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Hill: Senate OKs value freeze
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HB 233 passed the Senate on Feb. 26 by a 42-5 vote. This legislation provides for a moratorium on increases of property assessments. It states that the rate of increase of the assessed value of property for county, county school district, municipal, or independent school district ad valorem tax purposes remains fixed from one taxable year to the succeeding taxable year; beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2009, and continuing only until the Sunday immediately preceding the second Monday in January 2011. If properties are sold or transferred, the assessed value is frozen.  

Senate action last week
The following legislation passed the Senate:

• SB 20: Prohibits local governments from adopting sanctuary policies that prevent local officials or employees from reporting a person’s immigration status. Local governments (sanctuary cities) that violate this legislation or fail to cooperate with the federal government in reporting a person’s immigration status will be subject to the withholding of state funding or state administered federal funding.

• SB 23: Would make admissible in court any evidence that a victim of a passenger vehicle crash was not wearing a seatbelt.  

• SB 30: Would allow gasoline distributors to blend their fuel with ethanol.  

• SB 38: Would allow state and local entities to donate deceased unclaimed bodies for the advancement of medical science.

• SB 59: Would assign stronger penalties to Internet and electronic mail fraud.

• SB 70: Would require businesses to expedite their reports of campaign contributions if they have contracts with the state.  

• SB 79: Allows any adult to request DFCS records regarding a child protective services investigation concerning a child fatality or near fatality unless such disclosure would jeopardize a criminal investigation.  

• SB 84: Would create a code of ethics and a training program for local school board members.

• SB 95: Would protect seniors over the age of 65 from unfair insurance trade practices involving fixed annuities.

• SB 156: Reorganizes trauma administration and establishes the State Office EMS/Trauma.  Specifies how the commission can allocate funds and requires that it report all activities to the General Assembly and the governor. The commission will allocate funds by considering the number and severity of patients served and the percentage of uncompensated care.

• SB 164: Prohibits outdoor signs that exceed 75 feet in height (excluding pre-existing signs).  Would allow for the cutting of trees in front of billboards.

• SB 165: Authorizes the Department of Community Health to obtain income eligibility verification from the Department of Revenue for all applicants in pursuit of Medicaid and the PeachCare for Kids program.

Legislation introduced

Bills of interest that have recently been introduced in the Senate:

• SB 86: Amends Georgia’s voter registration codes to require proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote in Georgia. Currently in Rules Committee.

• SB 52: Requires those convicted of metal theft to register with the local sheriff. Currently in the Rules Committee.

• SB 53: All motor vehicles, tools and weapons used during a metal theft crime could be forfeited.  Currently in the Rules Committee.

• SB 92: Would transfer eligible state Medicaid and PeachCare patients’ medical coverage to a private health insurance provider with state health care funds still paying the premiums.

• SB 136: Requires the Department of Corrections and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to participate in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Rapid Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer (REPAT) Program. The bill expedites the deportation process of aliens incarcerated or eligible for parole. Currently in Rules Committee.

• SB 151: Mandates greater input from crime victims and their families in criminal trials involving the death penalty.   

• SB 163: Authorizes the commissioner of DHR to appoint a diabetes coordinator and allows the department to serve as the central repository of diabetes treatment and prevention data.  

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