February 20, 2015

Action at the Capitol started slowly this week.  The General Assembly had already scheduled a recess day on Monday, then Governor Deal called for the Capitol to be closed due to potential icing on the roads and it became a day off for staff due to inclement weather.  The legislature has now completed 19 legislative days and is nearly at the halfway point in the 40-day session.  They will reconvene on Monday, Feb. 23, for another four-day week.

 

Most of the activity this week was in committee and subcommittee meetings.  The House Appropriations subcommittees were busy working on the FY 2016 budget, the House Transportation committee passed the transportation funding bill, and the House Regulated Industries committee held a lengthy hearing on legislation to regulate ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft (HB 224).  On Thursday, the amended FY 2015 budget achieved final passage upon the agreement between the House and Senate and was sent to Governor Deal for his signature.

 

The committee substitute for the transportation funding bill (HB 170CS) was overwhelmingly approved by the House Transportation committee on Wednesday.  Several provisions in the bill remain unchanged:  the state sales tax on motor fuel would be replaced with an excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon that is indexed to increase with the inflation rate and fuel efficiency standards, an annual registration fee would be charged to owners of electric vehicles, and the state’s $5000 tax credit for electric car purchases would be eliminated.   In the original bill, local governments would have been allowed to charge a 3-cent per gallon excise tax and an extra excise tax of up to 3-cents per gallon if voters approved it.  The committee substitute did away with the local excise taxes and allows local governments to continue using local option sales taxes to fund specific projects, but the portion of local option sales taxes that are collected on fuel must be spent on transportation projects.  Two taxes that could no longer be collected on motor fuel sales are local option sales taxes used to rollback property taxes and Atlanta sales tax for water and sewer repair.  Instead, the rates for those two taxes would increase from 1% to 1.25%.  We anticipate there may be a House vote on this bill next week.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need information on any legislative issue. All bills can be found on the state’s site, and live action can be watched in the House and Senate chambers when they are in session.

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