Here’s a look at several bills that passed during the legislative sessionGeorgia State Capitol. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Atlanta, GA — Several local bills passed the General Assembly this year, including bills to update the homestead tax exemptions for the city of Decatur, City Schools of Decatur and DeKalb County.
Once the bills are signed by the governor, they will be on the ballot as a referendum in November.
The city of Decatur increased parts of the general homestead exemptions, and created an exemption for owner-occupied homes on land managed through the Decatur Land Trust.
The Decatur School Board did not make any changes to the S-6 exemption, which provides a reduction of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value) for homeowners age 70 and older without an income cap.
For the S-5 exemption, the board increased the dollar amount of the household adjusted income for seniors ages 65-69 from $53,000 to $62,000 for the S-5 exemption. The board maintained the exemption of $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 appraised value).
House Bills 591, 593 and 594 update DeKalb County’s homestead tax exemptions.
Currently, homeowners who are 65 years or older or 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a $16,500 exemption from school taxes and $14,000 exemption from county taxes if the household limit is $15,000 Georgia Net Income.
House Bills 591 and 594 increase the income cap to $37,500 for these exemptions.
The Georgia Net Income requirement is a formula provided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. For this year, up to $43,524 for an individual or $87,048 for joint applicants in Social Security and retirement benefits may be excluded when calculating Georgia Net Income, according to the tax commissioner’s website.
Homeowners who are age 62 or older or are 100% permanently disabled may be eligible for a homestead exemption on about $20,000 of assessed value and the income limit is $16,000 gross income.
HB 593 raises the income cap to $40,000. It also leaves in place the full exemption from school taxes for disabled individuals and seniors age 62 or older with a household income of $10,000.
In other legislative news:
– State Sen. Elena Parent (D – Senate District 42) introduced Senate Bill 55, which passed. The bill allows kids under the age of 18 to have a lemonade stand on private property in limited circumstances. Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D – Decatur) sponsored the bill in the state House.
“This bill allows lemonade stands without license, without registration, without regulation, without statute when it is operated by a child under 18, when they are in school, when they have the permission of the private property owner, and when the [lemonade] stand does not generate more than $5,000 a year in income,” Oliver said.
– House Bill 528 aims to regulate certain businesses that offer paid subscriptions and purchase agreements online subject to automatic renewal or continuous services.
“The purpose of this part shall be to stop the practice of creating unnecessary barriers for customers who wish to cancel automatic renewal or continuous service subscriptions online, particularly when such subscriptions are offered online,” the legislation states.
It also prohibits third-party delivery services from taking orders for or arranging for the pickup, transportation or delivery of food without prior written consent from a business.
According to the bill, third-party delivery service is defined as “a business, other than a food service establishment, that, for remuneration, operates a platform, website, mobile application, or other electronic service through which the order, pickup, transportation or delivery of ready-to-eat food from a food service establishment to a customer is arranged.”
– The Legislature also passed a bill that prohibits certain local ordinances or policies related to public camping or sleeping, so local governments cannot block the enforcement of ordinances prohibiting unauthorized public camping, sleeping or obstruction of sidewalks.
Senate Bill 62 additionally requires the state auditor to inspect how public funding is spent statewide to help unhoused Georgians. It also bars hospitals and local authorities from dropping people off in another county, unless the individual previously lived there or arrangements were made with another organization, according to the Georgia Recorder.
– House Bill 189 increased the weight for trucks hauling timber and agricultural products from 80,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds. It sets the maximum distance at 150 miles for heavier trucks. They can only travel within a 150-mile radius of their point of origin and won’t be allowed in the 13 metro Atlanta counties, including Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb.
The bill also includes a sunset of July 1, 2025. The current limit on state roads is 80,000 pounds, but a variance can be given for up to 84,000 pounds, according to WABE. The bill passed the House and the Senate and is waiting for the governor’s signature.
DeMetris Causer, government relations associate for the Georgia Municipal Association, said the increased weight would cause more deterioration on municipal roads.
The bill went to a conference committee, which was intended to give local government some enforcemable powers, but Rusi Patel with the Georgia Municipal Association said there are some holes in the language. Local law enforcement has some ability to stop overweight trucks, but they can only issue citations on a county road that’s a truck route and on bridges, he said.
– Senate Bill 222 received final passage in the state Senate and goes to Gov. Brian Kemp to be signed. SB 222 ensures that all costs and expenses relating to election administration are paid for with lawfully appropriate public funds, and prohibits certain local governments and individuals from soliciting or accepting donations or other things of value to support election administration, according to a press release.
“Allocating election funds through State Board of Election funds will make certain that outside groups and interests who contribute to funding election administration do not have direct influence over our county election workers. I am honored to see the passage of SB 222 and hope to see our legislative body continue to fight to make our elections fair and secure,” said Sen. Max Burns (R – Sylvania), the bill sponsor.
Through SB 222, any grants or donations to county boards must be directed to and allocated through the State Board of Elections, which will decide how best to allocate the funds. SB 222 does not apply to the donation of locations for voting purposes, services provided by individuals without remuneration or goods that have a nominal value of less than $500.
In her newsletter, Sen. Parent said the bill is an “attack on Georgia’s election system.”
“SB 222 passed the Senate the first time on party lines,” Parent said in her newsletter. “Democrats oppose this effort to deny much needed funds to county election boards, requiring them to plead for need to the State and local governments for funds to comply with the unfunded mandates of the election law passed in 2020, and the unfunded mandates from 2019’s HB 316, which authorized the purchase of the voting machines we are currently using.”
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