Update from the State Capitol
By: Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga)
The Georgia General Assembly is preparing for Crossover Day next Thursday, March 7th. This is a significant day as it is the last day legislation can transfer between the House and Senate. After this point, the Upper and Lower Chambers will work closely to send legislation to the Governor’s desk. Already legislators from both chambers are working in a conference committee to merge the Senate and House versions of the supplemental budget that runs through June 30th.
Looking ahead, there are 12 bills on the Rules Calendar for Monday, the most since the start of the 2013 Legislative Calendar. I look forward to presenting Senate Bill 96 and Senate Bill 194. SB 96 would allow part-time assistants and solicitors-generals to practice law in their State Court with the some exceptions, and SB 194 specifies people can restore and utilize barns erected prior to 1965 that previously promoted Georgia tourist destinations.
This week, the Senate passed House Bill 57 to expand the definition of Schedule I controlled substances. The revisions specifically target compounds used to manufacture synthetic marijuana, and it is in response to manufacturers who changed the chemical make-up of synthetic marijuana after SB 370 became law in 2012. Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 57 into law to provide stronger public safety in our communities on Tuesday, February 26.
The Senate also passed out HB 266, which would update Georgia’s IRS code and clarify measures from 2012’s tax reform overhaul. It would offer a $179 million tax cut over a four-year period and prevent a considerable tax hike on Georgia taxpayers. Part of the update is the gradual elimination of the annual ad valorem tax on vehicles and transitioning to a one-time title fee on new vehicle purchases. The Senate cleaned-up the car title fee by removing the monthly sales and use tax off leases. Furthermore, the bill reduces the title tax rates on rental cars and cars sold by self-financing car dealerships who often sell inventory numerous times. The Senate version of HB 266 would also ensures any region that voted in support of TSPLOST will be exempt from paying the additional penny on car purchases. The Senate immediately transferred HB 266 back to the House after approving it.
Several of pieces of legislation I sponsored passed this week in the Senate and are now traveling to the House of Representatives.
SB 136, also known as The “Kile Glover Boat Education Act” and “Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law,” would reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 for hunting or boating while under the influence. It also increases the penalties for boating while under the influence and requires certain individuals to complete a boating education course prior to operation of a vessel.
SB 68 would Celebrate Freedom Week the week of September 17th in Georgia’s Public Schools. During this week, students would be required to receive at least three hours of instruction regarding our nation’s founding principles.
SB 70 would change the types of projects eligible for design build contracts and procurement processes by allowing bids from the private sector. Additionally, the design bill would allow Georgia to choose bids which are of the best value, not just the lowest priced. For example, the state of Georgia would be able to choose a bid which was more costly up front—but less expensive overall—rather than being required to choose the bid that was less expensive up front.
SB 82 would change all references of North Georgia College to University of North Georgia and would designate the University of North Georgia as the senior military college of Georgia.
SB 139 would allow lenders and sellers to charge closing fees on money advances or credit extensions up to 4 percent of the loan or contract but not more than $50. This legislation only applies to certain industrial loans, retail installment and home solicitation sales contracts, motor vehicle financing contracts, and insurance premium finance agreements.
SB 140 would allow certain auto services and repairs to be offered as an extended warranty and, therefore, as a form of property insurance.
I also honored several distinguished guests in the State Senate this week, including: Minister for Canal Affairs and President of the Board of Directors of Panama Canal Authority Roberto Roy, Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Director of Public Affairs John Bankhead and the Gordon Lee Memorial High School Lady Trojan softball team. In addition, I recognized several participants of the Capitol Art Exhibit, an annual show hosted by the Georgia Art Educators Association where each member teacher submits the work of two to of their students for show. These artists include Ana Paula Garcia, Mikayla Carrington, Hunter Chadwick, Zoe Pace and Artist Anna Valle.
Overall, there have been 244 bills filed in the Secretary of the Senate’s office since last November. As we approach the last hours before Crossover Day, all filed legislation will have gone through the committee and legislative processes in order to reshape public policy. To not get lost in the inundation of bills, please track them online here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx.
If you have any questions about the legislative process, please feel free to contact my office at any time. It is an honor to serve the 53rd District at the State Capitol!