The Georgia General Assembly convened on Monday, January 11, 2021 and has completed four legislative days. The House and Senate appropriations committees will hold budget hearings throughout next week. The legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, January 26 for Legislative Day 5.

This week's newsletter includes highlights from Governor Brian Kemp's State of the State address, an update on bills supporting important municipal priorities and the latest on legislators in leadership roles under the Gold Dome.

Before visiting the State Capitol, be aware of the COVID-19 protocols for the building.
This week Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his State of the State address. In front of the Georgia General Assembly and state officials, the Governor reflected on the challenges of 2020 dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and a crippled economy.

In looking to 2021, Gov. Kemp remarked, "If the first half of the new fiscal year has been any indication, the Peach State is well-positioned to emerge from this dark period of economic crisis stronger and more prosperous than before."

Find the amended FY 2021 budget & proposed FY 2022 budget here.

Gov. Kemp highlighted several priorities important to municipal officials:
  • Investments in rural broadband and greater access to high-speed internet in rural areas, pledging $20 million in broadband grants for this fiscal year and $10 million each year moving forward. 
  • An overhaul of Georgia's citizen's arrest law, a top priority of GMA's Public Safety Policy Committee and GMA's Equity and Inclusion Commission. 
  • Enhanced statewide training programs to combat human trafficking. 
House Bill 75 - Taxpayer Bill of Rights Notice Revision
This legislation would revise the notice required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights when there is an increase to the total county tax digest by differentiating between revenue increases resulting from inflation and those caused by a local government raising the millage rate. GMA supports this bill. 

House Bill 79 - Local Control of Fireworks
This legislation would grant local governments greater flexibility and authority over how to regulate the usage of fireworks through local ordinances. GMA supports this bill. 

House Bill 98 - Virtual Public Hearings
This legislation would explicitly grant local governments the authority to hold virtual public hearings, such as budget or zoning proceedings, in emergency situations. GMA supports this bill. 
GMA thanks Rep. Matt Gambill (HB 75), Rep. Erick Allen (HB 79) and Rep. Eddie Lumsden (HB 98) for sponsoring these municipal policy initiatives. 
GA Legislative Black Caucus Elects Leaders
Senator Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) was elected as chair of the 65-member Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (GLBC) and Representative Derrick Jackson (D-Tyrone) was elected to the position of vice-chair along with other GLBC executive board member elections.  Created in 1975, GLBC is the largest legislative Black caucus in the country and seeks to protect the general welfare of Black people and people of color through legislative action.  
Senate Announces New Committee Chairs
This week Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan announced new committee chairs for the 2021 legislative session. GMA looks forward to working with the many standing committees that consider legislation impacting municipal governments. See the full list here. 
Cities United Virtual Summit

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's annual legislative summit will be virtual. Tune in on Monday, January 25, 2021 beginning at 8:00 a.m. to hear from the state’s top elected officials, get updates on legislation important to cities and attend policy committee meetings.
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver is sponsoring three bills related to tax abatements and annexation. These bills are pending hearings in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. GMA is working with the author on these bills.  

House Bill 23 - Annexation Dispute Process, Adding School Boards
This legislation would allow school boards to dispute proposed municipal annexations if a proposed change in zoning or land use would create a financial impact on a school system's current and planned capacity.

House Bill 24 - Annexation Dispute Process, Adding Proposed Tax Abatements as a Reason for Objection
This legislation would allow a county to object to proposed annexations if any proposed tax abatements or financial incentives are offered by the city or, if known, offered by a development authority.

House Bill 66 - Bond Validation Hearings: Standing for Local Governments
This legislation would allow any school system, municipality or county to have standing in bond validation hearings of any government which shares the same geographic territory.
We invite you to attend the Municipal Government/Revenue and Finance Policy Committee meeting during the Cities United Virtual Summit to hear Rep. Oliver's remarks on this legislative package.  

Register Here for the Summit.
Stay Connected
Local Legislation Update: If you are interested in seeing if local legislation has been introduced that impacts your city, or surrounding local governments, and subscribe to GMA's Local Legislation Alert to receive an email when any local legislation has been introduced and  assigned to a committee. 
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