2017 Archives

By State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia

Last week, Crossover Day lasted from 10:00 AM Wednesday, till 1:15 AM Thursday. Many bills passed on to the Senate, and many more didn’t.

HB 918/Income Tax Cut. Both the House and Senate have agreed on the final language of HB 918 the biggest income tax cut in Georgia history. The bill is heading to Gov. Deals desk where I believe it will be promptly signed. The bill cuts the income and corporate tax rates from the current 6% to 5.5% by 2020. HB 918 will cut out the potential windfall Georgia was expecting from the Trump tax cuts of about 5.2 billion dollars in the next five years. In other words , Georgians will keep all their money from the Trump tax cuts , and they would keep an extra 330 million from the new state tax cuts over the next five years. The new version does eliminate the 40 million dollar tax break on jet fuel for Delta Airlines. The company had singled out the NRA by ending the group discounts for their members, and aligning themselves with the anti-gun movement. In 2014, they lost the tax break by taking a stand against the Legislatures attempt to pass a bill to protect religious liberty in Georgia. Delta is an important company that provides a positive impact on our states economy. No company, however, is more important than our 1st Amendment rights of freedom of religion, or our 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

HB 763./Hands Free Driving. The House sent to the Senate a bill that would make handling a cell phone while driving illegal. If you hold it up to your ear, cradle it between your shoulder and neck, or even use it while it is sitting in your lap, could result in fines up to 500 dollars. Three offences could result in losing your license. I voted no on HB 763. I thought the bill could unduly affect people who travel and need phones for their jobs. And I really thought the bill did not get to the root of the problem. The old flip phones didn’t seem to cause an uptick in accidents when they arrived on the scene. Accident rates and insurance rates increased when smart phones came about. In other words, the problem started not from talking on phones but when we started looking at them. Texting, facebook and streaming services seem irresistible even when driving. The primary conclusion of the proponents of HB 763, is that while not perfect, this bill provides the only way for officers to reasonably enforce hands free driving. In the end , they may be right. I want to circle back up with my local law enforcement officials to get their thoughts. I have no doubt the House will see the bill again after the Senate makes changes.

HB 887./Rural Internet. There will be no new fees on streaming services such as Netflix, or any new taxes on cable or satellite TV. HB 887 passed the House but the new fees and taxes in the original version were removed. The bill now primarily deals with making right-of-way and utility poles more accessible to internet providers. Although removing the taxes and fees means there will be no funds to bring broadband services to rural areas without it , I believe we did the right thing in deleting them.

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