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Session hits the three-quarters pole
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The General Assembly passed HB 386 last session eliminating the “birthday tax” on motor vehicles and replacing it with a one-time title fee to be paid at the time of the purchase of the vehicle. However, this act did not take into account leased vehicles, so the legislature was forced to act before the changes take hold on March 1.

The House offered HB 80 as a way to fix the problem, but it was discovered that HB 80 would result in a net tax increase, so the Senate Finance Committee offered a substitute to HB 266 to make the bill a tax cut. In HB 266, “buy here pay here,” dealers pay 4.5 percent instead of the 6.5 percent rate under HB 386. Leased vehicles will now be subject to the title ad valorem tax at the price agreed upon in the lease agreement or the manual maintained by the Georgia Department of Revenue minus the dealer rebate, cash discount, dealer fees and trade-in.

HB 266 presents an overall reduction in state revenue of $179 million over five years. The bill will prevent the price of leasing a vehicle becoming adversely affected by last year’s legislation.

Boater safety law
The Senate passed SB 136 reducing the legal blood alcohol content for boating from .10 to .08. Georgia had been one of only eight states in the country with a blood alcohol content for boating that was higher than its limit for driving. The law also lowers the blood alcohol content level for hunting to .08 as well as requiring education requirements for all boaters born after Jan. 1, 1998. The bill was named in honor of three children who were killed in tragic boating accidents on Lake Lanier last summer.

Bills passed in the Senate
• SB 68 - Creates “Celebrate Freedom Week” in Georgia’s public schools to ensure that the principles of the country’s founding fathers are taught in the state’s public schools.
• SB 10 - Requires continued testing of the competence of nurses, as well as setting up guidelines for the issuance of nursing licenses.
• SB 135 - Allows law enforcement agencies to require DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested for a felony.  Allows for expungement if not convicted.
• SB 140 - Allows small auto repairs such as rips, burns, tears, and holes of fabrics to be offered as extended warranties.

Bills introduced in the Senate
• SB 191 - Known as “Ava’s Law” this bill requires that state-regulated health policies cover treatment for autism-related therapies for children.
• SB 192 - Takes the requirement of full-time out of the definition of firefighter and replaces it with any permanent compensated firefighter who works at least 1,040 hours per year.  This bill would allow more firefighters to be eligible for retirement benefits.
• SB 195 - Allows schools to purchase and stock auto-injectable epinephrine, as well as allowing school personnel who have completed training to inject the drug for students in need, and protects them from civil liability unless they display willful or wanton misconduct.
• SB 197 - Requires all information regarding licensed carry permits to be kept confidential, prevents the state from maintaining a database with information on those with licensed carry permits, and limits the only information a judge can relay about a permit is to its validity.
• SB 210 - Creates the Georgia Legacy Program and the Georgia Legacy Trust Fund to approve and provide grants for conservation projects throughout the state.
• SB 212 - Requires that schools with students from grades seven to 12 teach CPR and use of an automated external defibrillator as a requirement for graduation.
• SB 214 - Allows the winner of the Georgia Lottery to remain anonymous if he/she donates 25 percent of their winnings to the Lottery for Education Account.
• SB 215 - Requires any athletic association to multiply a private school’s student population by 1.5 when determining classifications.
• SB 229 - Authorizes the sale of consumer fireworks in the state of Georgia, and charges a 10 percent excise tax on each unit sold to fund the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council.
• SB 231 - Extends the additional five percent fee on traffic violation fines to help fund the Driver’s Education Commission to June 2018. The measure was set to expire this year.
• SB 242 - Allows downtown development authorities to undergo projects that improve upon the energy or water consumption of a property or installing new equipment which would use renewable resources within the territory of the municipality.

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

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