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2022 Session: Week Six Update

The House of Representat ives returned for week six of the 2022 legislative session on Monday, February 14. From economic development to protecting our natural environment, my colleagues and I contemplated dozens of bills that would address a wide range of policy issues both on the House floor and in our respective committees.

Early in the week, the House unanimously passed legislation to encourage and incentivize regional cooperation between 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. These regional development authorities would be comprised of a board of directors that would meet quarterly, develop an operational business plan, own property within at least one of the participating counties, and 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.

Did you know that an overwhelming amount of crime in Georgia is gang-related? To help combat this, we passed House Bill 1134, legislation which would allow Georgia’s attorney general to collaborate with local district attorneys to prosecute certain gang-related crimes. Additionally, HB 1134 would allow the attorney general to employ peace officers for investigative purposes. This bill would work along with Governor Kemp’s plan to create the Gang Prosecution Unit in the attorney general’s office.

The Georgia House voted to advance legislation to modify certain hunting and wildlife protection laws last week. Georgia code already provides extensive protections to Georgia’s wildlife, including turkeys and other ground nesting birds, as well as year-round protections for endangered sea turtles. We passed House Bill 1147 to help protect these animals that have low population numbers from nestraiding predators, such as raccoons and opossums, which have had a population boom in recent years. 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 already adopted similar policies, and this bill would help Georgia better protect special native nesting animals.

Other bills passed by the House of Representatives during Legislative Week 6 include: House Bill 969, which would update reporting requirements for insurance holding companies to include information on their financial profile and group capital calculations; House Bill 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 December 31, 2023; House Bill 1275, which would revise provisions of Georgia’s code concerning the appointment and removal of municipal court judges; House Bill 893, which would extend the collection of hazardous waste fees, which are crucial to supporting the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund and its work to restore Georgia’s environment. Without this fund, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division might not be able to carry out programs to remediate contaminated sites, and our local governments would be left to fund the cleanup of leaking landfills or abandoned, contaminated properties. HB 893 would extend the sunset date of the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund to July 1, 2027, which was originally set to expire this summer.

I’ve mentioned in previous updates that familiar faces from home are always a welcome sight at the Capitol. Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit with Sara Brown of Vidalia, who came to Atlanta for Georgia Realtor Day. On Thursday, Chris Hopkins of Lyons drove to Atlanta to testify before the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee about a bill that we are considering. He did a thorough job of explaining his stance on the bill. If any of you plan to visit the Capitol while the General Assembly is in session, please contact my office and let me know.

Many of you are tracking bills on the General Assembly website. For those of you who don’t know, the address to that site is www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/all. I hope you continue to reach out with any questions or thoughts regarding legislation that is up for consideration this year. Please email me at [email protected] ga.gov. I mention it at the end of every update, but I sincerely thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative under the Gold Dome.

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