The Dash to the End of the Session


By Bobby Baker
The legislative crossover day (Day 30) has come and gone with some interesting results regarding what bills are still alive and those that aren’t.  With less than 10 days left on the legislative calendar, Sine Die is scheduled for April 14, and there is a lot left to be done. 

Action was taken on several significant bills on Crossover Day.  The highly controversial Senate Bill 10, which would allow local referendums on Sunday sales of alcohol, made it out of the Senate (32-22) and is moving briskly through the House.
The comprehensive revision of the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts, House Bill 397, failed to crossover and should reappear next year.
The water project bill, Senate Bill 122, which would allow the formation of public-private partnerships to fund water supply and treatment projects, easily passed out of the Senate and is being considered by the House.
Other important legislation has already been passed by both legislative chambers and signed by Governor Deal.  The HOPE Scholarship bill, House Bill 326, provides for students with at least a 3.0 GPA to receive annual awards based on lottery revenues to be 90% of the current tuition for the Fall 2011.  House Bill 232 clarified who is required to register as a lobbyist and exempted bona fide salespersons from the state’s lobbying laws was signed and is retroactive to January 10, 2011.
A second revision to the proposed comprehensive tax reform bill was introduced.  The amended legislation continues the sales tax exemption on groceries and goods sold by non-profits.  Franchise fees on telecommunication companies will be eliminated, but a new 7% sales tax on satellite television and other mobile communication devices is created.  Additionally the tax reform legislation also provides for the state’s personal income tax rate to drop from 6% to 4.5%, and the corporate income tax remains unchanged.
The Illegal Immigration and Reform Enforcement Act of 2011, House Bill 87, passed out of the House on March 3 by a vote of 113 to 56, and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  HB 87 is modeled after the Arizona law passed in 2010.
Finally, House Bill 292 affects all businesses in Georgia.  The bill would reduce the pending surcharge increase on employer-paid unemployment insurance taxes.  The current rate of 35% is scheduled to increase to 100% on January 1, 2012.  HB 292 would cap the increase to 50%.
The Legislature is scheduled to be out of session during the week of April 4, but will reconvene on April 12 with the final day of the session on April 14.  Look for next month’s Lawline for a recap of the significant events from the 2011 session.
For more information, contact Bobby Baker at 770.818.4240 or within theGovernmental Relations and Strategic Advice Group.