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Legislative roundup

POSTED: March 2, 2018 8:14 a.m.

(Editor’s note: This is a look at recent action in the Georgia Legislature and how Bryan County’s legislators voted. It was compiled by local resident Corey Barnes.)

Consumer Protections on Autonomous Vehicles

The House on Feb. 20 approved, 162-3, HB 717 which extends automobile consumer protection laws such as the ‘Fair Business Practices Act of 1975,’ ‘Georgia Motor Vehicle Franchises Practices Act,’ and ‘Georgia Lemon Law’ to autonomous vehicles.

Voting yes: Jesse Petrea, Ron Stephens and Jan Tankersley.

Increase Value of Rural Hospital Organization Tax Credit

The House on Feb. 21 approved, 114-53, HB 827 which increases the rural hospital organization tax credit from 90 percent to 100 percent. The maximum donation from an individual per year would be $5,000 while the maximum for a married couple filing a joint return would be $10,000.

Voting yes: Petrea, Stephens, Tankersley

Determining fair market value of motor vehicles

The House on Feb. 21 approved, 125-41, HB 327 which determines the fair market value of used motor vehicles subject to ad valorem tax. The combined state and local ad valorem tax shall be at a rate equal to 6.75 percent of the fair market value of the motor vehicle.

Voting yes: Petrea, Stephens (co-sponsor), Tankersley

Special Event Tobacco Permits

The House on Feb. 22 approved, 144-24, HB 835 which allows licensed tobacco dealers to apply for special event permits to sell certain tobacco products at special events or temporary locations. If granted, permits authorize the dealer for between one and 10 days to sell cigars, cigarettes or loose or smokeless tobacco for a special event or temporary location offsite from the licensed location. The applicant must pay $10 for the permit, and all permits shall be issued by the commissioner.

Voting yes: Petrea, Stephens, Tankersley

Modifying Income Tax Rate

The House on Feb. 22 approved, 134-36, HB 918 which modified portions of the Georgia tax code including lowering the highest earners’ tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent. The bill also exempts all jet fuel from all sales and use taxes.

Voting yes: Petrea, Stephens, Tankersley


Renaming Creek

The Senate on Feb. 20 adopted, 51-0, SR 685 which changes the name of “Runaway Negro Creek” to “Freedom Creek” and authorizes the Division of Archives and History of the University System of Georgia to notify the United States Board of Geographic Names of the action.

Voting yes: Ben Watson.

Modifying Election Policies

The Senate on Feb. 23 approved, 32-16, SB 363 which allows county elections superintendents to begin processing and tabulation of both absentee and advanced voting ballots after 6 p.m. on the day of a primary, general election or runoff. The bill also removes language that allowed cities of over 300,000 people to keep its polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If enacted into law, the number of hours Atlanta polls will be open would drop from 13 to 12.  

Voting yes: Watson

Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act

The Senate on Feb. 23 approved, 52-0, the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act (SB 402) which will provide for broadband services planning, deployment and incentives. The objective is to introduce broadband internet to rural and underserved areas in Georgia.

Voting yes: Watson

Adopting from Religious Agency

The Senate on Feb. 23 approved, 35-19, SB 375 relating to adoption regulations. A child-placing agency may decline to accept an adoption referral based on its sincerely held religious beliefs. The state may not discriminate against or cause any adverse action against such an agency based on its sincerely held religious beliefs.

Voting yes: Watson

The Senate on Feb. 23 approved, 44-5, SB 405 regarding grants for eligible students in the University System of Georgia. Students who meet certain academic and financial criteria may apply for a state grant worth $1,500 per academic semester, contingent upon appropriations by the General Assembly.

Voting yes: Watson

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