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General Assembly Final Days

Wednesday, March 16, 2016   (0 Comments)
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2016 GEDA Legislative Monitor Report # 9

The General Assembly reconvened on Monday, March 7, 2016, for Day 32 of the session.  Bills to be considered for passage must pass either the House or Senate on Day 30 to be considered for passage by both chambers and receive the signature of the Governor.  In some cases the language in bills that did not crossover may be added to bills that did crossover and eventually pass both chambers. The General Assembly recessed Wednesday, March 9; reconvened on Thursday, March 10; and recessed following Day 35 on Friday, March 11, 2016. 

The House and Senate will be in session Monday, March 16; Day 36, and adjourn at the close of business on Wednesday, March 16--Day 38.

Budget

The Senate passed the FY-17 budget with some changes from the House version.  Senate and House members appointed by Lieutenant Governor Cagle and House Speaker Ralston will meet next week to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions.

Bills

Listed below are bills that GEDA tracked during the session that did cross over on, or before Day 30.  HB 238 related to personal income tax rates and personal exemptions from state income tax; and  HB 1060, a bill that proposes to expand provisions relating to carrying and possession of firearms have been added to the list of bills.

HB 238 (CS) – Senator Hill of the 32nd

Senator Hill, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee amended HB 238 in committee by striking the existing language in HB 238 and inserting language from SB 280 that was sponsored by Senator Hill.  The original version of the bill passed the House authorized tax exemptions for certain aquariums located in the State.

Amends Title 48 of the OCGA relating to revenue and taxation, so as to provide for the revision of personal income tax rates; to eliminate itemized adjustments to Georgia taxable net income except for limited mortgagee deductions, charitable contributions, and medical expenses; to increase the personal exemption from state income tax; to repeal the corporate net worth tax; to provide that this Act shall not abate or affect prosecutions, punishments, penalties, administrative proceedings or remedies, or civil actions related to certain violations; to provide for a short title; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to change the tax rates on taxable net income for person’s filing an individual tax return, married persons filing separately, and head of household and married persons filing a joint return. It would also lower the income tax rate to 5.4 percent of all taxable net income for the applicable taxable year beginning January 1, 2017.  The bill proposes to increase dependent exemptions.

HB 285 (CS) – Representative Stephens of  the 164th.

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 for an additional entertainment tax credit for certain entities and to change certain qualifications for such a credit; to provide for procedures, conditions, and limitations; to provide for definitions; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to create the ‘Georgia Small Entertainment Industry Investment Act’. Any qualified production company and its affiliates that invest in a state certified production approved by the Department of Economic Development can receive an income tax credit if the base investment in this state equals, or is less than $500,000.00. The income tax credit is equal to 20 percent of the base investment in this state. An additional credit of 10 percent of the base investment is authorized if the qualified production activity includes a qualified Georgia promotion. The aggregate amount of tax credits allowed for qualified production companies and affiliates cannot exceed $6 million for any single taxable year.  The maximum credit for any single qualified production company and its affiliates would be $150,000 for any taxable year.

HB 734 (CS) – Representative Spencer of the 180th

Amends Title 51 of the OCGA relating to torts, so as to provide for the facilitation of space flight activities in this state; to provide for definitions; to provide for exceptions; to limit the liability of space flight entities related to injuries sustained by participants who have agreed in writing to such a limitation after being provided with certain warnings; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes that a ‘space flight entity’ shall not be civilly liable to or criminally responsible for any person for a space flight participant injury arising out of inherent risks associated with any space activities occurring in or originating from this state if the space flight participant has: (1) signed the warning and written agreement; and (2) given written informed consent. There are exemptions to the liability provisions such as gross negligence on the part of a space flight entity.

HB 794 – Representative Werkheiser of the 157th

Amends Code Section 50-8-34 of the OCGA relating to councils of regional commissions membership, terms of membership, voting, officers, and powers, so as to authorize such councils to meet by teleconference or similar means; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to allow Regional Commission Councils to use teleconference or similar means in the same manner as boards, bodies, and committees of state government.

HB 763 (CS) – Representative Houston of the 170th

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to general provisions regarding the state sales and use tax, so as to remove the sunset for the exemption regarding certain food and food ingredients; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to remove the June 30, 2016 sunset of the sales tax exemption for the sales of food and food ingredients to a qualified food bank.

HB 773 (CS) – Representative Houston of the 170th

Amends Chapter 26 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority, so as to increase the outstanding bond limit; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to increase the cap on one time bonds and notes for the single-family residential housing program from $1.3 billion to $3 billion.

HB 781(CSFA) – Representative Raffensperger of the 50th

Amends Chapter 80 of Title 36, Article 1 of Chapter 2 of Title 45, and Chapter 1 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to general provisions applicable to counties, municipal corporations, and other governmental entities; general provisions regarding eligibility and qualifications for public offices; and general provisions relating to state government, respectively, so as to require that individuals appointed to authorities, boards, councils, and commissions be United States citizens; to provide for other residency requirements; to provide for a definition; to provide for enforcement; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to require that appointments to an authority, school district, commission, council, or board for a local governing body which establishes policy, spends public funds, levies taxes, or imposes or collects fees or charges, except for ex officio, nonvoting members, shall be a citizen or national of the United States or a lawful permanent resident, and a legal resident of the State of Georgia.  The bill also proposes to change general provisions regarding eligibility and qualifications for appointment to any municipal or county board, commission, or authority; or state authority, board, council, or commission.   

HB 822 – Representative Coomer of the 14th

Amends Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the OCGA relating to sales and use tax, so as to provide for a change in a definition, to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to define ‘energy used in agriculture’ as qualifying for a sales and use tax exemption.

HB 911 (CSFA) – Representative 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 exemption from $2,500 to $10,000 in a year if they own or lease agricultural land; has provided $10,000 in agricultural operations services in a year; or produces long-term agricultural products from which there might not be annual income, but can generate $10,000 in aggregate annualized sales in the future.

HB 919 (CSFA) – Representative Duncan of the 26th

Amends Titles 31 and 48 of the OCGA relating to health and revenue and taxation, respectively, so as to approve rural health care organizations which provide health care services to underserved areas in this state; to provide for definitions; to provide for tax credits for contributions to rural health care organizations; to provide for the amount, nature, limits, and procedures for such tax credits; to provide for related matters; to provide for applicability; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to create an income tax credit for individuals and corporations that make contributions to qualified rural health care organizations.  The aggregate amount of tax credits allowed per tax year is capped at $100 million.  Tax credits must be preapproved by the Commissioner of Revenue. The Commissioner of the Department of Public Health will approve and certify ‘rural health care organizations’ that qualify for the contributions. Rural health care organizations  are defined as being located in a rural county; participating in both Medicaid and Medicare and accepting both Medicaid and Medicare patients; providing health care services to indigent patients , receiving at least 10 percent of its net revenue from uncompensated care, and is a not for profit organization.

HB 922 (S) – Representative 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 any person required by law to file a return or to pay taxes, except that any taxpayer may elect to consider the jobs within its disregarded entities , as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, for purposes of calculating the number of new quality jobs created by the taxpayer.

Current law does not 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).  The bill proposes to allow job creation by multiple LLCs to count toward the 50 person employment threshold necessary to qualify for the credit.

HB 924 (S) – Representative 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 (S) – Representative 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 to pack, ship, store, or otherwise process tangible personal property sold by electronic, Internet, telephonic, or other remote means; provide that such a business location does not allow customers to purchase or receive goods onsite at such location.

HB 936 – Representative 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. 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 1060 (CS) – Representative Jasperse of the 11th

Amends Part 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the OCGA relating to carrying and possession of firearms, so as to confirm that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; to clarify the meaning of private property relative to the carrying of a weapon or long gun; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to define ‘leased government property’ as real property that is owned by a government entity but which an individual or entity which is not a government entity is the lessee, licensee, or renter.  The bill defines ‘private property’ as real property that is not owned or controlled by any government entity; provided, however, that such term shall not mean leased government property. These two definitions and the remaining language in the code section would appear to allow persons to carry a weapon in leased property owned by a development authority because it would not be considered ‘private property’.

SB 275 (SCS) – Senator Williams of the 27th

Amends Chapter  80 of Title 36 of the OCGA relating to general provisions regarding counties, municipal corporations, and other governmental entities; so as to provide that the governing body of any county, consolidated government, or municipality; local board of education; or any other state or local governmental entity shall not adopt or maintain any policy, rule, or other provision that has the effect of preventing the free exercise of the right of freedom of speech by the members of the governing body and the ability of members of the governing body to discuss freely the policies and actions of such entity; to provide for exceptions; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to forbid any local governmental entities from denying freedom of speech to members of local governmental entities.

SB 320(CSFA) – Senator Watson of the 1st

Amends Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 40 of the OCGA relating to issuance, expiration, and renewal of licenses, so as to revise the exemptions afforded to nonresidents who have in their immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to them in their home state or country; to provide for certain presumptions of validity of a driver’s license issued by the driver’s licensing authority of a foreign country; to provide for exceptions; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to allow persons who are a nonresident of the state and possess a valid driver’s license issued for them in their home state or country meets the requirements of Code Section 40-5-21.3 for a valid nonresident driver’s license.

SB 323 – Senator Dugan of the 30th

Amends Chapter 18 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to state printing and documents pertaining to an economic development project by any agency; to provide for related matters; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes to extend to other state agencies and authorities confidentiality and public disclosure requirements presently given to the Department of Economic Development as it relates to an economic development project.

SB 346 – Senator 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 does not include the use of any federal funds.

SB 417 – Senator Mullis of the 53rd

Amends Chapter 7 of Title 50 of the OCGA relating to the Department of Economic Development, so as to create the ‘Georgia Film and Television Trail Act’; to provide for a short title; to provide for definitions; to provide for a purpose; to provide for the Department of Economic Development to plan and develop the trail; to provide for policies; to provide for the Department of Transportation to place trail signs designed in conjunction with the Department of Economic Development; to provide for certain immunities; and for other purposes.

The bill proposes the creation of the Georgia Film and Television Trail to provide an opportunity for the public to be aware of these locations and visit film and television location sites throughout the state. The bill outlines policies that should guide DEcD in creating and administering the Trail.

SR 675 – Senator McKoon of the 29th

Proposes an amendment to the Constitution  to declare English as the official language of the State of Georgia; to provide for findings; to provide that official state actions be in English; to prohibit any requirement that any language other than English be used in any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications; to prohibit discrimination, penalties, or other limits on participation against persons who speak only English; to provide for exceptions; to provide for certain rights of action; and for other purposes.

(S) means a subcommittee substitute

(CS) means a committee substitute

(CSFA) means a committee substitute and floor amendment


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