Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day 38- April 1, 2008

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Tonight on Lawmakers, House Speaker Glenn Richardson leads his chamber in affecting serious changes to the Senate version of tax reform, a bill to give vouchers to students who attend under-performing schools hits a snag in the House, a measure that prevents local governments from enacting stricter water restrictions than the State passes the Senate and our Day 38 Legislative Scorecard.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson led his chamber to a revision of the Senate’s version of tax reform today. Although it originally began as part of the Speaker’s GREAT Plan, House Resolution 1246 passed the House as legislation eliminating the ad valorem tax on personal vehicles, freezing property tax assessments and repealing the State’s portion of property taxes. The version that passed the Senate stripped out the repeal of the ad valorem tax on vehicles and placed a provision that would reduce the State income tax by 10% over the next five years. In House action today, the repeal of the ad valorem tax on personal vehicles and the freeze on property valuation were resurrected. The House also changed Senate provisions added to House Bill 1244, which began the session as legislation designed to give a teleworking credit on State income taxes. The Senate added language that would reduce State income taxes by 10% over the next five years to that legislation. The House version has that reduction beginning in 2011 rather than 2008. The new House versions of House Resolution 1246 and House Bill 1244 passed and await action in the Senate. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has the latest.

Legislative reaction to the recent Georgia drought continued in the Senate today.
House Bill 1281 creates certain watering exemptions for green businesses like nurseries and landscaping companies and for swimming pools. The Senate passed HB 1281 with two floor amendments, so it goes back to the House.

Senate gave final passage to legislation providing educational vouchers through non–profit student scholarship organizations today. The scholarships established by House Bill 1133 are for public school students to use at private schools. The non–profit organizations providing the scholarships would operate on tax deductible donations. President Pro Tem Eric Johnson carried the bill in the Senate. His own voucher bill for students in schools that lose accreditation was on the House calendar today, but the bill was recommitted to the Rules committee late in the afternoon. When asked whether the House was holding his bill hostage pending Senate approval of House revisions to tax reform, Senator Johnson said he hoped that wasn't the case. Lawmakers Bridget Snapp reports.

Regional economic assistance projects in Georgia are one step closer to being licensed for alcoholic beverages. However, House Bill 1280 passed the Senate with an amendment from Senator Rene Unterman adding the Gwinnett County Braves stadium to that list. HB 1280 returns to the House for their consideration of the Senate amendment.

Legislation dealing with the sale of confiscated guns passed the Senate today. Senator Vincent Fort saw House Bill 333 as a vehicle to add his no knock warrant legislation. Fort’s Senate Bill 259 passed the Senate in March but has not yet been heard in a House Committee. Lt. Governor Casey Cagle found that amendment not germane. HB 333 passes 47 to 3 and now goes to the Governor.

The Georgia Lemon Law passed the Senate today. House Bill 470 deals with consumer protections for automobiles that don’t perform to expected standards. Senator Judson Hill amended the bill to include larger vehicles bought by business owners over the objections of bill presenter Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen. The amendment sends the bill back the House.

The Conference Committee on Senate Resolution 845 met today. That legislation that would give voters the option of creating Transportation Special Local Option Sales Taxes, or T-SPLOSTs. No compromise was reached this afternoon but the committee continues to toward that goal.

The House Motor Vehicles Committee today voted to table Senate Bill 315, a bill that would add further penalties for traffic violations. The committee also tabled Senate Bill 412. That bill would rename seat belts to life belts, and air bags, to life bags in Georgia code. The Motor Vehicles Committee added a controversial product liability amendment to both bills, which would prevent certain class action suits. That amendment was the main source of opposition to both bills.

All that and more, tonight on Lawmakers.