A Message From Jan

Fulton County – 2013 Legislation

Fulton County – 2013 Legislation
 
By Representative Jan Jones
Speaker Pro Tem

The message to Fulton County residents is clear: Our county needs reform.

In response, the Georgia General Assembly recently passed a package of thirteen reform bills that pertain only to Fulton County.  Several others that affect north Fulton cities were also approved.  

Republican House members crafted, introduced and passed the legislation as part of a reform package designed to improve Fulton County’s efficiency and effectiveness.  Republican Senators carried the last of the bills to final passage on Day 39 of the 40-day legislative session.  

One important measure that would increase the county homestead exemption passed the House by the required two-thirds majority but was not put to a vote on the Senate floor.  Hopefully, it will pass the Senate next year in time for a referendum to be put before the voters in 2014.

Since Fulton County is Georgia’s capitol county and home to 10 percent of the state's population, its shortcomings have a disproportionate effect on the entire metro-Atlanta region.

Recently, mismanagement and inefficiency have plagued many services that Fulton provides. Some examples: The county jail lacked 1300 secure cell door locks for a decade, despite warnings from three consecutive sheriffs. Mishandled elections last November led to an investigation by Secretary of State Brian Kemp and an historic number of provisional ballots cast due to elections staff errors.

Fulton spends 121 percent more per capita in its budget than neighboring, similarly sized Gwinnett County and 68 percent more than Cobb. And that's after excluding expenditures on Grady Hospital and MARTA.

The message to Fulton County government is clear, too:  Get to work on cutting the waste and improving services.

See below for a description of the bills.

Fulton Reform Legislation - Passed

HB 171 -  Reapportionment of Fulton County Commission Districts
Primary Author: Rep. Lynne Riley
-    Redistricted the Fulton County Commission into equally populated districts following the 2010 census.
-    Created six districts and one at-large chair and staggered the terms.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/171

HB 347 - Fulton County Board of Registrations and Elections Revise Appointment
Primary Author: Rep. Lynne Riley
-    Changed the appointment of one of the five board members.  
-    Two will continue to be nominated by the Democrat Party and two by the Republican Party.  The final member will be nominated by the Fulton County combined House and Senate Legislative Delegation.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/347

HB 380 - Fulton BOE retirement plan – revise governance provisions
Primary Author: Rep. Lynne Riley
-    Requested unanimously by the Fulton County Board of Education.
-    Gives more accountability and control to the Fulton County Board of Education.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/380

HB 435 - State Court of Fulton County – Chief Judge Duties
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Spells out duties for Chief Judge and adjusts salary to reflect increased responsibilities.
-    New duties will include: scheduling regular judge’s meetings, managing available court space, making determinations of divisions, selection of jury clerk and oversight, and developing a personnel system.
-    Requested by bipartisan judicial commission
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/435

HB 437 - Superior Court of Fulton County – Chief Judge Duties
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Spells out duties for Chief Judge.
-    New duties will include: scheduling regular judge’s meetings, managing available court space, making determinations of divisions, selection of jury clerk and oversight, and developing a personnel system.
-    Requested by bipartisan judicial commission
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/437

HB 441 - Superior Court of Fulton County – Budget Oversight
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Fulton County Superior Court will operate more efficiently with ability to control budget.
-    Requested by Fulton judges
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/441

HB 442 - State Court of Fulton County – Budget Oversight
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Fulton County State Courts will operate more efficiently with ability to control budget.
-    Requested by Fulton judges
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/442

HB 443 - Magistrate Court of Fulton County – Appointment of Chief Judge
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    The chief magistrate will be a nonpartisan, elected position.  
-    Fulton County is the only Georgia County where the magistrate court is operated and administered under the state court and the chief magistrate is appointed by the state court judges.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/443

HB 444 - Superior Court of Fulton County – Judge Salary Supplements
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Supplements the salaries of Superior Court judges in order to bring them in line with those of other counties. The Fulton circuit is currently ranked eleventh on the list of Georgia superior court salaries.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/444

HB 594 - Fulton County Personnel
Primary Author: Rep. Chuck Martin
-    Future employees will have unclassified status, except for public safety employees.  
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/594

HB 598 - Fulton County Superior, State and Magistrate Courts
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Employees will be unclassified.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/598

HB 604 - Fulton County Millage Rate
Primary Author: Rep. Jan Jones
-    Suspends any proceedings by the Fulton County Commission to increase the ad valorem millage rate in 2013 and 2014.
-    NOTE: THE ABOVE PROVISION CANNOT BE APPLIED TO ANY OTHER GEORGIA COUNTY.  ALLOWED BECAUSE OF A 1951 LOCAL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PERTAINING ONLY TO FULTON COUNTY.
-    Requires 5 of 7 commissioners to vote to increase millage rate beginning in 2015 after the new reapportioned commission map and six districts take effect.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/604

HB 627 - Fulton County Community Improvement Districts
Primary Author: Rep. Jan Jones
-    Revise provisions to allow Fulton County CIDs located outside of Atlanta to renew prior to termination date. Requested by all CIDs affected.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/627  

Legislation That Passed House and Did Not Receive A Senate Vote This Session:
Note: Cannot move forward until 2014

HB 346 – Reform Fulton County Tax Commissioner Position
Primary Author: Rep. Harry Geisinger
-    Changes the office of Tax Commissioner from an elected to an appointed position.
-    Would prohibit the Tax Commissioner from personally profiting above his county salary for the performance of the duties of the office, which adds approximately $200,000 yearly to his total package.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/346

HB 541 - Fulton County Homestead Exemption – requires 2/3 majority
Primary Author: Rep. Jan Jones
-    Provides for a referendum to increase the homestead exemption from $30,000 to $60,000 phased-in over three years.  Fulton spends 121% more per capita than Gwinnett, excluding expenditures on Grady.
-    After full implementation in 2017, Fulton will still spend 100% more per capita than Gwinnett, excluding Grady.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/541

Local Legislation Pertaining to North Fulton Cities Awaiting Governor’s Signature

HB 452 - Reapportionment of City of Milton Council
Primary Author: Rep. Jan Jones
-    Prior to 2013 council elections, the bill redistributes the population equally into council districts as required following the 2010 census.  Council members are already and will continue to be required to live in districts, but stand for election citywide.  
-    Creates three districts, each containing two council posts to provide more flexibility.  The mayor will continue to run from and be elected citywide.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/452

HB 526 - North Fulton Regional Radio System
Primary Author: Rep. Wendell Willard
-    Provides for development of regional communication system for public safety and public service for Sandy Springs, Roswell, Milton and Alpharetta. Requested by cities to reduce costs and privatize.
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/526
    
HB 527 - City of Milton Charter Modifications
Primary Author: Rep. Jan Jones
-    Makes several changes supported unanimously by the Milton City Council and legislative delegation.  A number of the changes were recommended by the volunteer Charter Commission.  
-    Clarifies that a majority-vote referendum to increase the city millage rate cap for operating budget purposes would establish a new rate cap, not eliminate the cap.  
-    Requires the vote of five council members to override the mayor’s veto.  
-    Provides for the annual election of a mayor pro tem by the city council.  
-    Limits the mayor and council members to three full consecutive terms.
-    Provides a question that must appear on the ballot if the council votes to hold a referendum to increase the millage rate. The question will be 'Do you approve increasing taxes on residential and nonresidential property for City of Milton property owners by raising from [current millage rate] to [proposed millage rate] the operating budget millage rate, which was capped in the original charter for the city?'
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/527

HB 574 - Johns Creek Charter Modification
Primary Author: Rep. Lynne Riley
-    Clarifies that a majority-vote referendum to increase the city millage rate cap for operating budget purposes would establish a new rate cap, not eliminate the cap.  
-    Provides a question that must appear on the ballot if the council votes to hold a referendum to increase the millage rate. The question will be 'Do you approve increasing taxes on residential and nonresidential property for City of Johns Creek property owners by raising from [current millage rate] to [proposed millage rate] the operating budget millage rate, which was capped in the original charter for the city?'
-    http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/574

Posted by Beth Green in Uncategorized on 3/28/2013