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Official: What results of legislative session mean for municipalities
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Michael McPherson, a governmental relations associate with the Georgia Municipal Association, updated city officials from Hall County on the most recent state legislative session at a meeting on Monday, April 22. - photo by Megan Reed

On Monday, a representative from the Georgia Municipal Association reflected on legislation that passed this year, some bills that didn’t make the cut (most didn’t), and what that means for Georgia’s cities.

Michael McPherson, a governmental relations associate with GMA, an advocacy group for Georgia’s municipalities, updated some of Hall County’s mayors and councilmembers at a Monday meeting of the Joint Municipal Association, which includes the local governments from Hall County’s cities.

Local design standards

State House and Senate bills that would have prohibited local governments from adopting design standards for single-family homes or duplexes failed to leave each legislative chamber in time this year, which McPherson called a win for municipalities.

Several cities in Hall, including Lula, Flowery Branch and Oakwood, previously came out in opposition to the legislation.

“It would have preempted the local design standards to the point where only the national minimum would have been in place,” McPherson said.

Other groups, including the Georgia Association of Realtors, had supported the bill.

Short-term rentals

Another bill that was considered in the House would have prohibited local governments from regulating short-term rentals, or homes rented out through sites like VRBO or Airbnb.

Hall County has recently changed its ordinance to allow more homes to serve as short-term rentals.

The legislation would have restricted municipalities’ abilities to regulate characteristics of different zoning districts, McPherson said.

“We can’t roll over and let our zoning be completely defeated by this concept,” McPherson said.

GMA believes that short-term rentals should operate as businesses and pay taxes, such as hotel-motel and sales taxes, he said.

Sales taxes for online retailers

Legislation that would have required online platforms that facilitate sales, deliveries or other services for third parties also failed to pass, McPherson said.

GMA supported that legislation, which would have increased revenue for local governments, he said.

5G technology infrastructure

A bill that was passed this year encourages utility companies to install small cell wireless technology on existing poles.

That cuts down on the amount of new poles and is easier to maintain, according to GMA, which supported it. McPherson said GMA negotiated with utility companies to strike a balance and find a solution that would work for everyone involved.

The bill also includes protections for historic districts and residential areas and requires companies to share build-out plans before deploying new facilities.


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