2018 Legislative Session Week Seven
“Crossover Day” is now only a week away, so our seventh week of session included bill voting, committee overview and discussion of legislation, and the annual State of the Judiciary address delivered by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Chief Justice P. Harris Hines. A few of those bills and the address are highlighted below.
- House Bill 918 – After proper introduction by Governor Nathan Deal and House and Senate members, this bill was overwhelmingly passed. This bill would improve Georgia’s outdated tax code by doing the following:
- Reduce the income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to 5.75 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2019
- Reduce the tax rate to 5.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, but requires approval of the General Assembly and signature of the governor in order to take effect
- Eliminate the sales tax on jet fuel
- Address the state revenue projections resulting from the recent Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
- Double the state standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers for all filing statuses, effective Jan. 1, 2018
House Rural Development Council (RDC)
- House Bill 769 – The more rural parts of the state of Georgia require better access to quality health care, and this bill seeks to improve that access. The entirety of this bill includes:
- Allowing for remote pharmacy orders
- Updating credentialing and billing practices
- Establishing the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability
- Establishing micro-hospitals
- Creating a grant program for physicians practicing in medically underserved rural areas of the state
- House Bill 735 – This bill would attempt to incentivize investment in rail infrastructure by creating an income tax credit (50 percent of the maintenance expenditures during the taxable year, capped at $3,500 per mile of railroad track) for track maintenance expenditures on owned or leased short line railroads.
- House Bill 876 – In an effort to increase business for Georgia’s tree farmers, lumber market, and sawmills, this bill would prohibit counties and municipalities from banning the use of wood products as a construction material, as long as the products meet the state minimum standard codes and the Georgia State Fire Code.
- House Bill 853 – This bill would be beneficial to the 300 to 500 public school students that are treated at psychiatric residential treatment centers. It would exempt them from paying tuition or fees to a local school system when they are admitted under a physician’s order into these centers.
- House Bill 732 – In an effort to fight horror of sex trafficking in our state, this bill expands the definition of sex trafficking by including anyone who patronizes sexually explicit conduct from a sex trafficking victim. A sentence of five to 20 years would be charged to anyone who commits this offense.
- House Bill 840 – This bill gives active-duty military members 60 days to make full payment of their due taxes without penalties. These taxes include: unpaid special, occupational or sales taxes and license, and regulatory or administrative fees incurred and usually expired while they are in a combat zone.
State of the Judiciary Address
- This annual address seeks to update our General Assembly on the judicial branch’s accomplishments and future objectives. Chief Justice Hines, head of the judiciary, talked about the newly elected judges, the future election of a new state Supreme Court justice, Gov. Deal’s fifth appointment to Georgia’s highest court, the recent accomplishments of Georgia’s criminal justice reform, and the recommendation of the creation of a statewide business court to handle complex financial cases.
“Crossover Day” is this Wednesday, February 28. This day marks the last day a bill may pass out of its original legislative chamber and remain eligible for consideration in this legislative session, so my colleagues and I are prepared to commit to even longer hours of study and work as we prepare for it. As always, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.