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Sine Die: 2018 Legislative Session
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch

Session is finally over, Sine Die, in Latin, “without day,” was March 29 and the General Assembly has wrapped up another year of making laws and setting the State’s spending priorities for FY 2019.  Over the interim, I will continue to publish this column for several weeks in an attempt to highlight some of the more important bills that were passed.

During the 2018 Legislative Session, the Senate along with our colleagues in the House, passed the first individual income tax cut since 1937 and the first corporate income tax cut since 1969. By passing House Bill 918, which puts Georgia’s “Internal Revenue Code” in compliance with changes made on the federal level, we have ensured that taxpayer dollars are utilized in a fiscally conservative manner while putting money back where it belongs – in the pockets of the taxpayers of Georgia.

Additionally, for the first time in recent history, with the final passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Budget, House Bill 684, the Georgia General Assembly has fully funded the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula and eliminated austerity cuts. The FY19 budget fully funds the QBE formula by allocating more than $167 million to the Department of Education for additional funding in K-12 public schools bringing the total funding for education to $9.6 billion. This allocation will ensure that our local school systems receive 100 percent financial support by the state.

Addressing additional funding for our school system was a priority that I am happy to say we accomplished. These additional funds will help our school systems compete for talented educators, retain those we have and ensure that our children receive the best education possible.

Along with these two historical pieces of legislation, below are brief summaries of a few bills I sponsored or carried that passed and were sent to the governor for his consideration:

Senate Bill 425 would revise Georgia code by addressing the classification of land surveyors to include a professional land surveyor, registered land surveyor and land surveyor intern. The new classifications will require fewer qualifications and address the current high standard which has placed a burden on local governments seeking land surveyor services. Under SB 425, licensure and education requirements are addressed. A provision was added to ensure that surveys dealing with storm-water management plans, facilities, water distribution lines and sanitary collection systems must be completed by a professional land surveyor.

House Bill 332 would create the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to fund the protection and conservation of land. HB 332 would require that up 80 percent of the sales and use taxes collected by outdoor recreation establishments and sporting goods stores be dedicated to the trust fund and would fund grants to cities, counties, departments and agencies to support the preservation of state and local parks as well as trails. House Resolution 238 proposes the constitutional amendment that would need to be passed by referendum to allow up to 80 percent of the sales and use taxes collected by outdoor recreation establishments and sporting goods stores to be paid into the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund.

House Bill 717 would clarify that purchasers of autonomous vehicles would be extended the same consumer protection laws as purchasers of traditional motor vehicles.

Over the next several weeks, I will be providing an update on legislation addressing transportation, rural Georgia and broadband. In the meantime, if you would like to stay up to date on the bills the governor has for his approval or veto, you can visit his website at this link: https://gov.georgia.gov/legislation/2018

If you have any questions about legislation that was sent to the governor or that did not pass, please do not hesitate to reach out. Although the session is over, my work on your behalf at the Capitol and around the state does not come to an end.

Throughout the summer and fall months your legislators will be busy attending study committee meetings and working on solutions to some of the problems affecting our state. I look forward to hearing from you. It is a great honor for me to represent Senate District 51 in our State Senate.

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip.  He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at (404)656-9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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