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Senate passes tax break
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HB 261 authorizes an income tax credit for the purchase of a single-family home; essentially for the final six months of 2009. The amount is either 1.2 percent of the purchase price of such eligible single-family residence or $3,600, whichever is less.
Tax credits spur job growth
The “Georgia Works Tax Credit” suspends levy of filing fees for new businesses as collected by the Secretary of State. HB 481 would give businesses a $2,400 tax credit for each unemployed person they hire and keep on the job. The “tax credit” will be available quarterly for amounts between $25 and $125 per unemployed individual hired as an employee for up to four calendar quarters, this applies to unemployment insurance tax obligations. The corporate income tax will be phased out for Georgia corporations by FY 2020 if funds are available.  

Super Speeder legislation passes both chambers
Gov. Perdue’s “Super Speeder” legislation successfully passed both houses on March 25 and is now awaiting his final signature. HB 160 directs the Department of Driver Services (DDS) to levy a $200 fee from any driver who is convicted of driving at a speed of 85 mph or higher on any four-lane highway or 75 mph or higher on any two-lane road or highway.  DDS will notify offenders of the fee within 30 days after receiving the qualifying ticket and notice of conviction. Failure to pay the fee within 90 days will result in the suspension of the driver’s license or driving privileges of the offender and an additional $50 fee will be assessed. All fees collected will be deposited in the general fund with the intent to fund a trauma care system in Georgia. A $23 million appropriation is in the governor’s budget for 2010.   

Property assessments frozen
HB 233 provides for a moratorium period for taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2009, and continuing until January 2011 during which valuation increases of property are limited. This legislation 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 is frozen from one taxable year to the succeeding taxable year.  

Differentiated pay for math
and science teachers

HB 280 passed the Senate on March 26, and is now awaiting Gov. Perdue’s final signature. This legislation provides additional pay for mathematics and science teachers and removes the sunset provision from the Georgia Master Teacher Program. HB 280 is intended to help our state recruit and retain qualified math and science teachers during the first five years of teaching when turnover rates are generally highest.  

A new fully-certified secondary school teacher in mathematics or science would be moved to the salary step on the state salary schedule that is applicable to six years of creditable service (at Step 4 of the Georgia teacher salary scale). This legislation requires math and science teachers to meet or exceed student achievement criteria to retain the pay increase.  The number of teachers affected during the first year would be approximately 2,863, with an average salary increase of approximately $4,000 per teacher.  

Additional legislation awaiting governor’s final signature
• SB 44: Provides for purchasing preferences for certain supplies, materials, equipment and agricultural products manufactured or produced in Georgia.

• 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.

• SB 210: Allows home schooled students to participate in the student honors program.  

• HB 123: Changes the definition of “child molestation” to include by means of an electronic device (i.e. webcam).

• HB 195: Allows members of electric membership corporations to serve on juries where the EMC is a party, unless the judge finds bias.

• HB 237: Allows adoptive parents of hard-to-place foster children to receive financial assistance.  

• HB 227: Provides that registered voters who have obtained a protective order or who are receiving services for domestic violence may request to have their address remain confidential.  

• HB 482: Would eliminate the state inventory tax on all Georgia businesses.

• HB 484: Provides that dependent children of military personnel stationed in Georgia on active duty are eligible to meet the residency requirements of HOPE scholarships and grants.      

• HB 552: Extends the ban which states that no well or borehole will be drilled or used for the purpose of injecting any surface water into the Floridian aquifer in any county governed by the Georgia coastal zone management program before July 1, 2014.  

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