The 2017 General Assembly Session for the state of Georgia opened on January 8th, and it’s been a slow start.  The House and Senate took off the week of MLK Holiday, and only began assigning bills to committee the week of January 25th.  Nevertheless, there are bills that are of great interest to AIA, including some that we are actively involved with.

We will be adding more information on the bills below in the coming weeks, and of course adding more bills as legislators introduce them.

AIA Georgia’s government affairs team works closely with Peachtree Government Relations, who provide us with weekly updates on all of the going-on at the Capitol.

Click here to read the latest report from our PGR Team.

Click here to see past reports from PGR.

House Bill 41:  Enabling the Pilot Integrated Path to Licensure Program at the Savannah College of Art and Design

SCAD is one of 17 architecture schools around the country that has been given permission by NCARB to implement a program that allows students to pursue all three legs of the licensure requirements (an accredited degree, 3,750 work hours, and passage of the ARE Exam) simultaneously.  Traditionally, those seeking licensure had to pursue these legs sequentially.  The average time from freshman year to licensure is now 12+ years nationally.

SCAD is seeking to implement a program that will dramatically shorten this process – perhaps to 7-9 years.  The benefits are many, accruing to firms across the state, females and minorities in the profession, and for the state’s ability to attract and keep the most mature and committed architecture students after graduation.

Both of our other two architecture schools, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University, have written letters of support for this pilot program.  It also has the support of the state Architecture Licensing Board.

Rep. Brett Harrell

Rep. Ron Stephens

Rep. Mickey Stephens

Rep. Buzz Brockway

Rep. Meagan Hanson

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

Georgia Institute of Technology

Kennesaw State University

Click here to read the bill.

Click here to check the most up to date status of the bill.

Click here to read the SCAD white paper on their pilot program.

Click here to read the short brief of HB 41.

Click here to read Equity in Architecture’s support letter for HB 41.

House Bill 55:  Term Limits for Individuals Serving on State Licensing Boards

AIA members serving on the state licensing board have expressed no opposition to this bill – and on its face would not seem to be very controversial.  However, after 5 weeks in Session, the bill has not received a hearing in its assigned committee yet – and it needs to get a full affirmative vote from the House by March 3rd, or it cannot move forward this year.  AIA will stay alert on this bill and let our members know if it begins moving.

Rep. Williams

Rep. Bentley

Rep. Peake

Click here to read the bill.

Click here to check the most up to date status of the bill.

House Bill 59:  Enhancements to Historic Building Tax Credit laws

AIA had some great success in 2015 with the passage of a robust Historic Building Tax Credit law, that has had tremendous success in the last two years.  During 2016 the General Assembly conducted a Study Committee to see how well it was working.  The committee returned some great suggestions, and many of those are included in an update to the 2015 bill – House Bill 59 – that is working its way through the current Session. So far, the bill has received strong support, and no stated opposition. As of February 20th, it is scheduled for a final vote in the House Ways and Means Committee, and we expect it to pass out successfully.

HB 59 makes 5 critical updates to the existing law:

  1. Eliminates the $25 million aggregate program cap
  2. Eliminates the per project $5 million and $10 million caps
  3. Eliminates the number of times that the tax credits can be transferred
  4. Modifies and clarifies ownership requirements to claim the tax credit – the entity would not have to own the property the entire duration of a project to claim the credit.
  5. Extends the sunset date of the legislation from 2021 until 2027.

Rep. Ron Stephens

Rep. Jay Powell

Rep Debbie Buckner

Rep. Williams

Click here to read the bill.

Click here to check the most up to date status of the bill.

Click here to read the final report of the Study Committee.

Check out this article which provides a great overview of the state of historic building protections and encouragements for adaptive reuse – in all 50 states.  Its good stuff.    

Senate Bill 2:  Streamlining Municipal Permitting and Licensing Procedures

This bill has been identified by the Republican leadership as a priority for the 2017 Session.  Mostly it will address delays and long waiting periods that many businesses encounter in Georgia when pursuing a building or construction permit, or of a professional license.

The authors of the bill solicited feedback from AIA – how to make it better and eliminate unintended consequences. After receiving comments and feedback from a lot of our members, we focused on three things: 1) we ensured that the agencies would be able to create a diverse schedule of fees and schedules, to account for highly complex projects (like hospitals), 2) we were not comfortable with an expedited review process that allowed rich projects to buy their way to the front of the line at the expense of other projects that could not do so, and 3) we recommended that each agency be required to create a master list of required elements for a permit review on the front end of the application.

All three of these recommendations have been accepted/addressed by the authors and integrated into the current iteration of the bill.

Sen. Dugan

Senator Shafer

Senator Cowsert

Senator Gooch, and others.

Click here to read the bill.

Click here to check the most up to date status of the bill.

Click here to see the recommendations that AIA has submitted to the bill’s author.  All have been accepted in the version voted out of subcommittee on February 14th.

Senate Bill 26:  Competitive Bidding for Public School Projects

This bill would require that local boards of education award by competitive bid any project exceeding $50,000 over a 12 month period. The bill also adds a new Code Section that says if a board selects a “construction manager at risk” for the bid, the guaranteed maximum price shall not be subject to change after the contract is executed. This bill is in the Education and Youth Committee in the Senate, and after 5 weeks has yet to receive a hearing.  AIA of course has a problem with low bid selection processes on design projects, and we will watch this bill closely.

Sen. Josh McCoon (R – Columbus)

Click here to read the bill.

Click here to check the most up to date status of the bill.