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House OKs roadside signs
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The Georgia House of Representatives has picked up its pace as it works toward the 40th day of the Legislature. The major push bas been to get the Amended 2011 state budget passed in the House and on to the Senate. The House continues to work on the Fiscal Year 2012 State Budget. The 30th day, possibly March 16, of the legislative session is cross-over day. It is on this day that any House Bill must be passed by members of the House and sent to the Senate for consideration.

Some bills that were debated and passed the Georgia House follow:

HB 179 State highway system; permits for legally erected signs.

Current law allows billboard operators the ability to thin vegetation along a 500-foot roadside and 500-foot fence line area in a public right of way.

This bill requires a smaller viewing window 250-foot roadside viewing window and a 350-foot fence line will provide operators the ability to lower signs to no higher than 75 feet, creating a quick, but clear view of sign. Operators pay full mitigation costs so any vegetation removed is replaced elsewhere. This bill adopts quick take provisions for illegal signs and provides incentives for the removal of illegal and nonconforming signs (at no cost to the state). This bill adopts obscenity standards on static boards that mimic the standards used for digital signs. This legislation places a five-year moratorium on all new signs and allows GDOT to raise renewal fees.

An amendment to HB 179 was approved which allows that on and after July 1, an application fee will be $300 and the annual renewal fee will be $85. GDOT will be able to adjust the renewal fee, but the restriction of no more than 20 percent over three years is removed. GDOT must send the renewal increase to the House and Senate Transportation Committee not less than 30 days prior to final adoption by the department. An annual report on the expenditures and revenues of the Outdoor Advertising Program will be sent to the House and Senate Transportation Committees.

HB 92 Elections; in person absentee balloting; provide limitations

This legislation changes the number of days from 45 to 20 days that early voting is available. Under this bill, advance voting shall commence on the fourth Monday immediately prior to each primary or election and as soon as possible prior to a runoff and shall end on the Friday immediately prior to each primary, election, or runoff. Further, hours of operation shall be conducted during normal business hours on weekdays during such period and shall be conducted on the second Saturday prior to a primary or election during the hours of 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, counties and municipalities may extend the hours for voting beyond regular business hours and may provide for additional voting locations to suit the needs of the electors of the jurisdiction at their option.

HB 192 State Education Finance Study Commission; evaluate Formula and funding; establish

The QBE funding formula for education has not been revised in 25 years. With our efforts to meet “Race to the Top” qualifications along with other factors, we should begin the process to revise the QBE formula. This is the first step to begin that process.

This legislation relates to the “Quality Basic Education Act,” establishing the State Education Finance Study Commission whose purpose is to evaluate the Quality Basic Education Formula and other funding mechanisms for public schools.

The Commission will be composed of 27 members from certain state departments, parents, business people, teachers, and members of the General Assembly.

Areas in which the commission shall study are: QBE formula, state and local funding partnership, equalization, student transportation, state school funding, capital outlay, charter schools, career technical and agriculture education, dual enrollment, virtual schools, teacher pay, non-QBE grants and other Title 20 revisions.

The commission will be completed by Dec. 31, 2012, with proposed legislation for final recommendations that will include a prioritization of all recommendations.

This week, it is expected that House members will debate and vote on...

 HB 326: HOPE program; comprehensive revisions; provide and,

HB 87: Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, enact.

Note: Legislation that is passed in the Georgia House of Representatives must be passed by the Senate and sent to the governor before it can become a state law. Activities and other legislation can be view on the Web at

Feel free to contact Rep. Ann R. Purcell, 401 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334, Phone: (404) 656-5139 or by e-mail at