The Georgia House of Representatives reconvened for the seventh week of the 2023 legislative session and by week’s end we had finished 23 of the 40 days left in the session. We have the all-important “crossover day” scheduled for March 6. As I have discussed before, crossover day is the last day that a House bill may be considered and passed to be reviewed by the Senate.
One of the highlights for us taxpayers this week was when we passed legislation that would allow the state to return up to $1 billion in undesignated income tax revenue back into the pockets of Georgia taxpayers for a second year in a row. Similar to legislation from last year House Bill 162 would provide a one-time tax refund through the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 budget to every eligible taxpayer for the 2022 tax year. The one-time tax refunds would range from $250 for single filers, $375 for head-of-household filers and $500 for married couples filing jointly. The refund would only be given to taxpayers who filed income tax returns for both the 2021 and 2022 tax years and would not be available to nonresident alien individuals, those claimed as a dependent during the 2021 and 2022 tax years or an estate or trust. Georgians are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, but our state has been fortunate enough to see record tax revenues, resulting in this undesignated revenue surplus.
Additionally, we unanimously passed House Bill 167 to help parents with child support orders make good on their outstanding payments. In Georgia, parents who fail to pay their child support will have their driver’s license suspended until they pay the full outstanding amount. Due to these license suspensions, there are currently thousands of Georgia parents who cannot drive themselves to work to earn money to make their child support payments. To resolve this issue, HB 167 would amend the list of individuals with a suspended, revoked or canceled license who are eligible to apply for a limited driving permit by adding individuals not in compliance with a child support order, which would enable these individuals to drive only for certain purposes like going to and from work.
For the last several years, the House has passed a number of bills to improve telemedicine, which continues to be a popular health care option for Georgians, especially those in rural or underserved areas of our state. This week, we took up another telemedicine measure to ensure Georgians could get their contact lens prescriptions renewed without visiting the doctor as often in-person. House Bill 203 would allow state-licensed optometrists or ophthalmologists to conduct vision exams to renew contact lens prescriptions electronically for patients who are between 21-50 years old and do not have certain preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Because boating on our rivers and ocean are important to many of us in Southeast Georgia, the House passed House Bill 207 to close a loophole in Georgia’s boating accident laws, including laws that address accidents that result in criminal charges. Under this bill, if a boating accident occurs, the operator of each boat involved would be required to immediately stop, remain at the scene, and provide their name, address, registration, as well as their government-issued ID upon request, to the operator of the vessel struck. The involved vessel operators would also be responsible for rendering assistance to any injured person and notifying emergency medical services and law enforcement if necessary. Current law allows boating accidents to be reported within 48 hours of the accident, but HB 207 would close this loophole to ensure that our boating accident laws mirror our motor vehicle accident laws.
In conclusion, I encourage you to please let me know of issues that are important to you in Effingham County and Chatham County. I am in office 217 of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-5126 and my email is email@example.com. I look forward to this session and serving all of you.