Friday, March 08, 2019

House Bill 302 And Senate Bill 172 Prohibiting Local Regulation of Housing Design Standards Stuck In Committee

***Neither Made Crossover Deadline***

Neither House Bill 302 nor Senate Bill 172, which would have prohibited local governments from regulating design standards on one and two-family residential properties, made it out of committee on Thursday, the day when a bill usually needs to come to the floor of one chamber for ultimate passage.

The House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee met three times on House Bill 302, most recently on Wednesday, when it approved a substitute for the original bill in a 9 to 7 vote.

The House Rules Committee met on Thursday but did not take action on House Bill 302, which has generated strong opposition from Oconee County city and county officials.

Senate Bill 172, which was identical to the original House Bill 302, was referred to the Senate Oversight Committee on Feb. 25. The Oversight Committee took no action on the proposed legislation.

Marcus Wiedower, who represents most of Oconee County in the House, said the bills are dead for this session. Wiedower said he was satisfied with that outcome.

Design Element Regulations Prohibited

A bipartisan group of six members of the Georgia House of Representatives introduced House Bill 302 on Feb. 13. Spencer Frye, an Athens Democrat representing House District 118, was one of those sponsors.

Smith, 3/6/19 At Hearing (Screenshot)

The proposed legislation stated that “No county or municipal corporation shall adopt or enforce any ordinance or regulation relating to or regulating building design elements as applied to one or two-family dwellings.”

The bill listed the “building design" elements of one or two-family dwellings that cannot be regulated by local governments.

These were exterior building color, type or style of exterior cladding material, style or materials of roof structures or porches, exterior nonstructural architectural ornamentation, location or architectural styling of windows and doors, including garage doors, the number and types of rooms, the interior layout of rooms, and types of foundation structures approved under state minimum standard codes.

Exceptions were made for historic districts or landmarks, regulations that are a requirement of applicable state minimum standard codes, the regulation of manufactured homes consistent with code for such homes, or ordinances adopted as a condition of participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Bill’s History

House Bill 302 was sent to the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, which voted 6 to 5 on Feb. 20 to recommend passages of the bill.

Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell and Commissioner Chuck Horton had attended the session with plans to speak in opposition to the bill but were not given the opportunity to do so.

The bill next went to the Rules Committee, which voted on March 4 to send it back to the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee for reconsideration.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Vance Smith, a Republican from House District 133, north of Columbus, came back to that Committee on March 5 with a substitute bill that added overlay districts as exceptions to the prohibition of the law.

Daniell and Horton also attended that session but did not speak.

Smith was back before the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on Thursday.

Much of the discussion focused on how an overlay district could be created, but Committee members also spoke against state interference in local governance.

The final vote was 9 to 7 to recommend passage of the bill, which then went to the Rules Committee.

That Committee met on Thursday but did not take action on House Bill 302.

Local Reaction

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a resolution opposing House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172 at its meeting on Feb. 26.

The Board joined with the mayors of the county’s four cities to issue a press release on Feb. 28 to state opposition to the two bills.

The Board of Commissioners directed its resolution at the county’s legislative delegation of Wiedower, Houston Gaines from the 117th House District, and Sen. Bill Cowsert from Senate District 46.

I followed action on the two bills from the web sites of the General Assembly. I also watched the video archives of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and of the House Rules Committee.

Wiedower was kind enough to confirm in a telephone conversation Friday morning that neither the House nor the Senate versions of the bill had made it out of committee before the Thursday deadline.

Thursday is what is referred to as crossover day, that is, the day when one of the chambers should act if a bill is to become law.

The crossover rule is not hard and fast, but exceptions are rare.


The video below is of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee meeting of March 6.

The video is from the archive of the House of Representatives


Zippity said...

That's a good outcome for those bills. Hope they stay dead.

Anonymous said...

Appears defined UDC codes must be in place that clarify the direction of building in Oconee County. Obviously, what is in place is up for interpretation and replacing from a higher source. We will see the issue again in the Georgia Legislature, if for no other reason than the lobby money in the building & development sector. I suspect other countries are reviewing their codes.

John Daniell has given himself plenty of time to address the issue now that a relative of Chuck Horton’s Is taking care of Economic Development. I do not object to the particular person put in charge, only the method in which the BOC implemented to bring it about. Little has been accomplished in the complex area of economic development over the years. For the county’s sake, I hope positive goals are achieved.

Politicians are not perfect, if only they could refrain from serving themselves and occasionally serving the people.

Brian said...

Appreciate Rep. Wiedower and Rep. Gaines not jumping on board on these and listening to their constituents.