DATE: October 7, 2016
TO: Mayor and Members of Council
FROM: Isaiah Hugley, City Manager
SUBJECT: ‘Draft Legislative Agenda’
The 9th Annual Hometown Connection/Legislative Agenda will be held on November 17, 2016 at the Columbus Trade Center from 11:30am – 1:30pm. Attached you will find the ‘Draft Legislative Agenda’ for your review and comment. If you have items that you would like to include on the agenda, please provide these to Teasha Johnson not later than October 21st in an effort for us to provide the final report to you at the October 25th Council meeting.
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 the final Legislative Agenda items will be placed on my agenda as individual items for your consideration and approval. Those approved items will be presented to our Legislative Delegation during the November 17th Hometown Connection/Legislative Agenda.
If you have questions or concerns, please let me know.
COLUMBUS CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT
2017 PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
1. 911 SURCHARGE – INCREASE:
Introduce/support legislation to increase 911 fees from $1.50 to $2.50 for telephone landlines and wireless phones from $1 to $2.50. (Carry over from previous years) (Requested by Pam Hodge, Deputy City Manager)
The revenue generated by the landline, wireless and prepaid phones does not currently support the operation of the E911 function. The E911 function for the past four fiscal years has been subsidized from the General Fund and the Other Local Option Sales Tax Fund for a total of $2.4 million. The E911 fees from the landline phones have continued to decline almost 10% over the last three years.
2. COURT COSTS–RECORDER’S COURT:
The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting legislation that will repeal the sunset provision and allow Columbus, Georgia to add a fee to state mandated fines as approved for other cities in Georgia. (Carry over from previous years) (Requested by Judge Cielinski)
Recorder’s Court provides citizens of Muscogee County with fair and impartial justice, promote public safety, enhance public trust and confidence, and safeguard the constitutional rights of all who appears in this court. Recorder’s Court is requesting removal of the sunset provision. This fee should apply to all tickets. The state law as written does not allow the city of Columbus to impose a fee on state mandated fines. CCG is requesting a $25 fee be imposed due to startup costs instead of the $15 fee. The charge will be added as a surcharge to each fine imposed by the Recorder’s Court, effective July 1, 2017 to be used to defray administrative costs of Recorder’s Court.
3. SALES TAX ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY USER SAFEGUARD (POINT OF SALES DATA):
The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting the state take necessary steps to ensure the full collection and timely remittance of all sales and use taxes due to the state and to local governments, whether such steps include additional funding for the Department of Revenue for audits and compliance purposes, privatizing sales tax collections or allowing local governments to collect and audit local sales taxes locally. (Carry over 2010/11/12/13/14/15/16) (Requested by Mayor, City Manager and Deputy City Manager)
1. Require the Department of Revenue to collect data showing sales tax collections in cities;
2. Fully capture all data, whether electronically or manually filed;
3. Require the Department of Revenue to share sales tax data for collections within municipal boundaries;
4. To the extent required to protect taxpayers, support confidentiality and privacy of information shared with cities;
5. Support efforts to increase audits to ensure compliance; and,
6. Allow for more timely remittance of sales tax dollars to local governments.
4. REPEAL LOCAL POPULATION PROVISION CONTAINED IN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CODE PERTAINING TO MEASUREMENT TO PROHIBITED LOCATIONS:
The Columbus Consolidated Government is requesting that the Local Legislative Delegation to the General Assembly introduce legislation to repeal paragraph (d) of O.C.G.A. §3-3-21 so that there are not separate and inconsistent measuring methods which only apply to Columbus and two other Counties of the State. (Requested by Councilor Jerry Barnes)
Legislation would repeal the paragraph which provides a different method of measurement from alcohol establishments to prohibited locations for counties having a population between 175,000 and 195,000. This provision is of questionable constitutionality, and Columbus has well over 202,000 people based on the 2014 Census estimate. However, because of technicalities in the way population bills work, there is an argument that unless the population provision is declared unconstitutional by a court, the 2014 Ordinance revision which council adopted to bring us into compliance with the measurement standards used throughout the 156 other counties of the State would be invalid until the year 2020.
5. GEORGIA OPEN CARRY LAW:
Request the legislative delegation to support an amendment to HB 60 to allow lessees of pubic assembly venues the ability to choose not to allow weapons within the leased space of their events and to post signage indicating weapons are not allowed. When lessees rent the entire facility they should have the option of choosing to prohibit weapons within the entire facility and post signage indicating weapons are not allowed. (Requested by David Bevans, CFE, Executive Director Columbus GA Convention & Trade Center, IAVM State Representative)
As HB 60 currently stands the law allows anyone to bring a firearm into a public assembly venue. Unless the venue conducts a weapons check regularly during business hours
customers leasing the space for private events don’t have the ability to prohibit guns at their event. Persons carrying a weapon into a facility by the law can’t be questioned if they have a permit.
6. CASINO GAMING REFERENDUM:
Request the legislative delegation introduce and/or support legislation to authorize a referendum to allow Georgia citizens to vote as to whether they want to allow casino gaming in Georgia for the purpose of Hope Scholarship funding. (Requested by Mayor Pro Tem Turner Pugh and Councilor Woodson)
To provide Hope Scholarships to college bound students to ensure that a lack of funding does not prevent them from going to college, staying in college and graduating from college.
7. PEACHCARE FOR KIDS:
Request the legislative delegation introduce and/or support legislation that will ensure that all uninsured children ages 18 and under have access to PeachCare for kids as created by Title XXI of the Social Security Act to include, preventive, vision, dental, specialist and primary care. (Request of Mayor Pro-Tem)
To ensure that all children have access to affordable healthcare through a healthcare system designed for kids; and to provide a mechanism to ensure that childcare agencies and those responsible for programs/services for kids be encouraged to disseminate material relative to the PeachCare for Kids program.
8. LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUES:
Request that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce general legislation at the 2017 Session to implement one or more of the recommendations contained in the attached Resolution. (Request of Mayor)
9. TAX REFORM – KEY PRINCIPLES OF LOCAL TAXATION:
Ask our local delegation to support GMA’s efforts to promote tax reform that increases transparency, respects home rule and the need for municipal government officials to respond to the needs of their constituents by supporting a thorough review of existing tax exemptions and incentives. (Requested by Deputy City Manager)
During each legislative session, numerous changes are made to Georgia’s tax code, often through individual bills. These tax cuts and tax shifts have resulted in an unbalanced tax code, including regional distortions in the tax base, which has in turn led to budget shortfalls at the state and local levels. Since many types of taxation work together to provide revenue for the state and local governments, any change to one type of tax will often affect the others. To ensure that Georgia has a balanced and equitable system of taxation, the state should take a comprehensive approach to taxes as a whole. Of pressing need for immediate reform is the motor vehicle Title Ad Valorem Tax Fee (TAVT) state and local percentage share. Any revision of the tax code should respect the needs of municipal governments and the important and often diverse services that municipalities provide to their residents and property owners.
WHEREAS, events across the country have brought law enforcement encounters with citizens into focus and states and communities are studying such issues as policing, use of force policies, transparency and civic order;
WHEREAS, this Council desires that the Georgia General Assembly consider passage of statewide general legislation or appropriate Resolution to implement the following:
1) Require all law enforcement agencies within the State of Georgia to meet best practices of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA.)
2) Require any future fatal officer-involved shooting within the State of Georgia to be investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
3) Require any future fatal officer-involved shooting within the State of Georgia to be reviewed and/or prosecuted by a District Attorney outside the jurisdiction of the shooting.
4) Require the compilation and maintenance of data on officer-involved shootings in all Georgia jurisdictions.
5) Require all incident video footage of any officer- involved shootings to be subject to the Georgia Open Records Act regardless of pending review or investigation, absent court order protection.
6) Convene a bi-partisan legislative commission to review and report on law enforcement immunity statutes in Georgia and the need for any legislative amendments or adjustments. (This item may be accomplished by any appropriate Resolution of the Georgia General Assembly.)
NOW, THEREFORE, THE COUNCIL OF COLUMBUS, GEORGIA HEREBY RESOLVES:
We hereby respectfully request that the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly introduce general statewide legislation or any appropriate Resolution at the 2017 Session to implement the above-described recommendations. Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded by the Clerk of Council to each member of the local delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.
Introduced at a regular meeting of the Council of Columbus, Georgia held on the _______ day of ___________, 2016, and adopted at said meeting by the affirmative vote of ______ members of Council.
TINY B. WASHINGTON, CLERK TERESA PIKE TOMLINSON, MAYOR