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Crossover Day a busy interchange
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The Georgia General Assembly completed the 30th day of its required 40-day session on March 26. This 30th legislative day, known as Crossover Day is the deadline date that nonbudget bills can be passed out of the Chamber of its origin. On this date the House worked past midnight, debating and voting on legislation.

Being in session three days last week, numerous pieces of legislation were considered and passed the House.  

Some of the legislation considered by the House:

HB 1023, Jobs, Opportunity, Business Success (JOBS). This bill encourages employment and would bring relief to businesses in Georgia in an effort to stimulate the business sector and our economy.  It includes businesses that hire unemployed workers. Also for hiring unemployed people, it would provide for a $2,400 tax credit per employee, with restrictions. The bill also includes a “Year for Georgia Entrepreneurs” which is a one year waiver of certain filings fees by the Secretary of State for corporations and LLCs.  

It would also create the “Angel Investor Income Tax Credit” to encourage third party investment for businesses in the early stages. Corporations and individuals will also receive an income tax exclusion for long-term capital gains under the JOBS Act; however, an Amendment ensures that this will occur after a set amount of funding is once again back in the Reserve Fund for Georgia. The passage of the JOBS Act will encourage businesses in Georgia; promote investment, and increase jobs and employment.

HB 1200, Local Boards of Education; solicit to accept donations for field trips. As school systems have had to take deep budget cuts, they have curtailed out-of-classroom educational experiences such as a visit to a museum. This legislation will give schools permission to solicit and accept donations for field trips and other educational purposes. This bill will help state programs give higher level services without relying on Georgia tax dollars.

HR 1203, Sales and tax; educational purposes. This resolution relates to education which would allow school boards the flexibility deciding how to use their sales tax revenues. This will be a proposed Constitution Change to allow up to 100 purpose of the revenues from local sales tax for educational purposes to be used for maintenance and operation.

HB 983, Motor Vehicles, license revocation; wireless communication devices; prohibit use. Cell phones usage has become a part of many of our lives.  Studies show that many accidents on our roadways have been attributed to cell phones usage and /or texting while driving. This measure would ban cell phone usage by minors less than 18 years of age and ban texting while driving for everyone.

HB 1139, Ad Valorem Tax; notice of changes in taxpayer’s returns; change provision. During the 2009 session, legislation was passed and signed into law addressing local government’s habit of backdoor tax increases through unfair and inaccurate property tax assessments; thus, halting property assessment increases for two years. This law increased predictability in taxation for property owners.  

This year HB 1139 was passed which requires local governments to notify property owners of their annual property tax assessment, even if there is no assessed value change. The legislation will require the notifications include an option to appeal the assessment of the listed property. This will help to streamline the property tax appeals process and ensure the property owner rights.

Health care is a major topic this year, especially with the passage of the federal health care bill. Families are concerned with the future of health care. Upset by our federal counterparts decision to pass the unwanted and unaffordable federal health care bill, many of the members of the House including myself supported House Resolution 1086 as an alternative option.

HR 1086, Health care system; no law shall compel participation. This resolution would have given Georgians the opportunity to decide in the November general election if individuals and companies should be allowed to opt out of the federal health care system. It would have protected Georgia citizens from prosecution if they choose to purchase health care services outside the new federal healthcare system. The resolution received a majority vote, but it failed to meet the constitutionally required two-thirds House majority. We will continue to look at ways to allow the citizens of Georgia the choice to opt out of the Federal Health Care Bill which was just passed in Washington D.C.

HB 1184- Health insurance; offer individual policies approved in other states. An issue that concerns each of us is the cost of health insurance. The House believes increased competition will decrease the cost. Thus, House Bill 1184 was passed allowing citizens of Georgia to purchase certain types of insurance across state lines.  It is believed this will help decrease the number of uninsured Georgians, will increase competition, and will make more choices available.

HB 307, Medicaid; federal financial participation; hospitals. To help close the budget gap and prevent some of proposed cuts, HB 307 was one of several bills to pass. This legislation is supported by the hospital executives (Georgia Hospital Association, The Georgia Alliance of Community Health, and Hometown Health.) The payment agreement amounts to 1.45 percent on hospital revenues. It is expected to bring in $175 million. The extra funding will allow the state to draw down more federal funds for its Medicaid health care program. This bill, as written, will prevent a 10.25 percent Medicaid rate cut to hospitals and physicians.

After the 30th day, each chamber (House and Senate) stops considering their own bills and begin consideration of the other chamber’s legislation. 

House Bills that have been passed by the Georgia House of Representatives still require action by the Georgia Senate. If approved by the Senate, the legislation is sent to the governor for signature.

The Georgia General Assembly will reconvene April 12.

Rep. Ann R. Purcell
Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Suite 504
Atlanta, GA  30334
(404) 656-0188