While county commissions have broad self government powers through home rule authority under Art. IX, Sec. II, Para. I of the Georgia Constitution, certain laws must be passed by a local Act of the General Assembly.
Examples of specific local laws which must be passed by a local Act of the General Assembly are as follows:
1. Local homestead exemptions, Art. VII, Sec. II, Para. II(2)
2. New hotel-motel tax rate changes over 5%, O.C.G.A. § 48-13-51(b)
3. Form of government changes, Art. IX, Sec. II, Para. I (c)(2)
4. Redevelopment Powers, Art. IX, Sec. II, Para. VII; O.C.G.A. § 36-44-1 et seq.
5. Community Improvement Districts, Art. IX, Sec. VII, Para I; O.C.G.A. § 10-5-1, et seq.
7. Any changes to the county officers, their salaries, and their personnel, Art. IX, Sec. II, Para. I (c)(1)
8. Providing the manner of succession to fill a vacancy in office (if the local Act does not specify, the procedure in O.C.G.A. § 36-5-21 must be followed)
To pass a local Act, a member of the legislative delegation for your county must agree to sponsor a bill and a notice must be advertised in the legal organ.
In order to introduce local legislation, O.C.G.A. § 28-1-14(a) requires that a notice must be posted in the county legal organ not more than 60 days prior to the date of the convening of the legislative session. The notice need only run one day and must run no later than the week prior to the week for which the bill is introduced. The last day of the week that the notice can run for which a bill can be introduced the following week is on a Saturday.
Either the county or the bill sponsor can post the ad in the legal organ. The notice needs to be broadly stated as to the subject matter of the bill to be introduced and should reference the specific Session of the General Assembly in which the local bill will be introduced. If the notice is drawn too narrowly, it could cause drafting problems and could prevent the legislation from being introduced as intended.
Once a legislator agrees to sponsor the local bill and the notice has run, the bill can be introduced. Most local bills that are introduced in the House are assigned to the Intragovernmental Coordination Committee and most local bills that are introduced in the Senate are assigned to State and Local Governmental Operations (SLGO). Although local bills follow the same basic process as a general bill, there may be other requirements that must be followed according to the rules of the legislative delegation that represents the county. The shortest timeframe that it takes to pass a local bill is five days, therefore it is necessary to plan accordingly.
Legislative Process for Local Redistricting Bills
The senator or representative sponsoring the local bill, needs to submit the map information in a block equivalency file to the Office of Reapportionment. Once Reapportionment receives the file, they will submit it to the Office of Legislative Counsel. Legislative Counsel will draft the legislation based on the mapping information and the bill sponsor will then be able to introduce the legislation. Once introduced, the bill will be assigned to the Intragovernmental Coordination Committee (ICC) in the House or the State and Local Governmental Operations (SLGO) in the Senate. The bill is then certified for correctness through the Reapportionment Office once it is received in committee (The ICC rules requires certification whereas certification is optional for SLGO. Therefore, regardless as to whether it is introduced in the House or Senate, it will be certified through the House ICC). Once certified, it will come back to that committee and move through the legislative process just like any other local bill.
The Office of Legislative Counsel requires each member who is seeking to introduce redistricting legislation to complete a Census Plan Checklist. Oftentimes, the members do not have the information requested readily available. In order to streamline this process, the Checklist can be can be completed ahead of time by the county.
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