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Improvement in state revenues
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There was some good news in the January revenues released last week. The official gain for the month was 10.4 percent, the highest month-over-month increase in a long while.

There was, however, a caveat in that electronic refunds were paid out by the state in January due to the federal government not releasing any refunds until Jan. 31. More on this later, but here are the numbers as presented by the Revenue Department:  Total revenues for the month were $1.7 billion. Individual income taxes are up for the month 16.3 percent, or $143.3 million on individual income tax revenues of $1.02 billion. Sales taxes continue to cause concern, showing a 0.1 percent decrease in gross receipts for the month. State distribution was up only slightly at 0.1 percent.

Motor fuel taxes are up only slightly for the month at 0.2 percent, with motor fuel sales taxes down by 3.7 percent and excise taxes up by 5.3 percent. Corporate income taxes continue to be encouraging showing an increase of $18.2 million. Tobacco and alcoholic beverages taxes were both negative for the month at -12.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

A second look at the month factoring estimated refunds
January admittedly came off better with electronic refunds being paid out by the state. So we took a look at what revenues would look like with an estimated refund amount figured in.

I am told that last year in January, refunds totaled somewhere near $60 million. So I recalculated the January figures with the $60 million factored and … well, it’s still a good month. Under this scenario, individual income taxes show a gain of $88.3 million, or about 9.4 percent, with total revenues at $108.6 million or an increase for the month of 6.6 percent. Still pretty good.

Year-to-date numbers are encouraging
Georgia has taken in a total of $10.3 billion through the first seven months of the fiscal year with a year-over-year gain of $563.7 million or 5.7 percent. (Adjusted for the refunds, that net would drop to $503.7 million or 5.1 percent). Individual income taxes are up 7.2 percent or $380.6 million.

Sales taxes are up only 1 percent for the year, with the state portion up 2.3 percent. Motor fuel tax receipts are negative at -2.2 percent for the year through January. Corporate tax receipts are up some $97.1 million YTD. Tobacco tax receipts are down 4 percent and alcoholic beverages are up slightly at 0.6 percent.

Boating and hunting safety laws introduced in the Senate
In response to two boating tragedies over the summer — one killing two boys, Jake and Griffin Prince, the other killing one boy, Kyle Glover, and injuring a little girl — the governor has proposed a tightening of boater safety laws. This week a comprehensive bill was introduced in the Senate to tighten BUI laws lowering the blood-alcohol limit from .10 to .08 (the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle).

The law also includes a requirement for children under the age of 16 to complete boater education courses to operate personal water craft alone. The bill also reduces the legal blood alcohol content while hunting from .10 to .08.

Passed Senate and now in the House
SB 65 - Allows licensed professional counselors to require people who are mentally ill, addicted to alcohol or drugs to participate in involuntary treatment.  This power was previously given to physicians and psychologists.
SB 66 - Increases the fines for contempt of court to a fine of no more than $1,000.
SB 97 - Creates the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef.

Bills introduced in the Senate
SB 114 - Requires that any candidate elected to serve on a school board must have lived in that school district for at least one year, bars convicted felons or misdemeanants from serving, changes the conflicts of interest that bar a candidate from serving on a school board, as well as requiring local school boards to create a code of ethics.
SB 127 - Adds aviation activities to recreational uses of land that limits liability to the owner.
SB 135 - Allows law enforcement agencies to require DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested for a felony.
SB 138 - Allows local boards of education to hire paraprofessionals or other school personnel to serve as para-protection officers who would be allowed to carry concealed weapons at elementary schools, as long as they had five years of non-administrative law enforcement experience and be certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
SB 145 - Adds the use of property for farm weddings to agritourism property.

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the General Assembly Web site at

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