HR 158 may be scheduled for a vote in the Georgia House as soon as tomorrow. Help dedicate state fees to their intended purposes: please contact your Georgia House Representative or Georgia State Senator (follow the links for contact information) and ask them to pass HR 158. If you don’t know who your Georgia Representative or Senator are, see Georgia My Voter Page.
Hahira is the most recent of six local governments representing the majority of the population in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, in five Georgia House districts and two Senate districts, that have passed a resolution supporting Georgia HR 158 against state fee diversions, with five stories and an editorial in the biggest circulation newspaper in the Basin. More local resolutions passed elsewhere in the state, but that ain’t bad for the Suwannee River Basin.
- 2018-01-08 Lanier County, House District 176 (Jason Shaw), Senate District 8 (Ellis Black)
- 2018-01-16 City of Adel, House District 170 (Penny Houston), Senate District 8
- 2018-01-18 Atkinson County, House District 176, Senate District 7 (Tyler Harper)
2018-01-23 Lowndes County, House Districts 174 (John Corbett), 175 (Special Election in progress), 176, 177 (Dexter Sharper), Senate District 8
- The largest county in the Suwannee River Basin.
- “We need it.” –the Chairman.
- “Why do we have to do the legislature’s work for them?” –a Commissioner
- Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 23, 2018 County to weigh state fee collection
- Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 24, 2018 County supports ending fee diversion
- Jill Nolin, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 24, 2018 Lawmaker: State should not ‘bait, switch’ fee use
2018-01-24 Valdosta, House District 177, Senate District 8
- By far the largest city in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia.
- The resolution was introduced by the interim City Manager, backed by the Mayor, and unanimously approved.
- Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 24, 2018 City to weigh state fee collection
- Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 26, 2018 City supports dedicated fee bill
- 2018-02-01 Hahira, House Districts 175, 176, Senate District 8
Lowndes County and Valdosta had their annual Bird Supper in Atlanta, Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at which they dined on quail with state legislators and discussed their legislative requests, now including HR 158. The Mayor, City Manager, Chairman, County Manager, and many Council and Commission members traditionally attend. They have already been contacting their local state delegation. (I was in Tallahassee, but it was better for these elected officials to be the ones pushing HR 158 to the legislators.)
Editorial, Valdosta Daily Times, Jan 30, 2018, Keep fees where they belong,
[GA HR 158 sppnsor Jay] Powell has proposed what he calls an “anti-bait and switch” bill, which would alter the state constitution to ensure proceeds from certain future fees and taxes actually end up where lawmakers pledge to spend them.
“If we don’t need that money, we ought not to be collecting it,” Powell told lawmakers last week. “If we do need that money, then we ought to be spending it on what we collected it for.
“But we should not tell people that that’s what this fee is for and then spend it on something else.”
We agree. So do the Lowndes County Commission and Valdosta City Council.
Last week, both the city and county passed resolutions supporting Powell’s bill.
Money collected for a specific purpose should go toward a specific purpose. In many cases that means more funds returning to areas throughout the state.
It means the fees taxpayers pay for a reason funds the reason why taxpayers are paying such fees.
That’s only fair.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
According to the Goergia state legilsature website:
LC 34 5288S
H. R. 158 (SUB)
The House Committee on Ways and Means offers the following substitute to HR 158:
A RESOLUTIONProposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by general law for the dedication of revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed; to provide for procedures, conditions, and limitations; to provide for the redesignation of a current subparagraph of the Constitution; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
Article III, Section IX, Paragraph VI of the Constitution is amended by redesignating subparagraph (o), relating to the dedication of the excise tax on fireworks, as subparagraph (p) and by adding a new subparagraph to read as follows:
“(q)(1) Subject to the limitations in this subparagraph, the General Assembly may provide by general law for the dedication of revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed; provided that the general law dedicating such fee or tax shall reference this provision of the Constitution, provide the specific public purpose for which the revenue derived from such fee or tax shall be used, identify the agency to administer such revenue, require annual reporting of the revenues and expenses by such agency, and include an automatic expiration of such fee or tax within a period not to exceed ten years. Any such dedication of revenues may also be used to offset, in whole or in part, the costs to the state of implementing and administering such public purpose.
(2) The General Assembly shall not be authorized to dedicate state revenues pursuant to this subparagraph when the total revenues dedicated hereunder, including any nonlapsed funds, are equal to or exceed 1 percent of the total state revenues based on the previous fiscal year’s state revenues subject to appropriation. (3) Any general law enacted pursuant to th is subparagraph shall not be subject to the limitations of Article III, Section IX, Paragraph IV(c), relating to the lapsing of funds; subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph, relating to allocation of proceeds; or Article VII, Section III, Paragraph II(a), relating to payment into the general fund of the state treasury.
(4) Any general law enacted pursuant to this subparagraph shall not become effective unless approved by two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly in a roll-call vote; provided, however, that such a general law may be repealed by a majority vote of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly in a roll-call vote.
(5) No revenues which are dedicated by a general law enacted pursuant to this subparagraph shall be subject to any further dedication, any rededication to another purpose, or any alteration whatsoever through the general appropriations Act, or any amendment thereto, or any supplementary appropriations Act, or any amendment thereto, and any such further dedication, rededication to another purpose, or alteration shall be void and of no force and effect. If the General Assembly intends to modify temporarily or to amend the provisions of a general law enacted pursuant to this subparagraph, it shall do so only in strict accordance with the following procedures:
(A) In the event the Governor declares a financial emergency in this state, where such financial emergency shall be deemed to exist if the revenue collection in the most recently completed fiscal year decreased by 3 percent or more below the revenue estimate for such fiscal year, the dedication of revenues pursuant to general law enacted pursuant to this subparagraph may be modified temporarily by suspending such dedication of revenues by the adoption of a joint resolution by a majority of the General Assembly. Such joint resolution shall speci fically declare whether previously dedicated revenues which remain unspent shall also be made subject to appropriation. Such joint resolution shall not be effective for more than two fiscal years and may be adopted not more than three times in any ten-year period.
(B) Except as otherwise provided in the case of a temporary modification, no amendment to any general law enacted pursuant to this subparagraph shall become effective unless approved by two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly in a roll-call vote.
(6) No revenues which are dedicated pursuant to any other provision of this Constitution by a general law enacted pursuant to any other provision of this Constitution shall be subject to any further dedication, any rededication to another purpose, or any alteration whatsoever unless specifically authorized pursuant to such other provision of the Constitution, and in the absence of such specific authorization, any such further dedication, rededication to another purpose, or alteration shall be void and of no force and effect.”
The above proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be published and submitted as provided in Article X, Section I, Paragraph II of the Constitution. The ballot submitting the above proposed amendment shall have written or printed thereon the following:
“( ) YES
( ) NO
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed?”
All persons desiring to vote in favor of ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “Yes.” All persons desiring to vote against ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “No.” If such amendment shall be ratified as provided in said Paragraph of the Constitution, it shall become a part of the Constitution of this state.
When we get a signed copy we will post it. Meanwhile, here is the text; see also PDF.
A RESOLUTION OF THE ______________________, IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA, REQUESTING THE PASSAGE OF HR 158 (SPONSORED BY REP. JAY POWELL, R-CAMILLA), A MEASURE ALLOWING THE GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO DEDICATE FEE COLLECTIONS FOR THEIR STATUTORILY DESIGNATED PROGRAMS
WHEREAS in many cases these fees were created to aid local governments in implementing programs such as hazardous waste cleanups, clean community programs, indigent defense and judicial programs, peace officer training, and teen driver training; and
WHEREAS the state government significantly redirects these fees to fund unrelated portions of the state budget; and
WHEREAS without funding from these fees, local governments often must raise taxes to fund programs designed to keep their citizens healthy and safe; and
WHEREAS regarding the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund and Solid Waste Trust Fund, nearly 40 percent of the $469 million collected since 1993 has been diverted from its designated purposes; and
WHEREAS in the case of the teen driving program known as Joshua’s Law, which generates between $3-$10 million annually, only about $8 million has been used to fund teen driver programs since the program’s creation in 2005; and
WHEREAS with respect to the Peace Officer & Prosecutors Training Fund that generates an estimated $27 million annually, an estimated $70 million was redirected to fund unrelated portions of the state budget between 1987 and 2009; and
WHEREAS because of these diversions of fees, tire dumps and hazardous waste sites remain untouched, teen drivers have inadequate guidance, and peace officers cannot get funding for additional and necessary training programs; and
WHEREAS these diversions of fees are therefore detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens; and
WHEREAS the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia support legislation to end the practice of these fee collections becoming de facto taxes.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE ______________, IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA, AS FOLLOWS:
that the ________________ supports legislative efforts to address this ongoing funding problem for local governments by adopting a constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to establish dedicated trust funds.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor of the State of Georgia should sign and approve such constitutional amendment resolution.
ADOPTED by the ________________, in the State of Georgia, this _________ day of _______ 2018.
Upon adoption of this resolution, copies of the full resolution shall be mailed or electronically submitted to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the local legislative delegation.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!