Week 1 of the 2016 Legislative session.

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Feb 23, 2016 Comments Off on Week 1 of the 2016 Legislative session. kirbyforgeorgia

Week 1 of the 2016 Legislative session.

This has been a very busy week in Atlanta as we get the 2016 legislative session started. Being the 2nd year of this the 153rd General Assembly, we had several bills already working through the process. Last year I introduced a bill to eliminate what I refer to as the “Welcome to Georgia Tax.” When we made the change to the one time title fee from the annual ad valorem tax, new residents moving to Georgia received a shock when they went to get their car tags and were hit with the title fee. Through many hours of discussion, this change is being added to a bill that addresses several issues with the TAVT program. Once passed, a new resident to Georgia will pay a slightly lower title fee and will be allowed to prorate the payments over 3 or 4 years. The annual amount will be very near the previous ad valorem amount and not be such a shock to our new residents. I also introduced a bill to correct the double taxation Georgians were incurring with leased vehicles and then purchasing the vehicles. Currently, the leasing company pays the title fee on a new vehicle. When they lease that vehicle that fee is passed on to the lessee. At the end of the lease period, if the lessee purchases the vehicle, they then pay the title fee again. This bill is also being incorporated into the TAVT change bill. What should happen after this bill is passed is for the title fee to be paid at the original amount only by the same “owner/lessee”. If you pay the title fee that has been passed through in a lease of a vehicle, there would be no title fee if you purchased the vehicle outright at the end of the lease. If you only paid a part of the title fee during the lease, then you would pay the difference of the original fee amount and the amount you paid during the lease at the time you purchase the vehicle. This part of the bill is a little more complicated and we still have a lot of work to get this through the committee process and then through the Senate. But it is important to many of our small business owners that use lease vehicles daily that have seen a major increase in their tax bill since the TAVT system was first put into law.

I introduce House Bill 697 late last session so it would be ready to go this year. HB 697 has been read and assigned to committee. Chairman McCall has already committed to giving me a hearing and allowing this bill to be voted out of committee. HB697 is protecting our seniors and all Georgians from unscrupulous salespeople. HB 697 requires solicitors to receive from consumers, affirmative assent to continued receipt of certain merchandise following a free trial before charging. Most of us have received those sales calls where the seller will send you a free trial, you simply write cancel on the invoice if you choose not to continue. Unfortunate too many people have been billed and even harassed to pay for something they did not want. For some they may have misplaced the original invoice or simply forgot to send it back with cancel on it. It the worst situation, the shady company simply claims, they never received the cancel notice. This bill will requires you to tell a salesperson, “yes, I do want to purchase that” before they invoice you.

During this first week, we have received the budget books for both the amended current year budget and for next year’s budget. We start budget meeting next week and I have spent a lot of time looking at the proposed changes to the current year budget. Revenue is above the forecasted amount that the current year budget was based on. Everyone knows we have a balanced budget requirement. We also have to account for all of the revenue. Without getting too detailed, here are a few items of interest in the proposed amended budget. There is an increase of $110 million to education K-12 spending. This is the mid-year adjustment to account for growth in the schools. There is an increase of over $840,000, taking our total to over $2.4 million just to cover administrative cost of the “affordable” care act. Obama care is a financial drain on States, businesses and people. Finally 13.4% of the increased revenue is assigned to “increase funds to meet projections”. This includes $10 million to the “rainy day” fund that was depleted during the great recession. Funds to meet projected growth in future Hope grants and Move on when ready cost. This 13.4% is accounted for but not spent if the need is not present using the same sound fiscal conservative money management that many of us use at home.

I think there is need to mention HB731 that was introduced this week. This is a liberal Socialist Democrat bill. The good news is 731 will never see the light of day in this house. This bill, along with several other democrat bills, are directly aimed at taking away your 2nd amendment rights. That will not happen under my watch. It is important that we all take note of what the democrats want to do. HB 731 is clearly a gun confiscation bill. If the democrats were in control of the General Assembly and Governor’s Office, this is what we could expect from them; elections have consequences.
I ask you to track issues that are important to you. Email or call if you have questions or concerns. My email is tom.kirby@house.ga.gov. The office number is 404-656-0177 and my cell phone is 678-790-5252. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.