The Georgia General Assembly has completed 28 of the 40 days in the 2013 Legislative Session. We are quickly approaching the 30th day, otherwise known as Crossover Day, and Senate committees remain busy moving legislation. Crossover Day is the final day a piece of legislation can cross from one Chamber to the next. If a Senate Bill does not pass the Senate at the end of the 30th day, it is dead for the current session, though it may go through the legislative process again during the next session. Our primary goal remains to pass legislation that promotes growth, safety and development within our state.
Last Friday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 136, also known as the “Kile Glover Boat Education Law” and “Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law.” If passed into law, this legislation will reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 and increases the penalties for hunting or boating while under the influence. Senate Bill 136 requires individuals to complete a boating education course prior to operating personal watercraft.
The Senate also passed HB 266 to update Georgia’s IRS code and clarify measures from 2012’s tax reform overhaul, by a vote of 41 to 7. The bill was amended from its original version to reconcile any unintended financial repercussions from last year’s comprehensive tax reform package. As passed by the Senate, HB 266 will offer a $179 million tax cut over a four-year period and prevent a considerable tax hike on Georgia taxpayers. I applaud the passage of HB 266 and the Senate’s efforts to work together towards a comprehensive solution.
In a move to keep revenue within our state lines, I recently sponsored Senate Bill 229, which would allow for the possession and transportation of consumer fireworks in Georgia. Fireworks are a product used throughout the state each year; however, Georgians must cross state lines in order to purchase them. The revenues produced by fireworks have been on an upward trend in the United States since the 1990’s, culminating in total revenue of $967 million in 2011. Local governing bodies will be allowed to approve the sale of consumer fireworks and all revenue from firework sales will be allocated equally to the Georgia Trauma Commission and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council.
The Senate also recently passed its version of the FY2013 Amended budget, bringing us one step closer to fulfilling our constitutional obligation to balance the state budget. The Senate has recommended an amended budget of $19.3 billion in total state funds. Since the House version of the bill includes line items different from the original bill, members from both chambers will now determine a mutually agreed-upon bill in conference committee.
During the week of February 25 through March 1, the Senate passed several important pieces of legislation:
SB 61 would allow procedural standardization within the self-storage industry. Specifically, SB 61 would change the due date for monthly rental payments and standardize the placement of notifications of sale.
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.
SB 72 standardizes the interest rate for tax refunds and past due taxes and would help establish a standard rate on taxes owed from the local to the federal level. This legislation sets the annual interest rate due on unpaid refunds and interest owed on delinquent taxes at 7 percent annual.
SB 120 would allow for a probate court judge in a county with no state court to request the district attorney to prosecute criminal cases. This would also authorize a county with no state court to create the office of and hire a prosecuting attorney of the probate court if the district attorney cannot assist the probate court.
SB 103 would allow the Technical College System of Georgia to approve requests for community colleges. In order to be named a community or technical college by the Board, an institution must grant associate’s degrees.
SB 115 would change the way performance data of juvenile justice detainees is counted. Under current law, minors who are within the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice have their performance data included within the school system where the facility in which they are housed is physically located.
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 $50.00.
SB 10 would require registered professional nurses to meet continuing competency requirements as a condition of license renewal, beginning with the 2016 license renewal cycle.
SB 122 would authorize the issuance of a temporary driving permit or identification card to a noncitizen applicant whose Georgia’s driver’s license or identification card has expired, or will expire, and who has also filed a request for an extension to remain lawfully within the United States.
HB 57 would revise the Georgia Code to expand the definition of Schedule I controlled substances. The revisions specifically target compounds used to manufacture synthetic marijuana.
The Senate still has plenty of work to do. However, our state has the leadership and motivation to navigate through challenging times and prosper years to come. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House to pass meaningful laws that propel Georgia to the most prosperous state in the nation.
For more information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly website at