Georgia Political News for March 20, 2012

Mattie and Sydney are 5-year old BFFs and are available for adoption from Adopt a Golden Atlanta. The lifelong friends are available as a pair due to their strong bond; when separated in the shelter, Mattie the Great Dane cried. Sydney is a Golden Retriever.

Today’s political news will be shorter than usual in order to concentrate on a few important and complex bills in the General Assembly.

Legislative Day 35

The Senate Rules Calendar is available here.

 

Senate Meeting Schedule

10:00 AM APPROPRIATIONS 341 CLOB
1:00 PM SPECIAL JUDICIARY 125 CAP
1:00 PM TRANSPORTATION 450 CAP
2:00 PM REAPPORTIONMENT & REDISTRICTING 307 CLOB
2:00 PM STATE & LOCAL GOV. OPP. MEZZ 1
3:00 PM REGULATED INDUSTRIES & UTIL 310 CLOB
3:00 PM RETIREMENT 125 CAP
4:00 PM EDUCATION & YOUTH 307 CLOB
4:00 PM INSURANCE & LABOR MEZZ 1

Here is the House Rules Calendar.

House Meetings Calendar

9:00 RULES 341 CAP
9:30 Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure 506 CLOB
1:00 BANKS & BANKING 406 CLOB
1:00 JUDICIARY CIVIL 132 CAP
2:00 Academic Support Subcommittee of Education 415 CLOB
2:00 Regulated Industries Professions- Boards- Commissions Subcommittee 515 CLOB
2:00 TRANSPORTATION 506 CLOB
2:00 CHILDREN & YOUTH 403 CAP
2:00 INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS 606 CLOB
3:00 STATE INSTITUTIONS & PROPERTY 415 CLOB
3:00 Energy Subcommittee Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications 515 CLOB- CANCELED
3:00 HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES 341 CAP
3:00 Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform 606 CLOB
4:00 PUBLIC SAFETY & HOMELAND SECURITY 506 CLOB

Senate Passes Charter School Amendment

Yesterday the Senate passed House Resolution 1162, referred to as the Charter School Amendment bill, which will put before voters in November the question of whether to amend the Constitution. Here is the final vote.

Democrats voting Yes included Sens. Hardie Davis, George Hooks, Curt Thompson, and Steve Thompson.

The most recent version of the bill available on the State House website phrases the question:

“( ) YES  ( ) NO   Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

All persons desiring to vote in favor of ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “Yes.” All persons desiring to vote against ratifying the proposed amendment shall vote “No.” If such amendment shall be ratified as provided in said Paragraph of the Constitution, it shall become a part of the Constitution of this state.

In a press release, Gov. Nathan Deal encouraged Georgia voters to pass the Amendment:

With final legislative passage of the charter school amendment today, Gov. Nathan Deal encouraged Georgians to vote for it this November.

“The General Assembly has acted wisely and courageously to give Georgians the choice to implement true local control: parental choice.

We must encourage innovation and the pursuit of excellence in our schools. Starting a state-chartered school is not done easily or without lots of hard work, but we need a system that allows for this option.

State-chartered schools help students trapped in underperforming schools and aid communities that want to invest in new and imaginative ways of learning for their children.

Approving this amendment will simply restore the process for creating state-charted schools that existed before the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s system for granting charters, and I hope Georgians will cast their vote for protecting and promoting schools that have a strong record of student achievement.”

According to Jim Galloway: Senator Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, accused Republicans of engaging in “corruption” to get four of his Democratic colleagues to switch sides for the required two-thirds majority.

From Fort’s press release:

“Republicans will cripple our public school system, the future of our children, their constituencies and the future economy of this state in order to gain a title. Deals have been made for jobs, appointments, redistricting and more. What they have proven in the debate of HR 1162 is that the State Capitol is for sale. It is corruption in every sense of the word,” said Fort.

The Senate Health and Human Service Committee, Chaired by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) passed House Bill 954 with a “do pass” recommendations. HB 954 is known as the “fetal pain” bill and will tighten the window for elective abortion from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

Proposed substitute legislation from the Special Joint Subcommittee on Georgia’s Tax Structure is available on the House website now and will have far-reaching effects if passed by both houses and signed by Gov. Deal. Property taxes on cars would be phased out gradually. People who continue to own their current cars will continue to pay property taxes; cars titled after March 1, 2013 will not be subject to property taxes, but will be subject to a title fee of 6.5 percent that will rise to 7 percent in 2015.

The exemption from sales tax on energy used in manufacturing that was suggested by members of the Public Service Commission and supported by Gov. Deal is included in the bill. The rationale for the exemption is that Georgia generally does not tax manufacturing inputs like raw materials, choosing to levy sales tax on the final product; otherwise we end up paying sales tax on products that already have additional taxes embedded in the cost. While energy used in manufacturing will be exempted from state sales tax, local governments would be able to impost a 3 percent tax on manufacturers within their jurisdiction.

Sales taxes on internet purchases is also included in the legislation. Currently, some internet retailers do not collect taxes on sales made to Georgians, in which case consumers are responsible for filling out Georgia use tax forms and submitting the money to the state directly; predictably, compliance with the use tax is low.

Under the plan, Georgia State researchers predict that state revenue will decline more than $50 million this year and $36 million next year, less than 1 percent of the budget, before rising in 2015. Local governments are predicted to lose more than $200 million from the loss of car tag taxes and energy sales taxes; the state has promised to share with local governments, but if I were a County Commissioner or Mayor, I might not hold my breath.

The bill will also return sales tax holidays to Georgia.

Senator Don Balfour (R-Snellville) said the tax package will help Georgia compete for jobs with other states: “If we can bring companies to Georgia like we’re bringing Caterpillar to Georgia, we’ll be in good stead going forward.”

State Rep. Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, questioned the fiscal impact of the bill, especially on local governments.

Events and Annoucements Calendar Coming

Because of the increasing number of campaign and fundraiser announcements we are receving, we will roll out a new events calendar focusing on these events, along with local party events and events from related organizations. Rollout will be sometime between now and the end of the legislative session.

To be eligible for inclusion, you must send your announcement from an account that is subscribed to our email list to [email protected]. We suggest that the information be able to be cut-and-pasted to reduce early morning errors and assure inclusion. We are considering open accounts for consultants, Party officials and other who will be frequently posting events so that they can enter the information themselves.

One thought on “Georgia Political News for March 20, 2012

  1. For a $40,000 wheelchair-accessible van, the 7% title fee will require an additional $2,800 at the point of purchase. Vans accessible to power wheelchairs can easily go up to $50,000.

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