This week, the General Assembly was in session for three days. The legislature will reconvene on Monday, February 22 for Legislative Day 20 and be in session for the full week. Click here for the rest of the General Assembly schedule.

Before visiting the State Capitol, be aware of the COVID-19 protocols for the building.
These two bills are pending in the House Ways and Means Committee and will likely be heard in the following days. 

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

House Bill 352 - State Limitation on Property Tax Revenues
by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas), Pending in House Ways & Means
This legislation would create a statewide base value or floating homestead exemption which would limit increases in property value assessments to the value in a base year plus half of the percentage increase in the consumer price index. This exemption would supersede any base year assessed value or adjusted base year assessed value of a homestead exemption provided by a local act but would be in addition to all other homestead exemptions.

This bill would also make several other changes concerning property tax, including: increasing the time to appeal a property tax assessment, increasing the time limit to claim refunds from negligently incorrect assessments, requiring acceptance of private appraisals, and providing for the election of a county chief tax appraiser. 

GMA is evaluating this bill.

House Bill 302 - Regulatory Fee Restrictions
by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas), Pending in House Ways & Means 
This legislation would make several changes concerning local government collection of regulatory fees. It would remove the ability of a local government to set a regulatory fee based on the number of square feet of a new construction project or the cost of all other construction projects. Also, this bill would require that the proceeds of the regulatory fee be used to fund the regulatory activity but would not require the local government to establish a separate account for the funds. 
GMA is evaluating this bill.
Click to hear from GMA Governmental Relations Director Tom Gehl testify in support of House Bill 273, allowing cities to call for a ballot question on liquor package sales by resolution or ordinance. This bill will be on the House floor on Monday 2/22. 
House Bill 248 - Speed Enforcement in School Zones
by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), Pending in House Rules 
This legislation would allow a municipal government, instead of a school, to apply to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) for a permit to use a speed detection camera within a school zone where local law enforcement enforces the speed limit. GMA supports this bill.

House Bill 317 - Lodging Facilitator
by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), Pending in House Rules
This legislation would require all marketplace innkeepers, including online lodging facilitators such as Airbnb and VRBO, to collect and remit 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. 

House Bill 471 - Municipal Regulation of Bows & Arrows
by Rep. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs), Pending in House Game, Fish and Parks
This legislation would allow cities to regulate the transport, carry, and use of bows and arrows. However, property owners or those in legal control of property would be able to use or allow the use of bows and arrows on their property. GMA supports this bill. 

Senate Bill 145 - Alcohol: Local Package Sales Referenda
by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), Pending in Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities 
This legislation would allow cities and counties to call for a ballot question on liquor package sales by resolution or ordinance. GMA supports this bill. 

GMA thanks these legislators for sponsoring municipal policy initiatives. 
This week, Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled legislation to repeal Georgia's outdated Citizen's Arrest Law. This is a policy initiative of GMA's Public Safety Policy Committee and the GMA Equity and Inclusion Commission.

House Bill 479 - Repeal of the Citizens Arrest Law
by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), Pending in House Judiciary
This legislation would repeal the Citizens Arrest Law, removing the provision in current law that allows for a private citizen to detain another private citizen on the basis of reasonable suspicion a criminal activity occurred. GMA supports this bill.

"As state leaders, we owe it to our children to root out injustice wherever it is found and leave this state better than we found it. I believe Republicans and Democrats can rise to the challenge again, put aside partisan politics, and support a balanced approach to overhauling Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law." - Gov. Brian Kemp
Read the governor's full announcement regarding the citizen's arrest law overhaul.
GMA thanks Woodstock Councilmember Warren Johnson for testifying this week on
House Bill 243 in the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
House Bill 66 - Tax Abatements Transparency Among Local Governments
by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Pending in House Governmental Affairs
This legislation would require a local government to share a written notice of the estimated direct financial impacts from proposed tax abatements or incentives with other affected local governments at least seven days prior to granting a tax abatement or financial incentive. GMA is neutral on this bill.

House Bill 286 - Prohibition of Police Department Budget Cuts
by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), Pending in House Rules
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 opposes this bill.

House Bill 465 - False Alarm Calls
by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), Pending in House Governmental Affairs
This legislation would preempt any city with an ordinance that fines alarm system monitoring companies when false alarms occur and public safety is notified but there is not an emergency situation. GMA is evaluating this bill.

House Bill 496 - Timber Truck Weight Limit Increase
by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross), Pending in House Transportation
This legislation would allow timber trucks to get $1,000 annual state permits to operate log trucks up to and including 95,000 pounds on city streets, county roads and state routes. GMA opposes this bill. 

Senate Bill 118 - Timber Truck Weight Limit Increase
by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), Pending in Senate Transportation
This legislation would allow for the purchase of a $200 annual state permit allowing log trucks to operate up to 100,000 pounds on city streets, county roads and state routes. GMA opposes this bill. 
House Bill 98 - Virtual Public Hearings 
by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), Pending House Floor Vote on Monday 2/22
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 134 - Cybersecurity Discussions
by Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia), Passed the House, Pending in Senate Science and Technology  
This legislation would create an exemption under the Open Meetings/Open Records Act for cybersecurity discussions and for cybersecurity documents or plans in executive sessions, where no decision made in the executive session would be binding until voted on in an open meeting, and where the details of the contract would not be subject to open records. 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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