Georgia legislative session highlights and accomplishments
Image: 2017 MAC Day at the Capitol
By Katie Kirkpatrick, MAC Chief Policy Officer
Now that another General Assembly session has concluded, we saw movement on bills impacting Atlanta’s infrastructure, business climate, transportation and environment. The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) worked hard to advance its 2017-18 policy agenda on behalf of its members and partners. Below are the highlights of the 2017 legislative session:
- MAC worked to defeat bills and amendments promoting discrimination against certain Georgians under the guise of one’s religious beliefs. Among these bills were HB 324 and SB 233 (Religious Freedom Restoration Act- RFRA.) SB 233, which did not pass, would have incorporated RFRA into Georgia law.
- MAC worked to ensure that proposed legislation did not harm key industries such as payment processing, logistics and hotel lodging.
- The 2018 budget (HB 44) included $1 million to support a study on transit governance and funding. $200,000 was also included to help fund the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.
- SB 219 passed, which addresses the operation of autonomous vehicles on Georgia roads. HB 506 passed, which will give MARTA more flexibility in selecting concessions partners at their stations. And HB 134 passed, which will provide counties with greater flexibility to use TSPLOST funds for transportation.
- MAC helped advance legislation to improve education and workforce goals through the First Priority Act, which will create new resources to assist challenged public schools. The legislature also passed an expansion of HOPE grants to dual-enrolled students and increased flexibility for reading and math assessments in early grades.
- Discussion about taxes dominated this year’s session, with several important tax measures passing – an update to the Quality Jobs tax credit program, an enterprise zone for infrastructure in downtown Atlanta, a sales tax exemption for tickets to fine arts/museums of cultural significance, incentives for music production, and tax benefits to companies working in the film, video game and post-production industries.
While the total number of bills that were sent to the Governor’s desk in 2017 was relatively small, bills that did not pass will be available for consideration during the 2018 session.
Please visit the MAC Public Policy Blog for a summary of bills, their status and MAC’s official positions.