The 2012 session may be known for two things in retrospect: A focus on job creation and economic development and controversial education legislation. This week we review legislation in those two arenas remembering that both had budget components.
SB 427—This bill, while controversial in some quarters, is actually in the section of the code dealing with timeliness of EPD’s response to permit applications. SB 427 was presented with support from the governor as an economic development initiative to help the state compete with South Carolina, which allows third party permit review and has a shorter response time. This can be a big issue with new industry the state is recruiting.
Nothing changes the requirements to follow state and federal laws; it is just to allow qualified independent engineering firms to complete application evaluations. Presently EPD has to meet a 90-day deadline for issuing or turning down permits. The first 30 days are for public input and of course that would not change, but sometimes industry considering several states for location is on a faster timeline than the 90-day response allows.
SB 427 allows the industry to pay for a qualified external permit review process that would be accomplished faster than EPD could accomplish it. EPD is tasked with compiling a list of certified independent review firms. These firms would be prohibited from being connected to the firm doing the application for the industry. There would be no reason for an industry filing for a permit renewal to need this process since current regulations allow the continued use of the existing permit while EPD considers the permit renewal. So the claim by some that SB 427 benefits companies seeking renewal permits is just not valid.
Additionally, SB 427 removes the right of industry to seek a refund of application fees if EPD does not respond to permit application within 90 days or after one extension. This bill is effective July 1, 2013.
SB 428—Amends the Administrative Procedures Act to require state agencies to prepare annual reports showing federal mandates requiring administrative rules and regulations and identifying federal duplication.
HB 868—Amends existing Jobs Tax Credit code, lengthening tax credit carry forward from four to five years. Adds manufacturing of alternative energy products, specifically solar, wind, battery, bioenergy and biofuel electric vehicle and biomedical to the list of enterprises eligible. Redefines a qualifying “full-time” job as earning a wage rate equal to average manufacturing rate in that county. The large (1,800 jobs) “MEGA” tax incentive is extended through six and eight years if continued investment property is added with up to $600 million and $800 million, respectively.
SB 38—Restores the state school superintendent’s power to hire and fire senior staff, a power that was removed during previous internal strife under an earlier superintendent. Changes limits placed on contracting power of state superintendent from $50,000 to $250,000.
SB 153—Requires clarification in a Reduction-in-Force that teachers terminated for that reason and not for performance will have a clarification letter sent to them by the local board stating the RIF as the reason for termination. New code section specifies, unless specifically changed by local boards, furlough days are to be taken on Mondays, Fridays or in conjunction with holidays.
SB 227—Allows Georgia to join a multistate compact to remove barriers for children of military families that comes with frequent relocation and parental deployment. Issues that are addressed in the compact are educational records and enrollment, placement and attendance and graduation. Applies to active members of the military including members of the National Guard and children of medically discharged veterans and injured members. There is funding in the FY2013 budget to implement.
SB 289—Expands virtual learning in public schools, tasking the state BOE with establishing rules and regulations requiring every child to take at least one virtual course before graduating. Requires local systems to offer virtual instruction program options. Allows systems to keep the entire FTE amount for students taking the courses but DOE must be reimbursed for costs through the Georgia Virtual School. Tuition may be charged for the Virtual School but cannot exceed $250 per course. More on this broad bill at www.legis.ga.gov.
SB 410—Requires the Office of Student Achievement to adopt indicators of quality of learning by students, financial efficiency and school climate for individual schools and school systems. Requires a numerical score rating for individual schools and for school systems based on student achievement, achievement gap closure and student progress. Used in conjunction with the present DOE Report Card and provides financial rewards for improvement and achievement. Unacceptable rated schools are eligible for increased aid and assistance. Ratings range from 5-star or excellent to 1 star for failing.
Next week: More education legislation and tax bills review
If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at http://www.legis.ga.gov.
I may be reached at
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