LWVAF Report from the Capitol, Bills Passed

LWVAF Report from the Capitol, Bills Passed

Type: 
News

6 August 2020

Bills are SIGNED unless otherwise indicated.  This report is posted on www.lwvaf.org.  

The governor has 40 calendar days, Aug. 5, to sign or veto legislation.  If the governor takes no action, it becomes law anyway.  Constitutional amendments and most resolutions need no signature. Bills not passed this year will not be revisited.   

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Total bills                       77

Resolutions NNS           5

CAs                                3

Bills to governor            69     

      

SIGNED           69

VETOED            0

 

CA = constitutional amendment.  Requires a 2/3s vote in each chamber and a majority vote in the next general election scheduled for November 2020.

NNS = Needs No Signature

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BUDGET

HB 792  Ralston – 7   FY20 Amended Budget, known as the amended, supplemental, midyear, or ‘little’ budget, reflects the governor’s directive of last fall to cut expenditures by 4%.  The primary purpose is to adjust the educational budget to reflect the actual number of students who showed up on the doorstep in September so that the school districts will have funds to pay the teachers hired to serve those students, even as they receive that money much closer to the end than the beginning of the school year.  The rest of the expenditures tend to be one-time items, such as vehicle or computer purchases, or to meet the needs of unexpected expenses arising from a weather or manmade emergency, like a hurricane or highway fire like that of Interstate 85 a couple of years ago.  It almost never includes such things as payroll increases or program initiations, both of which would affect the following year’s budget.  This year, though, funds were recommended for getting the medical cannabis commission and the GBI Gang Task Force started and the salary for the appointed Insurance Commissioner who replaced the indicted elected one and is still drawing a salary.  Some vehicles and computers were replaced and the governor’s emergency fund was increased by $10 million for unspecified future needs.  The Law Department got $2.5 million for costs associated with the water wars case going to the U.S. Supreme Court. Vacant positions were defunded.  The amended budget moves $100 million from the Revenue Shortfall Reserve (rainy day fund)  to the general fund for the governor to use to meet expenses associated with the coronavirus 19 pandemic.

 

HB 793  Ralston – 7   FY21 Budget.  The FY21 budget was significantly revised as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis which shut down most economic activity in the state.  This resulted in a need to cut the budget 11% from the FY20 base, or $2.607 billion.  In the last week of the session, this was further reduced to 10%, resulting from somewhat better outlooks for revenue, the federal CARES receipts, and transferring $250 million from the Revenue Shortfall Reserve (rainy day) fund and $50 million from tobacco settlement proceeds.  In all, about $1 Billion was added back into the budget.

 

No state employees will be asked to furlough.  The departments of Labor and Public Health were not cut as they need all their resources to deal with the effects of COVID-19.  New mothers under Medicaid will be covered until 6 months postpartum, currently 2 months.  Accountability Courts, which keep people out of jail if they complete court ordered programs for addiction, remained whole.  Rural hospitals got help to get over the revenue slump.  And law enforcement training to deescalate events received $15 million.

 

The bonding package was not cut.  Also protected were training and experience raises if on a state salary schedule, and the equalization, sparsity, and transportation grants for K-12 schools.  Pre-K programs funded with the lottery were not cut. The Governor’s Honors Program was restored.   The University system and technical colleges were cut 10%, as were most elements of the QBE funding for K-12.  The University system and technical colleges got a 10% cut.  

 

Softening the effects of the cuts, all education entities received federal grants.  The federal K-12 grants were $456 million and distributed according to the Title 1 formula.  Both chambers cited the local school districts having $3.5 billion in reserves that could also shield their operations.  However, most of this reserve in June is to be used to pay salaries in July and August because the state does not remit any funds until September.  That leaves far less for offsetting the state cuts which totaled $950 million.  Both chambers suggested that there could be some savings by moving toward a virtual model in both K-12 and higher education.  In all, educational entities get 53.2% of all state funds appropriated.

 

The budget that passed was the fourth this session.  The governor’s recommendations calculated on a 6% cut, the House version which was passed prior to the suspension of the session, the Senate version which initially was looking at a cut of 14%, which the governor lowered to 11%, and the final version which had a total cut of 10%.  Lots of folks spent thousands of man hours to make these changes.  Just going from 11% to 10%, done in one calendar week, resulted in over 2300 line item changes in the final budget.  

 

 

CHILDREN 

SB 340  Beach – 21   Designates September 1 of each year as Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Georgia.  Childhood cancer is the #1 cause of death for those under age 19.

 

SB 375  Mullis – 53   Vaping is added to the code.  A person under the age of 21 may not be in possession of tobacco or vapor products, and it is illegal to sell these products to them.  A fine of $25 per incident may be imposed on both the buyer and the seller.  The person under 21 may also have community service which if not done within 12 weeks on the third conviction in a calendar year, the driver’s license can be suspended for up to 45 days.  These products may be seized by law enforcement officers.  A person over 21 who possesses a vapor product within a school zone is guilty of a misdemeanor and a fine of $25.  An excise tax of 7% is to be levied on vapor devices and consumable vapor products.   Estimated state revenues are between $10 million and $19 million.

 

SB 439  Bass – 29   Allows electronic notification by the Juvenile Court of hearings and dispositions, requires written reports by the court to include if and how the parties were notified in all types of hearings, and requires court to consider the testimony and evidence from foster parents, caregivers, relatives, or other persons with whom the child has live for at least 12 months.

 

HB 911  Setzler – 35   A foster parent who engages in sexually explicit conduct with a foster child in their custody is guilty of a felony and subject to 1 to 25 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.  One who engages in improper sexual contact with a child in their care is guilty of a felony if the child is under age 16 and subject to 25 to 50 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine; it is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature if the child is age 16 or older.  Governor’s bill.

 

HB 912  Reeves – 34   Allows foster parents to leave a child with a babysitter at least 18 years old for up to 72 consecutive hours (3 days) without getting approval from DFCS, currently 2 days.  Juvenile court clerks shall collect data for each child placed in foster care who is in need of services, delinquent and accused of committing a Class A or B felony to be submitted to the Department of Juvenile Justice.  Aggregate data can be used by DJJ and state agencies for improvement efforts for children.  The Department of Human Services may partner with child-placing agencies to assist in caseworker services, and may provide training to foster parents as needed.  Governor’s bill.

 

HB 993  Dempsey – 13   The Child Abuse Registry contains data regarding child abuse or neglect of same by parents or siblings and gathered from certificates and reports filed with vital records.  It is to be abandoned because of misuse.  The savings to the state will be about $975,000.

 

 

EDUCATION – PREK – 12

SB 68  Sims – 12   Local school board members must be exposed to ‘financial management’ in their required training.  A candidate for reelection to the board must have completed all prior annual training requirements.  The financial status of the local school system must be reviewed at each regular school board meeting.  The SBOE is to create a template for such review.  The Department of Audits and Accounts shall designate local school systems with 3 consecutive years of reported irregularities or budget deficits as ‘high risk’ school districts; those with irregularities or deficits for 1 or 2 consecutive years are to be labeled moderate risk.  A corrective action plan is to be developed within 120 days.  School districts cannot be approved for a flexibility contract if ‘high risk’ without a corrective action plan.  Office of Student Achievement shall monitor each local school system’s financial stability.  Oath of school superintendents to include a promise to manage the finances of the school system, and the superintendent is to report to the board during each monthly meeting the financial status.  The superintendent must complete all financial management and governance trainings.  Newly elected local board members are to be given guidance and training about the school system’s audit findings and risk status.  Charter schools and charter systems have these same requirements.   The Chief Turnaround Officer will be hired by the Governor and report to the State School Superintendent, currently directly to the State Board of Education.  Changes thrust of training to school district level rather than individual schools.  Teachers in turnaround schools, in a 5-year pilot program, may get a $7500 stipend, 2/3 paid by the state and the rest by the local school system, if each agrees to work 3 years in the school and to teach curricula designated by the Chief Turnaround Officer.  The stipend may be converted to a permanent salary step after the three years of the Turnaround Officer and State Board of Education approval.   Teachers with 3+ years experience may file a complaint regarding personnel performance evaluation ratings and any procedural deficiencies of the local board of education or charter school which does the evaluation.   The local board of education must have a period for public comment at every meeting.  No prior notice prior to the meeting shall be required of the speaker.  The chair of the board may limit the length of time for anyone’s comments and the number of people speaking for or against a specific issue.  Currently, there are 17 ‘high risk’ school districts.  The Office of Chief Turnaround Officer is currently vacant and totally defunded in the FY21 budget.  The teacher evaluation language also passed in HB 86.  Most school boards already provide time at their meetings for public comment.

 

HB 86  Benton – 31   Teachers may file a complaint regarding personnel performance evaluation ratings and any procedural deficiencies of the local board of education or charter school which does the evaluation.  Senate: A teacher with an ‘Unsatisfactory’ or ‘Ineffective’ rating may appeal it.  The local board must adopt a policy with all aspects of this appeal process.

 

SB 294  Black – 8   Teachers Retirement System is authorized to invest up to 5% of its assets in certain alternative investments.  Currently, TRS is specifically excluded from such investment options.

 

SB 367  Martin – 9   Reduces the end of course assessments (tests) which must be given in high school to 4, currently 8.  The writing assessment may be given in any grade, currently grade 11. The grade 5 social studies test is dropped.  Moves the testing window for elementary schools to within 25 school days of the last day of school in a term.  The high school testing window will be set by Department of Education and is typically near the end of the term.  The department may, at the request of a local board, analysis local tests administered in an effort to eliminate redundant assessments.  

 

SB 430  Ligon – 3   Private and home schooled students may take courses at a college and career academy run by the local school district which serves their residence and if space is available.  Transportation is the responsibility of the student/parent.  Local board of education earns FTEs for the time the student is in attendance.  The State Board of Education is to draw up rules regarding enrollment and withdrawal, reporting academic performance, discipline procedures and any other area requiring definition.  Most college and career academies admit these students now.

 

SB 431  Wilkinson – 50   Defines on-time graduation as a cohort of students entering high school by Oct 1 of any year and graduating on or before Oct 1 four years hence.  This calculation is in addition to any other defined by federal, state, or local laws.  Excludes students who register but never show up when school starts and school personnel no longer charged with determining what happened to them.

 

HB 444  Reeves – 34   The ‘Dual Enrollment Act’, formerly called ‘Move On When Ready Act’. Dual enrollment allows a high school student to take a college course at an institution that will enroll the student and earn credit at the college and at the high school. A junior or senior, and a few exceptional sophomores, may take a maximum of 30 hours of dual credit courses for which the state will pay the tuition and will not count against any HOPE scholarship maximum.  In colleges, the courses must be in core areas (English, math, science, social studies) and foreign language and in technical school, core or chosen pathway courses.  Sophomores may participate if they are Zell Miller scholarship eligible or currently enrolled in dual courses.  Rising freshmen are not eligible to enroll in state paid dual enrollment courses.  Currently enrolled students who have earned 18 hours or less will also be capped at 30 hours; those who have eared 19 hours or more will be allowed 12 more hours.  There are over 2500 courses available in the core courses and over 4500 in the technical school.  The average student takes 17 hours while still in high school, and 2/3 of those take less than 17 hours.  HOPE provides 127 hours of college credit and a high school student can get 30 hours with dual credit, a total of 157 hours.  Students may dual enroll in additional courses with personal funds.  The bill limits are for the state funded program.

 

HB 755  Belton – 112   Local boards of education shall provide local charter school with an itemized allotment sheet within 45 days of a receipt of an allotment sheet from Department of Education by the local board and shall publicize that information on the district website.  If adjustments must be made, 30 days must elapse after an amended allotment sheet is provided to the local charter school before the adjustment is effective.  Parent are to be notified each year upon enrollment all relevant dates and deadlines and that information is to be posted on the school system’s website.  Depending on the terms of the charter, some categories on the local board’s allotment sheet may not be on that of the local charter school, and vice versa.  Such categories are general central office provided; food services, transportation, payroll, warehousing, purchasing, maintenance, insurance, etc.

 

HB 855  Wiedower – 119   Foster care students are to be reevaluated upon enrollment to see if there is any exposure to trauma and if they need to have changes made to special education and related services.  This requirement puts foster care students ahead in the line for evaluations for special education services.  While their need is great, so also is the need for the other children who might need these services.

 

HB 957  Jones – 47   A charter school employee is an employee of the local board of education for health insurance purposes if they work at least 30 hours per week.  Local charter schools shall require proof of residency within the school system at student enrollment or application for enrollment.  Terms of the State Charter Commission members shall be 4 years, currently 2 years.  State charter schools which close shall transfer all records to the nonprofit entity which held the charter school contract and then are held for one year.  The state audit of charter schools offering virtual instruction shall be completed and submitted to the State Board of Education and regulators by April 1 annually, currently December 1.

 

 

ELECTIONS & ETHICS

SR 459  Mullis – 53   NNS   Strongly requests anyone testifying in the Senate be truthful and honest.  Senators rely on what is said in testimony.  If the Senate determines that a person has lied in testimony before the Senate, after appropriate due process, that person may be prohibited from presenting further testimony for the remainder of the session.  

 

 

GOVERNMENT – GENERAL

SR 19  Beach – 21   TO BALLOT   CA to allow the General Assembly to meet electronically in case of emergency including a pandemic if agreed to by both chambers.  The constitution already allows for meeting away from the Capitol in case of emergency.  This would add the pandemic emergency to that list.

 

SB 134  Kirkpatrick – 32   The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust is transferred to the Board of Regents from the Department of Community Affairs.

 

SB 358  Harper – 7    Designates the muscadine grape as the official state grape.

 

SB 377  Jones – 25   Elevators, escalators, manlifts, and moving walks are to be inspected once per 12 months, currently every 6 months.  Contractors to help with this work may receive fees for this service directly, currently requires payment to the contractor through the Labor Department which schedules the inspections.  MARTA must continue to have elevator inspections every 6 months.

 

SR 583  Orrock – 36   NNS   Recognizes the League of Women Voters and the League of Women Voters of Georgia on their 100th anniversary on February 14, 2020.

 

HR 1010  Gardiner - 57   NNS   Recognizes the League of Women Voters and the League of Women Voters of Georgia on their 100th anniversary on February 14, 2020.

 

 

GOVERNMENT – COURTS AND CRIMES

SB 288  Anderson – 43   Restrictions to records of criminal activity shall be imposed if the individual is not convicted, or if convicted of misdemeanors, successfully  completed all terms of the court order.

 

SB 337  Thompson – 14   Bans electronic sharing of photo shopped photos, particularly of nudity.

 

SB 393  Strickland – 17   The GBI is to create a Legal Division.  When requested by the agency, these attorneys may serve as special assistant district attorneys, special assist solicitors general, or special assistant US attorneys in the prosecution of any civil or criminal case, and in so doing, have the same authority and powers as an attorney within those entities..

 

SB 394  Albers – 56   The Attorney General shall have assigned to the Law Department peace officers for Medicaid fraud, kidnapping, false imprisonment and related offenses such as trafficking of person for labor or sex servitude.  The peace officers shall be fully empowered.

 

SB 402  Robertson – 29   The term ‘released on his/her own recognizance’ is changed to ‘unsecured judicial release’ where it appears in law.

 

HB 417  Powell – 32   Trauma scene cleanup shall be done by practitioners who are registered, bonded and insured and have passed a background check.  Excludes property owners cleaning up such a scene on their own property and any unpaid assistance they may receive.

 

HB 426  Efstration - 104   The “Hate Crimes” bill.  Increases penalties for hate crimes determined by a jury, i.e. the defendant intentionally selected a victim or group of victims because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender, mental or physical disability.  If the offense was one of 5 misdemeanors, the sentence shall be 6-12 months imprisonment and a fine up to $5000. The five misdemeanors are simple assault, simple battery, battery, criminal trespass, and misdemeanor thief.   If the offense is a felony, the imprisonment is two years or more with a fine up to $5000.  The state will collect information about arrests to study types and frequency of these named crimes.

 

SB 435  Strickland – 17   Survivors of human trafficking may have their criminal record during the time of their trafficking redacted if they are making progress in building back their life after victimization, if a judge agrees.

 

HR 1023  Welch – 110   TO BALLOT   CA to permit a GA citizen or corporation which suffers an injury to petition the judiciary for declaratory relief from acts of the state, any agency or any county, consolidated government, or city of the state, or any employee thereof or committed  outside of their scope of authority.  Plaintiffs cannot get damages or attorney’s fees unless empowered by the General Assembly by law.   Schools are excluded from this, probably because of special education issues which are federally controlled.

 

 

GOVERNMENT – EMPLOYMENT

SB 341  Robertson – 29   Retired peace officers and correctional officers can be recalled to duty during a declared disaster.  They will have the same powers and rights as before retirement.  They return to retirement status when the disaster is over.

 

SB 408  Strickland – 17   Removes the sunset date from the Sick Leave for Care of Immediate Family Members Act.   Currently, if a person earns sick leave, they may use up to five days/year for participatory care of immediate family members.  It was to sunset June 30, 2020.  This situation overwhelmingly affects women.  All of the NO votes in both chambers were men and excepting one House member, all were members of the majority party.  Unemployment compensation is amended to reflect the coronavirus crisis.  Benefit periods are doubled and amounts can vary depending on the percent of unemployed and participation by the employer in a program to get employees some benefits while working fewer hours.

 

SB 416  Mullis - 53   For FY21, the salaries of the Lt. Governor and every legislator are cut --  10% for legislators and the Lt. Governor offered up 14% of his salary.

 

HB 487  Bonner – 72   The Civil Air Patrol Auxiliary volunteers who are employees of a state agency may be granted up to 15 days paid leave in a year to render service in Georgia or a contiguous state if reciprocity exists.  Currently, employees who are volunteers for the American Red Cross have this benefit.

 

HB 914  Clark – 147   Transition military service members may apply for a license endorsement or temporary license if licensed in other states or they have military specialty, certification, training, or experience which meets or exceeds the state licensing requirements and may practice in GA.  Military spouses may get an endorsement or temporary license if licensed in another state with similar requirements as GA.

 

HB 1090  Silcox - 52   An employer has a duty to provide breaks for females who are nursing an infant for the purpose of expressing breast milk in a place that is not the restroom.  Does not apply to employers with less than 50 employees or when the employee is working away from their regular office.

 

 

GOVERNMENT – ENVIRONMENT

SB 123  Ligon – 3   Local governments will impose a $2.50/ton, currently $1/ton, fee for deposit of coal ash and associated byproducts in a city solid waste disposal facility.  The county will get 20% of the fee for further recycling or waste disposal expenses.  A landfill can expand closer than 2 miles from a military base with a bombing range, currently it cannot.  Solid waste will be charged 75 cents/ ton and old tires $1 each to go into a fund for educational, disposal, and administrative purposes.  A report is to be submitted to the General Assembly showing where all the dollars are spent.

 

SB 308  Kirkpatrick – 32   Unattended vessels in public waters will be dealt with by the Department of Natural Resources only.  The GBI is no longer responsible for any component of these actions.

 

SB 426  Strickland – 17   The unpermitted release of ethylene oxide must be reported to the Environment Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours and the information is to be posted on EPD’s website as soon thereafter as possible.

 

HB 833  Stephens – 164   The Department of Natural Resources shall develop rules and regulations regarding long-term anchoring of watercraft as to where, how long, and how to control sanitation within the estuarine areas of the state.

 

HB 857  Powell – 32     Bars burning chemically treated wood products, creosote or naphthenate, for purposes of commercial energy generation by permitted industrial biomass boilers.  Exempts  a boiler which also provides steam or electricity to any co-located forest products processing plant.

 

 

GOVERNMENT – FEDERAL ISSUES

HR 1240  Cantrell – 22   NNS   Urges the federal government to allow states to switch to permanent daylight savings time.

 

 

HEALTH

SB 28  Jackson – 2   Copayments, coinsurance, or office visit charges should be reasonable relative to covered benefits and shall serve as an incentive, rather than a barrier, to access appropriate care.

 

SB 303  Watson – 1   GA Right to Shop Act.  Pricing to be shown on the insurer’s website to aid consumers in making their choice.  Items to be included on the web site are listed.  Effective July 1, 2021.  

 

SB 345  Kirkpatrick – 32    Non-profit organizations preparing and providing food for consumption must adhere to the requirements for food safety.  No food prepared in a private home can be served, but it can be prepared in kitchens of public buildings such as churches, schools, and arenas as long as public health procedures are followed.  Must Ministries in Cobb County prepares sandwiches to feed children during the summer and school breaks.  Many sandwiches were made in private homes.  When inspected, they were cited.  This bill establishes the standards not quite as strict as those for restaurants, but not home-prepared either.   Schools, parent organizations, houses of worship, scouts, and feed-the-hungry organizations need to review this bill.

 

SB 359  Hufstetler – 52   Businesses have no liability for anyone getting COVID-19 while in their care or place of business unless there is gross negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, reckless or intentional  infliction of harm. Applies to causes of action for one year, until 14 July 2021.  There is nothing in this bill to help those who become afflicted who work at these businesses or who trade there.

 

SB 391  Kirkpatrick – 32   When a state of emergency has been declared or a hurricane warning issued, the Commissioner of Public Health may waive the time restrictions on prescription refills to enable patients to refill a 30-day supply in advance, if refills remain.  No Schedule II drugs can be dispensed and prescriber will be notified within 48 hours of the refill.

 

HB 752  Belton – 112   Physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and psychologists will be subject to a national background check through the GA Crime Information Center.  The reports will not be shared outside of the state.  Applicants for a license are to provide all necessary information to run a background check including fingerprints and pay any fees.

 

HB 789  Newton – 123   Hospitals must add ‘Hospital Surprise Billing Rating’ to their directories.  Each of four specialties, anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists, and emergency room doctors, is assigned a rating box.  If the box contains a red X, that specialty at that hospital is out of network.  A green check indicates ‘in network’, and a green N/A indicates that specialty is unavailable at that institution.  Sets up a rating system for patients to use to determine which physician specialty groups in their insurance company plan serves a given hospital.  Covers all plans operating in the state.

 

HB 791  Stephens – 164   In a declared emergency or hurricane warning period, the insurer shall waive restrictions on prescription refills and apharmacist may provide up to a 90-day supply of a maintenance medication for a chronic condition if the patient agrees and the prescribing doctor has indicated periodic refills are medically necessary.  This authorization does not apply to scheduled drugs and controlled substances or the initial fill.  Author is a licensed pharmacist.

 

HB 888  Hawkins – 27   Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act.  Requires a health insurance plan to treat any service to an insured receiving emergency services by an out-of-network provider as if it was an in-network provider.  The insured financial obligation for such charges will only be co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles as if the provider were in-network.  An out-of-network provider shall not report any covered person who received a surprise bill to a credit reporting agency for unpaid amounts exceeding any co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible.  Ground transportation is still the financial responsibility of the insured.The Commissioner of Insurance has responsibility for maintaining a data base of claims paid, any arbitration requested, and reporting to the General Assembly.  Effective 1-1-21.  This covers insurance providers who are overseen by the state Department of Insurance, between 13% and 20% of the providers.  It does not cover insurance providers administering ERISA plans under federal law.

 

HB 987  Cooper – 43   Strengthens the requirements for elder care in long-term facilities.  Doubles fees for violations when death or serious harm to a resident has occurred.  Licensing may not occur if a license has been suspended within a year or ownership has changed to avoid a fine.  Increases staffing to 1 to 15 residents in facilities of 25 beds or more effective 7-1-21.  Each facility must provide 60 days notice of any impending bankruptcy or property evictions which might require relocation of residents, and 14 days notice to residents of change of ownership that may force discharge or relocation or other adverse impact on safe care and oversight.  Memory care centers are to staff at 1-12 residents and to include various health care professionals.  Training requirements are to include specifics for dementia patients.  Licensing required for administrators in personal care homes and assisted living communities.  Preparation plans for a pandemic required.  Personal protective equipment to be on hand.  Testing to be done for residents and staff.  Notification of illness within the facility to be made to residents and families.  Establishes or increases fines for violations.

 

HB 1114  Cooper – 43   Medicaid patients may receive coverage for lactation care and services.  Medicaid will cover services to pregnant women for up to 6 months after given birth, currently 60 days.

 

 

REVENUE & TAXATION

SB 104  Payne – 54   A sales tax exemption is made permanent for nonprofit health centers, organ procurement organizations, and qualified food banks for food ingredients used for low-income hunger or disaster relief.  The sales tax exemption expiration is extended until 2026 for sale or use of noncommercial written materials by a charity.

 

HB 105  Watson – 172   An income tax exemption for funds received for Hurricane Michael disaster relief or assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in calendar years 2019 through 2023.  Repeals the sales tax on ride shares and imposes a 50 cent tax plus 25 cents per additional rider and dedicates the revenues to transit projects effective 1 April 2020.  The governor is calling a special session to pass this bill again because of a clerical error while under deliberation.  He says those who lost so much during Hurricane Michael need to be assured that their taxes will not be recalculated because of a possible challenge to the bill.  Other items could also be taken up if the governor so specifies in the call to the session, such as revisiting the budget because revenues are still below estimates.

 

SB 144  Anderson – 24   The Revenue Commissioner may issue a license, not to exceed $10, for a licensed dealer to sell tobacco products at special events in a temporary location for a period of 1 to 10 days.  The rules for such sales shall be the same as for selling at the permanent location and products shall not be sold to minors.  Special events could include  Augusta Masters Tournament, a NASCAR event, Cherry Blossom Festival, a Taste of (name a city).

 

HR 164  Powell – 171   TO BALLOT   CA to have fees or taxes collected for a specified purpose be used for that purpose.  Examples are the super speeder fine to be used for trauma care and drivers education and the fee on new tires to pay for disposal of the old tires.   Such revenues sources shall have a ten-year duration.  If the revenues are 1% or more of the total state revenues, the funds cannot be dedicated.  The state budget is currently about $26 billion; 1% is $260 million.) Often, these fees/taxes are used to keep the state in business during recession years rather than for the purpose for which they were imposed or they are deposited in the general fund rather than a specific fund and simply not used for their declared purpose.

 

HB 276  Harrell - 106   Marketplace facilitators [such as Amazon] and marketplace sellers must collect and submit GA sales tax if it does $100,000 per year in business in the state.  Exempts any transportation mode from sales tax.  Effective 4-1-2020.  The fiscal note for an earlier version shows FY21 with $78.4 million for a full year impact on state sales tax, and a $64.5 million impact on local sales tax revenues.  Some estimates have indicated that closing the loophole in the on-sales tax may raise as much as $10 million per month if sales remain at the pre-pandemic levels.   

 

SB 410  Kennedy – 18   If a Board of Assessors appeals an assessment and the determination is 85% or less of the Board’s valuation, the taxpayer can recover costs of litigation if the county governing authority approves as well as interest.  At the discretion of the appeals administrator, and with the consent of all parties, the hearing can be conducted virtually.  Currently, the taxpayercan recover only if the taxpayer appeals and the value is determined to be 85% or less of the previous valuation determined by the county.  Syncs the federal code with GA’s tax code, an annual process.  Creates a tax credit for businesses that produce personal protective equipment, PPE, of $1250 per job created until 2025.  Allows businesses which took a jobs creation tax credit in 2019 to take the same amount in 2020 and 2021.

 

HB 779  Blackmon – 146   Revises the distribution of the proceeds of the alternative ad valorem tax on motor vehicles among local governments.  Counties will receive 23% (currently 28%), municipalities get 28% (currently 23%), and the remaining 49% goes to the county school district unless there is a city school district when the city gets the 34% and the independent school district getting 43%.  

 

HB 846  Corbett – 174   Interest on refunds of state and local sales and use taxes from the date of the amended return or filling for refund claim is at the prime rate, currently prime plus 3%.  

 

 

TRANSPORTATION & DRIVING

HB 337  Blackmon - 16   Georgia Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Program.  This is an Airbnb type program for owned vehicles.  Establishes the amount of insurance each party should carry, the liability of each party, and reporting and taxing requirements.

 

HB 511  Tanner – 9   The ATLTransit Authority is transferred to DOT.  Creates staggered terms for board members.  Requires all transit services providers within the authority to utilize the ATL logo and brand on all property used in transit by January 1, 2023.  Extends until 2025 the use of the CPI index for annually adjusting the excise rate.

 

HB 799  Blackmon – 146   Eligibility for early reinstatement of a suspended driver’s license for DUI of a controlled substance or marijuana is now empowered.  Follows the same process as for alcohol DUIs.

 

HB 823  Gaines – 117   A person convicted of trafficking other persons for labor or sexual servitude using a commercial vehicle shall be disqualified for life from driving a commercial vehicle and shall have their commercial driver’s license revoked.

 

 

LOCAL – FULTON and its CITIES

HB 921  Bruce – 61   Amends the city charter of the City of South Fulton to provide for a city attorney.

 

HB 1019  Bazemore – 63   The City of South Fulton has a new city charter.  Text does not show the previous wording of the charter so what was changed is unknown.

 

SR 1048  Beach – 21   NNS   Commends the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.  Author is the former CEO of that chamber.

 

HB 1075  Holland – 54   Members of the board of education for Atlanta Public Schools shall have staggered terms.  Members in Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 elected in 2021 shall have a term of 2 years and members in Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 shall be elected for 4 years.  In elections thereafter, each member shall serve a term of 4 years.

 

HR 1163  Gambill – 15   Names several roads and bridges, one of which is for Emma Darnell, former 30-year Fulton County commissioner, specifically the interchange at I-85 and I-285 to be known as the Emma Darnell Memorial Interchange.  Another is for Leroy Johnson, the first African American to serve in the Georgia Senate since Reconstruction.  He represented Fulton County.  State Road 70 from Camp Creek Parkway to Campbellton Road in Fulton County is designated as the Leroy Johnson Memorial Highway.

 

HB 1167 Cannon – 58   A homestead exemption for the City of Atlanta of $30,000 for those who lease for 99 years from a landlord which is a charitable institution.

 

HB 1176  Jones – 47   To change the term of a Mountain Park city council seat to end on 12-31-21.  The next term shall be 4 years.  The legislation does not specify the district definition for this seat.  It says instead, “city council seat held by Lloyd Hendricks”.

 

HB 1216  Jackson – 64   A homestead exemption for Union City of $2000 assessed value, $5000 market value, for municipal operation budget.  The question will be on the November 2020 ballot and if passed, will be effective on January 1, 2021.

 

Sally FitzGerald, Capitol Observer

sallyfitz [at] bellsouth.net

League of Women Voters – Atlanta/Fulton, www.lwvaf.org 

League of Women Voters of GA,www.lwvga.org

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