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News & Press: Legislative Reports

Senate Passes FY16 Amended Budget

Wednesday, February 17, 2016  
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2016 GEDA Legislative Monitoring Report #5

The General Assembly reconvened on Monday, February 8; Day 17, and adjourned on Thursday, February 11, 2016; Day 20 of the legislative calendar.  The General Assembly will be in session Tuesday through Friday of next week.

Budget

The Senate passed the FY-2016 amended budget by substitute Wednesday, February 10, 2016;

The House and Senate continued hearings on the FY-2017 budget.

Bills

The House of Representatives passed HB 757S, the first of several ‘religious liberty’ bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate.  This bill, ‘The Pastor Protection Act’ provides protections to religious leaders as it relates to performing marriage ceremonies, rites, or to administer sacraments.

HB 911 - Duncan of the 26th

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to sales and use tax, so as to provide for administration by the Department of Revenue of the exemption for agricultural machinery and equipment; to provide for a change to the qualifying amounts for the agricultural exemption; to provide for the separation of qualifying items at the point of sale; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to amend the current OCGA related to sales and use tax exemption for agricultural machinery and equipment by increasing the amounts of  agricultural products that a ‘qualified agricultural producer’ must produce to qualify for the sales and use tax  from $2,500 to $10,000 in a year if they own or lease agricultural land, increasing the amount of agricultural operations from $2,500 to $10,000 annually, the volume of ‘long-term’ agricultural products from $2,500 to $10,000 in sales annually, and an increase in the production of agricultural products to generate at least $10,000 in sales annually.

HB 921 – Houston of the 170th

Amends Article 2 of Chapter 7 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to the imposition, rate, computation, and exemptions from state income taxation, so as to provide tax credit incentives to promote the revitalization of vacant rural Georgia downtowns by encouraging investment, job creation, and economic growth in long-established business districts; to provide for definitions; to delineate procedures, conditions, eligibility, and limitations; to provide for powers, duties, and authority of the commissioner of community affairs, the commissioner of economic development, and the revenue commissioner; to provide for related matters; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to establish revitalization zones within downtown areas and to allow investors in revitalization zones to earn state income tax credits.  Any eligible business which establishes a new location within a revitalization zone on or after January 1, 2017, or any existing eligible business located within a revitalization zone that expands its operation, which has created at least two new jobs in a taxable year, and has been certified by the commissioner of community affairs can qualify for the tax credit.  Local governments that have a population of fewer than 15,000 residents  concentration of historic structures at least 50 years old within the targeted area, a 20 percent vacancy rate or documentation of an immediate threat to the targeted area, a feasibility study or market analysis identifying the business activities which can be supported in the targeted area and a plan for attracting or retaining such business activities, a master plan or strategic plan designed to assist private and public investment, or commitments for private or public funding from banks, downtown development authorities, local businesses, or other eligible applicants to support development activities in the targeted area.  Each full-time equivalent job created will be eligible for a $2,000 annual income tax credit; not to exceed $25,000 per taxable year.

HB 922 – Williamson of the 115th

Amends Code Section 48-7-40.17 of the OCGA relating to a tax credit for creating quality jobs, so as to add a definition of taxpayer and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to amend the definition of ‘taxpayer’ to mean a person required by law to file a return or to pay taxes, except that any taxpayer may elect to include disregarded entities as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, as part of the taxpayer for purposes of calculating the number of new quality jobs created. Current law does allow companies with multiple LLCs to claim the Quality Jobs Tax Credit unless all of the qualifying jobs were created by one LLC under the same Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).

HB 924 – Epps of the 144th

To amend Code Section 48-8-3 of the OCGA relating to exemptions from sales and use tax, so as to provide for a limited period of time an exemption from state sales and use tax only with respect to certain sales to a qualified job training organization; to provide for procedures, conditions, limitations; to provide an effective date and sunset date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to exempt state sales and use tax on certain sales to a qualified job training organization that uses a majority of its revenues for job training and placement programs and is located in Georgia.

HB 935 – Harrell of the 106th

Amends Part 1 of Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to exceptions from ad valorem tax, so as to add certain fulfillment centers to properties eligible for a freeport exemption; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to add stock and trade of ‘fulfillment centers’ stored in the center to the list of qualifying finished goods for the level 1 freeport exemption.  Fulfillment centers are defined as a business location in Georgia which is used predominantly to pack, ship, store, or otherwise process tangible personal property sold by electronic, Internet, telephonic, or other remote means.

HB 936 – Harrell of the 106th

To amend Article 2 of Chapter 7 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to the imposition rate, computation, and exemptions from income taxes, so as to clarify that certain terms in respect to the wages necessary to qualify for a jobs tax credit; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to add a definition for ‘new full-time employee job’ in less developed areas of the state as a newly created position of employment that was not previously located in this state, requires a minimum of 35 hours a week, and pays at or above the average wage earned in the county with the lowest average wage earned in this state, as reported in the most recently available annual issue of the Georgia Employment and Wages Averages Report of the Department of Labor.

HB 937 – Representative Harrell of the 106th

Amends Code Section 48-8-3 of the OCGA relating to exemptions from sate sales and use tax, so as to change the sunset provision for the exemption for projects of regional significance; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to extend the sunset for state sales and use tax exemptions from 2016 to 2019 for sales and purchases of tangible personal property used for and in the construction of a competitive project of regional significance.

HB 956 – Reeves of the 34th

Amends Article 2 of Chapter 7 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to the imposition, rate, and computation of and exemptions from state income taxes, so as to create an income tax credit for certain expenditures by music, film, television, or interactive entertainment production companies related to the incorporation of a recorded musical performance that was written, created, arranged, recorded, or synchronized in this state into a state certified production; to provide for rules and regulations and an application process related to such income tax credit; to provide for certain conditions and limitations; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to create the ‘Georgia Musical Recording and Synchronization Act’. 

HB 966 – Caldwell of the 131st

Amends Chapter 7 of Title 12 of the OCGA relating to the control of soil erosion and sedimentation, so as to provide for a buffer along all state waters to be measured outward from the ordinary high water mark and within which certain land-disturbing activities are prohibited; to provide for purposes and legislative intent; to provide for uniformity; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to continue to require a 25 foot buffer along all state waters.  It also continues to require a 50 foot buffer along all state waters classified as ‘trout streams’. There are exceptions to both types of buffers.   The bill proposes that the width of buffers be measured outward from the ordinary high water mark rather than measured horizontally from the point where vegetation has been wrested by normal stream flow or wave action.

SB 323 – Dugan of the 30th

To amend Chapter 18 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to state printing and documents, so as to provide for public disclosure not to be required for any documents pertaining to an economic development project by any agency; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to expand the confidentiality of documents which pertain to an economic development project until the economic development project is secured by binding commitment. Documents maintained by any state agency, not just those maintained by the Department of Economic Development.  ‘Economic development project’ means a plan or proposal to locate a business, or to expand a business, that would involve an expenditure of more than $25 million by the business or the hiring of more than 50 employees by the business.

SB 344 – Williams of the 27th

Amends Chapter 71 of Title 36 of the OCGA relating to development impact fees, so as to provide for development impact fees for education; to provide definitions; to provide for the manner of calculation, imposition, and collection of such fees; and for other purposes.

This bill is identical to HB 894 by Representative Dudgeon of the 25th.

SB 346 – Beach of the 21st

Amends Code Section 12-16-3 of the OCGA relating to definitions relative to the Environmental Policy Act so as to exempt projects for the construction or improvement of public roads from environmental effects reports in certain instances; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to provide an exemption from environmental effects reports as it relates to land disturbing activities by a government agency or funded by a grant from a government agency by adding a new paragraph that states any project of a department, municipality, a county, or an authority to construct or improve a public road, provided that such project cost does not exceed $100 million and such project obtains no contribution from federal funds

SR 883 – Beach of the 21st

The resolution proposes to create the Joint Study Committee on Industry Incentives for Financial Technologies and the Payment Processing Industry.

Sixty percent of the financial transactions industry is housed in Georgia and over seventy percent of the payments processed in the U.S. are processed in Georgia; and 40,000 jobs are directly supported and an additional 40,000 jobs are indirectly supported by the payments processing sector known as ‘Transaction Alley’ in Georgia.  The joint committee will, among other issues,  review potential financial incentives that can provide the state with the necessary resources to continue to invest in this industry sector.  


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