Capitol Budget Discussions Underway
The House and Senate Appropriations committees spent this week reviewing the Governor's proposals for both the amended fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2022 budgets.

During budget hearings, legislators heard presentations from state agencies, the state's fiscal economist and the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB), among others. Revenues in Georgia are on the rise and the state's economic forecaster predicts a robust recovery throughout the year. 

Here are a few highlights from the Governor's FY 2022 budget proposal:

- $39.5 million to create a Rural Innovation Fund to assist rural communities in developing targeted solutions for economic, medical, technological, or infrastructure challenges within their regions. 

- $10 million in funds to establish a broadband infrastructure grant program to enable rural communities to leverage existing federal, local, and private resources to quickly target high-need broadband expansion within their areas.

- Increased funding for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s local maintenance and improvement grants (LMIG) by more than $21.6 million to $196 million.  

- $100 million in bonds to repair and replace bridges across the state in the DOT’s budget.

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

With the conclusion of budget week, the legislature will reconvene on Tuesday, January 26 for Legislative Day 5.

This week's newsletter includes a reminder for city officials to attend the Cities United Virtual Summit, updates on bills impacting municipal governments 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.
SAVE THE DATE: GMA’s 2021 Cities United Summit is happening Monday, January 25! There’s still time to register for the one-day virtual event, which will feature Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Dr. Anthony Fauci and more. Additionally, mayors, councilmembers, city staff and special guests will have access to advocacy tools and networking opportunities and attend policy committee meetings. See the full schedule of events here.
House Bill 75 - Taxpayer Bill of Rights Notice Revision 
by Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), Pending in House Ways & Means

This legislation would revise the notice required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights when there is an increase to the total county tax digest. The required notice would differentiate between revenue increases resulting from an increase in the assessed value of properties in a jurisdiction, those caused by a local government raising the millage rate, or a combination of both. GMA supports this bill.

House Bill 79 - Local Control of Fireworks 
by Rep. Erick Allen (D-Syrmna), Pending in House Regulated Industries

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 
by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), Pending in House Governmental Affairs

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. 

Senate Bill 6 - Tax Credit Return on Investment Act of 2021
by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), Pending in Senate Finance

This legislation would allow the chairpersons of the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to request up to five economic analyses each year on existing or proposed tax provisions. GMA supports this bill. 
GMA thanks these legislators for sponsoring municipal policy initiatives. 
House Announces New Committee Chairs
This week Speaker David Ralston and the House Committee on Assignments announced new committee chairs for the 2021-2022 term. GMA looks forward to working with the many standing committees that consider legislation impacting municipal governments.
See the full list here
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.
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.

Visit GMA's Legislative Tracking Site for more information on the bills GMA's Advocacy Team is following.
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