Senate Majority Caucus and Economic Development Chairman, Senator Mike Dugan and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle passed Senate Bill 2, “The FAST Act – Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed” with a vote of 52 - 0. This pro-business, pro-job legislation will address and remove the costly hassles placed on Georgia’s small businesses by creating a more efficient and transparent permitting process.
“Small businesses are the greatest drivers of economic growth in our state, employing nearly half our citizens,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “We set out to eliminate barriers to entry for new and existing businesses and have passed a bill to do just that. Georgia’s priorities are the Senate’s priorities and we will always act decisively to ensure state agencies are operating in a simplified and transparent manner.”
SB 2, the second of the Senate Majority Caucus’ six legislative priorities, provides new guidelines for regulatory activities that will hold state and local agencies accountable. This measure will remove many of the duplicative aspects that plague the current regulation process. The FAST Act requires agencies to maintain fair and customer-friendly systems, especially regarding communication between state agencies and businesses under their jurisdiction.
“Government cannot create jobs but it can create an environment that fosters job creation and innovation,” said Sen. Mike Dugan. “The FAST Act goes a long way in removing redundant government bureaucracies that hold our small businesses back from reaching their full potential. This is a huge victory for our job creators who are committed to building a better Georgia.”
State and local government agencies that issue licenses or permits will be required to establish a fee schedule which will include turnaround times. Applicants will now be able to pay 50% of the fee up front and 50% on receipt of the permit. If the agency fails to meet that schedule, the fee will be reduced by 10% for every ten days past that deadline. In addition, agencies will be required to offer expedited processing for a rush service charge, which can be no more than twice the original fee.
To create a transparent environment, the FAST Act will put in place “Ready for Partnership Georgia,” a system that will establish a certification program for counties/cities based on permitting turnaround, regulatory costs, dispute resolution processes, and efficiency in information collection.
The FAST Act now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.