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Letter from the Director: Updates from 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 legislative session wrapped up April 2, and the legislators continued their work to encourage economic development in rural areas and enhance the quality of life for Georgia’s rural communities. House Bill 224 amends the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, expands the Quality Jobs Tax Credit in rural areas (population of less than 50,000 with 10 percent or more of the population living in poverty per the U.S. Census Bureau), and creates guidelines for the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit for manufacturing and telecommunications facilities located in the state’s rural counties. The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation produced three stories highlighting successful projects utilizing the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program over the past few years. Those stories will be posted to the Center’s blog page later this summer. 

Other significant bills to rural Georgia include:

House Bills 186 and 321, which collectively deal with rural healthcare issues pertaining to Certificate of Need (CON) provisions, an extension of the Rural Hospital Tax Credit through 2024, hospital transparency provisions, and the hospital provider payment program. HB 186 also created the Office of Health Strategy and Coordination, which will work to strengthen and support the state’s healthcare infrastructure and overcome existing barriers to the coordination of the many health-related functions. Senate Bill 2 enables electric membership corporations (EMC) to provide and operate broadband facilities or form, fund, support, and operate a broadband affiliate.Also related to broadband expansion in rural Georgia, Senate Bill 17 allows cooperative non-profit corporations the ability to furnish, improve, and expand broadband services.More detail on these important bills for rural Georgia can be found on the General Assembly’s website.


On May 7, House Speaker David Ralston announced the members of the House Rural Development Council for the 2019-2020 legislative term. House Education Chairman Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) and House General Government Appropriations Chairman Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) will serve as co-chairs of the Council. House Motor Vehicles Chairman John Corbett (R-Lake Park) will serve as Vice Chair of the Council. House Rules Committee Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla) and House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn), who served as co-chairs of the Council the first two years, will remain members. They have also been named co-chairmen Emeriti. The official announcement and a full list of Council members can be found here. The House Rural Development Council will be reconvening soon to begin their third year of work as they continue their efforts to identify and address the issues facing rural communities. Their past work and activities can be found here. As we near the midpoint of 2019, the work of the Center will continue to accelerate through the summer and fall.  Continue to check out our website, www.ruralga.org, for new stories and updates on our work! Sincerely,   Scott Blount   Associate Director Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation