2015 Fall Legislative Preview

2015 Fall Legislative Preview

The 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly begins Monday, January 12. Several have asked what I am working on for next session; so, here is a preview of several items:

There are a number of important issues facing our state including jobs, education, transportation, and budgetary concerns. Though I actively participate in advocating for our community’s best interest in each of these areas and others, I am working on re-authoring several pieces of legislation for next year (some of which I have been working for several years).

HB 159 taxes and only taxes on our property tax bills

Government unnecessarily encumbers your home by using your property tax bill as a collection mechanism for tack-on fees. It is wrong. It should stop. Counties and cities may stop the practice today. Too many say they are waiting on the state to act. Do you expect your elected officials to defer to a higher level of government or protect your interests where they may? Details here.

HB 412 electronic property tax billing

This is a “permissive” bill allowing taxpayers a choice to receive their property tax bill electronically if a local government offers that service. In larger jurisdictions such as Gwinnett, the savings could easily exceed $100,000 per year.

HB 595 prohibits filing a lien against private property for failure to pay a sanitation tax, fee, or assessment

Let us say you own a few acres of raw land on a rural country road. Someone trespasses on your property and illegally dumps garbage. You are a victim of a crime; however, the local government may insist you incur the cost of cleanup. Failing to do so, the local government may file a lien against your property and in the extreme, sell your property on the courthouse steps and because Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state, you have no right to stand before a judge and plead your case.

HB 595 would simply require the local government to file a suit against you, the property owner, prior to filing any lien – just as most other debts are collected. In the example above, you would have the opportunity to inform the judge that, in the case, you are the victim, not the perpetrator. I have no idea what the outcome may be, however, at least you would have an opportunity to speak.

HB 648 fourth cent for transportation

Currently the 4th cent of the 4% sales tax on gasoline does NOT fund transportation. This bill upon becoming law would move that 4th cent, over a four year phase-in, to its’ intended use – transportation. The phase-in amounts to approximately $45 million per year and by eliminating the tax credit on the Nissan Leaf automobile, we secure nearly $30 million of that first year phase-in without need of any general fund adjustment.

Not contained within HB 648, however, another prudent public policy proposal is to remove the current debt service paid by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) from their budget and return it to the general debt repayment budget where the state funds virtually all other state debts. GDOT debt accounts for 24% of total GDOT state appropriations exceeding $239 million a year.

The combination of these two proposals, $180 million from recovering the 4th cent and $239 million from divesting debt service from within GDOT generates over $400 million annually for transportation improvements – without need for any new revenue sources.

If the state allocated a quarter of those funds, $100 million, toward CID matching projects, the impact could exceed $700 million a year

HB 762 slow down to go around – sanitation vehicles

This proposal passed the House overwhelmingly last year and did not get out of Senate Rules for a vote. The bill simply adds sanitation vehicles to current law covering emergency vehicles, police, and firefighters requiring drivers approaching “active” vehicles to “move over” and reduce their speed when passing. You may not be aware; however, sanitation worker is the 4th most dangerous job, as measured by deaths annually.

HB 1125 requires special elections for SPLOST and/or bond indebtedness held on general election date in November.

Local governments often schedule referendum to incur debt and/or raise taxes on dates where fewer voters turnout. On issues of such importance, I believe holding the referendum on the date most likely to have the highest participation is the best policy. I hope you agree.

In addition to these potential bills, I am participating in a number of working groups on such issues as critical transportation infrastructure funding, income tax reform, and technical revisions to the state’s alcohol code.

Additionally, I’m often asked about ongoing Gwinnett and Snellville governance.

Inch by inch we are losing our freedom?

A year ago, I published the blog below warning of the loss of freedom, systematically, via government overreach into our lives.


Recently, former Congressman Bob Barr opined on an Acworth ordinance to purchase tag readers for police vehicles:http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/25778065/article-Bad-guys–beware–Austell-mayor-touts-tag-readers-as–big-plus–former-rep–claims-invasion-of-privacy?instance=special%20_coverage_right_column

What do you think? I have received requests by 106th District residents to ban tag readers at the state level. Are you aware that Snellville recently issued an RFP for cameras and tag readers at 12 intersections at the city borders? Is this a good idea? Why? Is this a bad idea? Why?


Legislation Authored or Co-Sponsored

Should you be interested in the legislation that I have authored or co-sponsored and the current status, you may review those bills here.

Please contact me with issues of importance to you, your family, or business. It is my pleasure to serve as your state Representative. I have enjoyed assisting constituents with issues ranging from licensing, drivers services, insurance claims, social services, economic development and job training, and many more. If you have need of assistance from your state government, please call on me. Now that we are out of session, you can reach me on my cell at 404-966-5804 or via email at brett@voteharrell.com

Wishing you an enjoyable fall (Go Dawgs!),


Brett Harrell 

In the District
Please call, email, or write Brett in the District.

Representative Brett Harrell

P.O. Box 1135
Snellville, GA 30078