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The end is in sight
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As the 2018 Session of the General Assembly wound down, the Senate finished work on the FY 2019 General Budget and a conference committee was named by the House and Senate. Next week’s Column will cover major elements of the completed FY 2019 General Budget.

Final passage
HB 732 — Expands the offense of sex trafficking to include patronization, in addition to solicitation. Amends the age brackets of the trafficked individual, on which the offender’s years of imprisonment are based, to include those over the age of 17.

HB 793 — Extends the life of a tax exemption for 501(c)(3) aquariums’ renovation and expansion of tangible property. Currently, the exemption is scheduled to end July 1, 2018 or when aggregate refund reaches $750,000; will now end January 1, 2022 or at an aggregate refund of $4.5 million. Adds 501(c)(3) museums to be included in the tax exemption.

HB 852 — Allows students enrolled in public school, who have moved to another school zone, to complete the school year at their original school so long as they attended the school for half of the school year. In doing so, parents assume transportation responsibility.

HB 876 — Keeps counties and municipalities from prohibiting the use of wood in building construction if minimum state codes are met.

HB 700 — Expands eligibility for Georgia National Guard service cancelable educational loans to non-Georgia resident members of the Georgia National Guard, part-time students, and students enrolled in graduate degree programs.

HB 701 — Adds opioids, opioid analgesics, and opioid derivatives to the list of drugs state agencies will test for when drug testing for state employment.
HB 843 — Encourages economic development around military bases by providing job creators a tax credit of $3,500 for each new eligible full-time employee for five years.

HB 886 — Doubles from $2,500 to $5,000 the minimum amount of agricultural sales, products and services for a farmer to be eligible for a GATE card.

Passed by the Senate this week
HB 381 — Gives new powers to local governments to dispose of abandoned or out of use mobile homes.

HB 792 — Increases from $1.00 to $3.00 the surcharge per ton which the local government charges private solid waste disposal facilities.

HB 419 — Prohibits fireworks on last Saturday and Sunday in May (Memorial Day) and the first Monday in September (Labor Day) after midnight and before 10:00 A.M. Also gives the Governor power to prohibit fireworks in a drought.

HB 671 — Promotes the conservation of Georgia’s state insect, the Honey Bee, through the sale of special ‘Save the Honey Bee’ license plates. Sales will benefit the Georgia Beekeepers Association’s awareness and program funds.

HB 740 — Requires health screening for hearing, sight, etc. before expulsion or a cumulative suspension of 5 days or more. Applies to preschool through third grade students.

HB 878 — Allows cancellation of an insurance policy by phone.

HB 995 — Outlines the requirements and procedure that consultants must follow when preparing bid specifications for government entities. Lack of experience in that particular construction does not disqualify a bidder.

HB 85 — Changes the valuation of “forest land conservation use property” from the 2008 fair market value of the land to 40 percent of its forest land conservation use value. Assesses the value of qualified timberland property (50 or more acres dedicated primarily to tree production) at 40 percent of its fair market value and at least 175 percent of the underlying forest land conservation value. Only effective upon November passage of HR 51.

HB 271 — Removes prohibition on hunting without a wildlife management area license. Permits the use of air guns for hunting “big game” in certain seasons. Prohibits animal baiting on property adjoining federal or state managed lands. Extends deer baiting to Northern half of the State.

HB 735 — Temporary income tax credit for Class III railway companies for 50 percent of qualified railroad track maintenance cost per year. Ceiling of $3,500 per track mile per year. Lasts from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (H.B. 684) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.