Session Update: Week Six

Dale Rutledge Session Update Week 6

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, the General Assembly began Week Six of the 2020 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia. I will update you weekly on what is happening at the Capitol.

On Wednesday, February 19, we passed one of the most important bills of the legislative session, House Bill 792, to amend the state budget for the current fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees have worked many long hours to finalize the AFY 2020 budget bill based on Gov. Kemp’s budget proposal and fulfill our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget. 

In addition to passing HB 792 this week, my colleagues and I unanimously passed House Bill 487, Robert Argo Disaster Volunteer Relief Act, to provide a greater opportunity for Georgia’s state employees to volunteer after declared natural disasters occur. In recent years, Georgia has experienced many natural disasters, and selfless Georgians, including state employees, volunteered their time and energy to rebuild our impacted communities. Under HB 487, state employees who are certified volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol United States Air Force Auxiliary would be granted paid leave for up to 15 workdays per year for volunteering after certain natural disasters in specialized emergency services operations. This legislation is named in honor of former Georgia Representative Robert Argo, who was active in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.

This week I presented HB 854 to the Governmental Affairs Committee. This measure would set minimum standards for the alarm fencing industry to allow a seamless permitting process with local government bodies across the state. Currently, most city and county permitting offices in Georgia have no governing ordinances in place, which creates a lengthy delay for business owners who decide to protect their assets with the latest technology in alarm fencing. This legislation will only apply to businesses already located in commercial and industrial zoned properties. Also, this measure would give local governing bodies the ability to issue installation permits quickly which will, in turn, allow their community business owners to safely protect their investments.

I also signed onto HB 868 with Chairman Chuck Martin which will eliminate the sales tax on for-hire ground transportation companies like taxi cabs, Uber, and Lyft. Since this is a service and not a tangible product, we feel it’s worth a conversation to eliminate the sales tax.

The House also passed several other measures during the sixth week of session, including:

House Bill 195, which would increase the death benefit for members of the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund from $5,000 to $10,000

House Bill 292, which would repeal the requirement for an accrued liability to be paid to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia on behalf of participating Regent’s Optional Retirement Plan members and the normal contribution rate resulting from employees who cease to be members of TRS

House Bill 538, which would require courts and the Georgia Tax Tribunal to decide all questions of law regarding the proper interpretation of revenue and taxation-related statutes or regulations without deference to the Department of Revenue’s interpretation of the statute or regulation in dispute

House Bill 716, which would require any carrier that issues a health benefit plan in Georgia through an agent to pay a commission to that agent and file their proposed commission rates with the Department of Insurance

House Bill 758, which would allow motor carriers to implement, require or deploy a motor carrier safety improvement program for individuals without affecting the individual’s status as an employee or independent contractor

House Bill 759, which would authorize the annual drug update to comply with federal regulations and would capture new synthetic drugs, such as spice and bath salts

House Bill 765, which would increase the minimum salary and compensation of magistrates and clerks by providing a cost-of-living adjustment and a five percent raise

House Bill 777, which would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to review the tall mass timber provisions in the 2021 International Building Code and consider whether amendments should be made to the minimum standard codes

House Bill 780, which would allow the State Properties Commission to use a written appraisal of value for the conveyance of property that solely and directly benefits the state

House Bill 781, which is the annual legislation brought by the Department of Banking that would update and modernize Georgia’s banking code

House Bill 786, which would allow for an additional superior court judge in the Flint Judicial Circuit

House Resolution 1023, which would provide for a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia citizens and corporations domiciled in Georgia to seek declaratory relief

Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia. You are always welcome to visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Below, I’ve listed out leaders from both chambers. You can click through each of their names to find more information about them.

House:

Speaker of the House: David Ralston

Speaker Pro Tempore: Jan Jones

Majority Leader: Jon Burns

Majority Whip: Trey Kelley

Majority Caucus Chair: Matt Hatchett

Majority Caucus Vice-Chair: Micah Gravley

Minority Leader: Robert Trammell

Minority Whip: William Boddie

Minority Caucus Chair: James Beverly

Minority Caucus Vice-Chair: Erica Thomas

Senate:

President Pro Tempore: Butch Miller

Majority Leader: Mike Dugan

Majority Whip: Steve Gooch

Majority Caucus Chair: John Kennedy

Majority Caucus Vice-Chair: Larry Walker

Minority Leader: Steve Henson

Minority Whip: Harold Jones

Minority Caucus Chair: Gloria Butler

Minority Caucus Vice-Chair: Emanuel Jones