House Caucus Report, March 3-7
HB 128: Georgia Downtown Renaissance Investment Tax Credit
Sponsor: Rep. Allen Peake (HB-141)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 160-15
Summary: Establishes the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Fund within the Department of Community Affairs to provide local governments, downtown development authorities, and other organizations with financing to encourage economic and small business development, public improvements, and historic preservation projects.
HB 348: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit
Sponsor: Rep. Don Parsons (HB-44)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 116-53
Summary: This legislation would provide a tax credit for both medium-duty and heavy-duty alternative fuel vehicles (defined as those operating on electricity, liquid petroleum, natural gas, or hydrogen) to encourage vehicle fleet owners to convert their fleets to alternative fuel vehicles.
HB 707: Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jason Spencer (HD-180)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 115-59
Summary: Prohibits states resources from being expended for the purpose of advocating or influencing the citizens of Georgia in support of the Affordable care Act and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. This prohibition does not apply to a state employee’s personal time. Prohibits any division of the state from operating or establishing an exchange or navigator program.
Given our state’s budgetary limitations and burdensome federal regulations that impede Medicaid innovation, our Medicaid program simply cannot provide low-cost, quality health care to 650,000 additional Georgians. HB 707 is an acknowledgement that only through state-specific reforms can we effectively provide care for those in need.
HB 772: Drug Testing for Food Stamps
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Morris (HD-156)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 107-66
Summary: Requires food stamp and welfare (TANF) recipients to undergo drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion that they are using an illegal drug. Reasonable suspicion is defined as (but not limited to) the applicant’s demeanor, missed appointments, police records, and termination from previous employment due to illicit drug use. Should an applicant test positive for the first time, they would be ineligible for food stamps for one month. Upon the second and third violations, the applicant would be ineligible for 3 months and then a year, respectively. This legislation provides protections for children to exempt them from drug testing and to maintain their eligibility for food stamps in the event their parents are deemed ineligible due to drug use. Requires that EBT cards have a photograph of one or more members of a household eligible for food stamps.
HB 885: Medical Cannabis
Sponsor: Rep. Allen Peake (HD-141)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 171-4
Summary: This legislation expands the use of medical cannabis – specifically cannabidiol – to treat certain seizure disorders. Current law only allows for the use of cannabis to treat cancer and glaucoma. The Georgia Composite Medical Board would be charged with administering the Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Program via academic medical centers and board approved pediatric neurologists. Academic medical centers are authorized, pursuant to federal regulations, to contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to receive cannabis for testing. In addition, the Board must approve at least one academic medical center to cultivate cannabis for research.
HB 933: Tax Credit for Aircraft Maintenance
Sponsor: Rep. Alex Atwood (HD-179)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 163-10
Summary: Makes permanent the sales tax exemption for the parts or equipment used in the maintenance or repair of aircraft.
HB 958: Entertainment Industry Tax Credit; Reinstates the Sales Tax Holiday for School Shopping
Sponsor: Rep. Chad Nimmer (HD-178)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of 167-5
Summary: Extends the entertainment industry production tax credit until 2016 for businesses who maintain a physical location in Georgia, have a total aggregate payroll of $500,000 or more for GA employees, and have a gross income less than $100 million per taxable year. This legislation also reinstates the sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping as well as the sales tax exemptions for sales of food to qualified food banks, purchases of energy and water efficient products (costing $1500 or less), and sales of tangible personal property used in construction of a competitive project of regional significance.
HB 990: Legislative Approval for Medicaid Expansion
Sponsor: Rep. Jan Jones (HD-47)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by a vote of
Summary: Requires the legislative approval of the General Assembly to expand Medicaid through an increase in the income threshold.
HR 1573: Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure
Sponsor: Rep. Jay Roberts (HD-155)
Passed: March 3, 2014 by vote of 170-4
Summary: Creates a 17 member Committee to study the needs, problems, and relevant conditions relating to Georgia’s transportation infrastructure and make recommendations for the next legislative session.
SB 273: Maternal Mortality Review Committee
Sponsor: Rep. Matt Hatchett (HD-150)
Passed: March 5, 2014 by a vote of 162-4
Summary: According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Georgia has ranked 50th or near 50th for many years in maternal mortality – a metric that measures the number of mothers who die during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth. To address this problem, this legislation codifies the Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee within the Department of Public Health and charges the committee with identifying trends in maternal mortality across Georgia. The Committee is also charged with generating reports and recommendations for improving maternal mortality rates.