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  • ACEC Georgia Capitol Update 2019: Issue 7
  • Crossover Day, was last Thursday at the General Assembly. The Senate finished up around dinner time, but the House went until almost midnight, passing a flurry of bills.

     

    While the universe of bills that are still alive did shrink dramatically after Crossover Day, several of those bills deal with subjects that will be sure to consume a tremendous amount of legislative bandwidth for much of the rest of the session. On top of that, several fault lines have appeared between the House and Senate, as well as various factions within each chamber. What appeared early on to be a relatively quiet session has the potential to become much more contentious. In such an environment, it may be even harder for small, non-controversial bills to stay on legislators’ radar and continue to move forward through the legislative process. Crossover Day is literally only half the battle.

         

    On Friday, Senate Transportation Chair Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) introduced SR 318 to create a Senate only version of the study committee on Freight Innovation and Logistics. There are already two resolutions (HR 37 and SR 19) that would create a Joint House/Senate Commission on Freight and Logistics that have both crossed over. The introduction of a Senate only study committee late in the process is cause for concern that there may be a breakdown between the two chambers on this issue (and others). Single chamber only study committees are not subject to the crossover rules, so SR 318 would only have to pass the full Senate by a majority vote in order to establish the Senate only study committee.   

    Bills that made it through Crossover:

    I am pleased to report that HB 493 – the Private Plan Review and Inspection bill, made it through crossover on a vote of 142-20. On Friday, the Senate assigned that bill to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and we will be working with Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) to move it through his committee. We have worked closely with ACG Georgia, ACCG and GMA to negotiate the current version of this legislation. Private plan review and inspection are already allowed under current law, but only if the governing authority cannot perform their duties within the 30-business day period. This legislation would allow the owner of a project to elect to use a licensed professional engineer to conduct a plan review or inspection immediately without having to wait on the governing authority. Additionally, HB 422, Rep. Tim Barr’s legislation to allow a licensed professional engineer with a Level 2 designation to review NDPS plans has been substantially revised and that language was added to HB 493 in committee and is in the version that passed out of the House. All NDPS permits would still be issued by the District or the qualifying local government, this will just speed up the plan review process. 

     

    HB 322, the Georgia State Procurement Registry bill, also passed the House by a vote of 166-0 and has been assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee.

     

    The Delta jet fuel tax credit bill, HB 447 passed the House by a vote of 140-25. This bill would suspend sales and use tax on jet fuel and levy a small excise tax to be used to draw down federal funding at a rate of $9 in federal funds for every $1 the state collects. This bill protects Delta while also advancing Governor Kemp’s pledge to help rural Georgia airports. There is still debate surrounding the amount of excise tax to be charged. The bill, as passed, set the excise tax at $.005 which would only generate around $30M to be used at rural airports. The rural caucus insists that there remains $200M worth of work to be performed and would like the excise tax to be raised to $.01. We will continue to monitor this bill in the Senate Finance Committee.

     

    House Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner’s HB 511 State Wide Transit Mobility bill (“GMobility”) passed the House by a vote of 159-11 and has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. HB 511’s permanent funding source for transit was revised in committee.  The original version would have added a $.50 flat fee to any taxi or Uber/Lyft ride.  The version that passed, changed the funding source from a flat fee to a sales tax on the Uber/Lyft ride. Uber/Lyft dispute whether they are subject to a sales tax at all and are currently not paying sales tax. GDOT’s Board called an emergency meeting last Monday to take the unusual step of passing a formal resolution opposing HB 511’s transfer of SRTA from being administratively attached to GDOT to being administratively attached to the new GMobility agency. We will continue to monitor this bill in the Senate. 

            

    SB 92, prohibiting the revocation of a professional license due to defaulting on student loans passed the Senate 51-0 and was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee (an interesting committee assignment for a professional licensing bill, which would normally go to Regulated Industries). This may be a sign that chances are slim that this bill will move in the House.

     

    The Senate voted 34-22 to pass SB 131, which would create a state authority to run Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. SB 131 was referred to the House Rules Committee, which indicates that its chances of survival in the House are slim. The bill is opposed by the City of Atlanta and Delta Airlines. Speaker Ralston has previously indicated that he is not interested in taking up this legislation at this time. 

     

    SB 200 would force GDOT to create a new formal process for challenging bid denial and passed out of the Senate by a vote of 54-0.

    Bills that did not make Crossover:

    Rep. Bill Werkheiser’s “Georgia Communications Tax Act”, HB 428, did not advance out of Ways & Means once the tax on streaming services (the so-called “Netflix tax”) was eliminated. Without the Netflix tax, the bill did not provide any revenue stream to support broadband expansion in rural Georgia and thus had no reason for passage. 

     

    The Airbnb/VRBO tax bill, HB 448, failed to pass out of the House Rules Committee and thus died. HB 448 would have added the $5/night hotel/motel fee to Airbnb/VRBO rentals.

     

    None of the Horse Racing or Casino bills crossed over. 

     

    Full List of Legislation ACEC Georgia is Following (note that bills that did not crossover will not be included in future updates):

    HB 1 - By Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) would rename Georgia’s existing Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act the “Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship Act.” Eric Johnson is a former state senator from Savannah who served as President Pro Tem of the Senate and is President of ACEC Georgia Member Firm, Hussey Gay Bell. A well-deserved honor for a great Georgian. STATUS: Passed out of House Education Committee.  DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    HB 3 – By Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) would repeal the $5 per night hotel/motel room fee for transportation that makes up a significant part of the revenue generated by the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170). While ACEC Georgia will oppose this bill, it is unlikely to even receive a hearing. STATUS: Assigned to Ways and Means. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    HB 22 – By Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) the Rural Telephone Cooperative Act would allow Cooperative nonprofit corporations who currently provide telephone service in rural areas to also provide broadband services. STATUS: Passed House Economic Development Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER

     

    HB 23 – By Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) would allow Electric Membership Corporations to provide broadband services. STATUS: PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 166-0. Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

     

    HB 30 – FY19 Supplemental Budget. STATUS: PASSED BOTH CHAMBERS on February 22, 2019 (in the House by a vote of 166-8 and the Senate by a vote of 55-0). Awaiting the signature of the Governor.

     

    HB 31 – FY20 Budget. STATUS: PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 155-13. Senate begins hearings this week.

     

    HB 36 – Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville) HOPE Grant for students enrolled at Georgia technical colleges. STATUS: Assigned to Higher Education.  DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    HB 42 – By Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) would prohibit professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license, suspending or revoking the license of a person who is a borrower in default under an educational loan. STATUS: Passed out of Higher Education. DID NOT CROSSOVER

     

    HB 184 – By Rep. Bret Harrell (R-) the negotiated Small Cell bill.  Allow 5G to be collocated on poles located in the city/county right of way. STATUS: PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 170-1. Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. 

    HB 200 – By Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island) exempts hotels operated by a 501(c)3 charitable tax-exempt organization (such as a religious denomination from charging the $5 per night hotel/motel fee, which is a significant component of the revenue generated by The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170). STATUS: Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    HB 294 – By Bonnie Rich (R- Suwanee) would protect competitively awarded bids that were entered into prior to a Special District Sales and Use Tax vote from the burden of an additional sales tax that was approved by voters after the bid was signed. STATUS: Heard in House Ways & Means Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER. 

     

    HB 315 – By Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta) would require that paid and unpaid consultants who work on bid requirements for RFPs, RFQs, procurement orders or purchasing orders for local governments disclose any conflict of interest if they have a financial interest in the final bid outcome.  We have worked with Rep. Newton on language. STATUS: Passed out of House Government Affairs Committee. PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 161-0. Assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee.

     

    HB 322 – By Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) would clarify when and how local governments must advertise bids on the state procurement registry. HB 489, which passed last year, set a very low bar for the advertisement of bids on the state registry which overwhelmed local governments.  This bill would increase the bid threshold to advertise to $100,000. Additionally, this bill clarifies that construction bids must be advertised on the state registry for four weeks. ACEC, AGC, GMA and ACCG have worked jointly on this legislation.  STATUS:  PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 166-0 and has been assigned to Senate State and Local Government Operations.

     

    HB 422 – By Tim Barr (R-Lawrenceville) would amend the soil erosion and sedimentation Code Section 12-7-7 relating to permit or notice of intent for land-disturbing activities to provide that no permit shall be issued unless the erosion and sediment control plan has been approved by: (1) EPD, (2) the governing authority of any county or municipality, or (3) a licensed professional engineer, who maintains a level 2 certification (completion of Design Seminar, pursuant to Code Section 12-7-19), to review and approve erosion and sediment control plans.  STATUS: while this bill DID NOT CROSSOVER, after substantial revision, the revised language for this bill was included in HB 493 by the House Regulated Industries Committee (which passed the full House by a vote of 142-20 and was assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee). 

     

    HB 447 – By Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas) and the rest of Governor Brian Kemp’s floor leaders would suspend sales and use tax on jet fuel and levy a small excise tax to be used to draw down federal dollars at a rate of $9 in federal funds for every $1 the state collects. These funds would be used to revitalize rural airports. STATUS:  Passed out of House Ways & Means Committee.  PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 140-25.  Assigned to Senate Finance Committee.  

     

    HB 448 – By Matt Dollar (R-East Cobb) would expand the $5 hotel/motel fee established in The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170) to cover AirBnB rentals that make $100,000/yr.  STATUS:  Passed Public Finance and Policy Subcommittee.  DID NOT CROSSOVER. 

     

    HB 493 – By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R- Dawsonville), Private plan review and inspection are currently allowed but only if the governing authority cannot perform their duties within the 30-business day period. This legislation would allow the owner of a project to elect to use a licensed professional engineer to conduct a plan review or inspection immediately without having to wait on the governing authority. STATUS: Passed House Regulated Industries and PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 142-20. Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries Committee. 

     

    HB 508 – By Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would establish a direct nexus between fees generated by the Professional Licensing Boards Division (PLBD) and expenditures back to the PLBD. STATUS: Assigned to Regulated Industries. DID NOT CROSSOVER, but we have had numerous discussions with the Secretary of State’s Office, Governor’s Office and House Appropriations Committee leadership and will continue to work with them after the session on a comprehensive solution to PLBD funding and staffing in the FY 2021 Budget.   

     

    HB 511 – By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) state wide transit mobility bill which builds on the transit bill from last year which created the ATL. This bill would establish a permanent funding source for transit by adding a sales tax to taxi/Uber/Lyft trips. It also creates a new transit division, GMobility, that would take over GRTA’s duties and oversee the ATL and SRTA. The bill creates mobility regions that can coordinate transit options and provide a vehicle for local voters to tax themselves for additional transit funding. STATUS: Passed House Transportation as amended.  PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 159-11. Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee.   

          

    HB 516 – By Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) would establish a new P.E., S.E. structural engineer license. This bill would alleviate the competitive disadvantage Georgia structural engineers face when competing against engineers from states that have already created some form of SE license.  STATUS:  Passed Regulated Industries.  PASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 164-4. Assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. 

     

    HR 37 – By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), House Transportation Chairman, would create a joint House/Senate Commission on Freight & Logistics. The goal of the Commission is to develop a state-wide comprehensive, strategic business plan for freight and rail to handle the increased import/export volumes moving through the Port of Savannah. The Commission will also look at alternative freight routes and funding mechanisms. Similar to SR 19, but the composition of the Commission’s members is different. STATUSPASSED THE HOUSE by a vote of 169-1. Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee.

     

    HR 38 – By Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) would create a House Study Committee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields. STATUS: Heard in House Special Rules Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    HR 164 – By Jay Powell (R-Camilla) Constitutional Amendment that would allow revenues derived from fees or taxes to be dedicated to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed. The House passed an identical bill last year by a vote of 166-1 (and current Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan was a co-sponsor of that bill). It did not receive a hearing in the Senate last year, due to the strong opposition of the Chairman. STATUS: PASSED THE HOUSE by vote of 169-1. Assigned to Senate Appropriations Committee (against our recommendation to the Lt. Governor’s Office), where it will likely not receive a hearing.  

     

    HR 327 – By Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) Constitutional Amendment to allow Casinos in Georgia. STATUS:  Passed Economic Development and Tourism. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    SB 2 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would allow Electric Membership Corporations to provide broadband services.   STATUS:  Passed Regulated Industries.  PASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 53-1. Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.

     

    SB 17 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) the Rural Telephone Cooperative Act, would allow Cooperative nonprofit corporations who currently provide telephone service in rural areas to also provide broadband services.  STATUSPASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 55-0. Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.

     

    SB 45 – By Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) Pari-Mutuel Betting. STATUS: Passed Economic Development. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    SB 66 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) the negotiated Small Cell bill. Allow 5G to be collocated on poles located in the city/county right of way. STATUSPASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 53-0. Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.

     

    SB 82 – By Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would appoint a Chief Innovation Officer at GDOT to coordinate and develop technology-based improvements and solutions to transportation needs. GDOT would like the position to report to the Commissioner instead of the Planning Director.  Sen. Beach is willing to make changes to his bill.   STATUS: Assigned to Science and Technology Committee.  Pulled from hearing because GDOT does not want this bill. DID NOT CROSSOVER.

     

    SB 92 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would prohibit professional licensing boards from suspending or revoking the license of a person who is a borrower in default under an educational loan issued through the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation or through a federal agency. Same bill as HB 42.  STATUS:  Passed Senate Education Committee. PASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 51-0. Assigned to House Appropriations Committee. 

     

    SB 131 – By Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) “Georgia Major Airport Act” would allow the State to create an Authority to run Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. STATUS: Passed Senate Transportation Committee. PASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 34-22. Assigned to House Rules Committee.

     

    SB 200 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) would require GDOT to establish an appeals process for bid rejection. STATUS: Passed Senate Transportation Committee. PASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 54-0. Assigned to House Transportation Committee.

     

    SR 19 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), Senate Transportation Chairman, would create a joint House/Senate Commission on Freight and Logistics.    The goal of the Commission is to develop a state-wide comprehensive, strategic business plan for freight and rail to handle the increased import volume from the Port of Savannah.  The Commission will also look at alternative freight routes and funding mechanisms. STATUS: PASSED THE SENATE by a vote of 54-0.  Referred to House Transportation Committee.

     

    SR 24 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), urging resolution.  Urges Congress to amend the Federal Motor Fuels Tax program to block grant 10 of the 18 cents back to the states without red tape. STATUS: Passed the Senate Transportation Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER

     

    SR 133 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) urges the Atlanta-region Transit Link (ATL) to prioritize and encourage the use of technological innovation and the development of intelligent transportation systems. STATUS:  Passed Science and Technology Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER

     

    SR 184 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) Constitutional Amendment to allow casinos in Georgia. STATUS: Assigned to Regulated Industries Committee. DID NOT CROSSOVER.


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