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Improving public safety in the recent session
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns

Governor Deal signed two important bills into law last week which I supported during the 2016 legislative session. My analysis of these bills is set forth below for your information:

Public safety — protecting utility linemen

Governor Deal signed House Bill 767, known as the “Move Over for Linemen Law.” This bill is designed to protect those utility linemen working at active work sites. Under this law, motorists approaching utility linemen at an active work site, as indicated by traffic cones or flashing yellow, white or red lights, must change lanes or reduce their speed to a reasonable and proper speed below the posted speed limit.

This is a common sense public safety bill that will protect all types of utility workers, including electric, natural gas, cable and telecommunications workers, right-of-way crews and utility contractors. As Governor Deal said upon signing, “This bill will help the selfless linemen and women in Georgia go home safely to their families after working around the clock to keep our lights on, even in extreme weather conditions.”

I supported this bill in the House, and am pleased Governor Deal signed it into law.

Public safety — preventing street gang crime

There is another public safety bill which we passed last session that currently awaits a decision by Governor Deal. House Bill 874, the Criminal Street Gang and Terrorism Act, seeks to address the problem of prison inmates having access to cell phones while incarcerated that they have used to operate criminal enterprises from behind bars. This bill revises anti-street gang laws to expand the witness intimidation law and clarify admissible evidence to prove a Street Gang Act violation. This bill would also enhance penalties against individuals, including prison guards and corrections officers, who smuggle cell phones and other contraband to prison inmates.

Communities all across Georgia have suffered from criminal gang activity, and I believe this bill will help law enforcement keep communities safe.

Back-to-school sales tax holiday

Governor Deal signed House Bill 951 into law, which reauthorizes the popular “Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.” This year, beginning at 12:01 am on July 30, there will be a one-day sales tax holiday on purchase of the following items:

• Articles of clothing with a sales price of $100 or less;

• Computers, computer components and prewritten computer software for noncommercial or personal use with a sales price of $1,000 or less; and

• School supplies, school art supplies, school computer supplies and school instructional materials purchased for noncommercial use with a sales price of $20 or less.

This sales tax holiday will expire at midnight on July 31, so please mark July 30, on your calendar for the annual back to school sales tax holiday.

House Bill 951 also includes two additional tax measures worth noting. The bill restores a sales tax holiday on the sale of Energy Star qualified products or WaterSense products with a sale price of $1,500 or less per product purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. This sales tax holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 30 and expire at midnight on Oct. 2.

Furthermore, House Bill 951 includes an exemption from sales tax on the purchase of tickets for “nonrecurring major sporting events.” These major sporting events have a tremendous impact on our economy, including increased revenue for private businesses and increased tax revenue for state and local communities.

These three measures, which were included in House Bill 951, will benefit Georgia’s parents, Georgia’s taxpayers and our economy, and I commend Governor Deal for signing this bill into law.

It is an honor to represent District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly. If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (, or engage on Facebook (