Capitol Update: Week 8
The General Assembly was in session last week Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Legislative Days 25-27. Today (March 8th) is Legislative Day 28 which is Crossover Day, the day by which a bill has to have passed out of either the House or the Senate in order to be eligible for consideration by the other legislative chamber. Sine Day (the final day of the 40-day legislative session) is scheduled for March 31st.
HB 476 – The Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act of 2021
HB 476 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) passed out of the House on Monday by a vote of 163-2 and is now pending in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
HB 476 was introduced at ACEC Georgia’s request and is also supported by the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG). If passed, it will make the PELS Board an independent state agency, with its own separate budget, its own executive director and staff and its own attorney and investigators to investigate and enforce violations. This legislation was modeled on the existing arrangements 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.
HB 81 – The Big Budget for FY 2022
On Friday, the House passed HB 81, the Fiscal Year 2022 budget by Committee Substitute. The Fiscal Year 2022 budget is with a total revenue estimate of $27.2 billion, an increase of $1.34 billion, or 5.2%, over the FY 2021 original budget. Nearly 90% of the new revenue for FY 2022 is programmed to be spent within education and health and human services agencies.
HB 81 also includes more than $200 million in increased motor fuel funds in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) budget. The House version of the FY 2022 budget also recognizes $7.6 million in collected ride share fees provided for by HB 105 (2020 Session). After receiving a revised revenue estimate from the Governor, the House designated these funds to: boost the Intermodal program by $638,448 for transit programs across the state; add $1 million in funding for Athens-Clark County Transit; and fund $6 million to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). MARTA will use the funds to complete improvements at its Bankhead Station in order to improve accessibility near the recently announced new Microsoft campus.
HB 81 also moves the Atlanta-Region Transit Authority (ATL) to the Department of Transportation from the Department of Community Affairs pursuant to HB 511 (2020 Session). The bond package includes $10 million to upgrade state-owned short line railroads to Class II standards to help reduce truck traffic on state highways. The budget includes $100 million for capital road projects and bridge replacements across the state to continue infrastructure investment.
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 thru Thursday this week, taking us through Legislative Day 31 of 40.