Gold Dome Update: Week Ten

The Georgia General Assembly completed its 38th Legislative Day on Wednesday, leaving us with two working days left in the 2016 legislative session. The final days of the legislative session are filled with an extra sense of urgency as we work to pass legislation that prioritizes the needs of all Georgians.

In 2014, Congress passed the Federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act to ease financial burdens placed on those with disabilities. This week, the Georgia State Senate passed our own version of the ABLE Act, which was modeled after the federal version. House Bill 768 provides for tax-free savings accounts cover only qualified disability expenses such as housing, education, or transportation, while also not affecting a disabled person’s eligibility for social security or food assistance benefits. It is imperative that we provide all Georgians with the opportunity to live their best lives, and I believe this legislation brings us one step closer.

Protecting our children is top priority for parents throughout the state. It is especially sensitive when a child has been a victim of child abuse or neglect. Monday, the Senate passed HB 725, titled the Child Abuse Records Protection Act, which is designed to protect the records of child abuse in these situations. HB 725 directs courts to issue a court order before child abuse records are released. According to the bill, the court must issue a protective order identifying who may view the records and where they are allowed to access them. The records must also be returned to the court.

The Senate passed second measure that aims to protect children who are victims of child abuse on Wednesday. HB 825, the Protecting Military Children Act, works to protect children of military personnel from child abuse. This bill calls on a child services organization investigating allegations of abuse or neglect to notify the military installation in which the child’s parents are based as quickly as possible.

Georgians face one of the highest tax burdens in the southeast. To help alleviate this burden, we passed an important piece of legislation that will keep Georgia competitive with our surrounding states by lowering our state income tax to a flat 5.4 percent. HB 238, the Tax relief Act of 2016, not only reduces our state income tax, but it also increases personal exemption amounts and eliminates corporate net worth taxes. Georgia has been ranked as the number one state to do business, and this Act will allow us to maintain that status and bring more business to our beautiful state.

Over the next two legislative days, we will likely be working until midnight to vet and vote on as many bills as we can, at which point they will go to the Governor for final approval. Please feel free to reach out to me at any point if you have questions or concerns regarding any pending legislation. As always, I am humbled to represent you under the Gold Dome.