This week (So Far) in the Georgia Legislature

HB 837 – Lower GPA for HOPE Scholarship. All we’ve been hearing about for the last year with respect to HOPE is that it’s running out of money. Now there’s a bill which will reduce the GPA for HOPE eligibility from 3.0 to 2.5. I’m confused.

HB 834 – Energy Tax Credits. This bill would give you a tax credit against your Georgia income tax in the amount paid to utility companies for natural gas or electricity or other costs involved in the “…daily operation of a personal residence.” This would apply to “families” which are “two or more related individuals who share a personal residence and have a combined income of less than $75,000.00.” Sounds great for those families, however I will once again note that there are six cosponsors on this bill, none of whom are Republican.

SB 358 – Preference Reciprocity. This bill would require local governments or the State to grant preference to Georgia-resident vendors over vendors from another state or local government to the same amount that the other state or local government in question grants preference to their own resident vendors. This is an update to existing law that requires state-on-state reciprocity by expressly including local governments in the mix. I find it of interest that while out of state preferences by local governments are to be reciprocal, there is no such provision enacted or proposed that would require the same for in-state local governments.

SB 357 – Repeal of Laws Regarding Treated Timber Products. I find this particular bill interesting not because of the subject matter, but because I have absolutely no idea what it’s about. The bill would repeal the entirety of Part 2, Article 5, Title 2, of Article 14 of the Georgia code. As you can see from the image below, there is a reasonable amount of text that is to be deleted. I imagine there is some deep wheeling and dealing going on, but what it is, I haven’t a clue.

A screen capture of the Georgia Code having to do with Treated Timber

HB 871 – Additional Penalty for Traffic Violations. This bill extends to 2018 the provisions listed here:

(a) In every case in which any court in this state shall impose a fine or bond payment, which shall be construed to include costs, for any violation of the traffic laws of this state or for violations of ordinances of political subdivisions which have adopted by reference the traffic laws of this state, there shall be imposed as an additional penalty a sum equal to 5 percent of the original fine.

Pretty boring. Seems like a good Tea Party advocate would clamber about this, however this isn’t a tax per se, it’s an additional cherry on top of a court administered fine.

HB 870 – Residential and General Contractors. This bill would allow me to become licensed as a Residential or General Contractor without examination by virtue of being a Professional Engineer. There would still be experience requirements which I don’t qualify for. Bill says go!

HB 863 – Changing some Items on State Contracts. This bill would allow state agencies to effect contracts up to $25,000 without competitive bidding (changing from $5,000), however, that’s not why I’m bringing it up. The reason why I’m citing this is because it also changes the definition of “Small Business”.

(2) ‘Small business’ means a Georgia resident business which is independently owned and operated. In addition, such business must have either fewer than 100 employees or less than $1 million in gross receipts per year.


(3) ‘Small business’ means a Georgia resident business which is independently owned and operated. In addition, such business must have either fewer than 500 employees or less than $50 million in gross receipts per year.

That’s a big change. I’m not sure how this compares to other states, or the federal government.

Update! I’ve been reliably informed that this change in the definition of small business brings us in line with the Federal Government.

Oh, Hey! Interesting! Directly related to HB 863 which I just mentioned there is HB 854 which also changes the definition of “Small Business”:

(3) ‘Small business’ means a Georgia resident business which is independently owned and operated and which does not exceed the maximum number of employees or amount of annual receipts allowed for a small business and its affiliates to be classified as a small business under the 2007 North American Industry Classification System.

I went looking and I found this: Size Standards Table

HB 853 – Georgia Right to Grow Act. Everyone wants chickens, right? This bill would prohibit a local government from “…prohibit[ing] or requir[ing] any permit for the growing or raising of food crops or chickens or rabbits in home gardens, coops, or pens on private residential property so long as such food crops or animals or the products thereof are used for human consumption by the occupant of such property and members of his or her household and not for commercial purposes.” I’m supportive of this measure, however I find it blissfully ironic that the legislators in question would probably be in favor of States’ rights over the Federal Government, but at the same time turn around and assert that local governments do not have the same desires.

HR 1237 – Urging the Federal Government to Cease Collecting Motor Fuel Taxes in the State of Georgia. This resolution isn’t quite what it says. Instead of ceasing to collect, it’s urging the Feds to go away and leave the State alone, allowing the State to collect the taxes and put it to its own uses. I’m pretty sure that the majority of the actions proposed in the resolution would require some serious changes to existing federal statute. Bill does not support.

SR 766 – US Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Budget, Urge. This resolution urge Congress to prepare a constitutional amendment for ratification by the states that would require a balanced budget except in time of declared war or other national emergency. You may recall that I discussed HR 1095, which basically does the same thing except that instead of calling on Congress to draft an amendment, it calls for a Constitutional Convention to do the same.


Senate Resolution 781 and Senate Bill 374 both seem to call for taking water from the Tennessee River basin and distributing it into the state of Georgia. For those of you not aware of the Tri State Water Wars going on right now, be glad. You may not know that the Tennessee flows jussst a bit north of the Georgia/Tennessee state line1. There’s a lot of water there and Georgia could use some to help with its growth.
I won’t pretend to you to understand the deep issues behind water here in the southeast, I’ll just note the bills and resolutions that pop up in the Legislature.

  1. In fact there has been the occasional discussion of mistaken boundary surveys which might legally put part of the river in GA []
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