On Monday, January 10, the Georgia General Assembly convened to begin the 2022 legislation session. The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) Public Policy team represents MAC investors at the State Capitol as we review hundreds of pieces of legislation. Heading into session, below are some of MAC’s top priorities:
Buckhead Cityhood – Buckhead residents and businesses have legitimate concerns about crime, service delivery, and other issues that must be addressed, as do other parts of Atlanta. However, forming a new Buckhead City will not resolve these problems. It would only create a host of new problems and damage the tremendous economic momentum we enjoy as a city, a region, and as a state. Atlanta is known for coming together to address its challenges, and we must do the same now to improve public safety and other issues with real, impactful solutions.
Public Safety – MAC supports a number of efforts to improve public safety in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. Opportunities for legislative support include:
- Funding additional ballistics experts and other technicians for GBI
- Authorizing and funding an anti-gang unit in the state Attorney General’s office
- Mental health legislative recommendations of the Governor’s Behavior Health Reform and Innovation Commission, including the expansion of mental health and drug courts
Second Chances – Building on previous success, we will continue our support of expanding “second chances” legislation. This type of legislation restricts access to certain criminal records when employment background checks are performed while ensuring employer liability protection, thus providing second chances to Georgians.
Driver’s License Fee – MAC supports waiving the full driver’s license reinstatement fee for people who have filed a pauper’s affidavit. Currently, only half of the fee is waived, which can present a significant barrier to accessing employment, childcare, and healthcare.
High-Tech Sales Tax Exemptions – We support a competitive tax environment that maintains the state’s economic and fiscal attractiveness and encourages business creation, recruitment, retention and expansion. Key to that is having predicable tax environment and allowing companies to plan well into the future. Therefore, we support an extension of the high tech tax exemption currently set to expire on June 30, 2023. Additionally, we support wireline and wireless telecommunication system equipment being eligible to use this incentive.
Data Center Tax Exemption – Similar to the high-tech sales tax exemption, we support the extension of the sales tax exemption specifically used for data center equipment. Both tech and non-tech companies use data centers and Georgia has developed a rich environment for such facilities. Read about the $5.3 billion economic impact data centers have on Georgia here.
Consolidated Filing – Under current law, affiliated corporations may file consolidated corporate income tax returns only upon approval from the Georgia Department of Revenue (GDOR). MAC will advocate for legislation to allow a group of affiliated corporations to elect to file consolidated returns without GDOR approval. This option for taxpayers would promote predictability and uniformity.
Sustainable Sports Funding Model – MAC is seeking to create a sustainable funding model to help our state continue to compete for major sporting events. Housed within MAC, the Atlanta Sports Council’s mission is to facilitate the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major, non-recurring sporting events. Historically, companies have footed the bulk of this bill, we’re seeking to add some state support to the mix.
Ticket Tax Exemption – MAC will advocate for renewal of the sales tax exemption for tickets to major supporting events. This exemption is key to remaining competitive and to a state’s ability to land major, non-recurring events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, etc.
Online Mobile Sports Betting – We are supportive of legalizing online mobile sports betting which increases fan engagement and captures revenue that is currently being lost via illegal betting mechanisms.
Needs-Based Aid Funding – In 2018, Georgia created a needs-based aid program to support students based on financial need. We will advocate for funding that program that will take the the form of “gap” funding—small amounts that help students close the gap and get them over the finish line to graduation. Last year, Gov. Kemp funded and later extended a pilot program within the University System of Georgia. We will advocate for further expansion of the program.
Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) Funding – The CAPS program supports early education by assisting low-income families with childcare. Challenges related to childcare lead to Georgia’s economy annually losing an estimated $1.75 billion [hyperlink to opp lost report]. Thanks to funding secured during the 2021 session and a subsequent expansion made by Governor Brian Kemp, more children have access to quality early education opportunities. MAC will continue to advocate for further expansion of CAPS.
Computer Science Education – Computer science education is critical for helping fill computer-related job openings and exposing students to the technology sector. MAC will continue advocating for ongoing funding to certify teachers in middle and high school in computer science instruction.
Discriminatory Legislation – Georgia has a top-rated business climate and MAC will advocate against legislation that is discriminatory in nature and harmful to our ability to create, recruit and retain jobs and talent.