State lawmakers approve proposal to cap the state’s income tax |

A constitutional amendment that would prohibit any increase in the state’s 6 percent income tax narrowly won approval Tuesday in the state House.

The measure, which was amended in committee, now must go back to the Senate.

If it wins approval in the Senate, it could go on the ballot in November, giving Republicans an enticement to draw more voters to the polls.

Senate Resolution 415 was approved by a 120-54 vote, earning the needed two-thirds support after House Speaker David Ralston backed it.

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer sponsored the amendment, which also had the backing of state Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican running for an open congressional seat.

via State lawmakers approve proposal to cap the state’s income tax |

Abortion bill passes Georgia Legislature |

Legislation that would bar the state employee health insurance plan from covering abortions in most cases received final passage Tuesday from the Georgia Legislature, sending it to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

Senate Bill 98 passed after both the House and Senate agreed to changes made to the bill in committee. House members voted first, 105-64, to approve the measure. The Senate then voted 36-18 to do the same.

The bill makes no exception for rape or incest, only allowing consideration of a medical emergency involving the life of the mother. It doesn’t make any medical procedure that is legal today illegal. It instead dictates how medical care involving abortions is paid for through the state health plans and through insurance exchanges offered via the Affordable Care Act.

SB 98, authored by Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, makes permanent a decision made last year by the Department of Community Health’s board to bar abortion coverage under the state health plan except when the life of the mother is at stake. That move followed a directive from Gov. Nathan Deal after lawmakers failed to pass a similar bill in the waning hours of the 2013 session.

“This legislation provides permanency rather than the temporary nature of rules and regs,” said Rep. Richard Smith, a Republican from Columbus and chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

But Democrats in both chambers decried what Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, called an “egregious attack” on women’s access to health care.

via Abortion bill passes Georgia Legislature |

Legislative briefs |

Private operation of dorms clears Legislature

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would extend a property tax exemption to private companies when they take over operations of University System of Georgia dorms and parking areas.

The 44-7 vote met the two-thirds requirement for final passage of House Bill 788.

The tax exemption is a key part of the University System’s privatization plan that could help wipe almost $4 billion in debt off its books. Under the plan, the system would retain ownership of the buildings and land, but the selected companies would operate and maintain the facilities according to leases that could run as long as 65 years.

A few senators questioned how the tax exemption would work. “As long as its state property and used for the stated purposes, it would be exempt” from property taxes, said Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton. Bethel, who’s a floor leader in the Senate for Gov. Nathan Deal, said the governor supported the measure.

State voters will get to weigh in later this year on whether to amend the law to allow developers to receive the exemption.

MLK, Ten Commandments bills pass

Legislation to allow a privately funded statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Capitol grounds is on its way to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk.

House Bill 1080 received final approval in the House on Tuesday by a vote of 171-2. Rep. Charles Gregory, R-Kennesaw, and Rep. Sam Moore, R-Macedonia, were the lone votes against it.

via Legislative briefs |

Anti-Obamacare bills await Deal’s signature |

Lawmakers approved Tuesday night two anti-Obamacare bills that all but guarantee Georgia won’t expand its Medicaid program and that will prevent state agencies from helping consumers sign up for new insurance coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate approved House Bill 990, by a vote of 35-19, which would strip the governor of the power to expand Medicaid or leave it unchanged, instead placing that decision in the hands of the General Assembly. The legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, a staunch opponent of the health care law, who has voiced support for the bill and is expected to sign it.

For now, the decision on Medicaid lies solely in the hands of the governor, which will change if he signs HB 990. Although Deal has steadfastly resisted expanding the program, saying the state cannot afford it, some had speculated that the governor might be willing to change his mind if he wins re-election in November. Once HB 990 takes effect, however, an expansion would require an act of the Legislature, the majority of which is even more opposed to Obamacare than Deal.

via Anti-Obamacare bills await Deal’s signature |

Major gun bill passes Georgia Senate |

A sweeping gun bill passed the Georgia Senate late Tuesday, but it’s not the one the House wanted.

The changes to House Bill 60 made on the Senate floor seemed aimed at pulling the House into a conference committee, in which three members from each chamber will try to negotiate a final compromise before this year’s legislative session ends Thursday.

The bill, as changed, would allow guns in churches but make the provision an “opt in” — meaning church leaders don’t have to act unless they want to allow guns in churches. Original wording by the House would have lifted the state’s ban of guns in churches unilaterally unless leaders vote to prohibit them on individual church properties.

According to language added by the Senate, someone caught with a gun in a church that didn’t allow it would face the equivalent of a jaywalking ticket: a misdemeanor and a $100 fine.

The changes to HB 60 also seek to tighten permission to carry a gun at unsecured areas of Georgia airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. They do not address language in the House version that would appear to allow convicted felons to avoid prosecution for the use of deadly force by invoking Georgia’s “stand your ground” self-defense laws.

The Senate vote to approve the changes was 37-18. The bill now heads back to the House, which can agree or disagree to it.

via Major gun bill passes Georgia Senate |

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 20, 2014

March 20, 1854 saw a meeting in Ripon, Wisconsin that is generally considered the founding of the Republican Party.

[F]ormer members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North, and after the war the Republican-dominated Congress forced a “Radical Reconstruction” policy on the South, which saw the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and the granting of equal rights to all Southern citizens. By 1876, the Republican Party had lost control of the South, but it continued to dominate the presidency until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.

The Georgia State Capitol was completed on March 20, 1889.

On March 20, 1943, Governor Ellis Arnall signed legislation authorizing a referendum to amend the Georgia Constitution and make the Public Service Commission a Constitutional agency.

On March 20, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson notified Alabama Governor George Wallace that Alabama National Guard troops would be called up to maintain order during a third march from Selma to Montgomery. Within five months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress.

On March 20, 1970, Governor Lester Maddox signed legislation designating the Brown Thrasher the official state bird, and the Bobwhite Quail the official state game bird.

On March 20, 1982, this song was #1 on the Billboard charts:

Happy birthday to Georgia-born actress Holly Hunter (1958) and film director/actor Spike Lee (1957).

Today Under the Gold Dome

Today is the 40th and final Legislative Day of the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly and any legislation must be passed by midnight.


The following legislation is eligible for consideration today in the Georgia State Senate.

SR 973 Senate Child Protection Study Committee; create (H&HS-38th) (Floor Amendment)

HB 3: Evidence; professional forestry; Department of Public Health; AIDS; provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-29th) Willard-51st

HB 251: Tobacco; sale of alternative nicotine products or components to minors; prohibit (H&HS-11th) Powell-32nd

HB 264: MARTA Act of 1965; extensively revise (Substitute) (TRANS-21st) Jacobs-80th

HB 265: Mass transportation; suspension of restrictions on the use of annual proceeds from sales and use taxes by public transit authorities; repeal provisions (Substitute) (TRANS-21st) Jacobs-80th

HB 346 Fulton County; appointment of tax commissioner; provide (SLGO-56th) Geisinger-48th

HB 405 Elementary and secondary education; members of governing boards of nonprofit organizations which are charter petitioners and charter schools to participate in governance training; require (Substitute) (ED&Y-12th) Mayo-84th (Floor Amendment)

HB 438 Court-referred alternative dispute resolution programs; legal costs; increase maximum amount of additional cost (JUDY-13th) Powell-171st

HB 460 Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; no person under a sentence of confinement shall be eligible for membership; provide (RET-29th) Weldon-3rd

HB 511 State employees’ health insurance plan; pilot program to provide coverage for bariatric surgical procedures for treatment and management of obesity; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Dempsey-13th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2)

HB 580 Superior Court Clerk’s Retirement Fund; provide spousal survivor’s benefit (RET-29th) Weldon-3rd

HB 601 Judges of the Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia; define certain terms; provisions (RET-12th) Maxwell-17th

HB 610 Insurance; licensing and regulation of public adjusters; provide (Substitute) (I&L-25th) Williamson-115th

HB 670 Trade names; require registration with the clerk of superior court; provisions (JUDY-49th) Fleming-121st (Floor Amendment)

HB 697 HOPE; revise amount of grants; equal student’s cost of tuition (Substitute) (H ED-54th) Evans-42nd

HB 704 South Fulton, City of; incorporate; provide charter (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-35th) Bruce-61st

HB 714 Labor; determination of eligibility for unemployment benefits of certain people performing certain services; provide changes (Substitute) (I&L-40th) Hamilton-24th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2) (Floor Amendment 3)

HB 749 Crimes and offenses; crime of cargo theft; provide (JUDYNC-6th) Duncan-26th

HB 753 Motor vehicles and traffic; federal regulatory requirements; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-7th) Powell-32nd (Floor Amendment)

HB 755 Ad valorem tax; revised definition of forest land fair market value; provisions (FIN-32nd) Powell-171st ENGROSSED

HB 757 Ad valorem tax; use of certain property for collection and conversion of solar energy shall not constitute breach of conservation use covenants; provide (FIN-6th) Powell-171st ENGROSSED

HB 761 Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; definition of annual required contribution; change references (RET-54th) Riley-50th

HB 772 Public assistance; drug testing for applicants for food stamps; require (Substitute) (H&HS-9th) Morris-156th ENGROSSED

HB 773 Crimes and offenses; discharging a gun or pistol near public highway or street; change provisions (Substitute) (JUDYNC-20th) Dickey-140th

HB 778 Food service establishments; certain nonprofit charitable entities from regulation; exempt (AG&CA-50th) Pezold-133rd

HB 783 Game and fish; provisions relating to rules and regulations used to establish criminal violations; update (NR&E-7th) Hitchens-161st

HB 816 Sales and use tax; change a certain definition (FIN-46th) Williamson-115th ENGROSSED

HB 819 Revenue and taxation; tax executions; modify certain provisions (Substitute) (FIN-56th) Martin-49th ENGROSSED

HB 820 Condominium associations; standing to participate in litigation under certain circumstances; clarify provisions (JUDY-17th) Powell-171st

HB 826 Crimes and offenses; carrying weapons within certain school safety zones and at school functions; change provisions (ED&Y-37th) Setzler-35th

HB 828 Insurance; solicitation, release, or sale of automobile accident information; prohibit (Substitute) (I&L-6th) Mabra-63rd

HB 829 Certified process servers; change sunset and legislative review provisions (JUDY-23rd) Willard-51st

HB 833 Urban Redevelopment Law; include blighted areas (Substitute) (SLGO(G)-46th) Jones-62nd

HB 834 Bonded debt; population Act provision relating to dates of bond elections; repeal (SLGO(G)-45th) Clark-101st

HB 842 Appeal and error; payment of costs and indigency affidavits; clarify provisions (Substitute) (JUDY-13th) Willard-51st

HB 877 Motor vehicles; local authorities ability to regulate use of personal transportation vehicles on roadways and designated paths and lanes; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-51st) Roberts-155th

HB 885 Medical cannabis; continuing research into benefits to treat certain conditions; provisions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Peake-141st

HB 891 Elections; period for advance voting prior to municipal primary or election; change (Substitute) (ETHICS-29th) Fleming-121st ENGROSSED

HB 897 Elementary and secondary education; update and clarify provisions; repeal obsolete provisions (Substitute) (ED&Y-37th) Dudgeon-25th (Floor Amendment 1)(Floor Amendment 2)(Floor Amendment 3)

HB 900 State sales and use tax; consumable supplies used in manufacturing; include (FIN-32nd) Harrell-106th ENGROSSED

HB 913 Community Health, Board of; persons having certain conflicts of interest from serving on board; prohibit (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Kelley-16th

HB 914 Social services; school personnel required to report child abuse shall be notified by child protective agency upon receipt of report and completion of investigation; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Wilkerson-38th

HB 920 Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act; enact (I&L-29th) Teasley-37th (Floor Amendment)

HB 930 General Assembly; adopt standards and instructions for Article V convention delegates; provisions (RULES-46th) Barr-103rd

HB 947 Labor and industrial relations; payment of wages by credit to prepaid debit card; provisions (I&L-25th) Clark-98th (Floor Amendment)

HB 954 Ad valorem tax; property; change definition of fair market value (Substitute) (FIN-9th) Harrell-106th ENGROSSED

HB 960 Local government; provide for use of surface transportation projects in urban redevelopment areas; provisions (Substitute) (TRANS-51st) Roberts-155th

HB 966 Pharmacies; licensed health practitioners prescribe opioid antagonists to certain individuals and entities pursuant to a protocol; provisions (Substitute) (H&HS-45th) Cooper-43rd

HB 1000 Revenue and taxation; setoff debt collection against state income tax refunds for debts owed to political subdivisions and courts; provisions (Substitute) (FIN-6th) Fleming-121st ENGROSSED

HB 1009 State sales and use tax; applicability of exemption to local sales and use tax cap for a county that levied a tax for purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation; extend date (TRANS-51st) Glanton-75th ENGROSSED

HB 1027- State government; certain processes and procedures affecting unemployment insurance; change (I&L-14th) Strickland-111th (Floor Amendment 1) (Floor Amendment 2)
HB 1078 Courts; juries and grand juries; provisions (Substitute) (JUDYNC-3rd) Kelley-16th

I Agree with Jay Bookman

And I’m sure he’s every bit as horrified as I am.

Yesterday, the Cook Political Report changed their rating of the Georgia Senate race from Lean Republican to Toss-Up. Note it was not Charlie Cook’s assessment, but that of Jennifer Duffy, but here’s what they say:

Michelle Nunn is proving to be perhaps the best Democratic challenger of the cycle. Republicans, meanwhile, are mired in a crowded primary that seems destined to produce a run off. As a result, Republicans won’t have a nominee until late July. Moreover, this may be the one race where the threat of nominating a candidate who is generally unelectable in a statewide general election is very real.

And what Jay Bookman had to say about it:

Personally, I’d leave it in the Lean Republican category. Given Georgia’s situation, “a candidate who is generally unelectable in a statewide general election” is a very small subset inhabited by just one person in that race, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. And maybe I’m giving Georgia Republicans too much credit, but I’ve been saying for a long time now that I just don’t think Broun is capable of winning the GOP nomination.

I’m also not sure what Cook is drawing upon to reach his conclusion about Nunn “proving to be perhaps the best Democratic challenger of the cycle.” Her fundraising has been impressive, but she hasn’t exactly kept a high profile and seems to be using her time in relative anonymity to hone the fine art of saying little.

I fielded a call from a reporter whose phone number starts with 202 about this issue, and have fielded a number of such calls recently. Here’s what I told her:

1. This “Georgia Republicans could nominate someone too conservative to win in the General Election” is something I am hearing exclusively from people with 202 area code phone numbers, not from people on the ground in Georgia.

2. Georgia Republicans have four candidates who have won elections at the Congressional or statewide level and a former Fortune 500 CEO. The Democrats have another community organizer who won’t even venture outside her protection zone. Reporters from the largest newspaper in the state can’t talk to her, she’s blowing off a Democratic group’s candidate forum tonight to raise money outside the public and media eyes, and they’re clearly afraid to let her out in public lest she might actually tell someone something of substance.

3. The Cook Report change comes on the heels of breaking news of… absolutely nothing. There has been no material change in the race, no gaffes by a Republican, no new campaign disclosures, no advertising by the Democratic candidate, and absolutely nothing of a magnitude that would change any sober assessment of the race.

The Cook Report change reflects one thing and one thing only: Washington Democratic political insiders talking to Washington media insiders, and those Washington media insiders talking to each other.

Sure the Democrats are doing better at that for the time being, as they have coalesced around one candidate and Republican haven’t.

Finally, here’s my assessment of the Nunn campaign so far: if your campaign is only interested in speaking to Washington political elites, Washington media insiders, and people who can pony up $500 per plate for a fundraiser, and you show zero interest in talking to the real Georgians you claim to want to represent, that focus will be noticed by Georgians and they will understand whose bidding you will do if elected.

The Final Countdown

Here’s some of what the AJC’s Kyle Wingfield will be watching today:

  • The Senate last night somewhat watered down the remaining gun bill, HB 60, ostensibly setting up a conference-committee fight with the House. According to polling I keep hearing about from Republicans nervous about the bill, GOP lawmakers are pressing forward with this measure despite significant opposition from Georgians, especially female voters. If they are going to pass it, the opt-in provision for churches strikes me as the best way forward. As an elder at my church, I would almost always prefer to have the choice to make a change, rather than to have a change forced upon us that requires an action on our part if we disagree with it. That’s more in keeping with the spirit of local control and private property rights.
  • As of last night, the latest I had heard about the so-called foster care privatization bill — it’s really more of a measure to establish more public-private partnerships in a host of child welfare services, but that’s a lot more to say (or type) — was that there may be a deal between the House and Senate to go the route of the three-year, limited-scale pilot program model.
  • The last bill sought by business groups (not including industry- or even company-specific tax breaks) probably joined the rest of their bills in the legislative graveyard last night. The so-called e-discovery bill, which would have regulated requests of electronic documents in legal proceedings, got more “yes” votes than “noes” but didn’t garner a majority. It appears to be dead for the session.
  • The Haleigh’s Hope Act, better known as the medical marijuana bill, was to be stripped down drastically so that it would decriminalize possession of cannabis oil for parents whose children suffer from extreme seizures, and do little more.

Aaron Gould Sheinin and a colleague at the AJC write:

Among the biggest is House Bill 60, which would be one of the broadest expansions of gun rights in the state’s recent history. The Senate made changes and sent the bill back to the House just before midnight Tuesday, seemingly aiming to provoke a conference committee in which three members from each chamber would try to negotiate a final compromise.

“Is this not an example of the upper chamber leading?” asked Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton, R-Macon. “Not name-calling … but working together” to make the bill better?

The only public agreement the chambers have come to on the bill has been to nix the House’s efforts to allow guns on the state’s college campuses. The House has also softened its stance on forcing local authorities to allow weapons into “nonsecure” government buildings, although the Senate is pushing for more local control on the issue.

Jon Gillooly at the Marietta Daily Journal writes about the gun bill:

HB 60, which the Senate voted to approve Tuesday, would grant churches the right to decide whether they want people carrying guns on church property. Under current law, guns are prohibited in churches, even if the church leaders are OK with congregants toting guns in the sanctuary.


Bar owners already have the right to allow gun carriers in bars with the consent of the property owner. HB 60 would lift that restriction and allow customers to carry guns in bars whether the property owners agree or not.


The bill also allows school boards to designate staff members other than police officers to carry guns in K-12 schools.


State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna), who voted for the bill, described the section concerning schools.


“It says, ‘Hey, if you don’t have the resources to pay somebody 60 to 80 grand a year to protect your schools then y’all can delegate members of your team that have a legal permit to carry while they are conducting their school duties in an effort to be the first line of defense if there is a nut job that wants to come and shoot our school children and not have to wait the 5 minutes or 10 minutes for the local SWAT team to get there,’” Hill said. “There’s somebody there that can react.”


Another change the bill would make concerns people who mistakenly bring a gun to the airport.


Under HB 60, [such a person] would not [go] to jail, Hill said.


“He would get reprimanded there, but when he’s shown to have his legal permit he would be able to leave to go back to his car to put it in his car,” Hill said. “In other words, the system worked, we caught you, we know you didn’t have malicious intent, or at least we didn’t think you did, you’re a law-abiding citizen and you have a legal permit to carry the weapon, but obviously we’re not going to let you carry this on the plane in a carry-on bag, but we’re also not going to throw you in jail, so it just adds a little common sense to the program and it’s a good measure.”


The House now has the option to approve the bill, at which point it heads to Gov. Deal for his signature or it could go to a conference committee where three senators and three House members would hammer out a consensus bill.


Snellville Still Crazy After All These Years

If cities had walkon music, this is what I would choose for Snellville.

Mayor Kelly Kautz gets something different that turns the crazy up to 11.

The Court of Appeals should have ordered those songs played when the litigants entered for the lawsuit between Mayor Kelly Kautz and the Snellville City Council. There may be more courtroom opportunities ahead.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz does not have the power to fire the city’s attorney. The decision confirmed a local judgment passed down 12 months and several contentious scandals ago.


In a split 4-3 decision, the state appeals court agreed with Gwinnett County Judge Timothy Hamil, who reversed Kautz’s termination of city attorney Tony Powell during a March 19, 2013, hearing. Kautz has contended that because the city’s charter grants her the authority to appoint a city attorney, it also affords her the sole ability to fire one.

The court disagreed, saying Snellville’s charter gives the city council any governmental powers not expressly granted.


“… (There) is no gap in the allocation of power in the charter from which an implied power could arise” for the mayor, Wednesday’s ruling said.


Three dissenting judges, though, sided with Kautz. They argued that the court’s majority decision created a “stalemate scenario” in which the city council could essentially nullify any power the mayor has to appoint an attorney.


Since Kautz was elected in 2010, Powell has been hired, let go and rehired twice. The ongoing city attorney fiasco is just one of several that Snellville’s government has embroiled itself in over the same time period.


Kautz is currently suing the city council, city manager Butch Sanders and city clerk Melisa Arnold. The suit, filed in January, includes temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions against all seven and alleges that, among other things, they conducted illegal meetings and used her signature on city documents.

Talk about ten pounds of crazy in a five pound sack.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 20, 2014


Spike Lee is an American Staffordshire Terrier who was found in January 2012 skinny, malnourished, and in poor condition. Today, he is a big healthy love bug who gets along with cats, dogs, and everyone he meets. He loves car rides, naps in the son, and snuggling with people. He is crate-trained, house-trained, and walks well on a leash. Spike Lee is available for adoption from Soul Saver Rescue in Columbus, Ga.



Holly is a small, 23-pound female, about 1-2 years old, who was dumped out in the cold with her three puppies. She loves everyone…kids, dogs, cats…she is so gentle and craves affection. She is house broken, and has exceptionally good manners. Holly is available for adoption from Street Paws, Inc. in McDonough, Ga.

Hunter Yellow Lab

Hunter is a young, male Yellow Lab, and like young males of any species, he has been a handful in his foster home. He was brought into rescue from a craigslist ad in which his first owners kept him tied up in the yard and were ready to have him euthanized….at five months of age. Hunter is safe now, but is looking for a forever home that is devoted to giving him the love, training, and guidance it takes to become a great inside dog. Hunter is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue.

We wrote a little bit yesterday about having a competition to determine what dog breed should be recognized as Georgia’s official state dog, and here are two comments I received that I want to share with you.

One reader wrote, “considering their sheer numbers, the Pit Bull really is the state dog whether people like it or not!” and I agree with the sentiment. People don’t adopt dogs labeled pit bulls from shelters, yet irresponsible owners let them breed enough that there is a steady supply of them and the overwhelming majority end up being killed in shelters at taxpayer expense. I can think of few more tragic examples of humankind’s failure to be good stewards of one of God’s greatest and most precious gifts.

Another reader suggested that the official state dog should be “any adoptable dog.”

Remember Bill Murray in STRIPES?  Americans are the mutts of the world because we got kicked out of every decent country?  Who didn’t cry at the end of Old Yeller?
And Georgia was basically a penal colony when you get right down to it.
This is a good fit.
What do you think should be Georgia’s official state dog? Email me and let me know your thoughts.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Gun bill could get green light

ATLANTA — The House will consider green-lighting a gun-rights bill today that eases restrictions on firearms at churches, bars, public schools and airports.

Today is the final day of the 2014 legislative session.

HB 60, which the Senate voted to approve Tuesday, would grant churches the right to decide whether they want people carrying guns on church property. Under current law, guns are prohibited in churches, even if the church leaders are OK with congregants toting guns in the sanctuary.

Bar owners already have the right to allow gun carriers in bars with the consent of the property owner. HB 60 would lift that restriction and allow customers to carry guns in bars whether the property owners agree or not.

The bill also allows school boards to designate staff members other than police officers to carry guns in K-12 schools.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Gun bill could get green light.

The Marietta Daily Journal – Lee touts fractional SPLOST

ATLANTA — Fearing the fractional SPLOST legislation he’s wanted for the last few years was at risk of not passing again this session, county Chairman Tim Lee paid a visit to the Capitol on Tuesday to make some noise.

At issue is a bill by state Rep. John Carson (R-northeast Cobb) that would allow counties and cities to collect a sales tax of less than 1 cent per dollar spent.

The House passed HB 153 after a revote earlier in the session and the Senate approved it last week with an amendment by the Senate Finance Committee chaired by state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb). That amendment would allow for multiple special purpose local option sales taxes to be levied at the same time, provided they add up to no more than 1 percent.

But when the Senate’s amended version returned to the House, Carson objected.

Lee said since resistance to the fractional SPLOST option was strongest in the House, Carson didn’t want to risk another vote in that chamber.

“I think Carson, the first time he brought it forward it lost in the House and he had to get it reconsidered and voted on again,” Lee said. “He just didn’t want to take the chance of going back for another vote. I don’t think he really cared about the amendment, the process was just going to be challenging for him.”

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Lee touts fractional SPLOST.