Gold Dome Update: Sine Die

Last week, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die, the final day of the 2017 legislative session. The Senate was in chamber for two long days filled with discussion on several important issues that will impact the lives of Georgians in a positive way. We worked late into the night to ensure that every measure that was up for a vote received proper discussion and was the best version of the legislation.

We passed several measures that I would like to highlight:

Senate Resolution 222 creates the Senate Special Tax Exemption Study Committee. I sponsored SR 222 so that we can properly and thoroughly examine the purpose of tax exemptions and how they can benefit Georgia’s economy. The committee will be composed of six members appointed by the President of the Senate who will work with the Department of Revenue to examine the costs and benefits of all state tax exemptions.

House Bill 117, which I was proud to carry, would eliminate the sales and use tax when voluntary contributions for admission are made in certain entertainment, sport and amusement venues.

House Bill 139 would require the State Board of Education, local boards of education and charter schools to make all financial information public on their website including school site budgets, salaries and per student costs by October 31, 2018. HB 139 also adds the “Educating Children of Military Families Act,” which would authorize the Department of Education to create unique identifiers for each student whose parent or guardian is active duty military in order to track their progress in school.

House Bill 155 would create a 15 percent income tax credit for expenses made by a production company that relate to a state certified musical, theatrical or recorded musical performance.

House Bill 196 would revise criteria used by tax assessors to determine fair market value of real property. Under HB 196, ad valorem payment refunds are addressed for disabled veterans.

House Bill 250 would remove the requirement that a person who works with foster children must have an additional background check if they received a satisfactory fingerprint check within the last 12 months.

House Bill 251 would allow Department of Corrections personnel, and those in their custody, to enter private property during a state of emergency in order to protect property, remove debris, restore services and repair and relocate infrastructure. However, HB 251 would not allow these personnel to impede upon the rights of private property owners.

House Bill 427 would add dentists, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to the “Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Act.” Under HB 427, the service cancelable loan program, which is currently reserved for physicians in underserved areas, will be extended to these three professions.

House Bill 430 would require the State Board of Education and State Charter Schools Commission to create a code of principles for authorizing charter schools. HB 430 would also require the State Board of Education to provide annual reviews of local boards of education by independent parties. Furthermore, HB 430 would create a grant program that would provide facility funding to charter schools to make them more comparable to traditional public schools and create a program to plan, implement, improve and provide grants for community schools.

These are just some of the measures that passed the Georgia General Assembly and are on their way to the Governor for his final approval. Although the 2017 legislative session is over, my work on your behalf at the Capitol and around the district does not come to an end. If you have any questions about any of the bills highlighted in this column or which passed this session, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. I look forward to hearing from you.