized deductions and personal tax exemptions
*    Raises general state sales tax by 1% on January 1, 2017, which will raise the current tax of 4% to 5%
*    Phases in a grocery state sales tax over a four year period (2016: 0%, 2017: 3%, 2018: 4%, 2019: 5%) with each 1% contributing $130 million to the state budget.  Food stamp purchases will be exempt from the grocery tax.
*    Implements a flat communications service tax beginning on January 1, 2016: state telecom: 5%, state cable: 5%, state direct broadcast satellite (DBS): 7%, local telecom: 1.25%, school telecom: 0.75%, local cable: 2%
*    Increase the current cigarette excise tax over three years (2017: $0.45, 2018: $0.55, 2019: $0.65)
Council Position: Support
 
House Bill 514:  Creation of City of South Fulton
Sponsor: Rep. Roger Bruce (D)
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: Passed 2016 Session; awaiting Governor's approval or veto
This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of South Fulton, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.
Council Position: Neutral 
 
House Bill 521:  Fulton County Homestead Exemption
Sponsor: Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R)
House Committee: Intragovernmental Coordination
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session 
This bill would allow voters to double Fulton County's basic property tax homestead exemption to $60,000.  Aimed at putting money back in homeowners' pockets, this bill would a $353 property tax break for the owner of a $275,000 house, whereas the owner of a $150,000 house would pay no county general fund property taxes.  If passed, residents would vote on the measure during the 2016 presidential primary.
Council Position: Neutral
 
House Bill 522:  Fulton County Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption
Sponsor: Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R)
House Committee: Intragovernmental Coordination
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: Did not pass in 2016 Session
This bill would provide an additional $30,000 homestead exemption for senior citizens age 70 or older who have lived in their homes for more than 10 years.  If passed, residents would vote on the measure during the 2016 presidential primary.
Council Position: Neutral

House Bill 785: Creation of Townships
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R)
House Committee: Government Affairs
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill calls for the statewide referendum to amend the constitution allowing townships to have zoning powers. Townships could levy up to a .5 mill property tax, annex and transition to cityhood. Counties would have no say in the above decisions and counties must continue to provide all services and infrastructure to the area as they would any unincorporated area. Counties would have an opportunity to comment on township decisions, but there is nothing in law required that would give their comments the force of law.  
Council Position: Neutral
 
House Bill 894: Education Impact Fees
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R)
House Committee: Ways & Means
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This is enabling legislation for HR864, the Constitutional Amendment to allow for education impact fees.  The legislation allows school boards to impose impact fees if there has been enrollment growth by at least 15% over the preceding five-year period by adoption of a resolution and creation of an impact fee advisory committee, comments from local governments and adoption of an impact fee schedule. The fee shall be valid for three years and can be extended for additional three year periods as long as the system meets the conditions to levy.
Council Position: Oppose

House Bill 966: Stream Bufffers
Spsonsor: Rep. Johnnie Caldwell
House Committee: Natural Resources & Environment
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This legislation requires that a stream buffer be measure from the ordinary high water mark, as opposed to the point of wrested vegetation. The ordinary high water mark is defined in the bill as the line of demarcation along state waters established by the water's fluctuation and indicated by a number of  physical characteristics, including a clear natural line impressed on the bank, changes in character of soil and the presecnce of lietter and debris, among others.  The Council was opposed to the legislation and the impact it would have on development, due to the lack of clarity with the legislation and the the lack of clarity in the proposal.  A substitute was introduced that removed the high water mark language and instead would have established the top of the bank would be the measure.
Council Position: Oppose
 
Senate Bills
 

Senate Bill 36 : Prohibits Aquifers in Certain Coastal Counties
Sponsor: Senator William Ligon (R)
Senate Committee: Natural Resources and the Environment
House Committee: Natural Resources & Environment
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill would prohibit the use of water aquifers in 11 coastal counties. While this has a local impact as of now, the Council has concerns this could have state-wide implications.  Further, the latest version of the bill requires that the Board of Natural Resources adopt regulations that provide for the protection and preservation of only the Floridan aquifer, no longer including any aquifer that provides high-quality drinking water. 
Council Position: Neutral
 
Senate Bill 85 : Development Authorities
Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)
Senate Committee: Economic Development & Tourism
House Committee: Governmental Affairs
Status: Did not pass in 2016 Session
The language of the bill was changed from the orginal language with none of the original language of SB85. The bill now states that any individual appointed to state and local authorities boards and councils, and commissions, shall be a United States citizen, or a natural or lawful permanent resident.
Council Position: Neutral
 
Senate Bill 140:  City of South Fulton
Sponsor: Senator Donzella James (D)
Senate Committee: State and Local Governmental Operations
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill creates a charter for the proposed City of South Fulton, which would be subject to voter approval in a local election.
Council Position: Neutral
 
Senate Bill 142: Permits for Infrastructure
Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)
Senate Committee: Regulated Industries and Utilities
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill regulates procedures governing applications for zoning and permits for critical infrastructure projects. This addresses local governments and specifically states that "no local government shall provide for a moratorium with respect to any critical infrastructure projects."  The latest version of the bill defines "critical infrastructure projects" as:
 
(A) Electrical power transmission lines;
(B) Electrical power substations;
(C) Water and sewage treatment facilities;
(D) Water reservoirs, water storage facilities, and sewer lines;
(E) Cellular telephone towers and emergency 9-1-1 system facilities; 
(F) Natural gas transmission pipelines and power stations; or
(G) In-ground fiber optics systems.
 
Further, the latest version of the bill made some concessions, now allowing for moratoria of 90 days or less for items (C), (D), and (G) in the event a court or other applicable law declares such a moratoria invalid.
Council Position: Support
 
Senate Bill 170:  Procedures for Disposition of Property
Sponsor: Senator Brandon Beach (R)
Senate Committee: Transportation
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
When property is acquired for public road purposes but later abandoned, the current law requires that private property owners sharing a common boundary must be notified.  Under the proposed bill, however, if the acquired property is located within a subdivision with a duly formed property owner's association, notice of abandonment of the property may be provided to the property owner's association in lieu of notice to the individual owner.
Council Position: Support
 
Senate Bill 191:  Prohibiting Local Governing Authorities from Adopting Ordinances
Sponsor: Senator Lindsey Tippins (R)
Senate Committee: Transportation
House Committee: Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications
Status: Passed in 2016 Session; Awaiting Governor's approval or veto
This bill prohibits local government authorities from adopting or enforcing ordinances which mandate marking requirements or standards which are different from those contained in state law or the rules and regulations of certain departments of this state.  Instead of passing state marking requirements or standards for how to illustrate the presence of underground utility lines and allowing local governments to use the state standards or come up with their own, this bill requires local governments to comply with state standards.
 
The bill would amend Chapter 9 of Title 25 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the same Code Section amended in last year's "Call Before You Dig" bill relating to blasting or excavating near utility facilities.
Council Position: Support

Senate Bill 272: Creation of Townships
Sponsor: Senator William Ligon (R)
Senate Committee: SLGO
Status: Dit not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill calls for the statewide referendum to amend the constitution allowing townships to have zoning powers. Townships could levy up to a .5 mill property tax, annex and transition to cityhood. Counties would have no say in the above decisions and counties must continue to provide all services and infrastructure to the area as they would any unincorporated area. Counties would have an opportunity to comment on township decisions, but there is nothing in law required that would give their comments the force of law.  
Council Position: Oppose

Senate Bill 326: Erosion and Sediment Control
Sponsor: Senator Rick Jeffares (R)
Senate Committee: Regulated Industries
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This legislation   requires local governments to issue or deny  an application for a soil erosion and sedimentation permit  within 14 days, instead of the current 45 day window and would have required Level 2 designers and permit reviers to be licensed in a field related to solil and erosion control. 
Council Position: Neutral

Senate Bill 366: DOT Selection Process
Sponsor: Senator Steve Gooch
Senate Committee: Transportation
House Comittee: Transportation
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This legislation  authorizes the Department of Transportation to utilize an alternative method to the selection process by selecting the lowest priced proposal of a qualified professional service provider.
Council Position: Neutral

Senate Resolution 43 : Senate Special Tax Exemption Study Committee
Sponsor:  Senator John Albers (R)
Senate Committee: Finance
Status: Did not pass in the 2016 Session
This bill creates a Study Committee to examine the current state tax exemptions and the impact on the Georgia economy, in order to understand the value and assess which exemptions help stimulate the state's economy and benefit all Georgians through job creation.
Council P osition: Support
March 29, 2016

The Council for Quality Growth | 770-813-3370 | jt@councilforqualitygrowth.org 
http://www.councilforqualitygrowth.org
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