This week the General Assembly was in session for four days. The legislature will reconvene on Monday, February 8 for Legislative Day 13. 

This week, the FY 2021 budget passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee, maintaining the increases in public health spending included by the House of Representatives. The committee increased funding to include an additional position for an information technologies professional and a financing professional to manage the federal funding to address the pandemic. The Senate version of the FY 21 budget also 
redirects $11,100,000 in 5-year issued bonds for the Clinical Billing Information Technology System to be used for the implementation of a new vaccine management system to improve current COVID-19 pandemic response. 

This week's newsletter includes new bills introduced this week at the legislature with a municipal impact, as well as bills scheduled for upcoming hearings. As committees begin reviewing legislation to move through the process, it is important for city officials to be communicating with GMA's advocacy team and engaging with legislators on municipal initiatives and concerns. 

Before visiting the State Capitol, be aware of the COVID-19 protocols for the building.
The following bills will be heard in the State and Local Government subcommittee of the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Monday, February 8. GMA is working with the authors on these bills.  

GMA needs your help to review these bills and reply with comments on how this proposed legislation would impact your municipal operations. 

House Bill 23 - Annexation Dispute Process, Adding School Boards
by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
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
by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
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
by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
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.

House Bill 221 - Zoning Procedures - Boards of Education Appointments to Planning Commissions
by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson)
This legislation would mandate that any local government which establishes a planning commission or other body to review or make recommendations on proposed zoning decisions to include at least one member appointed by the board of education for the county or independent school system serving the local government.
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 that is required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights when a local government proposes a millage rate above the roll back rate, resulting in increased property tax revenue from the previous year. The revised notice would differentiate between the causes of the increased revenue, informing the public whether the increase is resulting from an increase in the assessed value of properties in a jurisdiction, the 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 273 - Alcohol - Local Package Sales Referenda
by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), Pending Committee Assignment
This legislation would allow cities and counties to call for a ballot question on liquor package sales by resolution or ordinance. Additionally, it would provide uniformity to the referendum process by referencing the Georgia elections code. GMA supports this bill.

House Bill 317 - Lodging Facilitator
by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), Pending Committee Assignment
This legislation would require marketplace innkeepers to collect and remit the state and local hotel-motel taxes if the total charges across their platform in Georgia are at least $100,000 in the previous or current year. GMA supports this bill. 

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

Senate Bill 76 - Next-Gen 911
by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), Pending in Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities 
This legislation would provide for a framework of moving Georgia's E911 systems towards Next Generation 911 Systems (Next-Gen E911). Such Next-Gen E911 would expand E911 features and enable the public to transmit digital information to public safety answering points. GMA supports this bill. 

Senate Resolution 26 -  Airports: State Debt Funding Authorization
by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), Pending in Senate Rules
This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution to allow the state to incur general obligation debt in order to make loans or grants to counties, municipalities, consolidated governments, local authorities, and local commissions that own airports for the acquisition, construction, development, extension, enlargement, or improvement of such airports. GMA supports this bill. 
GMA thanks these legislators for sponsoring municipal policy initiatives. 
House Bill 243 - Changing Contiguous Areas Calculation
by Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs), Pending in House Governmental Affairs
This legislation would require each parcel in an 100% annexation have at least one-eighth of its aggregate external boundary or 50 feet of the parcel, whichever is less, directly abut the city. GMA is evaluating this bill. 

House Bill 286 - Prohibition of Police Department Budget Cuts
by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), Pending in House Governmental Affairs
This legislation would restrict a city or consolidated government with a police department from reducing annual appropriations for the police force by more than 5% of the previous fiscal year's appropriations. GMA is evaluating this bill. 
Click to hear Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) explaining House Bill 134
Pending in House Rules, GMA supports this bill. 
This legislation would provide an exemption under the Open Meetings/Open Records Act for cybersecurity discussions and for cybersecurity documents or plans in executive sessions.
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.

House Bill 107 - Workforce Development Boards
by Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus), Pending in House Governmental Affairs
This legislation would allow for local workforce development boards to hold virtual meetings and teleconferences. GMA supports this bill.  

Senate Bill 32 - Exclude Cell Phone Numbers From Open Records
by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), Pending in Senate Rules
This legislation would add unlisted telephone numbers and personal mobile or wireless telephone numbers to the list of types of information not subject to disclosure pursuant to an open records request. GMA supports this bill. 
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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