Sine Die Report

4.22.2016
Rep. Scott Holcomb

own Hall on Monday night
Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and I will be having a post-session town hall on Monday, April 4th from 6-7:30 PM at the Avis Williams Library, 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur, 30033. Please join us.


2016 Legislative Recap
The 2016 legislative session adjourned last week. I worked very hard and I'm happy to report the passage of Senate Bill 304 concerning the timely processing of rape kits in Georgia. I also sponsored House Bill 1099 to provide for a referendum for a change of government in DeKalb from a CEO model to a Chair/County Manager model. While this did not pass this term, I am committed to working on this issue going forward and I think we made progress this term. I had a number of town halls on the issue in north, central, and south DeKalb, and I will continue to share information with the community about the merits of the proposed change.
I am also pleased to report that I was a co-sponsor of the bi-partisan "Georgia Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act." Modeled from the federal Stolen Valor Act, this bill makes it unlawful for someone to claims a public benefit or preference based on false claims of military service or decorations.

For those of you who drive electric vehicles, you may be pleased to know that I sponsored House Bill 878 to correct the annual fee from $200 to $75. The $200 fee is based on bad math and it means that Georgians who drive electric vehicles are paying more than their fair share in taxes. I plan to re-file this bill again next year.

I also sponsored House Bill 1052, a bill that would bring benefit corporations to Georgia. A benefit corporation is a for-profit corporation that has both a profit making and public good purpose. This corporate structure is available in a majority of states and will soon be available in all 50. This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee and is supported by the State Bar of Georgia but did not pass the House before Crossover Day. I will continue to work on this next year.

Governor Deal now has 40 days from the date of passage to sign or veto bills. Any bill that he does not sign or veto becomes law. Below please find a summary of a number of the more prominent pieces of legislation, as well as an update on local issues that were addressed during the session.



Here are some of the bills that passed both the House and Senate and either have been signed by the Governor or await his signature:
Rape Kits SB 304

This was the Senate version of HB 827, a bill that I authored to ensure the timely processing of rape kits in Georgia. The bill was supported by law enforcement, victims' rights advocates, and care providers.
Here are news articles about its passage:
http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/amid-cheers-rape-kit-bill-clears-final-hurdle-in-g/nqr4J/
http://brookhavenpost.co/revived-rape-kit-bill-passes-in-final-minutes-of-2016-legislative-session/38846/
Campus Carry HB 859
This bill will permit the concealed carrying of guns on college campuses. The bill allows anyone aged 21 and older to carry guns anywhere on campus except for athletic facilities, sorority and fraternity houses, and dormitories.

The Governor has expressed concerns about this bill because it would allow guns in on-campus childcare centers, in disciplinary hearings and for high school students who are participating in dual-enrollment. It is unclear at this time if he will veto the measure.

Fireworks HB 727
This bill limits the usage of fireworks after a certain time. Prior to this bill people could use fireworks up until 2 am on New Years and July 4th , and 12 midnight on all other days. With this law the cut- off time is 1 am for New Years and July 4th, and 9 am for all other days.
Firearms HB 1060
This is a "clean up bill" that does three things. First, it provides a grace period of 90 days for new Georgia residents to apply for a Georgia Weapons License (GWL). They can continue to carry their guns up until this time. Second, it prohibits a probate judge from suspending, extending, delaying, or avoiding the process of a GWL application. Finally, the law protects firearms instructors from civil liability for injuries caused by failure of their students to use a firearm properly.
MARTA SB 369
This legislation allows a referendum for MARTA funding this November. The referendum will allow the City of Atlanta to levy a new sales tax for the purpose of MARTA expansion, and also would allow cities in North Fulton to raise taxes for road improvements. One estimate projects the sales tax could fund about $2.5 billion in new transit projects if this were to pass. DeKalb County did not pass a similar measure.
Budget
As required by the state Constitution, the House and Senate approved the Budget for the 2017 fiscal year, with a spending plan of $24 billion starting July. Among other things, it includes a 3% pay raise for state employees and teachers. $800 million will be allotted for transportation projects.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers SB 308
This bill allows state funding for pregnancy centers, and states any centers that receive state funding cannot perform or promote abortions.

Bills that will not become law include the following:
Medical Marijuana
This bill would have legalized the use of medical marijuana for certain diseases and disorders. It passed the House, but was denied a hearing in the Senate. It would have legalized medical marijuana usage for conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDs, seizure-related disorders, autism, and Tourette's syndrome.
"Religious Liberty"- HB 757
The Governor vetoed the bill earlier this week.



The following are local issues that were addressed at some point during the session:

DeKalb County form of government
As noted above, I proposed House Bill 1099, which would have involved a referendum in which the citizens would decide whether to eliminate the elected CEO position and replace it with an appointed professional county manager. Other changes in DeKalb governance were included in the bill as well. My constituents have expressed overwhelming support for this change. I saw this bill as the beginning of a necessary discussion, and spoke with citizens at several meetings in various parts of the county. In doing so, it became apparent that despite the strong support in the 81st district for changing the form of government, citizens in other view the problem less in terms of structure and more in terms of the people filling the positions. As such, they are not as supportive of a structural change at this time. That said, I am committed to continue working on this and I believe that, while getting the right people is always critical, we can and should make changes to the structure that can improve performance. I believe that moving from a CEO model to a Chair/professional county manager model as proposed in House Bill 1099 can lead to better performance.


Chamblee annexation

At the beginning of the session, some residents of the LaVista Hills footprint expressed the desire for a referendum to consider annexation into the city of Chamblee. The Mayor and City Council were interested in exploring this as well. Ultimately the Mayor and City Council members decided not to pursue annexation in 2016.

Proposed new cities for DeKalb
The proposed City of Stonecrest passed both chambers and will be decided in a referendum this coming November. The proposed City of Greenhaven did not pass.




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