Vol # 4, Issue 9 - March 15, 2013

General Assembly Sets Final Days of 2013 Legislative Session

Legislators have wasted no time this year checking off the official 40 days of the 2013 legislative calendar. This week, the General Assembly set the schedule for the final days of the legislative session with plans to end their work before the end of March. Watch for a flurry of activity over the next week as legislators work to amend bills to get their priorities considered. As a result, the ACCG policy staff and interns are keeping a close watch on committee work and floor amendments. The legislative schedule for the next two weeks is as follows:  

·        Day 35: Wednesday March 20

·        Day 36: Thursday March 21

·        Day 37: Friday March 22

·        Day 38: Monday March 25

·        Day 39: Tuesday March 26

·        Day 40: Thursday March 28 

Watch for issues such as ethics reform to generate much debate and media interest as legislators try to resolve differences between the House and Senate approaches to this high visibility issue.  

Juvenile Justice Reform Heads to the Senate Floor Next Week

HB 242 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 13. The bill was amended to extend the timeline for custody hearings and related summons from 24 hours to 72 hours, thereby eliminating the need to staff the courthouse on the weekends.  The bill was further amended to clarify that a court appointed special advocate (CASA) shall be appointed as a guardian ad litem (GAL) whenever possible in all cases, eliminating the cost of an additional attorney.  It was also amended to allow the court to make the determination as to whether expenses should be charged to the counties in juvenile proceedings within a 120 day timeframe. It was further amended to specifically state that counties are responsible for expenses related to superior court proceedings when a child is prosecuted as an adult. Additional changes were made that do not impact counties. To review the complete summary for HB 242, please see the sectional summary.

Bill to Allow Guns in Courthouses and Government Buildings will Likely Get Senate Hearing Soon

HB 512 is this session’s omnibus gun legislation that lifts several current prohibitions on where concealed firearms and other weapons may be carried.  Importantly to counties, it authorizes the carrying of guns into courthouses and other county government buildings that do not have security guards who screen ingress into these facilities.  ACCG has offered acompromise with the author to leave this decision to local governments, but to no avail.       

ACCG is opposed to the state, not local governments, authorizing guns in courthouses and government buildings and asks that you please contact your Senators immediately to let them know any concerns your county may have. The bill will likely get a hearing next week in the Senate Judiciary Non-CivilCommittee.     


Contact Legislators about Forestland Protection Act Grants and HB 19
 
HB 197 is pending in the Senate Finance Committee and, if passed, will encourage more timber owners to enroll land in the Forest Land Protection Act. The state is currently a year and a half behind paying their constitutionally obligated share of this program’s costs to the local governments. Please encourage your legislators to appropriate what is already owed to the counties before passing HB 197 to further expand this program. For 2011, the state has not paid the local governments $5.6 million in approved grants. The State of Georgia is budgeting for the 2012 grants in the FY 2014 budget. The amount budgeted, $14.2 million, is almost $8 million short of the estimated $22 million that will be needed to pay for the 2012 grants. Make sure your legislators know the amount your county is owed and the impact the late and underfunded payments will have on your budget.

Policy
   
Clint Mueller
   Todd Edwards
   Debra Nesbit
   Shaun Adams 
   Ines Owens

Legal
   
Jim Grubiak
   Kelly Pridgen
   Joe Scheuer

Research
  
Michele NeSmith

Communications
  
Beth Brown



HB 0512
Negotiating
Guns - Allow in Courthouses and Government Buildings Jasperse, Rick 11th

This is omnibus gun carry legislation that lifts several current prohibitions on where concealed firearms may be carried.  It authorizes the carrying of weapons, by those with permits, in bars, churches and, importantly, in county government buildings that do not have security guards. ACCG is opposed to this provision in the bill. Please contact your Senators immediately to let them know any concerns you have.  


Sponsor: Jasperse, Rick 11th
Bill Status: 3/11/2013 - Senate - Senate Read and Referred
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0101
Neutral
Food Sales and Service Establishment Standards - Local Festivals, etc.
Under current law, festivals, fairs and events held by nonprofit organizations are not considered "food service establishments" subject to regulation by the department of health when the county issues a temporary permit to the nonprofit for food sales and service. This legislation allows the county to delegate the authority to issue such permits to the county board of health.

Sponsor: Epps, Bubber 144th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0106
Neutral
State Budget FY 2014
This legislation is the state's budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

Sponsor: Ralston, David 7th
Bill Status: 5/7/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0124
Neutral
Sunday Sales Enhancements
Under this legislation, if the voters do not approve a ballot measure for Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor by the package, it will not impact a previous vote to approve a ballot measure for Sunday sales of beer and wine only.

Sponsor: Harrell, Brett 106th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0141
Neutral
Requirement to Post Notice Regarding Human Trafficking - Mandated Notices
This legislation requires bars, massage parlors, truck stops, rest areas, airports, hotels, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, job recruitment centers, farm labor contractors and day haulers to post notices on a form developed by the Department of Safety regarding a hot line for victims of kidnapping, slavery and human trafficking. Law enforcement is required to notify any of the businesses who fail to post the required sign in writing that failure to correct the deficiency within 30 days is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. The legislation purports to exempt the costs of prosecution from taxes and additional penalties, fees or surcharges.

Sponsor: Lindsey, Edward 54th
Bill Status: 5/6/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0146
Support
Issuance of Arrest and Search Warrants by Video Conference
This legislation allows a judge to participate in a hearing for an arrest or search warrant by video conference, regardless of the judge's location at the time of the conference.

Sponsor: Weldon, Tom 3rd
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0197
Oppose
Changes to Forest Land Conservation Use Program

This legislation makes changes related to property in a Forest Land Protection Covenant (FLPA), the Department of Revenue Performance Review Boards and the interest owed on taxes due after an appeal is settled.


Sponsor: Powell, Jay 171st
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Clint Mueller



HB 0199
Neutral
Expand GEFA's Reservoir Fund for Leak Detection and Conservation
This legislation expands the uses of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority's Reservoir Fund to cover leak-detection, conservation-type and other water supply system assets. The Reservoir Fund will be renamed the "Georgia Reservoir and Water Supply Fund." While ACCG certainly recognizes the importance of leak detection and conservation, GEFA currently has about $318 in loaning capacity available for these purposes via its Georgia Fund, Clean Water and Drinking Water loan programs; whereas the Reservoir Fund only has $41 million in loaning capacity.     

Sponsor: Lindsey, Edward 54th
Bill Status: 1/13/2014 - Senate Recommitted
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0202
Neutral
Value Engineering Studies
This legislation requires the Department of Transportation to perform a value engineering study on any project over $50 million except for design-build projects. Currently, a value engineering study is required on all projects over $10 million.
 
This legislation also changes the total expenditures from the State Transportation Fund to exclude the following from budgeting by the department:  funds for projects earmarked by Congress, funds for projects on the Interstate System, and funds for projects on state designated freight corridor
 

Sponsor: Epps, Bubber 144th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



HB 0226
Neutral
Revising Used/Scrap Tire Transportation Storage and Disposal Laws
This legislation adds several definitions to aid in EPD's enforcement of organics management and the hauling and storage of scrap tires. The bill defines compost and composting as an aerobic process and defines and limits who can transport used and scrap tires, not new tires. It authorizes, but does not require, local law and code enforcement agencies to enforce Georgia's used/scrap tire laws and limits the amount of scrap tires that can be stored by tire retailers, tire retreaders, salvage yards and the general public. Local governments would be exempted from the tire hauling registration and quantity restrictions.   

Sponsor: Nix, Randy 69th
Bill Status: 4/30/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0238
Neutral
Georgia Firefighters' Pension Fund
The substitute to this legislation increases the amount of dues a firefighter or a volunteer firefighter must pay to be in the Georgia Firefighters' Pension from $15.00 per month to $25.00 per month. The legislation states that the responsbility for payments into the fund lies with the firefighter. 

Sponsor: Maxwell, Howard 17th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0242
Support
Juvenile Justice Reform/Juvenile Code Rewrite
This legislation is a combination of some of the provisions from the Juvenile Code Rewrite and the recommendations from the Criminal Justice Reform Council in regards to juvenile justice. The bill restructures the juvenile code to improve the process for practitioners and judges. For a section by section summary please click here.

Sponsor: Willard, Wendell 51st
Bill Status: 1/1/2014 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0276
Support
Hazardous Waste Trust Fund - Fixing the Redirection of Fees
This legislation renews the fees that make up the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund (hazardous waste transporting, disposal, and the state's 75-cent-per-ton solid waste tipping fees, among others) for five years, from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2018. Since 2004, over 60 percent of these fees have been redirected to the state's general fund, not going toward their statutorily-dedicated purpose of cleaning up hazardous sites, including old county landfills. 
 
The bill applies a fee-reduction mechanism (also found in HB 127) to fix the redirection of HWTF and Solid Waste Trust Fund fees.  If fees for these two trust funds are not appropriated for their designated purposes, then the fees will be proportionately reduced the following year.
 
Addressing the redirection of these fees was one of ACCG's policy priorities this legislative session. 
 
Click here for a chart and summary of the HWTF's redirected fees since 2004.
Click here for a chart and summary of the SWTF's redirected fees since 2004.   
 

Sponsor: Nimmer, Chad 178th
Bill Status: 5/7/2013 - House Date Signed by Governor
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0284
Neutral
Return to Play Act/Recreation Departments
This legislation requires counties that provide public recreation facilities that organize youth athletic activities for which a participation fee is charged to provide an information sheet to all coaches, officials, youth athletes and their parents and guardians informing them of the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries. The parents and guardians must sign an acknowledgment that they received the fact sheet. This bill purports to provide no liability to counties with public recreation facilities that comply with the requirements of this proposed law.

Sponsor: Pruett, Jimmy 149th
Bill Status: 1/1/2014 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0310
Support
Align State and Local Election Calendar with Federal Calendar

This bill aligns the state and local elections calendar with the court ordered federal calendar. This changed the qualifying period to March 3-7, 2014, the primary on May 20, 2014, and the general election on November 4, 2014.

This bill also reduces the time period required to call a special election to be held in conjunction with a statewide primary or general election from 90 days to 60 days for 2014.


Sponsor: Wilkinson, Joe 52nd
Bill Status: 1/21/2014 - House Date Signed by Governor
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



HB 0318
Neutral
Georgia Tourism Development Act
This legislation changes the procedures of the Georgia Tourism Development Act and the necessary agreements that provide sales tax exemptions for certain projects. This legislation was amended to now include the option for local governments to offer the tourism tax exemption by resolution in the jurisdiction where a tourism project exists.
 
This legislation was also amended to include the language from SB 224 which creates the Invest Georgia Fund as a direct component of the Seed Capital Fund.  The legislation provides for the make up of the Board and the process for identifying qualifying early stage or seed businesses.
 

Sponsor: Stephens, Ron 164th
Bill Status: 4/29/2013 - House Date Signed by Governor
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



HB 0349
Neutral
Adult Criminal Justice Reform Clean Up Bill
This legislation creates the Council on Criminal Justice Reform to continue to assess the impact of the Criminal Justice Reform Act. This legislation also provides for judges to deviate from mandatory minimums by following a procedure as outlined in the legislation, and revises the process for removal of arrest records.

Sponsor: Golick, Rich 40th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



HB 0393
Neutral
Georgia Workforce Investment Board
This legislation sets the procedure for establishing local workforce investment boards. It also makes counties, cities and regional commissions the fiscal agent/grant recipient for certain funds.

Sponsor: Hamilton, Mark 24th
Bill Status: 5/6/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



HB 0473
Support
Option to Renew Multi-Year Agreements with Fiscal Year
Under current law, counties can only enter into multi-year agreements if they automatically terminate at the end of each calendar year (unless renewed). This legislation allows the contracts to terminate either at the end of each calendar year or at the end of the county's fiscal year unless renewed.  

Sponsor: Welch, Andrew 110th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Clint Mueller



HB 0486
Neutral
Commercial Wrecker Emergency Tow Permits

This legislation increases the weight limit allowed for commercial wrecker emergency tow permits.


Sponsor: Roberts, Jay 155th
Bill Status: 1/13/2014 - Senate - Senate Recommitted
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



HB 0487
Neutral
Coin Operated Amusement Machines - Regulating
This legislation moves the regulation of coin operated machines from the Department of Revenue to the Georgia Lottery Corporation. It allows the county to prohibit more than six Class B coin operated amusement machines that reward the player exclusively with non-cash merchandise, prizes, toys, gift certificates, etc.  Under the old law, counties could only prohibit more than nine Class B machines.  This legislation also allows the county to require an annual audit of the verified monthly reports that location owners and operators must prepare showing the gross receipts from the Class B machines, gross retail receipts for the business location and the net receipts of the Class B machines.

Sponsor: Ramsey, Matt 72nd
Bill Status: 4/10/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



HB 0517
Support
Authorizing Sale of Beer and Wine within 100 Yards of College Campus

Current law prohibits the sale of package beer and wine within 100 yards of a college campus. This bill allows cities and counties, via local ordinance, to allow for the sale of package beer and wine within that 100-yard distance so long as the store has at least 85 percent of its floor space dedicated to the sale of food and other nonalcoholic items, and conducts all of its sales within the store (i.e., no gas pumps outside).     


Sponsor: Williams, Chuck 119th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - House - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0011
Support
Reauthorize the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council
This legislation reauthorizes the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council to audit Georgia's geospatial capabilities at the county, regional and state level. 

Sponsor: Carter, Buddy 1st
Bill Status: 5/7/2013 - Senate - Veto V5
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0023
Neutral
Aid in Location of Missing Persons Incapacited Due to Medical Conditions
This legislation prohibits law enforcement agencies from requiring a minimum time that an individual must be missing before issuing a missing person's report. It also adds medically endangered individuals (i.e., individuals with known medical conditions that may reasonably cause the individual to become incapacitated or that my result in life-threatening physiological conditions likely to lead to serious bodily injury or death if not immediately treated) to the list of individuals whose absence can trigger the use of the statewide "Mattie's Call" alert system.

Sponsor: Davenport, Gail 44th
Bill Status: 7/1/2014 - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



SB 0066
Support
Increase Penalties for Contempt of Court in Superior and State Courts
This legislation increases the fine for contempt of courtin State and Superior Court from $500 to $1,000 and/or 20 days of imprisonment. This bill also changes the requirements for filing a claim and answer in magistrate court.

Sponsor: Stone, Jesse 23rd
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



SB 0072
Neutral
Reduce Interest on Tax Refunds and Past Due Taxes
This legislation reduces from 1 percent per month to 7 percent per annum the rate of interest owed by the government to a taxpayer on refunds and the rate of interest owed by the taxpayer to the government on past due taxes.

Sponsor: Stone, Jesse 23rd
Bill Status: 2/27/2013 - House - House Second Readers
ACCG Staff Contact: Clint Mueller



SB 0083
Support
Authorizes the Use of Cremation for County Funded Burials of Paupers
Under current law, counties are required to provide for the decent interment of indigents who pass away within their jurisdiction, as is the Department of Corrections for inmates in their care. This legislation simply clarifies that decent interment allows for cremation. 

Sponsor: Gooch, Steve 51st
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0104
Support
Comprehensive Planning Revisions - Streamlining Requirements
This legislation results from a two-year stakeholder process whereby ACCG, GMA and others partnered on the Department of Community Affairs' Planning Rules Task force to revise Georgia's comprehensive planning requirements on local governments. While, to the credit of DCA, most of the task force's recommendations have been achieved via its rulemaking process, three changes in statute were necessary. This legislation covers these necessary changes by:
 
- making housing, human services, natural resources, vital areas, historic and cultural resources, infrastructure, recreation and other components of a comprehensive plan optional to the local government;
 
- not requiring Regional Commissions (RC) to issue a public finding on whether a development of regional impact is in the best interest of the region or state; and
 
-changing deadlines on when a local government must adopt a comprehensive plan and submit it to their RC. 
 
For a detailed summary of all the Comprehensive Planning changes promulgated by DCA, click here.
 
For a PowerPoint presentation of the changes, click here.          

Sponsor: Ginn, Frank 47th
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0120
Support
Creation of Prosecutor Position for Probate Court Upon Approval of BOC
This legislation is a permissive bill that will allow counties to create a prosecutor position for probate courts which handle traffic. 
 
A more detailed summary can be found here.

Sponsor: Crosby, John 13th
Bill Status: 5/6/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



SB 0136
Neutral
Creation of Hunting and Boating Under the Influence Offenses - Require Boater Education
This legislation creates criminal offenses for boating and hunting under the influence of alcohol. Persons convicted of hunting while under the influence will pay a fine, and have their hunting license suspended. Person convicted of boating under the influence will suffer the same sanctions as those driving under the influence. The legislation also requires anyone operating a watercraft to complete a boater education course certified by the Department of Public Safety.

Sponsor: Miller, Butch 49th
Bill Status: 5/15/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Debra Nesbit



SB 0137
Neutral
Authorizes Commissioner of Economic Development to Designate Opportunity Zones
This legislation authorizes the Commissioner of Economic Development to designate areas as opportunity zones except for areas where one or more census tracts adjacent to a federal military installation where pervasive poverty is evidenced by a 15% poverty rate or greater as reflected in the most recent decennial census.
 
 

Sponsor: Jeffares, Rick 17th
Bill Status: 5/6/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



SB 0168
Oppose
Public Works Bids - More Mandates for Counties in Process
This legislation prohibits counties and cities, in awarding public works contracts, from disqualifying responsible bidders based on lack of previous experience with a job of the size for which the bid proposal is being sought if:
   -   the bid or proposal is 30 percent greater in scope or cost from the responsible bidder's previous experience;
   -   the responsible bidder has experience in performing the work; and
   -   the responsible bidder is capable of being bonded by a surety which meets the qualifications of the bid documents for a bid or or performance bond. 

Sponsor: Tippins, Lindsey 37th
Bill Status: 4/24/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0179
Neutral
Public Bids - Penalties, Incentives and Bid Bonds
This legislation allows counties to include provisions in construction contracts over $100,000 to require the contractor to pay a penalty if the project is delayed. It also allows the contract to include an incentive for contractors to complete the contract early when the project needs to be completed as soon as possible. 
 
When a county issues a request for proposal for a construction project over $100,000 and price is not one of the evaluation factors, this legislation allows the county to choose whether to have a bid bond or not. If the county requires a bid bond, the request for proposal must specify the dollar amount of the bid bond. This legislation also corrects a technical error in the law regarding notice of commencement required to be filed by the contractor.
 
Local governments cannot require or prohibit bidders to enter into union or collective bargaining agreements.   

Sponsor: Hill, Hunter 6th
Bill Status: 5/6/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



SB 0218
Neutral
Emergency Tow Permits

This legislation increases the weight limit for annual commercial wrecker emergency tow permits.  


Sponsor: Gooch, Steve 51st
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Shaun Adams



SB 0226
Support
Coroners - Streamlining Salary Requirements in Law

This legislation corrects contradictory laws regarding coroners' salaries. It clarifies that coroners in counties with a population of less than 35,000 are entitled to receive the state minimum salary plus the death investigation fee. Coroners in a county with a population of 35,000 or more are entitled to the salary established in local legislation or the death investigation fee.  If the death investigation fee is more than the local legislation salary, the coroner may choose to receive the death investigation fee. The coroner must give the commissioners notice of the decision to receive the death investigation fee in writing no later than October 1, in order to become effective on January 1, on any given year.


Sponsor: Gooch, Steve 51st
Bill Status: 7/1/2013 - Senate - Effective Date
ACCG Staff Contact: Todd Edwards



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