It’s Halfway! Georgia Legislative Session

In case you don’t know, the Georgia Legislative Session is 40 days long.1 Yesterday, Friday was Day 21. We’re halfway done. We’re also 2/3 of the way to Day 30, which is known as “crossover day”. Any piece of legislation that hasn’t been passed by the House, or Senate, and sent to the other chamber is considered shelved. During the first session of a legislature (which was last year), the bill can be taken up again in the following session. On this session, which is the last before general elections, I imagine that it gets dumped and must be resubmitted2

So, 9 days to go until any legislation that wants to pass this session must be acted on by one of the chambers.

Things that have come up in the last three legislative days:

HB 1058 – Condemnation of Property and Transfer of Ownership. This bill would allow immediate transfer of ownership of a property condemned due to blight. I imagine so that a governmental agency can hand it off to someone (private) who has promised to develop it. I looked up the definition of “blight”.

(1) “Blighted property,” “blighted,” or “blight” means any urbanized or developed property which:

(A) Presents two or more of the following conditions:

(i) Uninhabitable, unsafe, or abandoned structures;

(ii) Inadequate provisions for ventilation, light, air, or sanitation;

(iii) An imminent harm to life or other property caused by fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, storm, or other natural catastrophe respecting which the Governor has declared a state of emergency under state law or has certified the need for disaster assistance under federal law; provided, however, this division shall not apply to property unless the relevant public agency has given notice in writing to the property owner regarding specific harm caused by the property and the owner has failed to take reasonable measures to remedy the harm;

(iv) A site identified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 9601, et seq., or environmental contamination to an extent that requires remedial investigation or a feasability (sic) study;

(v) Repeated illegal activity on the individual property of which the property owner knew or should have known; or

(vi) The maintenance of the property is below state, county, or municipal codes for at least one year after notice of the code violation; and

(B) Is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, or crime in the immediate proximity of the property.

Property shall not be deemed blighted because of esthetic conditions.

HBs 1051 and 1052 have to do with MARTA. 1051 repeals the provision (I think) of 50% of revenues be capital expenditures, rather than operations. My admittedly limited knowledge on this front thinks that this six-republican-representative-consigned bill is a smack in the face of the Governor’s Transit Governance Task Force recommendations.

HB 986 – English Document to Control Legal Determination. This bill is succinct, so I’ll just quote it:

In the event of a dispute or complaint wherein an insurer provided any material in a language other than English, the English language version of the policy as that term is defined in paragraph (1) of Code Section 33-24-1 shall control the resolution of such dispute or complaint.

I find this bill to be interesting in a legal sense. What kind of case law surrounds this sort of thing? What have the practices been in other states? I can see lively legal battle over differing interpretation of legal documents in translated forms. Does the person who’s primary language is [not English] have standing when it comes to the interpretation of documents? Is their recourse a counter suit that the translator didn’t do an effective job?

Interesting.

HR 1377 – Opposing Citizens United Ruling. Six democrats cosigned a resolution condemning Citizens United. Go them, although this resolution will now quietly die.

SB 463 – Changing Provisions of Design Build Contracts in GA. This bill removes the requirement to select the lowest bidder Design-Build team, and it also increases the proportion of contracts that can be awarded as Design-Build (as opposed to the more traditional Design-Bid-Build).

SB 445 – Throwing The Professional Licensing Boards Out! This 831 page bill entirely upends the methods of the current professional licensing boards in Georgia (which includes Professional Engineers, Barbers, Massage Therapists, Contractors, etc., for a total of 45) and I do not agree. Well, actually the Chairman of my professional licensing board opposes it, and I trust him, and I do not have the time to read an 831 page bill, so yeah, I oppose this.

It will be heard in committee on Tuesday.

SB 444 – Video Speed Enforcement in “Safety Zones”3. This bill would allow the use of video speed enforcement in work zones. Bring it on, I approve. Work zones are some of the most dangerous places on the highway, for the workers.

HOWEVER! There is a provision in the bill that requires notification of the drivers that they will me monitored by devices. This annoys the crap out of me. Why? Because there is a similar provision for counties and municipalities to notify drivers of radar enforcement. Some background:

In order to enforce speed by radar, a particular piece of roadway (in Georgia) must have the speed by statute, or by an engineering study.
In order to enforce any piece of roadway by radar, the road must have been marked at the entrance to the county or city (or state for that matter) with a sign that warns drivers that their speed will be monitored by detection devices.

My crap is annoyed out because in 2012, it’s ridiculous to postulate that anyone, anywhere in the United States, doesn’t realize that their speed will be monitored by radar. I challenge you to find someone who doesn’t know that the cops use radar guns. By maintaining this outdated law, the local municipalities, and the Department of Transportation, have to erect and maintain an enormous number of signs. That’s just silly. Remember that signs are road hazards, too, no matter how “breakaway” they are.

This provision should be repealed and the signs removed. This will save money (tax money!) and time.

Now, with respect to the workzone video speed detection, I will grant that situation is a bit different, but I say, lets start like we mean to continue and not worry about the signs.

SB 441 – Don’t point Lasers at Officers. This bill would make it a high misdemeanor to point a laser at a police officer. I’m wondering what prompted this.

SB 434 – Outlaw Abortion. Yup, just what I paraphrased the title.

SR 945 – Complete Streets in GA. This resolution, sponsored by Democrats, urges the Georgia Department of Transportation to adopt a complete streets policy. Bill approves.

SR 926 – Prohibition of Enforcement of Foreign Laws. What? Someone with more knowledge will have to chime in on this one.

  1. 40 legislative days, not calendar or work days. []
  2. But I don’t know what officially happens to something that doesn’t make crossover in the second session. I’ll find out. []
  3. Work zones, basically. []
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