The ground work was laid for the building of a new stadium on the Georgia World Congress Center property in 2010 when the General Assembly passed HB 903. HB 903 extended the hotel/motel tax in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County as a source to fund a new stadium, provided that any new stadium is built on the GWCC campus.
The hotel/motel tax came about in 1988 as a way to fund the Georgia Dome through the issuance of bonds by the state, and using 39.3 percent of the hotel/motel tax to service the yearly payments. The full $213 million funding of the Georgia Dome came through the bonds funded by the revenues created by the hotel/motel tax. The current debate has been centered on whether the General Assembly will vote to raise the GWCC bonding authority which was established at $200 million to fund the Georgia Dome.
Whether the legislature or the city of Atlanta funds $200 million or $300 million toward the project, it’s a better deal than many other cities around the country who have recently built new NFL stadiums. The GWCC reported that the Georgia Dome had an economic impact of more than $267 million in 2011 alone.
In recent years, 12 other cities have used funds from a hospitality tax to fund new stadiums. In many cases cities or states are asked to raise taxes on rental cars or even sales taxes, but this is not the case in Atlanta.
Also of the last 20 stadiums built, only four have been funded exclusively with private funds, and the average percentage of public funding has been 73 percent. The current private/public split would be 70 percent private to 30 percent public, but there have been talks in the past week to change that to 80 percent and 20 percent. Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons, has pledged up to $860 million in private funds and would be responsible for any cost overruns and for maintenance.
The hotel/motel taxes that would potentially be used either by the city of Atlanta or the state are not being redirected from education or any other purpose, and only apply to hotels in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County. Under current law, 39.3 percent of the revenues from the tax are exclusively used to service debt on the Georgia Dome and would be used for the new stadium.
So whether the city of Atlanta or the state is issuing the bonds for the stadium or not, no money is being diverted from the state treasury that would have gone to other programs.
Passed the Senate and in the House
• SB 14 - Creates the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Task Force to examine comprehensive solutions to one of the state’s largest health problems. Passed the Senate 151-0.
Passed the House and in the Senate
• HB 57 - Makes synthetic marijuana a Schedule I Drug. Passed the House 167-1.
Bills introducted in the Senate
• SB 88 - Protects guns and gun accessories that are owned or manufactured exclusively within the state from federal regulations, and bans the enforcement of federal laws that restrict gun ownership, and the enforcement of such rules is a felony.
• SB 89 - Requires every state school, public or private, to install carbon monoxide detectors and warning systems.
• SB 93 - Authorizes the use of silencers for hunting purposes, unless the silencer is being used to hunt illegally on private property or at night.
• SB 97 - Creates the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef.
• SB 99 - Allows counties to create local option sales taxes that would collect less than 1 percent.
• SB 101 - Forbids discrimination against those with carry permits in regards to renting public housing, as well as honoring firearm carry permits from other states.
• SB 103 - Allows technical colleges to be named community colleges if they are accredited by a collegiate accrediting agency to offer an associate degree.
• SB 105 - Allows charitable organizations to avoid punishment for fraudulent donations if they received the donation in good faith.
• SB 110 - Prohibits drivers from engaging in oral communication on a wireless device unless it’s a hands-free device, or an emergency.
• SB 116 - Increases the penalty for homicide by vehicle in the second degree to a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
• SB 119 - Includes firefighters who sustained a permanent disability which led to delayed death to be deemed in the line of duty.
Greg S. Griffin was confirmed as state auditor.
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.
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