The Georgia General Assembly passed the half way mark on Tuesday, February 11. The current resolution sets Day Thirty, also known as "Crossover Day", on March 3. Crossover Day is the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it was introduced and transfer to the other chamber for consideration. While a new resolution can always change these dates, and the General Assembly can meet for less than forty days, the date set for the final Day Forty, Sine Die, is Thursday, March 20.
There are several pieces of legislation pending that are relevant to economic development in Georgia, including bills that effect the way development authorities work with local governments and changes in tax policy that impact transportation infrastructure funding.
King & Spalding takes no official position on the following legislation and the information is provided for the benefit of our readers. It has been compiled with the assistance of K&S colleague Jason Shepherd. The full text and status of each bill can be found on the General Assembly's website at http://www.legis.ga.gov.
- Economic Development:
- HB 128: "The Downtown Renaissance Act;" Rep. Peake of the 141st District. The Georgia Municipal Association ("GMA") has put together a list of resources detailing the Act and its impact on downtown redevelopment at http://www.gmanet.com/RenaissanceAct.aspx. Several of the key points in the legislation, which is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, include;
- $5 million per year in tax incentives for the purchase and/or significant improvements of downtown housing.
- $20 million per year in tax incentives ranging from 10 to 25 percent for investments in new construction or renovations of existing buildings within Renaissance Districts.
- $5 million per year in statewide tax incentives for individual or corporate contributions to the "Georgia Renaissance Fund." Proceeds of the fund would be used for low-interest loans for downtown projects, partnering with the Downtown Revolving Loan funds available through the Georgia Cities Foundation and Department of Community Affairs that are in such high demand.
- HB 225: Amend the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's Rule Making Authority; Rep. Kirby of the 114th District. This legislation, which is currently in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee would require the Georgia General Assembly to approve any rules promulgated by the GEPD before the rule could take effect.
- HB 921: Reporting by Authorities to Local Governments; Rep. Dollar of the 45th District. This legislation, currently in the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee, mandates that each development authority provide a quarterly report to the governing body of the county or municipal corporation in which it was created, and to the local board of education, detailing:
- Any new projects that are being considered since the last report;
- Any progress on existing projects; and
- Any other information that would assist the governing body of the county or municipality in developing its plans.
- HB 927: Enterprise Zones; Rep. Stephens of the 164th District. This legislation, which is currently in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, seeks to allow local governments the authority to provide exemptions and abatements currently allowed in the enterprise zone to a retail business which has at least 20 full-time employees and maintains a retail inventory valued at $1 million or more.
- SB 255: "Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act;" Sen. H. Hill of the 6th District. This legislation, which is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee, would allow for public agencies to work with private-sector parties in public-private partnerships to meet both current and future needs for government facilities and infrastructure. The legislation encourages a proactive approach that allows private firms to submit unsolicited proposals for projects that have been identified as a public need.
- HB 195: Special District Transportation Sales & Use Tax; by Rep. Setzler of the 35th District. This legislation, which is currently in the House Transportation Committee, would allow voters in areas that did not approve the TSPLOST last year to approve special districts formed by counties in order to establish a special transportation sales tax and may not be less than three and no more than ten years in length and cannot exceed one percent.
- HB 648: Taxation of Motor Fuels; by Rep. Harrell of the 106th District. Currently the Georgia collects a $.04 tax on each gallon of gas sold in Georgia. The tax is allocated with $.03 going to the Georgia Department of Transportation ("GDOT") and $.01 going to the General fund. The legislation, which is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, would reallocate the tax so 1/4 cent more goes into General fund from 2016 to 2020.
- SB 73: Repeal of the TSPLOST Penalty Provision; by Sen. Albers of the 56th District. In the wake of last year's TSPLOST vote, the original legislation provided for a penalty on any area that did not pass the TSPLOST. This legislation, which is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee, would repeal the penalty on local governments that required a thirty-percent match for local government maintenance and improvement grants by the GDOT for road projects.
- Despite leadership's statements that there would be no significant tax reform this year, there are several bills currently pending, including two amendments to the Georgia Constitution, to eliminate the State Income Tax in favor of a consumption tax. These include HB 688, "The Fair Taxation Act of 2014" by Rep. Kirby of the 114th which abolishes the state income tax for a consumption tax; SR 8 by Sen. McKoon of the 29th which proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that will phase out state income tax by 2026 reducing the tax by 0.5 percent a year starting in 2016. Additionally, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer of the 48th District has two proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution, SR 412, which caps the state sales tax at 4 percent and SR 415 which caps the state income tax at 6 percent. With the exception of SR 415 which has passed onto the Senate Rules Committee, the others are currently in either House Ways and Means or the Senate Finance Committee.
- HB 153: Fractional SPLOST; by Rep. Carson of the 46th District. This legislation, which is currently in the Ways and Means Committee, would allow counties, pending an intergovernmental agreement with local municipalities, to levy, pending voter approval, a special option sales tax of less than 1%, but only in increments of .05%. Any tax that is imposed is not to exceed 1% and counties may have multiple fractional SPLOSTS, providing they do not exceed 1%.
- SB 99: Fractional SPLOST; by Sen. Judson Hill of the 32nd District. This legislation, which has passed the Senate by a 47-1 vote and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee would allow counties to collect a fractional SPLOST up to one penny, upon approval of the voters. Current law does not allow fractional SPLOSTS.