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Capitol Update: Week 11

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The General Assembly was in session last week Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for Legislative Days 36 through 38.  There are only two Legislative Days left before the General Assembly adjourns Sine Die on Tuesday, March 31st. Sine Die is Latin for “without a day” – meaning the day they adjourn at the end of the 40-day session not to return until the following year’s session. They will be in session this week on Monday and Wednesday for Legislative Days 39 and 40. The end is near!

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY 22 Budget (HB 81) on Monday and the full Senate passed the bill on Tuesday in a 54-0 vote. The House disagreed to the Senate version and both chambers have appointed conferees to work out the few differences that remain.  To view the differences between the House and Senate versions of HB 81, click here.

After a session dominated by discussions (and more than 70 different bills) dealing with proposed changes to Georgia’s elections laws, the election law bill (SB 202) passed and was signed into law by Governor Kemp on Thursday. If you are interested in what is actually contained in that bill, I encourage you to read GPB reporter Stephen Fowler’s lengthy, fact-filled article here.

The Senate Rules Committee met on Friday to set the legislative calendar for days 39 and 40. Unfortunately, several bills we are following did not make the list; HB 476, HB 586 (Short Line Rail tax Credit), HB 588 (Freight & Logistics bill). While it is possible that an additional Rules Committee meeting will be held to add bills for the final two days, it appears that we will have to wait until next legislative session to advance HB 476, the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act. If that is the case, HB 476 would begin next year’s journey back in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 476 – The Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act of 2021

HB 476 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee unanimously on Thursday, March 11th. Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) made the motion to pass, which was seconded by Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain), the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Albers is the Senate Sponsor for HB 476. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee.

HB 476 was introduced at ACEC Georgia’s request and is also supported by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE), Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG) and Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Board (PELS Board). If passed, it will make the PELS Board an independent state agency, with its own separate budget and its own, dedicated staff. This legislation was modeled on the existing arrangements in place for the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia State Board of Accountancy and will provide the financial and operational independence needed for the PELS Board to properly serve the 23,000 Professional Engineers and 1,200 Land Surveyors whose licensure is critical to protecting the health, safety and welfare of Georgia’s citizens and our built environment.

Legislation ACEC Georgia is following

By Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City), would exempt public mass transit, campus transit, and public school system buses from paying Georgia’s motor fuel excise tax. This bill would undermine the premise underlying the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170) – that all users of Georgia’s roads and bridges should contribute toward their upkeep. ACEC Georgia is opposed to this bill. STATUS: Assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee.

The Week Ahead

The General Assembly will be in Session on Monday and Wednesday this week taking us through the final two legislative days Monday, March 29 and Wednesday, March 31.