Local lawmakers addressing chief magistrate pay, school voting districts, among others
Although the Georgia General Assembly hasn’t even been in session for two full weeks, over that timeframe State representatives from Bartow County have already sponsored a smattering of bills, running the gamut from legislation that would redefine the Bartow County School Board’s voting districts to legislation that would address Georgia’s laws on elder abuse.
The lone piece of legislation, as of Wednesday, sponsored by all three of Bartow’s State representatives is House Bill 737, which would allow the Bartow County Board of Education to “change the definition of the education districts.”
Essentially, that would redraw the boundaries for the local school board’s five voting districts.
“Education districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, as they existed immediately prior to the effective date of this subsection, shall continue to be designated as education districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, respectively, but as newly described under subsection (b) of this section,” the bill text reads. “And on and after the effective date of this subsection, such members of the board serving from those former education districts shall be deemed to be serving from and representing their respective districts as newly described.”
So far, the bill made it to a House second reader on Jan. 14 and is currently pending in the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee.
The only other bill District 15 State Rep. Matthew Gambill (R, Cartersville) has sponsored in the 2020 Legislative session to date is House Bill 765, a bill which looks to increase the minimum compensation for Georgia’s chief magistrates and “to provide for the calculation of future increases in the minimum compensation for chief magistrates.”
Under the bill, Georgia's chief magistrates could be guaranteed as much as $133,106.73 a year in salary, depending on the population size of their jurisdictions.
The legislation would also create an increase in the minimum compensation for magistrate court clerks, as well as increase the pay for any probate judges also serving as magistrates or chief magistrates from an annual minimum of $13,223.25 to $14,162.10.
That bill made it to a House second reader on Jan. 16 and is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee.
The legislation was also sponsored by District 14 State Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R, Cartersville.) In addition to sponsoring HB 737 and HB 765, he also sponsored House Bill 538, a bill that was withdrawn by the House and recommitted on Jan. 14.
That legislation seeks to revise a subsection of Georgia Code pertaining to State Board of Equalization duties, ultimately allowing “all questions of law decided by a court or the Georgia Tax Tribunal pursuant to this subsection, including interpretations of constitutional, statutory and regulatory provisions” to be made “without deference to any rule, determination or interpretation, whether written or unwritten, that may have been made on the matter by the [Department of Revenue.]”
Of Bartow’s three House lawmakers, District 16 State Rep. Trey Kelley (R, Cedartown) has sponsored the most bills thus far, lending his signature to seven pieces of legislation since the General Assembly reconvened on Jan. 13.
That includes House Bill 276, a piece of legislation that seeks to amend State Code relating to sales and uses of taxes. In particular, it adds a section defining a “marketplace facilitator," describing such individuals as those who “contract with a seller in exchange for any form of consideration to make available or facilitate a retail sale that is taxable under this chapter.”
Effectively, the bill would make such facilitators equivalent to dealers under State law, who would then “be liable for the full amount of taxes levied or imposed by this chapter on all retail sales” or “the amount of tax collected by such marketplace facilitator from all purchasers on all such retail sales,” whichever may be greater.
The bill passed in the House 111 votes to 54 and in the Senate 40 votes to nine on Jan. 16.
Kelley also sponsored House Bill 799, which looks to amend a portion of Georgia Code pertaining to the suspension of driver’s licenses for driving under the influence of a controlled substance or marijuana “so as to repeal a prohibition regarding the eligibility of certain violators to receive early reinstatement of their driver’s licenses and limited driving permits.”
To date, the furthest HB 799 has gotten is a House hopper on Jan. 16.
Kelley likewise is a sponsor of House Bill 757, which outlines qualifying periods for the State’s special elections as well as establishes voter registration deadlines for special primary runoffs and any other elections or runoffs coinciding with a special primary runoff.
“The deadline for persons to apply to register to vote before a runoff primary or any primary, election or runoff held in conjunction with such runoff primary shall be the close of business on the fifth Monday prior to the date of such runoff primary,” the bill text reads. “Or, if such Monday is a legal holiday, by the close of business on the following business day.”
The bill made it to a second House reader on Jan. 15 and is currently pending in the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
Kelley also sponsored two pieces of legislation that were Senate recommitted on Jan. 13.
House Bill 247 looks to “repeal an enhanced penalty relating to battery against a person 65 years of age or older,” additionally revising a “definition relative to the protection of disabled adults and elder persons” under State law.
The legislation deletes a subsection of the Georgia Code, which currently states that any person who commits battery against a senior citizen, “shall upon conviction thereof, be punished for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.”
That same bill also revises another statute, expanding Georgia’s legal definition of senior citizen exploitation to also include “the illegal taking of resources belonging to a disabled adult or elder person when access to the resources was obtained due to the disabled adult’s or elder person’s mental or physical incapacity.”
HB 247 also includes a proposed amendment to Georgia Code pertaining to “dangerous instrumentalities and practices,” which — in essence — would make it illegal for individuals found guilty of committing certain misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to ship, transport or possess “any firearm or ammunition or to receive any firearm or ammunition.”
If the bill becomes law, penalties for violations run from one to 10 years in prison for a first offense and five to 10 years in prison for subsequent convictions.
Another piece of legislation sponsored by Kelley is House Bill 499, which would amend Georgia Code to legally define an “electric easement” and allow electric membership corporations to use such existing easements to expand broadband service access.
Kelley also sponsored House Resolution 890, which commends former University of Georgia football player Morris “Mo” Clyde Lewis, III for his 13-year career with the New York Jets. Over his professional career, the linebacker was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and served as the Jets defensive captain for six years.
HR 890 was read and approved by the House on Jan. 14.