FROM Georgia News, Legislative Updates · Apr 2, 2018

GBAN Legislative Update- April 2, 2018

Legislative Calendar

Last week, the Georgia General Assembly convened for legislative days 39 and 40 on Tuesday, March 27, and Thursday, March 29, completing the 2018 legislative session.

Chamber Scorecard Legislation

House Bill 696: Sales and use tax; certain computer equipment sold or leased to certain entities for use in high-technology data centers; create exemption


Chamber Position: SUPPORT; SCORECARD

Bill Author: Representative Trey Kelley (Cedartown)

HB 696 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.  The new proposal incentivizes large investments by data centers in the state that will ultimately serve businesses across various industry sectors among other entities. The state House agreed to the Senate substitute by a vote of 108-54 on Thursday, March 29. HB 696 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.

House Resolution 993: Constitutional Amendment to create business court with statewide jurisdiction


Chamber Position: SUPPORT; SCORECARD


Bill Author: Representative Chuck Efstration (Dacula)

HR 993 proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would establish a business court with statewide jurisdiction. If enacted and approved by voters in November, this court would provide specialized resolution of complex business litigation matters.

HR 993 will enhance predictability, increase speed, improve case management, lower costs, and provide judicial expertise in complex commercial litigation. It will also provide relief to the demands placed on the state’s superior and state courts, making our judicial system more efficient. 

On Thursday, March 29, the state Senate passed HR 993 by a vote of 46-7. The state House gave final approval to the Senate substitute by a vote of 120-52, enabling the bill’s final passage. HR 993 now moves to public referendum.


House Bill 918:
 Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code

Chamber Position: SUPPORT; SCORECARD

Bill Author: Representative Chuck Efstration (Dacula)

HB 918 provides for the annual Internal Revenue Code update for the tax years 2017 and 2018 and includes a reduction of both the personal and corporate income tax rate to 5.75% in 2019 and 5.5% in 2020 upon approval by the legislature. Following “crossover day” the state House voted 135-24 on the final passage of the measure which was signed into law March 2. The passage of this law marks Georgia’s first income tax reduction since 1937.To view the Georgia Chamber’s statement, click here. To learn more about HB 918, view Representative Efstration’s live interview here.

Senate Bill 3: “Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act”


Chamber Position: 
SUPPORT; SCORECARD

Bill Author: Senator Lindsey Tippins (Marietta)

SB 3 aims to identify critical workforce needs of emerging industries by creating a career pathway for students to earn industry certification and credentials. On Wednesday, March 14th, the state Senate unanimously voted 51-0 to adopt the conference committee report for Senate Bill 3.  If signed into law, students in middle and secondary education will be provided the opportunity to partake in focused areas of study. The legislation also allows for the creation of work-based learning programs and mandates the expansion of tools and resources provided by the Department of Education to incentivize improved credentialed programs through competitive state grants.


Legislation of Interest

House Bill 739: Tracy Rainey Act

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative Al Williams (Midway)

HB 739 creates licensure reciprocity for military spouses moving to one of Georgia’s military installations. The Georgia Chamber continues to work diligently to support legislation that strengthens our military community as we prepare for another round of Base Realignment and Closures.

HB 739 seeks to create a smoother transition into our state for military families.  In addition, the bill provides for a stronger relationship between local communities and our military installations by allowing spouses to quickly integrate themselves into our growing job market. HB 739 unanimously passed the state Senate by a vote of 50-0. The bill now goes to the governor for further consideration.


House Bill 793:
 Sales and use tax; certain aquarium construction


Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative Dominic Lariccia (Douglas)

HB 793 extends the sunset from 2018 to 2022 on a sales tax exemption on tangible personal property used to renovate or expand an aquarium and for a museum in Cartersville. HB 793 passed the state Senate on March 19, by a vote of 45-9. HB 793 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.


House Bill 735:
 Income tax credit; expenditures on the maintenance of a railroad track owned or leased by a Class III railroad

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative Patty Bentley (Butler)

HB 735 creates an income tax credit for expenditures on the maintenance of railroad track owned or leased by a Class III or short-line railroads. This bill comes directly from the House Rural Development Council recommendations and mirrors the structure of the now expired federal 45G rail tax credit program by creating a tax credit in the amount of 50% of the qualified railroad track maintenance expenditures incurred during the taxable year with a $3,500 per mile cap. On Tuesday, March 27, the state House agreed to the Senate substitute by a vote of 160-9 and HB 735 and has been transmitted to the governor for further consideration.

House Bill 150: State Road and Tollway Authority; failure to pay tolls; place hold on motor vehicle registration

Bill Author: Representative Alan Powell (Hartwell)

In 2015 the General Assembly passed HB 170 (The “Transportation Funding Act” of 2015) which reformed the gas tax formula and tied the gas tax to an index. Over a 20-year period, the index will provide GDOT with almost $11 billion in revenue that will help keep up with material and labor costs tied to inflation. HB 170, as passed in 2015, included language that would have caused the consumer price index to sunset on July 1, 2018. The General Assembly passed HB 150 by a vote of 145-23. This will extend the sunset to July 1, 2022, enabling GDOT to continue to manage the construction program in a way that is commiserate with economic changes. HB 150 now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

House Bill 769: Health; recommendations from the House Rural Development Council

 Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative  Rick Jasperse (Jasper)

HB 769 implements recommendations from the House Rural Development Council related to healthcare. Creates a Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability to be housed at an academic institution. Creates a new category of “micro hospitals” which would be authorized in rural counties with hospital closures. Creates a new incentive program to increase number of healthcare providers in rural communities. On March 29, the state Senate gave final approval to the House substitute by a vote of 49-2, completing the bill’s passage. HB 769 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration. To learn more about HB 769, view Representative Jasperse’s live interview here.


House Bill 785:
 Solid waste management; certain definitions; modify and enact

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative Randy Nix (LaGrange)

HB 785 will provide for additional management options for materials previously classified as waste, such as non-recycled feedstock and post-use plastics.  This will allow for materials that cannot currently be economically recycled to be converted in to a new fuel source. On March 29, the state House unanimously approved the Senate substitute by a vote of 166-0. HB 785 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.


House Bill 787:
 Education; certain provisions relative to charter schools

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative Scott Hilton (Peachtree Corners)

On Thursday, March 29, the state Senate agreed to the House Substitute of HB 787 by a vote of 43-7, completing the bill’s final passage. HB 787 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. HB 787 will now be transmitted to the governor for further consideration.


House Bill 888:
 Ad valorem tax; certain reporting requirements

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Representative David Knight (Griffin)

HB 888 clarifies and preserves the intentions of previous freeport exemption legislation by exempting tangible personal property inventory from ad valorem taxes. Freeport exemptions are a county option. The state gives counties the authority to exempt certain goods from local property taxes. These exemptions can exist to allow manufacturers to not pay property taxes on “finished goods” if they are being assembled as part of another bigger piece of equipment. On March 29, HB 888 received final approval from the state House by a vote of 174-0. HB 888  will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.


Senate Bill 89
Transportation Department Officers; railways and railroad facilities and equipment

Status: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Senator David Shafer (Duluth)

SB 89 creates the Georgia Freight Railroad program to streamline state investment in a critical area of infrastructure. Additional freight rail capacity will be needed to provide highway congestion relief and accommodate Georgia’s growing economy; to that end, the program established through SB 89 will ensure state funds are effectively appropriated. On March 29, SB 89 received final approval from the state House by a vote of 149-13, but did not receive an agree from the Senate. Recognizing the importance of a continued commitment to our transportation infrastructure for economic development remains a Chamber priority.


Senate Bill 315:
 Computer Crimes; create a new crime of unauthorized computer access; penalties

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Senator Bruce Thompson Bruce Thompson (White)

On Thursday, the state Senate agreed to the state House substitute of SB 315 by a vote of 42-7, completing the bill’s final passage. SB 315 seeks to amend the existing “Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act” to include the crime of accessing a computer or computer network with the knowledge that such access is without authority. The new crime of unauthorized computer access would become a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. SB 315 will now be transmitted to the governor for further consideration.


Senate Bill 330:
 “Green Agricultural Education Act”; three-component model; provide

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Senator John Wilkinson (Toccoa)

SB 330 creates a pilot program introducing agricultural education in elementary schools throughout the state. This program will be based on the nationally recognized three-component model of school based agricultural education. By supporting the “Green Agricultural Education Act,” the Chamber remains committed to developing a qualified future workforce for Georgia’s top industry. On March 29, the state Senate agreed to the House substitute by a vote of  49-0, completing the bill’s final passage. SB 330 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.


Senate Bill 395:
 Georgia Joint Defense Commission; create

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Author: Senator Ben Watson (Savannah)

SB 395 creates a joint military commission focused on strengthening, protecting, and growing our base community. As all of our military installations prepare for possible base realignment and closure discussions, we believe it is paramount to have a cohesive state centered strategy to protect Georgia bases. SB 395 includes leadership from the House of Representatives, Senate, governor’s office, as well as industry experts in a state funded effort focused on our growing military communities. The state Senate unanimously approved the House substitute for SB 395 on March 29, by a vote of 54-0. SB 395 will now be sent to the governor for further consideration.


House Bill 930:
 Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; creation of certain community improvement districts

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Authors: Representative Kevin Tanner (Dawsonville), Senator Brandon Beach (Alpharetta)

HB 930 creates the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority (the ‘ATL’): a new structure for coordinated and integrated transit planning for the 13-County Metro Atlanta region. The bill establishes the governance and accountability of the ATL, as well as outlining new and enhanced transit funding; including through optional local taxes (TSPLOST) which counties may apply to raise transit funds.

HB 930 creates a new regional governance and funding structure for transit in Metro Atlanta. Metro Atlanta is defined as the 13-County region currently under GRTA’s jurisdiction, namely: Cobb, Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale Counties. The bill intends to improve the coordination, integration and efficiency of transit in the region, to promote a seamless and high-quality transit system for Metro Atlanta.

On Thursday, March 29, the state Senate adopted the conference committee report by a vote of 48-6, followed a state House vote of 155-19, completing the bill’s passage. HB 930 will now be transmitted to the governor for further consideration. To learn more about HB 930, or to view The Georgia Transportation Alliance’s Seth Millican’s interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting, click here.


Political Affairs Update

The Georgia Chamber and Georgia Transportation Alliance will be hosting a fundraiser for Chairman Kevin Tanner and Chairman Bill Werkheiser on Tuesday, April 24, from 11:30-1:00 P.M. at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce office. Click here to view the invitation. Please RSVP to Alex Coffey at acoffey@gachamber.com by close of business Monday, April 23. Please make checks payable to ‘Kevin Tanner for State House ‘and ‘Committee to Elect Bill Werkheiser.’ Lunch will be provided.

The Georgia Chamber Political Affairs Council, Inc. (PAC) is continuing to support candidates for office who will champion business-friendly, job-creating initiatives. Your support of the PAC is essential as we work to keep Georgia the number one state in which to do business. To make a donation to the PAC, click here. For additional information regarding the Chamber’s Political Affairs Council, Inc., contact Chelsey Ruppersburg at cruppersburg@gachamber.com. 

Click here to learn more about the Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Priorities.

View all previous GBAN Legislative Updates here.

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