2014 Legislative Overview

On Thursday, March 20th at the stroke of midnight the 2014 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly came to an end. What was expected to be a quick and easy legislative session found itself facing a number of hot button, emotional issues. In the final days, tensions ran high as legislators and lobbyists alike tried vehemently to get their bills to the Governor’s desk.

Below you will find updates on the bills we have been tracking for you throughout the session.

HB 153 is Representative John Carson’s bill providing for a fractional sales tax for SPLOST – making it possible for such taxes to be imposed at a rate of less than 1%. The bill passed the House and the Senate by substitute. The House disagreed with the Senate substitute and the Senate insisted – this resulting in the bill going to a conference committee on Day 40. The conference committee report came out and at the last minute of the 2014 session, Senator Judson Hill asked the Senate to recede on its disagree. The board lit up with questions and time ran out. The bill did not pass.

HB 195 is a bill sponsored by Representative Ed Setzler that allows two or more counties to come together for a TSPLOST. This bill did not pass the House by Day 30 and is, therefore, dead for the Legislative Session.

HB 802 is Representative Andy Welch’s bill regarding SPLOST for educational purposes. This bill passed the House Committee but did not pass the full House by Day 30 and was ineligible for passage this year.

HB 1042 was originally a bill revising provisions for auctioneers. This bill contained some language that concerned us regarding the definition of an auctioneer. The language was unintentionally capturing certain real estate auctions and association fundraisers. This language was removed in Senate Committee and when it passed the Senate on Day 39 the bill does nothing more than remove the definition of “Apprentice Auctioneer” from the current law.

Public Private Partnerships
SB 255 is Senator Hunter Hill’s bill having to do with provisions and processes for Public Private Partnerships for vertical construction projects. The bill passed out of the Senate and stalled in the House Rules Committee. The P3 concept is a conversation that will continue throughout the year and we will work with involved groups to prepare an improved bill.

School Construction
SB 301 eliminates prohibitions on wood construction in public schools assuming they are in compliance with the state’s minimum standard codes. This bill was sponsored by Senator Fran Millar. This bill passed the Senate and then passed the House on March 6, long before the end of the session. The bill is currently on the Governor’s desk.

SB 388, by Senator Josh Mckoon, imposes requirements on certain contracts and purchases by local boards of education relating to contracts and purchases by public schools and bidding for government works projects. This bill did not receive a hearing in the Senate Committee and did not pass for the 2014 Legislative Session.

SB 269 is Senator Lindsey Tippins’ bill relating to priorities of liens of material-men and mechanics. The bill did not get a hearing in the Senate Committee and is ineligible for the year.

SB 363 is another of Senator Tippins’ bills. This one requires bankers to disclose bank details as security measure for contractors. This bill failed on the Senate floor and failed to be reconsidered.

Tax Improvements
HB 128 is Representative Allen Peake’s “Downtown Renaissance Act.” This bill was amended to an evolving loan structure rather than a tax credit, which was the original intent. The bill passed the House and then the Senate on Day 39.

HB 788 provides an ad valorem tax exemption for property owned by the University of Georgia. This bill passed the House early and then passed the Senate as one of the last bills of the Session on Day 40. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk.

With the Legislative Session complete, Legislators are quickly transitioning into campaign season. The May primary is exactly 2 months away and there are many incumbents being challenged in their primaries. There have been a number of legislators who have already announced their retirement. These include Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance, Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton, Senator John Crosby, Representative Josh Clark and Representative Chuck Sims. Additionally, a number of Legislators are running for higher office – Senator Jason Carter is running for Governor, Senator Buddy Carter is running for Congress, Senator Hardie Davis is running for Mayor of Augusta, Majority Whip Edward Lindsey is running for Congress, and Representative Alisha Morgan is running for State School Superintendent. These changes among the others to come are sure to make next year a very different looking Legislature.