The General Assembly concluded the most successful session of my eight years as your Representative on Thursday, March 29.
Among the successes:
- HB 918 cuts Georgia personal income tax rates for the first time since 1937. Twice before I had introduced legislation to cut the marginal rates and I am gratified that Georgia families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned income. The top marginal state income tax rate drops to 5.75% in 2019 and 5.5% in 2020. HB 918 also doubles the standard deduction for all taxpayers.
- HB 684 the FY 2019 budget fully funds K-12 Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula for the first time supplying millions in additional dollars for Gwinnett public schools.
- HB 159 updates Georgia’s adoption code for the first time in 30 years making adoptions quicker and at lower cost to aid the permanent placement of over 12,000 foster children in loving homes. [HB 159 in no way harms faith-based adoptions.]
- HB 673 seeks to reduce distracted driving and save lives by prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while operating a vehicle.
- HR 993 calls for a Constitutional Amendment to create statewide business courts to improve service to our state’s economic engines – Georgia’s vibrant business and employment economy.
- HB 65 added chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to qualifying conditions for medical cannabis or Low THC oil treatment.
- SB 331 protects the identities of Georgia lottery winners.
- SB 402 establishes the framework that may result in future deployment of broadbandinfrastructure in rural Georgia.
- SB 328 eliminates three rarely used tax exemptions, and prohibits the state from taxing the foreign earned income of foreign subsidiaries of Georgia-based multi-national companies.
- HR 1374 establishes a study committee on professional licensure.
- HB 410 protects buyers and sellers from excessive HOA management company fees.
- HB 419 expands local governments regulatory authority over fireworks.
- SB 17 the “Better Brunch Bill” permits communities to expand hours of Sunday sales for on-premise consumption by referendum.
- SB 127 provides for a November vote on a Constitutional Amendment providing expanded victim’s rights (Marcy’s Law)
- SB 376 provides “free” consumer credit freezes responding to the growing problem of “hacked” data and identity theft.
These are but a few of the highlights. A number of other significant pieces of legislation passed including HB 930
creating a new transportation / transit framework. If you would like to read additional details on 40 key bills during the 2018 Session
to access a PDF document. Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding what passed and/or what didn’t.
There are always a few missed opportunities as well:
- SB 426 / HB 533 streamlining deployment of ‘small cell’ technology. As is too often the case, government interests (revenue, regulatory authority) blocked the advancement of this new technology from rapid deployment. It will come, but you may have to wait longer and pay a higher price for improved service.
- SB 418 / HB 948 preserving Marketplace Freedom in the face of growing government overregulation. Some communities are banning legal products – i.e. soft drinks, tobacco, pet stores, etc. Consumer education and choice is the proper determination who succeeds in business, not an elected government official or bureaucrat.
- HB 693 passed the House but failed to get out of a Senate Committee. HB 693 would repeal the authority for a local government to foreclose on your home or failure to pay a trash fee. The Association of County Commissioners (ACCG) and Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), organizations that represent corporate governments and not taxpayers, provided documentation that Georgian’s have lost their homes when their property taxes were paid, their water bills were paid, their electric bills were paid, and the government took their home over a trash bill and nothing more. As far as I am concerned – that’s un-American.
- HB 519 would have provided a Step-Therapy protocol for patients suffering from various illnesses. The House passed versions of this sound policy three times only to have the bill ultimately fail.