March 3, 2007

Progressing Legislation in Georgia Legislature as of 2/28/2007
We will try to update every few days to keep you up to date on new legislation.

The following bills may be of interest to you and/or can affect our county.

You can follow any bill on the internet at www.legis.state.ga.us.
You can also contact your representative or senator and/or the sponsor of these or any bill at this site. If you have an opinion, let them know how you feel. __________________________________________________________________
HB 201 Taxpayer Bill of Rights
(Rep. Bob Smith, R-113)
This bill requires local governments to add additional information to the “Notice of Property Tax Increase” advertisement required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (BOR). It also imposes a minimum size requirement of 30 inches for the advertisement. If a local government fails to comply with the Taxpayer BOR, the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue can require the local government to refund to the taxpayers the taxes that were collected in excess of the rollback rate.
Status: Pending in House Ways and Means

TWG: ACCG (Commissioners Group) opposes this legislation. Taxpayers ought to be happy about it. Note: Our BOC may be refunding taxes the way notices fail to get posted.
HB 232 Impact Fees
(Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-54)
This bill would require local governments collecting transportation impact fees to consider the proximity of the project to the area where the fees were collected when prioritizing their transportation projects. The bill also requires additional accounting records and an annual review of the program by the advisory committee. Status: Pending in House Governmental Affairs Committee

TWG: If this bill passes it means the impact fees won’t necessarily go to help all roads in the county; mostly those roads where the fees are generated (new subdivisions, etc.) would benefit.
HB 442 Allow 1% Statewide Transportation Sales Tax
(Rep. Vance Smith, R-129)
This bill will allow the state to impose a statewide one percent sales tax for transportation purposes if approved by voters in a statewide referendum. This is widely considered to be a placeholder bill that will be replaced by a more comprehensive proposal for a statewide sales tax for transportation.
Status: Pending in House Ways and Means Committee
SB 198 No Landfill within 7 Miles of Water Supply
(Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-28)
This bill prevents the EPD from permitting a landfill if it is within 7 miles upstream of a governmentally-owned public drinking water supply intake or water supply reservoir. Status: Pending Senate Assignment

TWG: Wouldn’t this be just common sense?
HB 451 Give Sales Tax Refund to Tourism Operations
(Rep. Jeff Lewis, R-115)
This bill allows companies engaged in approved tourism operations to receive a refund of their sales and use taxes – both state and local – for a period of ten years after the commencement or expansion of an approved tourism activity. The total refund allowed is the lesser of the entire sales and use tax liability of the company or 25% of approved costs. The Georgia Department of Economic Development, along with the county or city in which the project is located, determines which companies and projects are approved. Status: Pending House Ways and Means Committee

TWG:This is a strange bill as citizens are always told the reason we need to pass SPLOST and pay for more Economic Development is to bring in more tourist and to let them pay the sales tax to generate money for the City and County. How will letting them keep the sales tax for TEN YEARS benefit that plan?
HB 471 No Transfer of Private Water or Sewer Allowed
(Rep. Ron Stephens, R-164)
This bill prevents local governments or authorities from requiring the transfer of ownership of a privately constructed water or sewer system that is not to be connected to a publicly owned water or sewer system. In addition, local governments cannot require this transfer as a condition for the approval or issuance of local permits. Status: Pending in House Governmental Affairs Committee

TWG: This bill would prevent such entities as JCWSA from taking over water systems such as Turtle Cove. How it would affect Alcovy Shores Water and Shady Dale City water is unknown even though JCWSA has tried to have ASWA and possibly Shady Dale sign agreements as if JCWSA was allowing them to continue to operate. The Monticello News recently reported that JCWSA was going to write letter to City of Newborn about some 2,000ft. of water line that JCWSA feels is in their service area. The line has been installed and paid for by citizens of Newborn. JCWSA wants them to sign a contract.
HB 487 Election Reform—45% elects candidate
(Rep. Austin Scott, R-153)
For all state and county primaries, elections, and special elections, HB 487 provides that candidates, in order to be elected, must receive a plurality of votes cast rather than a majority of the votes cast. The bill defines plurality as 45% of the votes cast in the election. The bill also moves up the date of the presidential preference primary to the first Tuesday in February, 2008. The intent is to reduce the number of runoff elections and thereby reduce costs of the electoral process. This is especially important given the extremely poor turnout in runoffs statewide. This also represents the primary recommendation of the ACCG election alternatives study group that met and debated various election issues in 2005.
Status: Pending in House Governmental Affairs Committee

TWG: This would do away with “majority vote” and the phrase “majority rules.” 45% is not 50%+1 as has been the case. This would reduce the likelihood of runoffs.
SB 197 No Landfills within 2 Miles of Adjoining County
(Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-28)
This legislation prevents the EPD from permitting a landfill that is within two 2 miles of an adjoining county unless the adjoining county grants permission. Status: Pending Senate Assignment

TWG: Most people in the county would agree that we wouldn’t want Putnam, Newton or other adjoining counties putting a landfill near the county line; it would affect the people of Jasper County without them having any input. Strangely, ACCG opposes this bill. We must ask, WHY?
More on Senator Grant’s bill to help “Development Districts”:

SB 200/SR 309 Infrastructure Development Districts
(Sen. Johnny Grant, R-25)
This bill authorizes local governments to approve the creation of districts to finance infrastructure. Special assessments would be levied upon properties within the district to repay tax-exempt bonds issued to finance infrastructure (e.g. roads, water, sewer, parks, libraries, public safety facilities, schools). The financial burden a new development places on the county infrastructure would be paid by those buying into the development instead of the county taxpayers. The districts are created at the request of a petitioner, typically a developer. If approved, an independent board is established to oversee the financial management and infrastructure development within the district. The board assumes liability for any debt incurred and has limited taxing authority. The districts have no land use or zoning powers and must conform to the existing local government comprehensive plan.
Status: Pending in Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee

TWG: It comes as no surprise that ACCG is also actively supporting this bill. Think about this—an APPOINTED BOARD, not elected officials, will oversee the financial management of the district and will have “limited” TAXING AUTHORITY. Now that’s true TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.
Call anyone on the Local Gov’t Operations Committee and ask them to oppose this bill


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