The Georgia General Assembly is officially halfway through with the 2016 legislative session and just 10 legislative days away from a significant deadline: Crossover Day. The 30th legislative day, or Crossover Day, is the last day for Senate bills to be carried to the House for consideration, and vice versa. The Senate will dedicate the next few weeks to improving and vetting bills before they go before the entire General Assembly for approval.

The Senate has approved its version of the amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget. One of the most important duties for state legislators is to not only pass a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but to also to amend the previous year’s budget. This is done to account for any changes in revenue or spending. The Senate version of HB 750 strengthens the FY 2016 budget by adding an additional $1.16 billion, bringing the total budget to around $23 billion. Most of this additional funding will be directed at efforts to increase maintenance of Georgia roads and towards new highway projects. I am proud to say the Senate passed this legislation with common sense conservative ideals in mind, and I expect any differences with the House’s version of HB 750 to be negotiated without difficulty.

House Bill 742 also received Senate approval last week. HB 742 updates Georgia’s income tax code to match that of the 2016 federal definition. The bill also changes the filing deadline for businesses from March to April, excepting only S – Corporations. Both of these initiatives are aimed at reducing the burden on individuals and businesses by simplifying our tax code and ensuring a consistent system for filing taxes. This bill is a win for small businesses as the tax filing process is often cumbersome for small businesses.

I welcomed quite a few guests to the Senate chamber last week, but I was especially proud to welcome Cpl. Nicholas Terry and Patrol Officer Dusty Coker. These two men went above and beyond the call of duty to save a man who was unconscious in his kitchen when his house caught on fire. I was honored to recognize their efforts with Senate Resolution 837.
Although there is a still lot of work to be done this legislative session, I want you to know I am never too busy to answer your questions or hear your concerns about proposed legislation. As always, it is an honor and a privilege to represent Senate District 53 at the Georgia State Capitol.