State Rep Brett Harrell’s Capitol Update – news from under the Gold Dome

Press release from Georgia rep. brett Harrell (R-Snellville)

Rep. Brett Harrell weighs in on Gwinnett’s transportation contract with Marta – Why I voted No.

HB 31 FY 2020 Budget Passes the House
This week the House passed HB 31 the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget at $27.5 billion.
Highlights include:
  • HB 31 includes a $2,775 pay raise for teachers and all certified personnel. Thank you for your calls. We heard you and the House responded!
  • $300,000 for Blight Removal and Code Enforcement (BRACE) in the Department of Community Affairs providing grants to local communities.
  • HB 31 restores funding for school nurses and provides $500,000 as grants to schools for feminine hygiene produces for low-income students.
  • $228,859 for three new investigators in the Secretary of State’s office to investigate complaints of election fraud.
  • The House version of the FY 2020 budget includes $78.4 million additional dollars in the Department of Community Health for Medicaid growth as well as an additional $68.3 million to replace federal funds in the Medicaid program.
Detailed highlights of the House version of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget here.
Bills of interest this week.
Rep. Harrell and Sen. Martin with Atlanta United’s MLS Cup!

Several bills this week you may find of interest.

  • HB 316 authorizing an update to our voting machines passed the House. The bill calls for machine marked, paper ballots supported by ACCG and numerous elections officials throughout the state.
  • HB 447 exempting jet fuel and providing a one-half cent excise tax to fund Georgia’s general aviation airports passed the House.
  • HB 183 that I authored preserving your right to appeal your property tax assessment passed the Senate and is now headed to Governor Kemp.
 On the House Rules calendar and possibly headed to the floor for a vote:
  • HB 76 Alcoholic beverages; counties and municipalities may regulate alcohol licenses  in a manner that is less but not more restrictive than the state.
  • HB 233 Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act; prohibits pharmacy benefit managers from steering patients to pharmacies they own.
  • HB 234 Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act
  • HB 276 Requires online platforms to collect and remit sales taxes
  • HB 324 Georgia’s Hope Act; providing in-state cultivation and sale of low-THC oil
Early voting underway on ratifying Gwinnett’s contract with MARTA – I voted NO.
Vote NO on ratifying the MARTA contract – we can do better.

I voted NO for many reasons:

  • The proposed 4+ mile extension of heavy rail at a cost in excess of $1 billion will increase congestion in an already crowded corridor rather than improve mobility.
  • The nearly 40-year tax on groceries, prescription drugs, and nearly everything else includes spending nearly 30% of those funds on Operations and Maintenance of the existing MARTA system that is NOT in Gwinnett.
  • Those that believe this is the best agreement we will ever get may be surprised to learn it may be amended at any time by a simple majority vote of the Commission.
I believe that $1 billion is better invested in Gwinnett via projects that may be delivered in half the time, at half the cost, actually improve mobility, provide flexibility, and respond to our future needs. Those investments include managed lanes, bus rapid transit, on-call / on-demand services, ride-share, and future autonomous vehicles.
You may read about the major provisions of Gwinnett county’s contract with MARTA here.
I would draw your attention to provisions that stipulate:
  • Gwinnett will make payments to MARTA based on contract and future amendments.
  • Gwinnett is not limited from using other revenues to fund transit.
  • MARTA will assume responsibility for current Gwinnett bus system.
  • The Gwinnett plan, as it may be amended, will serve as the basis for expansion.
  • Gwinnett will pay MARTA 29% of tax proceeds the first six years of the new tax, trued up with the actual costs at the end of the six-year period.
  • Gwinnett may be compensated for real estate the County owns and may be needed to implement the plan, however, MARTA is NOT subject to Gwinnett zoning.
  • MARTA will provide the ‘base‘ level of service matching service to existing members.
  • Gwinnett may purchase from MARTA a higher level of service.
I think we can do so much better providing public transportation alternatives to Gwinnettians. But, that’s just me.

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