Gold Dome Update: Week Eight

Week eight was a historic week for Georgia. Our three days of session included Crossover Day on Wednesday, and a total of 72 bills were debated and voted on including House Bill 918, which is the largest income tax cut in Georgia’s history. Also included in this week’s marathon were two of my own bills – Senate Bill 324 and Senate Bill 432. In addition to all of this, I filed Senate Resolution 935 to create the Senate School Safety Study Committee and welcomed Major General Douglas Carter as the Senate’s Chaplain of the Day.

On Thursday, the Senate passed House Bill 918 which is the first individual income tax cut since 1937 and first corporate tax cut since 1969. I want to thank Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle and Speaker Ralston for their leadership, as well as all my Senate and House colleagues for their dedication to the people of Georgia. Once the cuts take effect, a family of four making $50,000 a year will see a 16 percent income tax cut and a family of four making $150,000 a year will see a 10 percent income tax cut. This legislation doubles the standard deduction for all taxpayers effective January 1, 2018. The income tax rate will decrease in tiers – to 5.75 percent effective January 1, 2019, and further to 5.5 percent effective January 1, 2020. This bill was signed into law by the Governor early on Friday and once it becomes effective it will benefit individuals at every income level and put money directly back into the pockets of our taxpayers.

SB 324, which passed the Senate on Monday, is a simple bill allowing municipalities to enter into contracts with neighboring counties for the purpose of jointly completing construction and maintenance on bridges that are shared by both the municipality and the county. While it may not stand out, it will allow local communities much more flexibility to work with their neighbors and ensure that bridges are maintained at the highest standard.

SB 432, another bill I sponsored, passed on Monday with unanimous, bipartisan support. Also known as the Tax Credit Business Case Act, SB 432 would require an economic analysis to be performed by the state auditor on existing income tax exemptions on a rotating basis. Performing this analysis further emphasizes themes that I have pushed through my legislation this year: transparency in government and fiscal responsibility.

Some bills that passed this week to benefit our public servants are SB 82 and SB 354, which provide military members with more opportunities for higher education. SB 82 expands the eligibility for HOPE scholarship grants to include members of the Georgia National Guard and reservists in Georgia who meet certain residency requirements. SB 354 allows some active duty military service members to be classified as in-state residents for tuition purposes at Technical College System of Georgia schools. These small changes to the law can make a significant difference in the lives of our men and women in uniform, and I am glad to have cast a vote in favor of these bills. In addition, I was glad to support SB 376, which prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging for credit freezes and SR 149, which designates September 1st of every year as Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Georgia.

On Crossover Day, I had the opportunity to welcome a highly decorated public servant to our Chamber as the Senate’s Chaplain of the Day. Major General Douglas Carter served as the 22nd Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army from 2007-2011. Maj. Gen. Carter is a distinguished officer and we were honored to have him lead our devotion on one of our most important days of the year.

While we have now passed the Crossover Day milestone, we still have much work to do before we can call this legislative session a success. We now begin the process of vetting bills that originated in the House. If you have any concerns, comments or questions about legislation coming before us, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve District 56, and I will be sure to keep you informed as we progress through the 2018 Legislative Session.