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  • ACEC Georgia Capitol Update 2018: Issue 10
  • The first week after the legislative session is a little bittersweet for some. There is no more obsessively checking your phone for alerts about impromptu committee meetings, standing around the hard marble floors because you don't actually have an office in the Capitol, vigilantly watching for who is talking to whom and wondering if they are plotting ways to kill your bill or take it over, and praying to the lobbying gods about those things that are, ultimately, completely out of your control. On the other hand, adjusting to living a normal life again that doesn't (completely) revolve around bill numbers and legislative maneuvering has been refreshing. 

     

    What's next? The Governor has 40 calendar days from Sine Die to either veto or sign bills that have passed both chambers into law. Whatever legislation is not signed by May 8, 2018 will automatically be considered vetoed. You can keep an eye on the progression of the bills signed here.

     

    ACEC Georgia had a lot of big wins that we are happy to report on. No session or piece of legislation is perfect, but this session was pretty good for engineering in Georgia. And, we are already hard at work on issues this year to tee up legislation we plan to introduce next year for the betterment of the business of engineering, including the work we will be doing in the fall with the House Study Committee that will be looking at potential reforms to increase the responsiveness and effectiveness of professional licensing boards.

     

    TRANSIT GOVERNANCE & FINANCE
    Although the first conference committee meeting was held at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 26, the conferees (Rep. Kevin Tanner, Rep. Jan Jones, Rep. Calvin Smyre, Sen. Brandon Beach, Sen. Steve Gooch and Sen. David Lucas) did not have an agreement at that time. Many meetings were held (some public and some behind closed doors) in the following days with a rotating cast of key leadership stakeholders, including the Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, and members of the Governor's staff. This was clearly an issue important to everyone and there was general agreement that for something as monumental as this, it was very important to get it right. The Governor showed the level of his support early in the last week of session by announcing $100 million in state funding for transit if a good bill made it to his desk. 

     

    The final version of the legislation is very similar to HB 930 in its original form. The new transit governance will be named the "ATL." Instead of replacing GRTA, the ATL will be administratively attached to GRTA and will serve 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 (if they so chose). 

     

    The dividing of the region into districts is the same as the original version of HB 930, with the 13 counties already under GRTA 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 will appoint a Chairman. 

     

    CIDs could also create special taxing districts of less than an entire county (i.e. Cumberland CID in Cobb County for transit to SunTrust Park and The Battery). ATL would be the conduit for all funding and ultimate approval of capital projects. As for new sources of funding, the bill creates a new 1% transit-only T-SPLOST that could be put in place for up to 30 years by any county within the region. Some new sources of funding that did not make the cut are the 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 Atlanta International Airport. 

     

    These results were signed by the conferees at around 8:00 p.m. on the evening of Sine Die, leaving less than four hours to "get it done." The deadline proved to provide more than enough time, as the final version was then approved by both chambers late at night and passed 155-19 in the House and 48-6 in the Senate with about 30 minutes to spare. 

     

    This landmark legislation will ensure that Georgia continues to be able to attract high wage jobs and major economic development opportunities. If you have the opportunity, please reach out to thank Rep. Kevin Tanner (who spent the past year tirelessly working on this legislation with a dogged determination and level of effort that words can truly not do justice to), Sen. Brandon Beach (who has forcefully led on this issue for several years), and Speaker David Ralston (who established the goal at last year's Eggs & Issues Breakfast and whose powerful leadership on this issue never wavered). 
     

     

    STATEWIDE PROCUREMENT REGISTRY
    HB 489 will create a "one stop shop" listing of all local government procurement in Georgia (the Georgia Procurement Registry, administered by the Department of Administrative Services). It received the "agree" vote it needed late in the evening on Sine Die. The House author of the bill (Rep. Tom McCall) was great to work with on this issue. He held strong and faithful all the way to the end when the legislation was looked at as a possible vehicle for other people's issues and came to us with questions and concerns that pertained to the legislation. Now the bill is on the Governor's desk for signing. 

     

    This particular legislation will give all companies who seek local government contracts a level playing field as all procurements will now all be posted in one place. While this legislation makes it much easier to see all contracts out for bid, it also makes it very important to create and maintain relationships with our local elected and appointed officials. That is why ACEC Georgia will be creating more opportunities for our members to foster these relationships; whether it's "Thirsty Third Thursdays" receptions with local officials, inviting procurement officers from around the state to speak on panels at the Summer Conference, to inviting more local elected officials to the annual ACEC Georgia PAC Golf Tournament. We will continue have many local government VIPs at all programs we plan and execute. 

     

    PROFESSIONAL LICENSING BOARDS
    We have reported on HR 1374 multiple times. This is the legislation that would create a study committee that will look into the process whereby individual licensing boards could set their own customer service, staffing and enforcement levels, as well as the licensing fees to support those service levels. The legislation previously passed the House and ACEC Georgia has already discussed our recommendations on who we would consider to be a good team for the task this bill outlines. We may not see movement on the creation of this study committee or meetings until later in the summer or early fall. When those meetings begin, ACEC Georgia will keep you posted on updates and results as they happen. 

     

    As mentioned earlier, no session is perfect. HR 158, the bill that would create a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to dedicate funds for specific purposes outside of the general appropriations process, did not pass this year. Chairman Jack Hill did have a hearing on the bill, but did not have a vote. This legislation was originally created and pushed by ACCG and other local government entities and this could be some cause for the resistance in the Senate. 

     

    There are a few options to be used in place of this. The study committee could produce a more acceptable funding mechanism than the current funding structure and appropriations process in the Secretary of State's office. Another option is for ACEC Georgia to introduce new legislation similar to HR 158 next year that is paired down to only include licensing boards. And, in addition to the Study Committee, we will continue our ongoing discussions with all of the candidates who are running for Secretary of State (two of whom were co-sponsors of HR 1374).

     

    FAST ACT
    Part of Sine Die is seeing some great legislation not make it to the finish line due to the time clock running out. This is precisely what happened to SB 2 by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), the FAST Act ("Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency - Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed"), which 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. In a previous form of the legislation, there were some complicated portions that included bifurcated payments and expedited permitting options. 

     

    After the House chamber "insisted" on their position on the legislation, we expected the same from the Senate sending the legislation to conference committee. As the clock ticked down on Sine Die, the bill lost the time it would take to go to conference committee and have the report sit on the desk for the required time before being voted on. So, the bill died. 

     

    But loyal readers of this Update over the years will remember that good ides don't have to die. They can be reborn next year. In that regard, ACEC Georgia's legislative advocacy team has already completed a "new and improved" version of SB 2 by working with Mark Woodall and AGC, as well as ACCG, GMA and other business community stakeholders that all parties have agreed to in principle. Our intent is to work with AGC to introduce this as new legislation in the 2019 session. 
     

    LEGISLATION ACEC GEORGIA IS FOLLOWING

    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 on February 27, 2017 and Full House on March 3, 2017. Passed out of Senate Finance Committee by substitute on March 22, 2017. The bill was recommitted to the Senate Finance Committee and passed out on Wednesday with an amendment adding a tax credit for electric vehicle manufacturers. Although this bill passed the senate 47-7 on March 27, the version the senate sent back to the house was not agreed to rendering the bill dead. 

     

    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 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 the 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. 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. This bill was gutted and amended to add language for electrical generation and distribution systems rendering it harmless for now. The neutered version passed out of committee March 9, 2018 and the full Senate chamber 31-13 on Sine Die. The bill did not get the necessary "agree" in the House that evening, however, rendering the bill dead. 

     

    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 was recommitted to the Senate Finance Committee and was pending there on Sine Die rendering it dead. 

     

    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 where it passed out favorably on March 21, 2018. The full Senate chamber passed the bill by substitute 37-16 on March 23, 2018 but did not received the necessary "agree" from the House in time, thus killing the bill. 

     

    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. This bill received a favorable vote of 172-0 on the House Chamber floor on Crossover Day. The legislation was assigned to Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee where it received a favorable vote on March 14, 2018. This bill passed out of the Senate Chamber on March 23, 2018 with a vote of 46-1. The House "agreed" to the Senate substitute unanimously sending it the Governor's desk. 

     

    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: Passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on February 22, 2018. This bill was heard in the House Chamber on Crossover Day and passed 151-20 and was assigned to Senate Judiciary. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill out on March 23, 2018. The bill then passed each chamber again for "agrees as amended" on Sine Die sending it to the Governor's Desk for final signature. 

     

    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, this week the Senate Finance Committee added language from Sen. William Ligon exempting non-profit hotels from the taxes created and collected in HB 170. ACEC will continue to fight this revised version of the legislation (not the original bill or its intent) and any other legislation that attempts to affect HB 170. ACEC Georgia opposes this legislation in its current form. 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. Passed out of the Senate Finance Committee by substitute on February 22, 2018. The bill was recommitted and passed again on March 21, 2018. The legislation was never put on the Senate floor for a vote rendering it dead for the year. 

     

    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: Passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 23, 2018. This bill passed 177-0 in the House Chamber on Crossover Day. This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 23, 2018. Although the bill made it to the Senate calendar, it was "tabled" on Day 39 and never called up again for a vote before the clock ran out. 

     

    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 and full House Chamber on February 23, 2018 with a vote of 157-6. The bill never received a hearing in the Senate Regulated Industries 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. ACEC Georgia supports this legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the House Governmental Affairs Committee on February 22, 2018. This bill passed out of the House Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 167-0. The legislation was assigned to the Senate Economic Development Committee where it was favorably passed out on March 14, 2018. The Senate passed this bill on March 23, 2018 by a vote of 42-1 with no substitute in the Senate sending it to the Governor's desk. 

     

    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 Atlanta 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: Passed out of the House Transportation Committee on February 23, 2018. Will be voted on by the full House on February 28, 2018. This bill passed 162-13 out of the House Chamber on Crossover Day with the amendment to allow Cobb to participate county-wide, rather than by creating a special district around the Cumberland area. The bill had a hearing Monday afternoon and was stripped of the language to add the language of SB 386 as agreed to by both chambers. The bill passed out unanimously. The bill was heard on the Senate floor on March 23, 2018 and received a passing vote of 47-3 with a Senate substitute meaning the House would need to "agree." They "disagreed" and then both chambers "insisted" sending the bill to Conference Committee. The conferees are Rep. Kevin Tanner, Rep. Jan Jones, Rep. Calvin Smyre, Sen. Brandon Beach, Sen. Steve Gooch and Sen. David Lucas. The conference report was signed and voted on in each chamber on Sine Die. The report passed 155-19 in the House and 48-6 in the Senate.

     

    HB 995 - By Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) would require a company to disclose all payments received by the contractor within the last five years when entering a contract with cities, counties and other governmental entities. The penalty for failing to do so could result in disqualification of the bid. STATUS: This bill was assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee where it received a favorable vote on February 27, 2018 and passed out of full House Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 175-0 and was assigned to the Senate Economic Development Committee where it received a favorable vote and passed out on March 14, 2018. The bill passed the Senate Chamber on March 21, 2018 unanimously with a Senate substitute requiring the House to "agree" which they did on Sine Die 156-7. 

     

    HB 998 - By Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) is to establish "Business Courts" that would deal exclusively with business-related litigation, by creating the Judicial Council the Office of Business Cases and provide for the referral and acceptance of cases into such office from the superior and state courts. STATUS: The legislation passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 23, 2018 but never crossed over. 

     

    HR 158 - By Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) 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 where it had a hearing with no vote last Wednesday.

     

    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 rendering it dead for the year. 

     

    HR 993 - By Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) is a resolution proposing to amend the Constitution so as to create a business court with state-wide jurisdiction. STATUS: The legislation passed out of the House Judiciary Committee February 23, 2018 and full House Chamber on February 28, 2108 with a favorable vote of 142-25. This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 23, 2018 and the full Senate chamber on Sine Die. It received the necessary "agree" from the House that evening as well sending it to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    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 never receiving a vote on the floor in the House rendering it dead for the year. 

     

    HR 1374 - By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) is a resolution proposing to create a House Study Committee on Professional Licensing Boards Operations and Funding to look at the possibility of allowing each licensing board to govern and fund itself through licensing fees under the Secretary of State's Office. STATUS: The legislation was assigned to the House Special Rules Committee and passed out on March 15, 2018. The bill passed the House chamber 165-1 on March 21, 2018. ACEC has given a recommended list of requested committee members.

     

    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 and will be voted on by the full House on Wednesday, February 27, 2018. This bill failed 66-106 on Crossover Day, but was given a second chance in a successful motion to reconsider, which allows the bill to come up again for a vote at a later time. The legislation was recommitted to the Rules Committee and amended to gut the bill except for an amendment adding the "Ready for Partnership Georgia" piece that was previously in the bill. The bill was passed out of full House Chamber with a favorable vote of 160-5. The Senate "disagreed" last week sending it back to the House. The House Chamber "insisted" on their position on March 21, 2018. We expected the Senate to do the same but did not in the required time needed rendering the bill dead for the year. 

     

    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. The Conference Committee was adopted in both chambers last week and the bill was sent to the Governor's desk to be signed. 

     

    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 11:00 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. The legislation was heard in the House Regulated Industries Committee and favorably reported on March 7, 2018. The bill received a passing vote of 97-64 in the House on March 12, 2018. The legislation now awaits the Governor's signature.

     

    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. The bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee on March 15, 2018 and the House Chamber on March 19, 2018. The bill did not receive the necessary "agree" from the senate in time rendering the bill dead for the year.

     

    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. This bill passed 55-0 in the Senate Chamber on Crossover Day and was assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee but never received a hearing rendering it dead for the year.

     

    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. The legislation passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on March 23, 2018 and full House chamber 107-63 on March 27, 2016. The Senate "agreed" toe the House amended version on Sine Die 42-7.

     

    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 13, 2018 and passed the full Senate on February 21, 2018 by a vote of 49-3. The House Insurance Committee passed the bill on March 21, 2018 and the full House chamber on March 27, 2018 171-1. The Senate, however, "disagreed" to the House amendments rendering the bill dead for the year.

     

    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. Passed the full Senate on February 26, 2018 by a vote of 50-2. The legislation was assigned to the House Transportation Committee where it passed on March 18, 2018 and full House chamber unanimously un-amended on March 27, 2018 sending the bill to the Governor's desk for a signature.

     

    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. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where it passed out with a favorable vote on March 15, 2018. The bill passed the full House chamber unanimously (173-0) on March 27, 2018 as substituted by the House Judiciary Committee. On Sine Die, the Senate "disagreed" to the House substitute, sending the bill back to the House. The House eventually "receded" their position giving the bill final passage as it originally left the Senate chamber sending it to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    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. The bill was assigned to the House Insurance Committee where it received a favorable vote on March 9, 2018. This bill passed the full House Chamber on March 21, 2018 with a vote of 164-2. The Senate "agreed" to the House substitute on Sine Die sending the bill to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    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 where it passed out on February 23, 2018. This bill passed out of the full the Senate Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 51-4. The legislation was heard in the House Transportation Committee last week where it was gutted and replaced with the language from HB 930 and received a favorable vote. The chambers agreed to move HB 930 along rendering this bill unnecessary and dead for the year.

     

    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 it passed out of committee on February 20, 2018. It passed out of the full Senate Chamber on February 23, 2018 with a vote of 52-0. The bill passed the House Ways & Means Committee on March 19, 2018 and passed the full House Chamber on March 23, 2018 with a vote of 161-6. On that day, the Senate "disagreed" and the House "Insisted" sending the bill to Conference Committee. The conferees are Rep. Jay Powell, Rep. Terry England, Rep. Sam Watson, Sen. Steve Gooch, Sen. John F. Kennedy and Sen. John Albers. The conference report was adopted by both chambers on Sine Die 160-3 in the House and 50-2 in the Senate.

     

    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. This bill was heard in the Senate Chamber on Crossover Day and passed 34-14. The bill was assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee where it was passed out on March 15, 2018. The bill passed the full chamber on March 21, 2018 with a vote of 116-52. The Senate "agreed to the House substitute on Sine Die 39-9 sending it to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    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 where it received a passing vote on February 23, 2018. The bill was passed out of the full Senate Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 52-0. The legislation was assigned to the House Regulated Industries committed where it received a favorable vote on March 7, 2018. The House passed the bill with a vote of 158-6 on March 14, 2018. The Senate "agreed" to the House substitute unanimously on Sine Die sending it to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    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 where it received a favorable vote on February 23, 2018. The bill passed out of the full Senate Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 52-2. The legislation was assigned to the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee where it received a favorable vote on March 14, 2018. The House chamber passed a substituted version 143-10 on Sine Die but the bill did not receive and "agree" from the Senate in time rendering the bill dead for the year.

     

    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: Passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on February 22, 2018 and the full Senate on February 26, 2018 by substitute by a vote of 53-0. Assigned to House Ways & Means, the bill passed favorably out of committee on March 21, 2018, the House chamber 154-15 on March 27, and then on Sine Die the Senate "disagreed" and the House "insisted." This would have sent the bill to conference committee, but the clock ran out rendering the bill dead for the year.

     

    SB 445 - By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), this is a GDOT housekeeping bill that does a few things, including making certain contract and bonding requirements for federal-aid projects apply to all projects, prohibiting "camping" on GDOT property or right-of-way and changing certain pricing requirements for acquiring or disposing of right-of-way properties. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on February 22, 2018 and the full Senate on February 26, 2018 by a vote of 52-0. The bill was assigned to the House Transportation Committee where it received a favorable vote on March 15, 2018 and the full House chamber 149-14 on March 27, 2018. Both chambers "agreed as amended" to versions volleyed back and forth finally landing on the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    SB 451 - By Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry) would modify the authority of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and regulations in consultation with Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on February 23, 2018. This bill was heard in the Senate Chamber on Crossover Day and received a passing vote of 49-2. The legislation was assigned to the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee where it passed out favorably on March 19, 2018. The bill passed the full House Chamber on March 23, 2018 with a vote of 167-1 and the Senate "agreed" to this version 47-2 on Sine Die sending it to the Governor's desk for signature.

     

    SB 460 - By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) companion bill to SB 386 (see above). STATUS: Passed out of Senate Transportation Committee on February 23, 2018 and full Senate Chamber on Crossover Day with a vote of 51-2. The legislation was assigned to the House Transportation Committee where it never received a vote rendering it dead for the year.

     

    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. The legislation was assigned to the House Transportation Committee where it awaits a vote, but is unnecessary with the passage of HB 930 and stall of SB 386.

     

    SR 882 - By Sen. Bert Jones (R-Jackson), this resolution would create the "Senate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Operations and Authority Creation Study Committee" to consider whether "transfer of operations of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to an authority." STATUS: Pending in the Senate Transportation Committee (note that since this is a Senate Resolution for a Senate study committee, no action by the House or Governor is needed and this resolution is not subject to the Crossover Day rule). The legislation was favorably reported out of the Senate Transportation Committee on March 7, 2018.

     


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