The Countdown Has Begun
Four more legislative days have come and gone and our time under the Gold Dome is beginning to dwindle. This week was a productive one, with committees convening to consider long lists of House Bills and senators presenting their legislation in House committees to carry their bills over the finish line. With Sine Die on the horizon, all members of the General Assembly have begun to move with an amplified purpose, doing all they can to perfect their legislation before our final deadline on March 31st.
Last summer, once the Senate returned from our recess due to the pandemic, we worked quickly to pass legislation to support our small businesses and protect them from any potential liability due to potential exposure to COVID-19. That measure, Senate Bill 359, was greatly needed and allowed our businesses to remain open with the peace of mind that they would not be sued frivolously. However, that bill contained a sunset that would end those protections on July 14 of this year. House Bill 112, which I carried in the Senate, would extend these protections an additional year to continue to provide businesses with liability protection as we continue to recover from the pandemic.
Due to Georgia’s continued economic resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in a strong enough position to pass some of that success on to all Georgians. House Bill 593, the Tax Relief Act of 2021, proposes an increase in the standard deduction that will lower the tax burden for Georgians but especially for those in most need. In these times where so many are still experiencing financial hardship, we owe this tax cut to the families who worked tirelessly to steer our state through the uncertain waters of the pandemic and ensure that Georgia remained the best state in the nation in which to do business, with our AAA bond rating secured. It is a testament to the strength and resolve of our workforce that a tax cut is even possible, even as the pandemic begins to subside, and we will continue to work to lessen the financial burden so many in our state continue to experience. I am proud to see this bill pass and look forward to bringing additional tax relief to Georgians.
This session, and over the past few years, our state has made substantial progress in the field of foster care and adoption. This week, we passed an additional measure in support of these children with House Bill 114. Under current law, an income tax credit may be claimed for foster children, capped at $2,000 per qualified child. This bill would raise that cap to $6,000 for the first five years and $2,000 for every subsequent year. This increased credit will support those Georgians who engage with our foster care system and will bring more prospective foster parents into the process, which will help more children be placed into loving homes.
Next week, we will meet for three legislative days with a few days set aside to focus on our committee work. We have only five legislative days remaining and many important bills to consider before our time is up. If you ever have any questions about any of the bills we discussed this week, or any legislation still pending before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Senator Brian Strickland
District 17, Georgia Senate
MONDAY, MARCH 15
Annual Banking and Finance Update
Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) carried House Bill 111, which would streamline and simplify existing statutes within the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Among other provisions, HB 111 would allow for remote participation in meetings, the ex- tension of time for a loan agreement by convenience deferment or hardship deferment, and would make revisions related to mergers and conversions. HB 111 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – HB 111
TUESDAY, MARCH 16
U.S. Representative Rick Allen Visits the Senate Chamber
Congressman Rick Allen (R – GA) visited the Senate to congratulate the legislature for their work so far during the legislative session. Rep. Allen specifically commended the Senate for their efforts to make Georgia the best state in which to do business for the past eight years. He also encouraged the members to do their best to come together in times of hardship, rather than divide themselves on issues.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17
Revising Taxes Relating to Fair Market Value
Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) carried House Bill 63, which would revise code relating to the ad valorem tax for motor vehicles. This bill would redefine the fair market value (FMV) for vehicles leased in certain cases so the FMV is equal to the total of the depreciation plus any amortized amounts plus any down payments. HB 63 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – HB 63
Extending Protection for Businesses Against COVID-19 Liability Claims
House Bill 112, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), would extend the applicability of the Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act from July 14, 2021 to July 14, 2022. This act provides businesses with immunity from COVID-19 liability claims, aside from certain exemptions. HB 112 passed with a vote of 36 to 17. – HB 112
Revising Commercial Driver’s License Requirements
Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell) carried House Bill 169, which would require Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) applicants to complete a commercial driver training course that complies with federal regulations concerning standards and state compliance. The bill would also extend the current period in which a CDL instruction permit is valid from 180 days to 365 days. HB 169 passed with a vote of 50 to 4. – HB 169
Requiring Electronic Submission of Forms to DOR
House Bill 207, carried by Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell), would require certain businesses to submit information to the Department of Revenue electronically instead of by mail or fax. Some of these businesses include motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and secondary metals recyclers. HB 207 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – HB 207
Creating National Swearing-in Commitment Day
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) carried House Bill 208, which would designate the second Wednesday of February each year as “National Swearing-in Commitment Day” in Georgia to acknowledge those committing to a career in national military service. HB 208 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – HB 208
Annual Code Revision Commission Updates
House Bill 497, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), would revise the Official Code of Georgia annotated for punctuation, grammar, and other corrections, as proposed by the Code Revision Commission, as well as ensure that the online version of the Code matches that in print. It also specifies which areas of the Georgia Code have an effect on law and which have no binding authority. HB 497 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – HB 497
Prohibiting Tractors from Driving on Highways
Sen. Lee Anderson (R – Grovetown) carried House Bill 693, which would prohibit farm tractors from driving on highways except for under certain circumstances. The bill would also give wide load farming equipment the right of way on roads if the vehicle cannot be moved to the right-hand side by the operator. HB 693 passed with a vote of 51 to 2. – HB 693
THURSDAY, MARCH 18
Increasing Tax Credit for Adopted Foster Children
Sen. Bo Hatchett (R – Cornelia) carried House Bill 114, which would increase the income tax credit for the adoption of a qualified foster child from $2,000 per year to $6,000 for the first five years, then $2,000 per year until the child is 18. HB 114 would also prohibit the credit from being carried forward. HB 144 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – HB 114
Revising Hemp Laws
House Bill 336, carried by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would change the definition of hemp processing and revise hemp processing laws for compliance with federal regulations. Among other provisions, HB 336 would make it illegal to grow or handle hemp in a residential building. HB 336 passed with a vote of 45 to 7. – HB 336
Updating Hunting and Fishing Codes
Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla) carried House Bill 362, which would redefine the words “bass” and “trout” to include additional species, change the smallest caliber allowed in a muzzleloading firearm during primitive weapons season from a .44 caliber to a .30 caliber, establish regulations for the use of minnow traps, and allow the Department of Natural Resources to create a deer management assistance program. HB 362 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – HB 362
Revising and Creating Trust Funds
House Bill 511, carried by Sen. Clint Dixon (R – Gwinnett), would revise the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and create nine new trust funds in the state of Georgia. HB 511 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – HB 511
Tax Relief Act of 2021
Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) carried House Bill 593, which would increase the standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers that are single or the head of a household, married and filing a separate return, or married and filing a joint return. HB 593 passed with a vote of 35 to 15. – HB 593
Georgia State Senate District 17 encompasses parts of Newton, Henry, and Rockdale counties with nearly 150,000 registered voters. Brian Strickland entered his second full term in the Georgia Senate in 2020. Brian, his wife Lindsay, and their two children reside in McDonough, GA. Through Brian’s leadership position at the capitol where he fights for District 17, and all of Georgia, he has impacted Georgia for the better through various executed actions. Not only did Brian support the First Responder bill which aids police, firefighter, and EMS personnel but he was a key player in the passing of the Georgia Criminal Justice reform bills and Georgia Surprise Medical bills. Above and beyond that, Brian labored to bring funding to Southern Crescent Technical College making it one of the top technical schools in Georgia and is constantly raising the bar in the fight against human trafficking.