Transportation Plan Passes House
The House voted 123-46 this week to pass the House transportation plan. HB 170, is intended to raise an estimated $1 billion dollars a year to build roads, repair bridges and finance other transit projects.
The latest revision involved pushing back the effective date of changes in local option sales taxes from July 1 of this year to July 1, 2016. One significant change was a provision abolishing the state’s sales tax exemption on purchases of jet fuel by Delta and other airlines.
Remaining unchanged would be to replace the combination of excise and sales tax on motor fuel with a single excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon for gasoline and 33 cents per gallon diesel fuel. House members rejected by a 94-77 vote an amendment from House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal that would have lowered the excise tax from 29.2 cents to 24 cents per gallon.
The plan also would levy an annual fee on electric, propane and natural gas powered vehicles of $300 for commercial vehicles and $200 for non-commercial vehicles and eliminate the state’s $5,000 tax credit on the purchase of electric vehicles. The bill now crosses over to the Senate for consideration.
Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2015
Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins), introduced HB 544, the Campus Carry Act of 2015. The bill would allow anyone with a weapons carry permit to take firearms on all parts of public college campuses. The USG position remains unchanged, maintaining current law is the most effective way to protect our students, faculty and staff. The bill has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
Senate Passes Opportunity School District
The Senate gave its approval this week to Governor Nathan Deal’s legislative package of SB 133 and SR 287. The bill would create an Opportunity School District headed by a superintendent appointed by the governor, that will allow the state to temporarily step in and take control of low-performing schools.
The Senate voted 38-15 to approve SR 287, a constitutional amendment that would go on the general election ballot in 2016. Because it is a constitutional amendment, the bill required a two-thirds vote for passage and received exactly that number of votes. SB 133, the enabling legislation, needing only a majority vote for passage, received a 38-15 vote.
Under this legislation, the superintendent could choose up to 20 schools to join the state district each year. The district would be limited to 100 total schools at any time. Schools will stay in the district for no less than five years but no more than ten years. The bill now crosses over to the House for consideration.
Dual Enrollment Bill Moves Forward
SB 132, sponsored by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), creates the “Move on When Ready Act,” allowing eligible students to enroll in dual credit courses at postsecondary institutions for which the student receives secondary credit from his or her eligible school. Additionally, this bill will assist these students in purchasing required textbooks and will introduce a ‘flat fee’ for non-course related items. Students and parents will be informed about the program in the students 8th grade year to ensure that individuals are aware of this opportunity. The bill passed the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
Religious Freedom Act Passes Senate
SB 129, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), known as the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” passed the Senate this week by a vote of 37-15. This controversial legislation provides for the preservation of religious freedom. The bill now crosses over to the House for consideration.
Cityhood Legislation Advances
The House Governmental Affairs Committee approved this week three bills to allow a November referendum to create the cities of LaVista Hills, South Fulton and Tucker. These bills are now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee. Three other potential cities seeking approval are Greenhaven, Sharon Springs and Stonecrest. Their bills have yet to be considered.
February Revenues Increase
Revenue collections for the month of February totaled $943.7 million, an increase of $105.6 million or 12.6 percent compared to the revenue collected in February 2014. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $12.41 billion for an increase of $676.4 million, or 5.8 percent compared to the same point last year.
HB 3, sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming (R- Harlem), prohibits the solicitation of a student-athlete by persons who have knowledge that such a transaction could cause the student-athlete to be sanctioned. It also authorizes action against such persons by the institution. This legislation was brought about after the situation involving University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The bill passed the House Higher Education Committee and is eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 315, changes the name of the Technical College System of Georgia to the Georgia Career College System and the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to the State Board of the Georgia Career College System. The bill passed the House by a vote of 122-40 and crosses over to the Senate where it has been assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 339, sponsored by Rep. Jon Burns (R-Newington), extends through 2018 the tax credit for film, video, or digital production companies. The total tax exemption is capped at $12.5 million a year and the production company must have a facility physically located in Georgia. The bill passed the House by a vote of 161-0 and crosses over to the Senate where it has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 313, sponsored by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella), would allow full time, non-temporary employees of the State of Georgia or of any branch, department, board, bureau or commission to be eligible for up to eight hours of paid leave per calendar year for promoting education in the state. The bill passed the House Education Committee and is eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
SB 179, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), would allow a winner of a lottery prize to remain anonymous if he or she donates 25 percent of the prize to the Lottery for Education Account or other tax exempt organizations. The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee and is eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 394, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), would allow individuals who have graduated from a nursing education program outside of the United States to be eligible for licensure as a registered professional nurse. The bill passed the House by a vote of 154-0 and crosses over to the Senate where it has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 289, sponsored by Sen. Don Parsons (R-Marietta), would extend the exemption on motor fuel tax for a limited period of time for certain public mass transit vehicles. This exemption includes buses that provide transportation for universities. The bill passed the House Ways & Means Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HR 474, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), creates the House Study Committee on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and Kinship Care. The resolution passed the House Human Relations and Aging Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HR 520, sponsored by Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville), commending Tom Daniel for his many years of service to the State of Georgia and congratulating him upon the grand occasion of his retirement. Tom Daniel is Senior Vice Chancellor for External Affairs and has long coordinated advocacy efforts for the USG. He retires June 30. Read and Adopted
Intern Spotlight: John Powell
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life. The hours are long, but I love it here,” says political science major John Powell, regarding the Georgia Legislative Internship Program. John decided to become an intern because he felt the program would give him a good sense of how law and politics work, intermingle, and operate.
Mr. Powell is heavily involved in campus activities at Georgia State University. He is the Associate Chief Justice for the Student Judicial Board, treasurer of the GA State Astronomy Club, and President of the Lofts Area Hall Council, where he represents the students of the University Lofts and organizes events & advocacy for those residents. John also volunteers at the Carter Center, and assists the Federalist Society at the GSU Law School as their undergraduate representative. He has also worked with the Society of Physics Students. He enjoys the sport of fencing and helped teach the intramural sport at the Recreation Center.
John is assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee where his responsibilities include researching laws, current legislation, and taking meeting notes. He plans to attend law school after graduation and earn a dual degree in JD and Master’s of Public Health.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 28: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, March 9.
Legislators are scheduled to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week.
Senate FY 2016 Bonds Subcommittee of Appropriations: Monday, March 9 at 2:00 pm
Day 30: Crossover Day – Friday March 13
Government Affairs Team
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director