Sen. Mike Dugan: Update from the Capitol

17
Mar

Sen. Mike Dugan: Update from the Capitol

Your Georgia Desk:

DUGAN: Update from the Capitol

By: Sen. Mike Dugan (R- Carrollton)

The pace is continuing to move quickly as we completed the 37th day of the legislative session on Thursday, March 13th.  The 40th day, also referred to as Sine Die, will be on Thursday, March 20th, until then we will continue to pass legislation and work on the balanced budget late into the night.

As the local media continues to shine light on the happenings with the Douglas County Board of Education, I would just like to give an update on the status of this bill.  The bill was heard in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee on Tuesday and was sent to the Rules Committee.  I will continue to advocate for the advancement of this bill at the request of the board members and a vast majority of the local delegation.  This initiative is a responsible and timely measure that will simply align our board of education members’ salaries with other members throughout the state.

The House and Senate remain in a conference committee to iron out details of the Fiscal Year ’15 budget.  The mandated, balanced budget will be voted on next week before or on Day 40.  I will continue to update you on the changes and highlight line items that affect our district.

Tuesday I carried House Bill 911 in the Senate.  I was shocked to learn that strangulation is currently not considered aggravated assault in our Georgia Code.  With the passage of HB 911, strangulation will now be added to the list of acts considered under aggravated assault.  The bill passed 50-0 and is now in the Governor’s office awaiting his signature.

I was also proud to get three more bills out of committee this week and into the Rules Committee in their respective chambers:

HB 449 limits the release of the audio portion of 911 calls in which the person calling in dies during the call. The families of the victims recorded on the calls are suffering enough without having to listen to their loved ones final words being played repeatedly over the airwaves.

SB 262 was originally introduced last session and finally made its way through all of the required committees. Affectionately called the “ROTC  bill”, this piece of legislation would allow legislators to make sponsor eligible students to enroll in their university of choice if they are also enrolled in that schools ROTC program.

SB 283, more commonly known as the “Merry Christmas bill”, was unanimously voted out of the House Committee for Education and will be formerly requested in the House Rules on Tuesday morning.

In a move to reduce yet another tax, the Georgia General Assembly passed a measure that repeals the Georgia estate tax. House Bill 658 will end the Georgia estate tax, more commonly known as the “death tax,” and any requirements for related estate tax returns on July 1, 2014. Currently in Georgia, any property or assets transferred to others at the time of death is taxed on the fair market values of the item or property. The bill will not affect tax, penalty, interest liabilities or refund eligibility for taxable years prior to the sunset date. The death tax is one of Georgia’s most despised taxes and places a significant burden on the families of the deceased. The passage of this legislation further reiterates the Georgia General Assembly’s ongoing commitment to the taxpayers of this state.

Other notable bills receiving a Senate vote this week include:

HB 770 establishes the crimes of home invasion in the first and second degree in both the criminal and juvenile code. Under this legislation, both offenses may be designated and punished as felonies.

HB 153 authorizes local governments to propose Special Option Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST) of less than one cent. This fractional penny SPLOST will not apply to education local option sales taxes.

HB 777 enacts the Interstate Boating Violator Compact, an agreement between states that allows the home state to treat a boating conviction of one of its residents in another state as if the conviction had occurred in the home state.

HB 958 includes the extension and revision of certain entertainment tax credits, food donation tax exemptions and back to school sales tax holidays.

The General Assembly will convene again on Tuesday, March 18 for Day 39 of the 2014 Legislative Session.  Although we are near the end of the legislative session, I look forward to seeing many of you at the State Capitol and encourage you to reach out to me with any issues that you feel should be of importance to your elected officials.  As always, it is a pleasure to serve the 30th Senate District. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 404.656.0036 or via email at mike.dugan@senate.ga.gov.

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