Capitol Overview 2018: Week 8 Legislative Update – Cross Over Day Edition


Candidate Qualifying

Candidates for 2018 elections qualified for office this week. All of Georgia’s Constitutional Officers, House and Senate seats, local county seats and a Special Election for Alpharetta Mayor and City Council will be on the ballot.  Nine candidates qualified to run for governor – seven Republicans and two Democrats. Five candidates for Lt. Governor include two Democrats and three Republican candidates.

There will be contested races in every legislative seat in the North Fulton Delegation, Fulton County Commission Chairman,  Fulton County School Board District 2 and Fulton County Chief Magistrate Judge.  Look for complete coverage of these Fulton County races in an upcoming Capitol Overview.

Distracted Driving

This legislation hit a snag in Week 9 in the Senate as concerns arose regarding exceptions and the ability of law enforcement to determine if there were any violations.

HB 673 says that in order to activate your cellular device in any way – GPS, phone call, etc. – the device must be affixed to your car. Georgia already has a law banning texting while driving but police officers have indicated it is unenforceable as it is difficult and time-consuming to prove. The bill would impose fines of at least $300 for the first offense and it increases the penalty from one point up to six for repeat offenders.


Bills to create a Regional Transit Authority in Metro Atlanta have now both passed overwhelmingly out of their respective Chambers and were in transportation committee this week in the other Chamber for consideration. The expectation in committee is that both would substitute the other bill’s language for the original house or senate version, and then head to a conference committee for agreement.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Brandon Beach (R-21) proposed SB 386.

Major Provisions:

  • Creates the Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission. The purpose of this Commission would be to coordinate the funding and construction of transit facilities in the 13 county metro-Atlanta area.
  • Creates an optional T-SPLOST that counties which are a part of the system may adopt through a referendum. The money would be used to fund public transit expansion within the local jurisdiction. The jurisdictions are encouraged to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with MARTA for their transportation services.
  • Authorizes the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority to oversee the creation of the ATL board to develop, manage, and execute regional transit strategies throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area. The ATL Commission will consist of the Georgia Commissioner of Transportation, Mayor of Atlanta, Chief Executive Officer of MARTA, and County Commission Chairmen from each member-county.
  • The House Transportation Committee passed Senate Bill 386, but stripped it of all language from the Senate Bill and substituted all of the language for House Bill 930.  

Rep. Kevin Tanner, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced

HB 930 as a result of the work of the House Regional Transit Funding and Governance Commission. The bill was amended to remove the special tax district for Cobb County and allow the entire county to have the option to join the new Regional Transit Authority if created.

Major Provisions:

  • Restructures GRTA into the Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission incorporating the 13 counties in the ARC region in the new authority governed by newly created districts.
  • Identifies two new funding revenues to support transit: (1.) Adds a 50-cent charge per trip on rideshare, taxi and limo providers (2.) Creates a 1% airport tax on concessions at the Atlanta airport.
  • Allows new counties to call for a referendum to levy a 1% transit SPLOST.
  • The Senate Transportation Committee heard House Bill 930 on Wednesday, March 7th without taking a vote, and awaits another hearing in the Senate Transportation  Committee.

Leadership in both Chambers agree that metro Atlanta needs well-networked, efficient transit and both are committed to passing framework legislation. What that final piece of legislation will look like remains to be seen. Rep. Tanner and Sen. Beach have both indicated that House and Senate are working together but differences remain.  This is likely to not be decided until the last day of the session, Sine Die on March 29.


Governor’s Budget Proposal

Governor Deal signed HB 683, the amended FY2018 appropriations bill. The bill authorized $25.4 billion in spending for the current fiscal year, based upon a 2.7% growth in general fund revenues over FY2017 collections. The additional funding addresses growth needs in education and human services, and provides additional funding to local government, school systems, and statewide economic development efforts. Highlights include:

  • $101.4 million for a midterm adjustment for K-12 enrollment growth
  • $25.9 million for airport runway extension projects
  • $60.7 million in additional funds for Forestland Protection Act reimbursements
  • $15.7 million for school buses for local school systems
  • $9.6 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program
  • $2 million to expand marketing efforts to promote educational opportunities available at the technical colleges
  • $10.3 million for technical college equipment replacement statewide
  • $28.2 million for the Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid
  • $1.2 million for hospitals to offset costs due to the high number of flu cases
  • $15.1 million for child welfare services to care for children in state custody
  • $3.5 million for autism services for children under 21
  • $10 million for grants to local communities for beach nourishment projects
  • $1.6 million for improvements to the Great Dunes South Beach Park and the Ocean View Beach Park at Jekyll Island State Park

Then focus now shifts to the FY19 budget.

  •  FY 2019 ·
  •  $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System. ·
  • $127.6 million for K-12 enrollment growth, training and experience. ·
  • $30 million to assist low-wealth school systems. ·
  • $54.3 million for resident instruction at University System institutions. ·
  • $5.9 million for operations for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center. ·
  • $34.4 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program. ·
  • $255.9 million for Medicaid to fund growth and offset the loss of federal and other funds. ·
  • $28.8 million for child welfare services to fund out-of-home care growth and foster care per diem increases. ·
  • $5.9 million for autism crisis services for children under 21. ·
  • $22.9 million to implement recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health. ·
  • $5 million for accountability courts to implement new courts and expand existing courts. ·
  • $31.7 million in new motor fuel funds for transportation. ·
  • $100 million in bond funds to repair and replace bridges throughout the state.

The overall numbers for the FY 2019 revenue estimate is $26,032,155,186 with an FY 19 Budget of $22,365,038,266, a $917,700,455 increase over the FY 18 Amended Budget.


SB 317:       Fulton County Schools Homestead Exemption
Sponsor:    Sen. John Albers (r-56)
Status:        Passed the Senate; Passed the House 169-0
Provides for a homestead exemption capped at a 3% increase annually for all properties located within the Fulton County School District.

HB 707, 708, 710, 711, 712  Fulton City Homestead Exemption 
Sponsor:     Rep. Jones, Rep. Price, Rep. Martin, Rep. Raffensperger
Status:         Passed the House by substitute; Passed the Senate; Sent to the Governor
Provides a homestead exemption from City ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park and Roswell, with a cap of 3% or CPI (whichever is less) based on the 2016, 2017 or 2018  year assessed value that is the lowest. This measure to be on the Nov. 2018 ballot.

HB 820:    Tax Assessment Procedure Following Rejection of a Tax Digest
Sponsor:   Rep. Beth Beskin, (R-54)
Status:       Passed the House by substitute; Senate Finance Committee
This bill now has new language that removes the former intent to freeze all Fulton County residential property tax values at the 2016 levels for two years and replaces it with language to provide for a homestead exemption from City of Atlanta ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the adjusted base year assessed value of such homestead.



HB 787:      Charter School Funding Act
Sponsor:    Rep. Scott Hilton (R-95)
Status:        Passed the House; Senate Education and Youth Committee
Increases funding for state authorized charter schools.  Schools currently funded at the average of the five lowest funded districts in the state would see funding increased to the state average.

SB 3:      Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training                   (CONNECT) Act
Sponsor: Sen. Lindsey Tippins, (R

Status:     Passed House & Senate; Sent to Conference Committee
Requires the State Board of Education to prescribe a minimum course of study in career education for students in grades 6-12. The course of study should include career exploration and career-oriented learning experiences that include participation in work-based learning programs like internships, apprenticeships, cooperative education, or employable skill development; and rigorous industry credentialing.


SB 309:        
Special Election Primaries     
Sponsor:      Sen. Josh McKoon (R-29)
Status:          Passed the Senate; House Government Affairs Committee
Provides that special primaries shall be conducted with special elections to fill vacancies in partisan offices, and standardizes all poll hours to 7 am – 7pm.

Public Safety

 HB 673:      Distracted Driving
Sponsor:    Rep. John Carson (R-46)
Status:        Passed the House by substitute; Senate Judiciary Committee
Prohibit actions which distract a driver while operating a motor vehicle; to provide for the proper and safe use of wireless telecommunications devices while driving.


HB 764:       Medical Cannibus Conditions
Sponsor:     Rep. David Clark, (98)
Status:         Passed the House; Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Adds post-traumatic stress syndrome and chronic pain to the list of eligible conditions that can be treated in Georgia with medical cannibus oil.

SB 352:       Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery
Sponsor:    Sen. Rene Unterman, (R-45)
Status:        Passed the Senate by Substitute; House Health and Human Services Committee
Creates a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders; prohibits patient brokering and fraudulent drug testing and billing practices.

Business / Taxation

HB 61        Internet Sales Tax Collection
Sponsor:  Rep. Jay Powell, (R- 171)
Status:      Passed the House; Passed Senate Finance Committee by Substitute9
                  Attached to HB 329 and passed the Senate
Require online retailers who make at least $250,000 or 200 sales a year in Georgia to either collect and remit to the state sales taxes on purchases or send “tax due” notices each year to customers who spend at least $500 on their site.

HB 696:    Computer Equipment Tax Credit
Sponsor:  Rep. Trey Kelley (R-16)
Status:      Passed the House by substitute; Senate Finance Committee
Allows for state sales and use tax exemptions for certain computer equipment sold or leased for use in high-technology data centers.  This is a modernization of existing tax law relative to data centers with incentives for large investments by data centers in the state.

HB 888:      Freeport Exemptions
Sponsor:   Rep. David Knight (R-130)

Status:       Passed House; Passed Senate Finance by Substitute
Summary: To create uniform timelines for filing and responding to applications for freeport exemptions.

HR 993:      Create a Business Court with Statewide Jurisdiction
Sponsor:    Rep. Chuck Efstration, (R-104)
Status:        Passed the House; Senate Judiciary Committee 
Proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would establish a business court with state-wide jurisdiction to provide specialized resolution of complex business litigation matters.

SB 2:           The FAST Act
Sponsor:    Sen. Mike Dugan, (R-
Status:        Passed Senate in 2017; House Substitute Reconsidered
Substitute bill now only requires the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to establish a council to create and maintain the “Ready for Partnership” program, a voluntary certification program for each county and municipality in Georgia that includes licensing and permitting fees charged, time required to process applications for licenses and permits and other regulatory requirements for businesses and professions, the manner by which dispute resolution over such licensing, permitting, and regulatory requirements is handled, and the consolidation of forms and documents to avoid repetitive or duplicate requests for information.

SB 17:        Brunch Bill  (R-45)
Sponsor:   Sen. Rene Unterman
Status:       Passed the Senate by substitute; Passed House Regulated Industries Committee
Allow for Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants to begin at 11:30 am with a voter referendum in local jurisdictions.

SB 402:       Rural Broadband Act
Sponsor:    Sen. Steve Gooch, (R-51)
Status:        Passed Senate by substitute; House Ways and Means Committee
Encourages the deployment of broadband and other communications technologies. Authorizes GDOT to use or lease interstate and state road rights of way and to contract with public or private entities to bury broadband equipment on the right of ways of interstate highways, allows for a portion of any profits will be used for DCA grants to promote broadband, and outlines the state’s role in developing a plan for deployment of the broadband system.


HB 930:       Regional Transit Authority Act 
Sponsor:    Rep. Kevin Tanner, (R-9)
Status:        Passed the House by Substitute162-13; Senate Transportation Committee
Includes transit governance and funding options for the Metro Atlanta region (Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale counties). The bill creates a new regional governing board, Atlanta-region Transit Link (ATL), that will lead the planning and coordination of transit in Metro Atlanta as well as control state and federal transit funding. Two new funding revenues would be created to support transit:

1) a 50-cent charge per trip on rideshare, taxi and limo providers
2) a 1 percent airport tax on concessions at the Atlanta airport.

Counties in the Metro Atlanta area (and counties outside of Metro Atlanta who partner with a neighboring county) would be able to call for a referendum to levy a 1 percent Transit SPLOST for up to 30 years to enter the regional transit system.

 SB 386:      Regional Transit Authority (ATL)
Sponsor:   Sen. Brandon Beach, (R-21)
Status:       Passed Senate by Substitute 51-4: Passed House Transportation Committee by substitute
Creates the Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission in the metro-Atlanta area with an optional T-SPLOST that counties which are a part of the system may adopt through a referendum to join the current MARTA system for their transportation services.


Sen. John Albers
[email protected]Sen. David Shafer
[email protected]

Sen. Brandon Beach
[email protected]

Sen. Fran Millar
[email protected]

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick
[email protected]

Sen. Jen Jordan
[email protected]

Rep. Todd Jones
[email protected] Rep. Meagan Hanson
[email protected]

Rep. Rich Golich
[email protected]

Rep. Jan Jones
[email protected]

Rep. Beth Beskin
[email protected]

Rep. Brad Raffensberger
[email protected]

Rep. Chuck Martin
[email protected]Rep. Scott Hilton
[email protected]

Rep. Wesley Cantrell
[email protected]

Rep. Deborah Silcox
[email protected]

Rep. Wendell Willard
[email protected]

Rep. Betty Price
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