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Tax reform proposals create a stir under the Gold Dome
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 The Georgia General Assembly has completed its 37th day of a 40-day session. On March 31, the Georgia General Assembly recessed and will reconvene on April 11.

Still to be considered and agreed to by both chambers is the 2012 fiscal year budget. The Jobs Bill and the tax reform that the tax council and members of the General Assembly have spent numerous hours on, this report was released before the beginning of session and is only proposed legislation. This bill (HB 385), if voted on, can only be an up or down vote on all the issues in the bill.

This legislation cannot be amended. Thus, the tax breaks that people wanted are included in the bill as well.

Several proposals to bring some tax overhaul to Georgia’s antiquated tax system is being discussed which could be included in another bill. A proposal discussed last week will not tax Girl Scout cookies, groceries, haircuts, veterinary service, legal services, AAA memberships, Sam’s Club memberships, Costco memberships, dry cleaning, prescriptions, cigarettes, among others, and will not eliminate the exemption on Georgia’s cherished non-profits organizations. This proposal did not eliminate the senior income tax exemption proposed by the council. The proposal does broaden consumption taxes, which includes a tax on all telecommunications, including cable, satellite, and all phone services which brings uniformity to telecom service providers. Others issues are, also, being discussed.

The proposal does lower the personal income tax rate by 25 percent — from 6 percent to as low as 4.5 percent — possibly even lower. It keeps current deduction for contributions to college savings plans (529 plans). It also keeps current Social Security deductions. Lowering the income tax means jobs for Georgians. And most importantly, it will allow hard-working Georgians to keep more of their money.

As of this writing (April 1), it is not known in what direction the “Jobs and Tax Reform” proposed legislation will take. Your input has been greatly appreciated.

Update on other legislation

HB 78, General Appropriations; state fiscal year July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012

The Appropriations Act of fiscal year 2012, effective July 1, 2011, is set by the governor’s revised revenue estimate of $18.2 billion in state funds. While state funds represent a net 2 percent increase, total spending for FY 2012 decreases by 4 percent from $39.2 billion to $37.6 billion. As proposed, the act requires nearly 55 percent of state revenues to be directed to education, 22.5 percent for health care, and 8.5 percent for public safety. The Senate passed its version and sent it back to the House. Presently, a Committee of Conference has been appointed to resolve the differences.

SB 17, Insurance; establish the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits; membership, terms, meetings and duties

This legislation will establish the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits. It is a fair and balanced mechanism to thoroughly review and analyze the cost vs. benefits of insurance mandates. Georgia currently has 45 mandates, discouraging employers from offering coverage and prompting many to discontinue it. Every 1 percent increase in premiums can mean thousands of dollars in additional health care costs for a company with even as few as a dozen or so workers. Again, this bill addresses the issue of access to affordable health insurance.

SB 88, Motor Vehicles; increase the age requirements for use of child restraint systems

This bill increases age requirements for use of child restraint to 8 years old from 6 when a child is riding in a vehicle. Passed by both chambers and has been sent to the governor.

SB 122, Water Supply Division of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority; participation by the division; local water reservoir, facilities, and system projects

SB 122 provides for local government contracts related to planning, financing, constructing, acquiring, operating, or maintaining certain water reservoirs, facilities, and systems. Further, it provides for participation by the Water Supply Division of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority in certain local water reservoir, facilities, and systems projects. Passed by the House. Immediately transmitted to the Senate for Agreement or Disagreement.

SB 157, Waste Management; provide local solid waste management/ reporting shall be optional

This bill requires cities and counties to adopt their existing Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) and any updates they  make to it via local ordinance or resolution, without having to go through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for prior approval. The bill further empowers DCA to develop planning guidelines that a city or county may use to amend or update their local SWMP. It makes it optional for cities and counties to report how solid waste is managed in their community to DCA. In addition to the disposal and capacity reporting to Georgia EPD, the bill requires landfill owners/operators to report disposal, remaining disposal capacity, and recycling and composting activities to DCA.

Note: Legislation that is agreed on by the General Assembly (House and Senate) is sent to the governor to agree or disagree before it can become a state law. Other legislation can be viewed on the Web at

Contact information for Rep. Ann R. Purcell: 401 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334, Phone: (404) 656-5139 or email