The General Assembly was in session last week for Legislative Days 9 through 12. They return Monday, February 8th for Legislative Day 13. We expect a new Adjournment Resolution to be passed by the House and Senate that will take them all the way through Legislative Day 29, or Crossover Day. Crossover Day is the day by which a bill must have passed out of either the House or Senate to be considered by the other chamber.
The Senate Appropriations subcommittees each passed their respective portions of the Amended FY 2021 Budget and the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed it the whole thing out on Thursday. The Senate made only very minor changes to the House passed version. Some of those changes added money to the Department of Labor, to deal with the backlog of unemployment benefits, and they added funds to the Department of Public Health to assist with administering vaccines. The bill should be on the floor this week, and then head to a House/Senate conference committee to resolve the minor difference. To view the tracking document, click here.
The “Big Budget,” HB 81 which funds the government for all of FY 2022 begins House hearings this week. The House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee hearing will be on Tuesday, February 9th at 8:00am. If you would like to view the hearing, you can click here.
Legislation ACEC Georgia is following
HB 100 – 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 purposes of HB 170 and ACEC Georgia will oppose. STATUS: Referred to the House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 112 – By Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), is an extension of the business COVID liability relief bill that was originally passed in 2020 as SB 359 and which is currently scheduled to sunset on July 14, 2021. HB 112 extends liability protections for an additional year until July 14, 2022. STATUS: Referred to House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System. Passed out of committee on 2/3 and referred to House Rules.
HB 147 – By Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robbins) is a bill aimed at speeding up occupational and professional licensure for new residents of Georgia. It is identical to SB 45 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (see below). STATUS: Heard in House Regulated Industries Professional Licensing Subcommittee on 2/3 but no vote taken.
SB 6 – By Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), is a tax credit review bill that would require the Office of Planning and Budget to determine (either themselves or through a contract with a third party) the direct and indirect effects of Georgia’s tax credits and incentives upon the request of either the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee or the House Ways and Means Committee. Each chairman may choose up to 5 tax incentives (either already in law or contained in proposed legislation) each year to be reviewed, with such reviews to be completed no later than December 1 of that year. There is general concern from the business community that the bill is overly broad and lacks any official recourse to counterclaim audit assumptions and/or findings, among other concerns. House Speaker David Ralston has indicated that he is not interested in taking up any bill that impacts tax incentives during the current economic downturn. STATUS: Passed the Senate unanimously on 2/1 and referred to House Ways & Means.
SB 45 – By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), is a bill aimed at speeding up occupational and professional licensure for new residents of Georgia. The bill would require the professional licensing boards to approve new occupational or professional licenses by endorsement for anyone who: (1) moves from another state and establishes residency in Georgia; (2) holds a current license to practice such occupation or profession issued by another state that was acquired prior to establishing residency in Georgia for which the training, experience, and testing are substantially similar in qualifications and scope to the Georgia requirements for that license; (3) such license is in good standing in that other state; and (4) passes any examination that may only be required to demonstrate knowledge of the laws and rules and regulations of this state that are specific to the practice of the profession, business, or trade for which such license by endorsement is being sought. ACEC Georgia has obvious concerns about this bill (as well as the identical HB 147) and we will be closely monitoring its progress. STATUS: Referred to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Will be heard in committee on Tuesday, 2/9.
SB 49 – By Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford), is a clean-up bill to legislation passed by ACEC Georgia and AGC Georgia in 2019 (HB 493) that allows owners to use a licensed engineer or architect to perform private plan review and inspection services, rather than using the local government entity’s services. This bill would cement into law Governor Brian Kemp’s Executive Order 03-20.20.02 that allows owners to go straight to private plan review and/or inspections and pay 50% of that jurisdictions regulatory fee up front to the local government regardless of the time frame in which that local government is able to the service. If the local government determines that it did in fact have staff capable of performing the review, they can come back to the owner and request the other 50% of the regulatory fee. This Executive Order was instrumental in ensuring that projects could continue to move forward at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, when many local government employees had been sent home. STATUS: Referred to the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee.
SR 26 – By Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), is a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow the state to issue general obligation debt (GO Bonds) to fund improvements at municipal airports (other than Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport). The funds would be used to finance the state’s federal matching portion of project finding. STATUS: Passed Senate Appropriations on 2/4. Pending in Senate Rules Committee.
The Week Ahead
The General Assembly will (most likely) be in session Monday through Thursday this week, taking us through Legislative Day 16. As mentioned previously, the current Adjournment Resolution expires today, and we await the remaining legislative schedule being passed later today.