The House of Representatives returned for the sixth week of the 2022 legislative session on Monday, Feb. 14.
From economic development to protecting our natural environment, my colleagues and I mulled over dozens of bills that would address a wide range of policy issues both on the House floor and with our committees this week.
Early in the week, the House unanimously passed legislation to encourage and incentivize regional cooperation among Georgia counties, as well as provide a specific framework for regional development authorities.
House Bill 1044 would allow three to five adjoining counties to create a regional development authority that would work to stimulate economic development and job growth within those counties. This bill would incentivize this regional cooperation structure by providing a tax credit for each new quality job for eligible investment properties; this tax credit would be offered to the county determined by the state to have the lowest economic performance within the regional development authority.
To ensure these authorities are equipped with even greater knowledge and expertise, the bill would require at least half of the authority members from each participating county complete an economic development training course certified by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. These regional development authorities would be comprised of a board of directors that would meet quarterly, develop an operational business plan, own property within one or more of the participating counties, as well as maintain an active agreement for sharing expenses and proceeds.
Under this legislation, a county could only belong to one regional development authority. While counties may currently establish a development authority with a neighboring county for various purposes, this issue became a priority for the House Rural Development Council after learning about several rural Georgia counties that teamed up to help spur economic development. With this legislation, we hope to replicate and strengthen this model in other parts of our state, especially in rural areas.
HB 1044 also aims to provide counties with an even greater incentive to take advantage of this regional approach to economic development and implement standardized continuing education to ensure high levels of service across Georgia.
The House also passed HB 1134, legislation which would allow the state’s attorney general to collaborate with local district attorneys to prosecute certain gang-related crimes across the state. Additionally, HB 1134 would allow the attorney general to employ peace officers for investigative purposes. This bill would also work in tandem with the governor’s plan to create the Gang Prosecution Unit in the attorney general’s office. HB 1134 has now been sent to the Senate for consideration.
The Georgia House also voted to advance legislation to modify certain hunting and wildlife protection laws this week. Our state laws already provide extensive protections to Georgia’s wildlife, including turkeys and other ground nesting birds, as well as year-round protections for endangered loggerhead sea turtles that call Georgia’s coastline their home during their nesting season.
Last week, we passed HB 1147 to help protect these animals that have low population numbers from nest-raiding predators, such as raccoons and opossums, which have had a population boom in recent years and threaten certain wildlife populations. HB 1147 would allow property owners to hunt and trap raccoons and opossums year round and remove bag limits for these animals. Several other states have also adopted similar policies when it comes to hunting these animals, and this bill would help the state better protect special nesting animals that are native to our state.
Last Wednesday, my colleagues and I dedicated a whole day to meeting with our House committees and subcommittees to consider bills as they move through the legislative process. By the end of the day, nearly 20 House meetings were held to discuss countless bills that cover a range of policies.
HB 1013, the Mental Health Parity Act, received its first committee hearing; several education bills were debated in committees and subcommittees; and Appropriations subcommittees met to discuss portions of the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Finally, the House Rules Committee met and set a calendar full of local redistricting bills for our last legislative day of this week, as well as an extensive calendar for when we reconvene on the House floor next week.
The House also passed the following bills and resolutions during Legislative Week 6:
- HB 1021, which would decrease the minimum non-forfeiture interest rate for individual deferred annuities from 1% to 0.15%;
- HB 1089, which would increase the penalty fee for each violation of specified motor vehicle registration requirements to $145 from $25;
- HB 1223, which would extend the sunset date on the sales and use tax exemption for computer equipment sold to high-technology companies from June 30, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023;
- HB 1275, which would revise provisions of Georgia’s code concerning the appointment and removal of municipal court judges; and
- Senate Bill 369, which would provide that future elections of the Gwinnett County Board of Education be nonpartisan.
This busy week of legislating on behalf of House District 114 has come to a close, but I am already gearing up for another meaningful and productive week in Atlanta as we resumed our work on Tuesday.
I hope you continue to reach out with any questions or thoughts you have on legislation that is up for consideration this year. You can reach my Capitol office at 404-656-0177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative under the Gold Dome.
There are already laws that allow for the creation of regional development "authorities" so I'm not sure where this politician has been. And the laws currently enacted remove all accountability and transparency. I live in one county, yet have politicians from 3 other counties making decisions about land 3 miles from my house, and I have no recourse at the ballot box. True conservative government emphasizes home rule, not organizing a "collective government". You know what that sounds like.
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