April 1, 2015

Last night ran late for both House and Senate.  The House session ended around 11:00 and the Senate completed their business close to midnight.  Both chambers gave final passage to the FY 2016 budget and the transportation funding bill before adjourning for the night.  Those measures now go to Governor Deal for his signature.  The General Assembly will reconvene tomorrow for Day 40, the final legislative day for the 2015 session.

The conference committee report on the $21.82 billion FY 2016 budget includes an increase of $900 million in overall spending with almost $500 million of that increase for education spending. There is also a salary increase for judges and the addition of three more Court of Appeals judges. The $1.1 billion bond package includes $75 million for transit and $100 million for road and bridge repair.


The conference committee report on the transportation funding bill (HB 170) is projected to raise almost $900 million annually.  This bill calls for removal of all state sales taxes on motor fuel and an increase in the excise tax to 26¢ per gallon on gasoline and 29¢ per gallon on diesel.  The excise tax will be indexed for the first two years to rise with inflation and then to increases in federal mileage standards.  Other provisions in the bill include a $200 annual fee for drivers of electric vehicles and $300 annual fee for commercial electric vehicles, an annual impact fee for heavy trucks of $50 or $100 depending on the weight, removal of the jet fuel sales tax exemption, and removal of the $5,000 tax credit for purchase of electric vehicles. Also in this final version, a statewide $5 per day hotel-motel tax will be imposed on all rentals except extended stays of 30 days or more.  Counties will be able to impose a local sales tax on motor fuel of up to 1% in fractional increments of .05%.


Many of the big issues were voted on yesterday:  transportation funding, budget, fireworks sales in Ga., salary increases for the state judges in Superior, Appeals and Supreme Courts, initial two-year vehicle registration option, update for civil forfeiture procedures, tax credits for the video gaming industry, safe harbor for sexually exploited children, and insurance coverage for children with autism.  However, some of those issues must be agreed to by the House and Senate tomorrow and there are still legislative issues that can receive attention: “religious freedom,” cityhood bills for Tucker, LaVista Hills, and South Fulton, and some recommendations from the Criminal Justice Reform Council.


The Senate passed almost 50 bills which were just over half the bills on their calendar.  The remaining calendar bills were tabled and can be acted upon tomorrow.  The House didn’t have as many bills on their calendar, but they spent a lot of time agreeing or disagreeing to bills that were returned to them with Senate changes.  The bills that were agreed to will now be sent to Governor Deal.


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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