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Looking toward Crossover Day
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This past week, the Senate passed House Bill 266, which would update Georgia's IRS code and clarify measures from 2012's tax reform overhaul by a vote of 41-7.

The bill was amended from its original version to reconcile any unintended financial repercussions from last year's comprehensive tax reform package.

As passed by the Senate, HB 266 will offer a $179 million tax cut over a four-year period and prevent a considerable tax hike on Georgia taxpayers.

For those in need of a refresher, one of the most significant revisions to Georgia's tax code in 2012 was the gradual elimination of the annual ad valorem tax on vehicles and transitioning to a one-time title fee on new vehicle purchases.

However, implementation plans revealed unaddressed issues affecting vehicle leases, self-financing auto dealers and rental car companies.

In particular, these groups would see a substantial rise in annual business costs and individual monthly fees. The Georgia State Senate incorporated these necessary changes into HB 266 in order to eliminate this costly burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses.

The Senate version of HB 266 removes the monthly sales and use tax off leases, and reduces the title tax rates on rental cars and cars sold by self-financing car dealerships who often sell inventory numerous times.

The revised version of HB 266 also ensures any region that voted in support of TSPLOST will be exempt from paying the additional penny on car purchases. HB 266 will now transfer back to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

As we prepare to enter Crossover week, the Georgia General Assembly is gearing up for the final push for legislation that can be passed during the 2013 session. Under Georgia law, the House and the Senate must both pass identical versions of a bill. Often this requires many committee meetings and amendments to the bill from both sides of the legislature.

Once the House and Senate pass the same version of a bill, it is then sent to Gov. Nathan Deal to be signed into law.

Crossover Day, or Day 30, marks the last day bills can transfer from the House to the Senate, and vice versa.

Next week will be a long one as we review the remainder of the 244 bills filed in the Senate, along with several House bills needing attention.

Other notable bills receiving a Senate vote this week include:

SB 68: SB 68 passed the Senate by a vote of 42-8 and would establish the week of Sept. 17 as Celebrate Freedom Week in Georgia Public Schools. During this week, students would be required to receive at least three hours of instruction regarding our nation's founding principles as well as recitation of important historical writings from materials provided by the Depart­ment of Education.

SB 125: This property ownership bill passed the Senate by a vote of 51-0. This bill addresses liability issues facing property owners who have tenants, visitors or trespassers on their property and merely clarifies - not changes - existing law.

SB 136: The "Kile Glover Boat Education Act" and "Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law" passed the Senate by a vote of 50 to 0. The legislation would reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 for hunting or boating while under the influence, increase the penalties for boating while under the influence, and require certain individuals to complete a boating education course prior to operation of a vessel.

HB 57: - House Bill 57 revises Georgia code to expand the definition of Schedule I controlled substances. The revisions specifically target compounds used to manufacture synthetic marijuana, and is a swift response to manufacturers who changed the chemical make-up of the drug after SB 370 was signed into law in 2012.

I was glad to see such a great turnout at the last district meeting with Rep. Kevin Tanner on March 1, at Ryan's Steakhouse in Dawson County.

Due to GOP county conventions there will not be a district meeting this weekend.

Although I have been spending a lot of time at the State Capitol lately, I am never too busy to discuss pending legislation or district concerns. Feel free to contact either my district office or my Capitol office at any time. My door and phone lines are always open.

Sen. Steve Gooch can be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at