The Georgia House got back to work at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and we had a very busy seventh week of the 2018 legislative session. As we get closer and closer to “Cross Over Day,” our agendas are getting fuller and our days are getting longer. This week, we voted on several bills on the House floor, and committees worked long hours hearing important legislation before our February 28th Cross Over Day deadline.
On Tuesday, Feb. 20, I was honored to join Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Ralston along with a few of my House and Senate colleagues to hold a press conference introducing House Bill 918, legislation that would update Georgia’s tax code.
After being reviewed in committee, HB 918 made its way to the House floor on Thursday, Feb. 22, where it passed overwhelmingly.
This legislation makes necessary changes to our state’s outdated tax code, which has not been updated in decades, and more importantly, decreases the tax burden on our citizens by cutting individual and corporate state income taxes. It’s the first tax cut for individuals in Georgia since 1937 and I’m proud to be a major sponsor of the bill.
HB 918 doubles the state standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers effective Jan. 1, 2018, and would reduce the income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to 5.75 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2019. The legislation further reduces the tax rate to 5.5 percent in 2020, but would require approval of the General Assembly and signature of the governor in order to take effect.
Finally, this tax proposal is revenue neutral and would also address the state revenue projections resulting from the recent Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
This historic tax cut will benefit all of Georgia’s citizens by allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, and it’s a step in the right direction in lowering all of our taxes.
The House also passed several bills that came from the House Rural Development Council’s legislative recommendations. The most important in my opinion was House Bill 769, which leads an effort to improve access to quality health care for rural Georgia.
This bill includes several health care provisions, such as allowing for remote pharmacy orders, updating credentialing and billing practices, establishing the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability, establishing micro-hospitals and creating a grant program for physicians practicing in medically underserved rural areas of the state. It’s a new way of looking at the rural health care problem and as it moves through the Senate, I’ll keep you posted.
Tax reprieve for veterans
As most of you know, I am a big supporter of our military and veterans, and I was proud that the House unanimously passed a bill this week that would have a great impact on Georgia’s active-duty military personnel.
House Bill 840 exempts active-duty military members serving in a combat zone from penalty fees associated with unintentionally unpaid special, occupational or sales taxes and license, regulatory or administrative fees incurred while they are in a combat zone. It doesn’t exempt them from paying these taxes, but it does give them 60 days from the time they return from their military service to make full payment without penalties if they present proof of being in a combat zone.
Oftentimes, active-duty military members are unable to renew licenses, such as small businesses licenses, that expire while they are stationed in a combat zone, and this bill would prevent our service members from being penalized with late fees while they are deployed.
It’s extremely important for our Georgia National Guard members, many of which are currently serving on foreign soil.
Habersham County Day at the Capitol
Finally, the highlight of my week was hosting the Habersham County Chamber and Leadership Habersham at the Capitol this week. It was great to visit with friends and even though the day was hectic, we still managed to have lunch and a round table conversation.
Earlier this month, the White County Chamber paid a visit, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to be surrounded by familiar faces. Thanks to both groups for their visit!
This week will be very busy since we’re dealing with Cross Over Day. With this deadline in mind, we will be working even longer hours to ensure that meaningful legislation passes the House. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any legislation up for consideration in the House, or any input on how I may better serve you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can be reached at 404-651-7737, or by email at Terry.Rogers@house.ga.gov.
As always, you’re my top priority and I want to thank you for allowing me to represent you!
About the author: State Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville) represents the 10th District of Georgia which includes portions of Habersham and White Counties. He serves as the Governor’s Floor Leader and Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee, Economic Development & Tourism, and State Planning & Community Affairs Committees. Rep. Rogers also is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives’ Defense & Veterans Affairs, Human Relations & Aging, Regulated Industries, and Rules committees.