Georgia approves public-private partnership legislation
An 11th-hour vote by the Georgia General Assembly last week cleared the way for state agencies and local governments to seek private-sector partners as a new funding source for much-needed projects. The General Assembly passed a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) bill (SB 59)that allows public entities in the state to seek private financing and construction of public buildings.
The House approved the bill earlier in the day, and the Senate voted 40-7 to agree to changes to the bill that were made in the House.
Passage of the bill marked the end of a three-year campaign toward its passage. While Georgia already allows P3s/PPPs for highway projects and reservoir projects, this new bill will allow for vertical construction such as buildings. It will also allow private-sector firms to present unsolicited proposals regarding possible development. This could result in new public facilities, including schools, hospitals, emergency response centers, prisons and courthouses that the government entities could not afford on their own.
When the Senate passed a previous version of the bill last month, the House version removed the part of the bill that prohibits P3s/PPPs from increasing the state debt obligation over the state’s annual debt limit, as set by the state constitution. However, Sen. Hunter Hill, chief sponsor of the bill, said complaints that a House amendment would have allowed government entities to enter into long-term leases to sidestep the debt limit was not substantiated. He said, instead, that the state constitution does not allow leases to count toward state debt. He said the amendment would not put on “that severe a constraint.”