This week, the House and the Senate finalized the budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that extends through June 30, 2020. This budget fully funds our state and provides $100 million for funding to deal with costs that may arise due to the coronavirus.
All of your elected officials in the Capitol are taking seriously the potential hazards of the coronavirus and acting to protect our citizens and fund vital services.
I am sure that many of you have seen on the news that the Georgia General Assembly has suspended its legislative session. On Friday morning, I moved that the Georgia House stand adjourned and that the Senate and House schedule of meetings be suspended until the speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor jointly agree that the General Assembly should be reconvened.
Rest assured that our leaders at the Georgia State Capitol are committed to your well-being during this difficult time and our legislative session will reconvene as soon as it is appropriate.
In the meantime, experts from a variety of disciplines in our state are working hard to ensure your safety. Our citizens are our most important priority and I send blessings to each of you during this health crisis.
Important bills were passed by the House this week that will be sent to the Senate for their consideration. Among them is HB 479, the Hidden Predator Act of 2019. This bill allows victims of childhood sexual abuse a longer period to bring suit against their abuser to ensure that the perpetrators receive the justice that they deserve.
We also passed HB 488, which is focused on preventing organized retail crime. This bill provides for harsher punishments for retail theft where an individual steals over $20,000 worth of property over 180 days.
Shoplifting does not just cost businesses money. Those costs are passed along to Georgia consumers. This legislation will deter shoplifting and, in turn, decrease costs for retailers and consumers.
Another bill that was passed twill bring teachers to our rural schools and other schools that may be currently struggling to hire and retain teachers. HB 736 creates an income tax credit for eligible teachers who apply to teach in rural and turnaround schools that have been identified by the Georgia Department of Education.
We also passed HB 690, which limits the construction permitting fee that can be charged for the building inspection of agricultural structures. Our agricultural industry must be protected from unreasonable fees for mandatory building inspections.
HB 833 also came to the floor for the House’s consideration and was passed. HB 833 defines long-term and short-term anchoring of vessels and prevents long-term anchoring of vessels in state estuarine areas without an appropriate permit. This legislation will protect our estuaries and bring clarity and consensus on anchoring issues for Georgia boaters and visitors to our state.
We also passed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, along with a historic income tax cut for all Georgians. I look forward to sharing more details about the budget and the tax cut next week.
As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404-656-5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@house.ga.gov), or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.