News from Sen. Horacena Tate
June 1, 2015
Sen. Horacena Tate

This newsletter includes a comprehensive wrap-up of the major legislation approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives during the recently completed 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly and sent to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. 


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Sen. Horacena Tate

Sen. Horacena Tate and fellow legislators look on as Gov. Nathan Deal signs HB 1 into law, authorizing the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of certain conditions, including Sickle Cell disease. Sen. Tate serves on the board of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia Inc. and strongly supported having Sickle Cell disease included in the conditions specified for treatment by the legislation.

Georgia State Capitol Key legislation approved by Senate and House during 2015 session:


Post-secondary High School Diploma
SB 2, authorizing local boards of education to award a high school diploma to a student who completes certain requirements relating to post-secondary coursework. The Technical College System of Georgia will work with the State Board of Education to perform an annual evaluation of workforce shortages, and create training programs in those specific areas.

Opportunity School District
 SR 287 and SB 133, calling for a constitutional amendment for the creation of an Opportunity School District, through which the state would intervene in the operation of Georgia schools that consistently fail to meet certain performance standards.

Under the legislation, initiated by Gov. Nathan Deal, failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 for three years in a row on the College and Career Performance Index, which is Georgia's current rating system for school performance.

The Governor would have the authority to appoint a Superintendent of the Opportunity School District, subject to the Senate's confirmation. Four intervention models are outlined in the legislation, allowing the district to directly manage the schools, close them, partner with local school districts to run them or convert them into charter schools. I voted against this amendment because it consolidates too much power in the Governor's Office and essentially eliminates local control in the operation of our schools. As a constitutional amendment, SR 287 still must be approved by the voters in 2016.    


Reporting of Speeding Fines
SB 134, requiring all speeding fine amounts to be calculated to determine whether a law enforcement agency is using speed detection devices to raise revenue.

Child Welfare System Reform
SB 138, creating a Division of Family & Children Services state advisory board, regional advisory boards and county advisory boards. These boards will create one common protocol for all DFCS agencies to follow, including how they share data.

Medical Cannabis
 HB 1, authorizing the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions in Georgia. 
The legislation legalizes the use of cannabis oil consisting of no more than 5 percent THC would be authorized for the treatment of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head trauma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson's disease and Sickle Cell disease.

"Todd Gurley Bill'
HB 3, prohibiting any person from soliciting a student-athlete in a transaction that causes the student to lose athletic scholarship eligibility, or the ability to participate on an intercollegiate team in one or more intercollegiate sporting competitions. Any person found violating these provisions will be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

Official State Mammal
 HB 70, making the white-tailed deer the official state mammal. The proposal originated as a project by first-grade students from Reese Road Leadership Academy in Columbus. Click here for a video about the students' involvement in the enactment of this legislation.

Alcohol Sales Restriction Lifted
HB 85, allowing the package sale of beer and wine at grocery stores located within 100 yards of a school building, school grounds or college campus. The bill also repeals a provision in state law that prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages within 200 yards of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, which is now essentially closed.

Removing Diploma Barrier
HB 91, retroactively providing former students who did not pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma.
 The graduation test was phased out three years ago, but it remained a barrier for some students who attended high school when graduation was partly contingent on passing the exam. HB 91 will allow students who had failed the test but met all other graduation requirements to petition their local school board to obtain a diploma from their high school.

Motor Vehicle Tax Penalty Exemption
HB 94, allowing a Georgia resident to avoid paying penalties for non-payment of taxes on a motor vehicle or motor home if the registration of the property is voluntarily canceled.

Legalizing Fireworks
HB 110, legalizing the sale of fireworks in Georgia. Sales would be regulated by the Commissioner of Insurance, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal. Fireworks dealers would be required to pay an initial license fee of $5,000, followed by annual renewal payments of $1,000.

Transportation Funding
HB 170, generating an estimated $900 million in additional annual funding for maintenance and improvements to Georgia's roads, bridges and transit systems. The package would consolidate the

state's current excise and sales taxes on motor fuel into a single excise tax of 26 cents per gallon for gasoline and 29 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. Those rates would be adjusted annually to reflect changes in fuel efficiency standards . To make up for potential losses in sales tax revenue, county governments would be able to seek voter approval for a local sales tax of up to 1 percent, in .05 percent increments, on motor fuel. The legislation would also implement a $5 per night state hotel/motel tax and eliminate Georgia's current tax exemption on jet fuel for airline carriers. Additional revenue would come from the elimination of a $5,000 state income tax credit on the purchase of an electric vehicle and the establishment of a new annual fee on electric vehicles of $200 for cars and $300 for commercial vehicles, whose owners use the highway system but pay no motor fuel taxes. An annual fee of $50 to $100 would also be charged on heavy trucks.  


Private Home Care Providers
HB 183, regulating licensed private home care providers by requiring care plan supervision over the companions and sitters employed by the provider.

Move Over for Sanitation Workers
HB 206, establishing that sanitation workers will now get "move over" protection. Drivers must make a lane change or reduce speed when they encounter active sanitation workers.

Georgia Lottery Corporation
HB 275, adding the Georgia Lottery Corp. to the current enumerated list of claimant agencies entitled to pursue unpaid lottery proceeds as a set-off debt collection relative to income taxes. This will now include unpaid lottery proceeds.

State Board of Cosmetology & Barbers
HB 314, combining the State Board of Barbers and the State Board of Cosmetology into a single entity. The bill also revises current law to ensure consistency between the two professions.

Professional Corporations
HB 316, providing that the practice of medicine, surgery and optometry will be considered the practice of only one profession for the purposes of professional corporations.

Sales & Use Tax
HB 426, providing a limited sales tax exemption for grocers who donate to food banks.

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Senator Horacena Tate
121A State Capitol
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone 404-463-8053 Fax 404-463-7783
Senator Horacena Tate
Senate District 38
201 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.
Atlanta, GA  30314
Phone 404-803-2119