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Today's Read

12
Feb

Legislative Update – Week Four

Fourth Legislative Week   

House Passes Amended Budget for Fiscal Year ending June 2013

The House passed a $19 billion 2013 amended fiscal year budget on Friday.  While the States portion of funding the annual budget was just under $20 billion, the actual total state budget, including federal funds, is almost $40 billion.  The legislation now goes to the Senate where typically only a few changes are made. The legislature only has the authority to reallocate funding, and not change the anticipated revenues the governor says the State will collect.

House subcommittee Holds Second Hearing on House Ethics Reform Legislation

A subcommittee of the House Rules Committee met for the second time to address lobbyist registration and spending on legislators.  During the first subcommittee meeting, the RBC asked the committee to provide sufficient leeway in the law to allow volunteers from local Chambers of Commerce to visit the legislature and talk to legislators without being defined as a “lobbyist” and having to pay the $300 lobbyist registration fee.  The RBC pointed out that the draft bill also made talking to a local elected official about Chamber policies as “lobbying.”  Both of these proposals were very problematic for volunteers on local chambers of commerce government affairs committees who meet periodically with local legislative delegations and other elected officials.

In response, the subcommittee proposed a new bill this week that removed any discussions with local elected officials from being considered as “lobbying”.  Additionally, unless a Chamber member is paid to lobby a legislator, a volunteer Chamber member can meet with a legislator on policy issues up to five (5) times a year before they are considered to be “lobbying” the legislator.  If a Chamber member meets with a legislator at the Capitol for more than five (5) times and that legislator is NOT their own legislator, they would have to pay a lobbyist registration fee of only $25 and file the appropriate ethics documents. There are NO LIMITATIONS on the number of discussions an individual can have with their own elected legislators.

This is a significant improvement over the initial legislation.  This new legislation should not place any Chamber volunteers in danger of being defined as a “lobbyist” under Georgia law.

Two metro Atlanta Legislators Introduce Legislation to Amend Transportation Investment Act (TIA)

State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) introduced SB 73 which would remove the 30% local match penalty presently in the TIA.  Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) introduced HB 195 which allows the creation of special districts consisting of two or more counties to levy a sales tax for transportation purposes.  Both sponsors were outspoken opponents to last years regional TSPLOST referendum.  Numerous legislators and local Chambers of Commerce from districts that passed the TIA have been very vocal in opposition to any changes in the TIA law now that they have passed their regional transportation sales tax.

Legislation introduced to date:

House Bills –                    285

House Resolutions –         271

Senate Bills –                   125

Senate Resolutions –       206

Total                                 887

Twenty six legislative days remain in the 2013 Legislative Session.

 

Have a great week.

 

For detailed information on specific legislation visit:   www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx

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