Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – 02/21/24

This is an informal rundown of what happened under the Gold Dome on Day 23 of the legislative session.

HOUSE

HB 793 – Rep. Matt Barton
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65479 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Addresses the code section on examinations for counselors, social workers, etc.
  • Adds language to allow a person who is applying for a license in social work who is also enrolled in a social work master’s degree program to sit for the exam during their final semester of the program

CONCERN: Presumably to cut down on the delay time between graduation and applying for jobs, given that the non exam is not given multiple times per year.
Passed: 167-1

HB 946 – Rep. Lee Hawkins
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66085 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Pertains to special district mass transportation sales and use taxes in OCGA 48-8-260
  • Strikes language where general obligation debt can be retired only through intergovernmental agreements between municipalities/counties etc. as this is presently a a single reference in the code section.
    • Currently, the intergovernmental agreement for these tax districts (and subsequent) actions is authorized but not required.
    • New language requires it
  • Caps how tax collections are distributed within an intergovernmental agreement to ensure that one entity is not unfavorably collecting all of the revenue when municipalities also lie within the special tax district.
  • Outlines definitions for:
    • Absent municipality minimum percentage
    • Absent municipality ratio
    • Municipal centerline mile ratio
    • Municipal population ratio
  • Requires that the intergovernmental agreement outline all 100% of the collections and where they will be distributed and caps that intergovernmental agreement at 6 years before it must be renegotiated. 

CONCERN: Local control > legislative control, but local governments leave out a % of the money to ‘inadvertently’ collect more than other parties in the agreement and that may disproportionately harm other taxpayers. Additionally, requiring the contract is a good thing.
Passed 173-1

HB 987 – Rep. Cannon 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66173 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Reduces the minimum millage rate requirement for local boards of education that they must maintain in order to receive equalization money from the state.
  • Currently, the millage rate requirement in order for school systems to receive the state money is 14 mills. Over the past several years, school boards have raised taxes and then avoided rolling back taxes because ‘the state required’ a higher local rate all the while school systems collected more money from the state, more money due to higher assessments, and more money due to inflation and the value of a mill.
  • School systems won’t be required to roll the millage rates back, but if they keep them above 10 mills, it’s on the local leaders and they won’t be able to blame the state for their decisions. 

CONCERN: This is fantastic.
**Equalization money is socialistic anyway. In the practice, money from all over goes to poor districts while other wealthier districts get nothing.
Passed 161-12

HB 995 – Rep. Josh Bonner
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66213 
WHAT IT DOES:

  •  Creates OCGA 20-2-281.2 to require each public school AND each local school system with students in grades 11 and 12 to be selected and administered the ‘multiple-aptitude battery assessment’ (which is a predictor for military branches)
  • It’s voluntary on the student side but mandatory on the school/school system side, meaning only students who wish to participate have to participate but the schools/school system has to find someone.
  • The opportunity must be open to all 11 and 12th graders at least once
  • Parents have the ability to opt their child out

CONCERN: There is a requirement for the schools to administer this but no provision for what happens regarding school compliance if no one agrees to participate. Look at the children of today – they’re unlikely to do extra work/take extra exams for the heck of it and fewer and fewer young folks are going into the armed forces.
Passed 173-2

HB 1020 – Rep. Steven Sainz
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66267 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Amends OCGA 48-7-40.1 which addresses tax credits for business enterprises in less developed areas
  • This bill strikes code section on counties that contain federal military installations of 5,000+
    • Currently  for the tax credit, the county must have the 5,000+ personnel AND ALSO contain an industrial park owned by a governmental entity.
    • The industrial park part is eliminated here

CONCERN: On a positive, it prevents requiring local governments have from needing an IDA because of state regulations but on a negative, it expands the availability of a tax credit which is going the wrong direction in this state when it’s the individuals who are suffering.
Passed 174-1


SENATE

SB 232 – Sen. John F. Kennedy
Provides funding for the State Children’s Trust Fund
Passed 49-0

SB 360 – Sen. Billy Hickman
would provide that capital outlay funds (SPLOST) can be used for educational facilities for voluntary pre-K programs provided by the school system. Currently, when planning and budgeting, SPLOST dollars cannot be allocated for building space for pre-K. It would also provide that student projection counts may include pre-K.
Passed 50-0

SB 370 – Sen. Mike Hodges
Requires certain establishments to post human trafficking hotline inf for board members of massage therapy practices. Further, it provides for inspections of massage therapy practice licenses.
Passed 50-1

SB 374 – Sen. Larry Walker
Would change provisions relating to surveyor interns and professional land surveyors.
Passed 49-0

SB 449 – Sen. Larry Walker
Would exempt certain requirements to qualify as certified nursing aides, paramedics, cardiac technicians, and licensed practice nurses.
Passed 49-0

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

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