AFP GA 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up – By Virginia Galloway

April 02, 2013

You win some, you lose some, but sometimes you can’t help but think that the collective energy of our GA Legislature was misdirected. While GA fights about who is a lobbyist and if a $0 cap or $100 cap on lobbyist-paid meals is better, fourteen other states are digging into state tax reform. Here’s hoping GA will get serious about comprehensive tax reform and have something great to pass by early next session. Now for a rundown of bills we followed in the 2013 session. Thank you for using our action alert system to contact your Representative or Senator on some of these bills. We had nearly 3,000 actions taken on just one – the Common Core Standards repeal – of nearly a dozen that were issued!

Bills that passed:

HB 140 Tuition Tax Credit got rolled into a general education bill, HB 382, and passed. The Student Scholarship Organization portion of the bill tightened up some reporting requirements and scholarship distribution rules, as well as increasing the cap on the tax credit from $52.8 million to 58 million. AFPGA supported raising the cap.

HB 142 Ethics Reform Some of the worst provisions of the original House proposal were dropped (making citizen lobbyists register, for instance,) and a cap on lobbyist to lawmaker meals and other expenses of $75 was imposed.

HB 361 Paycheck Protection bill was amended and passed. The purpose was to reassert the employees right to a secret ballot for unionization efforts (as opposed to card check) and to reassert their right to leave the union membership and stop paying dues at any time.

HB 362 was rolled into SB 179 and passed. It restricted state and local entities from entering into PLA’s (Project Labor Agreements) that excluded non-union contractors from bidding on public works projects.

These bills didn’t get a vote, but may be back under consideration next year:
HB 1 Civil Forfeiture Act – AFPGA supported this bill, which protected the property rights of innocent parties and increased the burden of debt for taking someone’s belongings. Sheriffs opposed, but look how much of their budget comes from seizing assets.

HB 153 & SB 99, both Fractional Splost bills that allowed counties to have SPLOST taxes that were less than 1%, didn’t come to a vote. Either would have allowed for a less ambitious project list because they wouldn’t be stretching to spend all the money raised by a full penny SPLOST.

HB 159 Property Tax cleanup bill, would have forced counties and cities to take other non-tax related charges off the property tax bills. AFPGA supported.

HB 176 Cell Tower bill, didn’t come to a vote. It would have expedited approval for cell towers, by putting time limits on local entities for decisions.

SB 167 Common Core bill, would reject Common Core standards for GA schools. AFPGA supported.

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