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2014 Legislative Update | Print |

2014 Header Legislative Package web

This Legislative Update provides information on bills that were introduced in the 2014 session which will have an effect on the operations and governance of Fulton County Government, and also documents relative to the legislation.

A summary of those bills is provided below. 

HB 1058
Appointment of Magistrates – Repeal Conflicting Law
Signed April 29, 2014.  Effective April 29, 2014.
Last year, HB 443 established the election of the Chief Magistrate of Fulton County, and provided for the Chief Magistrate to appoint lesser magistrate judges.  HB 1058 repeals conflicting law with that appointment authority.

HB 1060
Superior Court Clerk Budget
Signed April 10, 2014.  Effective April 10, 2014.
HB 1060 provides administrative authority over the Superior Court Clerk budget to Superior Court Clerk, after the Board of Commissioners adopts the final budget for the fiscal year.  This bill is similar to the legislation that provided administrative budgetary authority for the State and Superior Courts last year.

HB 1061
Juvenile Court Budget

Signed April 10, 2014.  Effective April 10, 2014.
HB 1061 provides administrative authority over Juvenile Court budget to Juvenile Court administrator, after the Board of Commissioners adopts the final budget for the fiscal year.  This bill is similar to the legislation that provided administrative budgetary authority for the State and Superior Courts last year.


HB 1115
Fulton County CID Legislation

Signed April 2nd, 2014.  Effective April 2nd, 2014.
Certification authority for a CID is transferred from the Tax Commissioner to the Chairperson of the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors.  A request for certification shall be responded to within sixty (60) days.

Failed Local Legislation

The following Local Legislation that we have been tracking on behalf of Fulton County failed to pass this session.

HB 346
This legislation would make the Tax Commissioner an appointed position, rather than an elected position.

HB 541
This legislation would double the Homestead Exemption to $60,000, subject to a referendum.  When fully implemented, this increase in the Homestead Exemption would cost the County over $60 million annually. This would erode the tax base; shift the property tax burden onto businesses, multi-family dwellings, and other non-homestead properties; and handicap Fulton County’s ability to offer quality-of-life services that make it attractive to businesses and investment.

General Legislation Affecting Fulton County

HB 60
Omnibus Gun Legislation
Signed April 23rd, 2014.  Effective July 1st, 2014.
This legislation allows for persons with licensed concealed carry permits to bring weapons into additional public spaces, including bars, schools, and government facilities.  In a change from the original legislation, churches may “opt-in” to allow weapons within their facilities.  However, local governments must provide security to screen all entrants during normal business hours if they wish to prevent weapons from being brought into government buildings.  Additionally, law enforcement can no longer detain a person with a concealed weapon for the purpose of determining whether that weapon is properly licensed.  Finally, counties and cities are prohibited from regulating gun shows or firearms dealers through zoning, land use, or other ordinances.

HB 176
Cell Towers / Equipment – Conditions on Local Government Approval Process
Signed April 21st, 2014.  Effective July 1st, 2014.
A compromise agreement on the siting of cell phone towers and related local government zoning and land use procedures was worked out by ACCG, GMA, and the wireless providers.  The 150 day “shot clock” for new cell tower locations (90 days for co-locations) cannot begin until the County has received a complete application, and the automatic approval provisions for missing that shot clock window have been removed. However, there are restrictions preventing the County from requiring cell towers to be placed on public land or charging excessive fees.

HB 264
MARTA Act Revisions
Signed April 24th, 2014.  Effective June 1st, 2014, except for Section 10.
Section 10 – April 24th, 2014 (upon Governor’s signature)

MARTA Board Appointments
Current MARTA Board members in office May 31, 2014 shall serve until December 31, 2016.  Starting January 1st, 2017, future appointments for the two MARTA Board members from north of the City of Atlanta shall be appointed by a caucus of the North Fulton mayors. No separate act by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for the appointments by the North Fulton mayors is specified in the bill.  The entire Board of Commissioners will appoint one MARTA Board member from south of the City of Atlanta. One of the MARTA Board members appointed by DeKalb County will be made by a caucus of DeKalb County mayors. Additionally, a resident of Fulton or DeKalb County will be the voting member of the MARTA Board appointed by the Governor.  The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation and Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) are nonvoting members.

Terms will be staggered with five (5) of the eleven MARTA Board appointments serving an initial term of two (2) years.  Those five appointments will be made from North Fulton mayors (1), DeKalb County (2) and City of Atlanta (2). The governing authorities or caucus must specify which MARTA Board members will serve a two-year term by December 1st, 2016. All other appointments and successors for all appointments shall be for a four (4) year term. A member of the MARTA Board may be appointed to succeed himself or herself for one four-year term, but no membership prior to January 1, 2017 will be included in calculating the term limits.  Finally, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, and Clayton County are authorized to enter into contracts with MARTA for rapid transit services.  If those counties do enter into such a contract, they will be able to appoint two additional voting members to the MARTA Board for their respective county.

Eminent Domain
The power of eminent domain on behalf of MARTA lies with a city if the property is located within the territorial limits of the city, or with the County if it is located within the unincorporated location within the County.

Collective Bargaining – Judicial Determination (Section 10)
At the appropriate time, either party in a collective bargaining negotiation (MARTA or an appropriate union) may seek a “judicial determination” of any unresolved issues (references to arbitration are stricken).  In even-numbered years, the petition shall be filed in Fulton County Superior Court.  In odd-numbered years, the petition shall be filed in DeKalb County Superior Court.  In both courts, the petition shall be directed to the judge with the greatest length of service in that court.

50/50 Split
Relief from the 50/50 split requirements are granted until June 30, 2017.

HB 265
MARTA Act Revisions
Signed April 24th, 2014.  Effective June 1st, 2014.
Through a convoluted formula, this bill allows Clayton County to enact the 1-cent MARTA sales tax this year. This bill is contingent upon enactment of a bill lifting the suspension of 50/50 split on MARTA and reconstituting the MARTA Board (HB 264).  However, HB 1009 (signed by the Governor on April 22nd, 2014) uses the exact same language, but that bill is not contingent upon enactment of another law.

HB 719
Continuation of Joint County and Municipal Sales Tax (LOST)
Signed April 29th, 2014. Effective April 29th, 2014 (upon Governor’s signature).
HB 719 protects the County’s LOST distribution agreement with the cities, and all distribution agreements reached by October 18th, 2013.  The Georgia Supreme Court had invalidated judicial arbitration procedures this past fall. 

HB 755
Property Tax Appeals, Refunds and Recalculation of FLPA Grants
Signed April 24th, 2014.  Effective July 1st, 2014.
This bill requires the State Revenue Commissioner to reject any County tax digest that has more than five percent (5%) of the total assessed value on appeal or in arbitration.  As a result, Fulton County may have to seek Temporary Collection Orders in any given year for the annual property tax billing and collection process to go forward.  Before a property owner can file an appeal in Superior Court, the property owner can pay an amount equal to the last final tax bill determined or a temporary tax bill (85% of current year’s value), whichever is less. Finally, the eligibility to request a refund of paid taxes or license fees from a case where it has been determined that the tax or fee was illegally erroneously collected has been changed to an allegation.

HB 943
ACA Non-Compliance Act
Signed April 29th, 2014.  Effective April 29th, 2014 (upon Governor’s signature) for Sections I & III. Section II effective January 1st, 2015.
This legislation prevents the state and all political subdivisions from expending any resources to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid, create or operate a health exchange, or operate a Navigator program under the ACA. Exemptions were added for public officials to advocate for public policy as part of that person’s official duties, and language was added to ensure that Georgia could continue to participate in the current Medicaid program.  Language pertaining to the Insurance Commissioner was removed. 

HB 990
Limits on Governor’s Authority to Expand Medicaid
Signed April 29th, 2014.  Effective July 1st, 2014.
HB 990 limits the ability of the Governor to expand Medicaid in accordance with the Affordable Care Act by increasing the income threshold.  Legislative approval by the Georgia General Assembly would be required. 

Vetoed Legislation

HB 729
Additional Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) Reforms
Vetoed April 29th, 2014
The General Assembly passed additional revisions to address specific issues related to the TAVT tax reform that did away with the “Birthday Tax” for new vehicles.  The legislation provided a trade-in credit for leased vehicles, but the multi-year registration provision and the reduced TAVT rate on vehicles transferred into the state of Georgia were removed from the bill.  Current law states that local governments must receive a base amount and the first recalibration of the disbursements is Jan. 1, 2016.  The first recalibration of the state target collection is July 1, 2015, which will determine if the tax rate requires a change.  The Governor sited these near dates as part of his veto statement.

Failed General Legislation
The following General Legislation with possible impact on Fulton County Government failed to pass this session.

HB 153
Fractional SPLOST. This bill would have allowed a Special Purpose Local Optional Sales Tax (SPLOST) in fractional amounts up to one (1) cent.  While this would have been a benefit for many counties in Georgia, Fulton County is at the statutorily maximum sales tax.

HB 295
Comprehensive Revision of Ad Valorem Taxation, Assessment, and Appeals

HB 690
Annexation of Unincorporated Islands at County Request

HB 704
City of South Fulton Incorporation

HB 819
Sale of Tax Executions

HB 885 / SB 291
Legalization and Expanded Research for Medical Cannabis Oil / Autism Insurance Benefits. The Board of Commissioners supported this legislation.

HB 891
Changes to Municipal Early Voting. The Board of Commissioners opposed this legislation.

SB 293
Impact of Distressed Properties on Assessments and Taxpayer Requests for Comparable Sales.