UNDER THE GOLD DOME Legislative Week 5

“All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” – Aristotle  

Fractional SPLOST Bills Receive House and Senate Hearings
Two pieces of legislation that would allow counties to impose a SPLOST of less than one percent (this does not include ESPLOST) were heard in the Georgia General Assembly this week.

House Bill 153, sponsored by Rep. John Carson (R) was heard in a House Ways and Means Sub-Committee and Senate Bill 99, sponsored by Sen. Judson Hill (R) was passed by the Senate Finance Committee this week.
The measure, supported by the Cobb County Commission, Cherokee County Commission and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, was passed on a 47-1 vote in the 2012 Legislative Session but failed to receive a vote in the House, which denied any chance for passage last Session.  However, it appears momentum has increased for passage of the bill, as indicated by the dual pieces of legislation and the full support of the Commissioners in Cobb and Cherokee counties. Copies of the adopted resolutions by Cobb and Cherokee County can be viewedHERE and HERE
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee has stated that Cobb County is quickly being built out and the need for a full penny SPLOST is shrinking and limiting the number of years a SPLOST is collected in order to reduce the dollars collected, meaning voter approval every two years, is not an effective or efficient method.  In fact, in analysis done by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, shows an increased fatigue of SPLOST approval by the voters.  Both Gwinnett, Cobb and Forsyth Counties, ranked in the top 10 in SPLOST revenue in 2012, saw their most recent SPLOST approved with 56%, 50% and 52% respectively; not encouraging numbers for an elected official who sees an increased need for additional SPLOST’S in the future, as transportation and infrastructure needs increase. (To see the full ACCG analysis, click HERE).

(Rep. Carson and Cobb Chairman Tim Lee testify before House Ways and Means)
Cherokee Chairman Buzz Ahrens pointed out that the county can put together a list of needs that would not require a full penny and would have the ability to ask the voters for less than a penny to meet the project list needs.
A key difference between the House and Senate bills, include a provision in HB 153, which would require counties to obtain the consent of all cities involved through an intergovernmental agreement prior to holding a fractional SPLOST referendum. Carson believes this would address concerns of the Georgia Municipal Association, of counties only asking for what is needed, leaving the cities with no additional funds from SPLOST.

House Bill 153 is expected to receive a vote in the full House Ways & Means Committee next week and Senate Bill 99 will be eligible for a vote in the Senate, as it awaits placement on the Rules calendar. As the legislation continues through the legislative process, the Council will continue to provide input and analysis on what will most likely be a late Session approval of the measure if the momentum continues at its current pace.
As reported in last week’s Under the Gold Dome, the House passed HR 4, legislation that seeks to put an end to Georgia’s “Water Wars” with Tennessee and Alabama.  This week, after detailed testimony by Brad Carver, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Resolution was passed out of the Committee and has been placed on the Senate Rules Calendar.  To view the supporting presentation by Bard Carver, of Council member Hall, Booth & Smith, clickHERE.

 (Brad Carver testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee )
Council for Quality Growth Board Member, Senator Brandon Beach, who was recently named Chairman of the Senate Sub-Committee on Roads and Bridges, will hold a Town Hall meeting jointly with Rep. Calvin Hill, on March 2 at the Hickory Flat Public Library at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Ball Ground City Hall.

For a broader look and in-depth coverage of the Georgia Senate, click HERE to view the weekly Senate report that covers a variety of legislation, published by the Georgia Senate Press Office.

For a broader look at legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives, clickHERE to view the legislative reports published by the House Communications Office.