Georgia Legislative Report | House District 160
February 22, 2015

The 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly will reach the halfway point on Monday, Feb. 23, the 20th legislative day of the session. 

 

Please feel free to contact me throughout the session with your thoughts on pending issues, or whenever I can be of service. My legislative office is located at 401-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; phone 404-656-7855 or email jan.tankersley@house.ga.gov.

 

For more information, please visit my new website at www.jantankersley.com.  

 

Jan Tankersley
State Representative

Scenes from the State Capitol
Rep. Tankersley and Speaker David Ralston thank Emily and John Beasley for their service as pages in the House of Representatives.  
Rep. Tankersley at work on the House floor with fellow Rep. Earl Ehrhart.

Georgia State Capitol

Amended FY 2015 budget finalized

 

The House and Senate have reached final agreement on midyear amendments to the state budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30. As adjusted, the $21.1 billion total budget for fiscal year 2015 now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

 

Additional funding in HB 75, the supplemental budget legislation, includes $126 million to local school districts to account for enrollment growth; $49.5 million for increases in Medicaid reimbursements; $40 million for economic development grants; $35 million for expanded Internet connectivity in the public schools; $6.2 million for 103 new child welfare case workers; $4.9 million for medical cannabis trials at Georgia Regents University; $648,000 to establish the Georgia Film Academy to expand the potential workforce for the state's growing film industry; and $203,000 for a charter school to help prison inmates earn high school diplomas.

 

HB 75 also includes language calling for the Department of Community Health to study ways to continue providing health insurance coverage for part-time school employees, including bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Legislative budget writers now turn their full attention to the proposed $21.8 annual budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1.

 

Legislation clears way for Port of Savannah funding

 

The House and Senate have approved legislation that would remove a potential legal barrier to Georgia's ability to receive federal funds for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor, which is seen as a vital project for the state's economic future.

 

SB 5 would authorize the Georgia Ports Authority to legally indemnify the federal government when it distributes its $430 million share of the $700 million project, which is aimed at increasing the number of products shipped to and from Georgia businesses via the Savannah port.

 

The project, which began last month and is scheduled for completion in 2020, will deepen the Savannah River by five feet to allow the port to accommodate larger container ships. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

 

House members also approved and sent to the Senate:

  • HB 47, which would authorize certain prescription drug refills of topical ophthalmic products under certain conditions.
  • HB 52, which would change provisions in the state's child custody law to require parenting plans to be incorporated into final custody orders.
  • HB 100, which would change the enrollment age eligibility date for school children from Sept. 1 to Aug. 1 for the 2017-2018 school year and July 1 starting in 2018-2019. Students would have to be 5 years old by those dates in order to enroll in kindergarten.
  • HB 119, which would allow a probate judge who has signed an "order to apprehend" an ill or suicidal person to disclose to law enforcement officers if that person has HIV or AIDS.
  • HB 160, which would allow the trapping of raccoons in eight Georgia counties where the practice is currently prohibited.
  • HB 162, which would which would provide for insurance compliance self-evaluative privilege to protect the confidentiality of communications in order to encourage insurance companies to conduct voluntary audits.
  • HB 172, which would amend Georgia's "boating under the influence" law so that it would not apply to a person on a homemade or inflatable raft.
  • HB 198, which would require annual suicide prevention education training for certified school system personnel. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Transportation Funding Act awaits House action

 

House members are continuing to work on legislation that would provide additional revenue to be used for infrastructure maintenance and improvements in Georgia's transportation system.

 

HB 170 would be the House's response to the report of a special Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding, which concluded that Georgia needs a minimum of $1 billion to maintain the state's existing roads, bridges, air and transit system infrastructure.

 

The package that emerged from the House Transportation Committee includes the following provisions:
  • The act will convert the current 7.5 cents-per-gallon state excise tax on gasoline, which when combined with sales tax amounts to a total of about 27 cents per gallon, to a consolidated excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon, with no sales tax added. The excise tax would be indexed to account for increases in vehicles' gas mileage to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAF) standards as well as Construction Price Index (CPI) and adjusted annually. This provides a reliable, predictable funding source dedicated to transportation.
  • Converting the sales tax on motor fuel to an excise tax adjusts Georgia's participation in, and advantage of, the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).
  • Converting to an excise tax dedicated to transportation will move the "fourth penny"revenue previously collected on motor fuel from the state's general fund to funding for transportation needs.    
  • Any local sales taxes on motor fuel currently authorized by the voters will be honored. Future SPLOST and E-SPLOSTs could continue to be levied on gasoline if reauthorized by voters, but diesel fuel will be exempted to ensure truckers can deduct the entire excise-only tax on diesel fuel. Such local sales tax revenue would have to be dedicated to transportation purposes. Other local sales taxes could no longer be collected on motor fuel, but the maximum rate will be increased to 1.25% to compensate for the lost tax base. As a reminder, this provision replaces the local 6-cent excise tax on motor fuel option which is no longer a part of this package.
  • Alternative fueled vehicles will pay a user fee of $200 for non-commercial and $300 for commercial vehicles each year. As these vehicles do not use gasoline, their owners do not currently pay their share of taxes devoted to the maintenance of the roads they use. This fee will not be imposed on hybrid vehicles which require purchase of gasoline.
  • Eliminate the state tax credit for the purchase of alternative fueled vehicles.
  • The Transportation Infrastructure Bank will be directed to assist tier 1 and tier 2 counties and encourage investment in every region of our state.
  • In addition to HB 170, the following items are proposed to be included in the FY 2016 state budget:
    • A significant bond package will provide for critical transportation needs including transit. This is a prudent way to provide more immediate funding for our transportation needs while leveraging the state's high credit-rating to borrow at little cost to the state.
    • Increase funding for Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants (LMIG).
    • Recapitalize the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank so that a revolving, self-sustaining, loan/grant fund is created to incentivize governments, authorities, CIDs and other entities to provide matching funds for local construction of projects.

This bill continues to be a work in progress, and we are continuing to work with those who have concerns about this legislation.

 

Rep. Tankersley's Legislation
Recent action on legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Jan Tankersley:

HB 312 Tobacco products; manufacturers and importers; remove certain bonding requirements (under consideration in House Ways & Means Committee)

HB 314 Professions and businesses; State Board of Barbers and State Board of Cosmetology; combine (under consideration in House Regulated Industries Committee)

HR 421 Georgia Grown Trail; 301; dedicate (referred to House Transportation Committee)

Click here for all of Rep. Tankersley's 2015-2016 legislation.

Contact Rep. Tankersley
At the Capitol: 401-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334

In the District:
P.O. Box 187, Brooklet, GA 30415

Phone:
404-656-7855