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Tax credits, fireworks highlight House bills
Hitchens Bill
Rep. Bill Hitchens

Last week, the General Assembly passed the 30th legislative day, or “crossover day” as it’s commonly referred. As I have mentioned before, any legislation that hasn’t crossed over to the Senate or the House of Representatives is dead legislation until we reconvene next year.

Now saying that, one can have their legislation added to passed legislation through the amendment process, but that is an extremely tough task as most bill authors prefer their legislation to be perceived as “clean” and not held up because of some amendments that may kill their bill.

Unfortunately, at press time, we haven’t completed day 30 and don’t expect to until much later in the evening. Therefore, I will update the highlights of crossover day next week.

One piece of legislation that made some headlines last week was House Bill 303, regarding uninsured motorist coverage and recovery. When an insurer refuses to pay for a loss within 60 days after a demand has been made by the insured and a finding has been made that the refusal was made in bad faith, the insurer will be liable along with additional penalties. I believe this legislation will ultimately help any Georgian who is unfortunately involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.

Regarding revitalization and job growth, we passed HB 308, a bill that would allow the state to offer tax credits for historic economic development projects. The amount of money set aside for this revitalization would be $25 million with no project able to claim more that $5 million in tax credits. Jobs created through any development project would be required to be reported. This incentive will have a positive economic benefit with the creation of jobs throughout the state while bringing new investment to many of our historic downtown areas.

In another effort to help automobile manufacturers that have chosen Georgia as home for their manufacturing plants, we passed HB 259, a bill that would allow those companies to be able to receive preferential treatment in receiving contracts with any government entity that wishes to upgrade their fleet of cars. This is limited to those plants that manufacture cars under 12,500 pounds, or essentially, a standard passenger vehicle or SUV. This legislation is being used to reward the companies who invest in jobs while also being used as an incentive for auto manufacturers to relocate to our state.

The House also passed a bill that provides for the sale of fireworks in Georgia. HB 110 makes it lawful for any person 18 years of age or older to purchase and handle fireworks. I did not vote for this bill and still have some concerns but this legislation does also include stiff penalties for any vendor who attempts to sell these products to minors, much like our tobacco laws.

Regarding education, we also passed HB 296, a bill which would eliminate the wait time for children who suffer from certain medical difficulties to get into public schools. The medical or learning disabilities include autism, deafness or blindness, emotional and behavioral disorders, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairment, specific learning disabilities, speech-language impairments, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, or a limited English proficiency. We want the children of Georgia to thrive, including those who have relocated to our state, so this legislation is especially important as our population continues to grow at a rapid pace.

As we move forward with this legislative session, please know that I am always available to listen to your thoughts and concerns. I can be reached at (404) 656-0178 or at Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.