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Friday, March 16, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, MARCH 16, 2018

FEBRUARY REVENUES CONTINUE POSITIVE TREND

The state's revenues grew 4.8% in February, continuing a positive trend as the state enters the tax refund season. Individual Income Taxes grew 5.4% as Corporate tax revenues were negative at -23.8%. Net Sales Taxes grew 9.2% while Title Ad Valorem Taxes were up 1.7%. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco tax receipts both grew at a 3.7% rate. Fuel tax revenues grew 1.03% for the month.

YEAR TO DATE GROWTH 6.1%

After three fourths of the fiscal year, total revenues have topped $15 billion and revenues are up $868,752 for the year. Revenues exceed the FY 18 Budget for the 8 months by $462 million and the 12 month trailing average is the same as the FY growth rate, 6.1%. It is still not clear if the sharp increase in Revenues in December was due to some prepaying of income taxes that may lead to higher refunds during the last three months of this fiscal year.
FINAL PASSAGE

--SB 3-- Focuses on career education for students in 6th through 12th grade. Encourages industry credentialing, where students will be assessed by independent third parties for industry certification. Requires students to create individualized graduation and industry credentialing plans by the second semester of eighth grade.

--HB 79-- Requires that law enforcement agencies destroy license plate data gained by automated license plate recognition systems no more than 30 months after its collection. Stored data may only be accessed for a law enforcement purpose; access violations are punishable by aggravated misdemeanor.

--HB 816-- Subjects all prospective employees and certain employees and contractors of the Georgia Department of Revenue to fingerprinting and criminal record checks. Applies to those employees and contractors hired after January 1, 2019 who have not undergone a fingerprint and background check in the last 10 years.

--HB 885-- Removes prohibition by the Environmental Protection Division on agricultural burning, so long as the burning is vegetative and federally permissible.

--HB 784-- Creates special license plates to promote the restoration of waterfowl habitats and the preservation of waterfowl populations. Sales benefit the Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

--HB 830-- Alters the schedule (Schedule I, Schedule II, or neither) under which several drugs are classified. Adds 47 new drugs to the "Dangerous Drug" category.

--HB 831-- Develops the Employment First Georgia Council tasked with advising the Governor, General Assembly, and state agencies on the Competitive Integrated Employment policy, which helps working age disabled individuals find employment.

--HB 844-- Renames the Georgia Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons to the Georgia Commission for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing, while increasing the Commission's size from 7 to 12 members. Creates a multiagency task force to make recommendations on ways to improve literacy proficiency of deaf children up to the 3rd grade.

PASSED BY THE SENATE THIS WEEK

--HB 513-- Requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop standards for signage clarifying the legal procedure for the leaving of newborn babies at certain medical facilities, fire stations, and police stations.

--HB 695-- Creates special license plates bearing "#1 in Forestry." Sales benefit the Georgia Forestry Foundation.

--HB 751-- Establishes the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority to collect and distribute flat $1.50/month 9-1-1 fees. Allows the Authority to make recommendations to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency on making 9-1-1 services more efficient.

--HB 769-- Expands a 'rural' county from 35,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. Creates a Rural Health System Innovation Center to analyze health care problems and deliver health care to underserved areas.

--HB 344-- Clarifies laws about paternity tests to specify the requirements to request a genetic test and sets aside a determination of paternity.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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