Post Session Recap #5

Today marks the 32nd day of bill signings for Governor Deal. Of the 172 non-local bills that were sent to the governor, just over 50 have been signed so far. Governor Deal has until midnight on May 8th to sign or veto the remainder of the bills. Any bill that is not vetoed will become law without his signature.  As we approach the end of these 40 days, I will continue to keep you updated on all bills that have become law that may be of particular importance to you. Soon we will also delve into a series on tax reform that will cover the specific facets of the new reform package found in HB 386.  Included in this package are certain exemptions for manufacturing, agriculture and aviation, new regulations concerning the collection of sales and use tax on online sales, the return of sales tax holidays, ad valorem tax exemptions for new car purchases, mega jobs tax credits, film tax credits, and business inventory taxes. We will also explore how each of these new tax law changes will affect you as a hardworking Georgian when you file you tax return next April.

This week, Governor Deal traveled across the state signing legislation that addressed issues of particular significance to certain areas. While these bills may not seem of particular importance to you, I would like to point out a few notable bills that he signed into law while visiting with military families in the Columbus area. These bills honor military veterans and support their families who sacrifice at home.

SB 227, an Interstate Compact Bill, will make it easier for children of military families to transfer from one school to another. This bill establishes a compact to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families due to frequent relocation and parental deployment.

The compact is designed to bring states together to allow for the uniform treatment of military children who transfer between school districts and states.  While states may already support military children, individual states can only control what happens inside their state borders. This compact allows for cooperation and uniform treatment in all member states. As we well know, military bases and installations are spread far and wide across our nation. Anytime we can take a proactive approach to putting our children and their education first, we are creating an atmosphere that will strengthen our economy, our communities, and bring jobs and businesses to Georgia.

The compact addresses the key issues encountered by military families: eligibility, educational records and enrollment, placement, attendance and graduation.  It also provides for a detailed governance structure at the state and national levels with both enforcement and compliance mechanisms.

The provisions of the compact would apply to local education agencies and the children of active duty members of the uniformed services including active duty members of the National Guard and Reserve, members or veterans of the uniformed services who have been medically discharged or retired due to severe injury and members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained while on active duty.

The legislation also creates an “Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children,” that will be responsible for the formation of public policy and rule making.  Each state that enacts this compact will appoint one member to the Commission in order to create and share effective public policy.

HB 732, a bill we spoke of in a previous column, was officially signed in a ceremony led by Governor Deal in Columbus. This bill expands access to specialty plates for military veterans by including military medal awards and exempting disabled veterans from paying annual tag renewal fees.

This Thursday, May 3rd, we will honor the 61st Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer. Our nation’s first day of prayer was officially called by the Continental Congress in 1775 to pray for the founding of a new nation and guidance for our leaders as they formed “one nation under God.” Even at our nation’s inception, our founding fathers were spiritual, prayerful Christians who believed strongly in the power of prayer to guide them in wisdom as they built a sovereign nation. Our celebration and remembrance of this day enables us to recall and teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions.

The National Day of Prayer has become an observance of great significance.  It has been estimated that over 2 million people attended over 30,000 National Day of Prayer observances last year alone.  On Thursday, Americans throughout the country will gather once again on the steps of our city halls and court houses, in our schools, businesses and churches to pray for our Nation and its leaders. You can learn more about the history of this important day and see the many National Day of Prayer events happening across our great state and our nation by following this link to the National Day of Prayer website: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/about/find-an-event/

Next week we will celebrate the role that mothers play in our homes, our state, and our nation as we honor them on Mother’s Day. If you haven’t remembered to get your mother a card or place that order for flowers, I hope this will serve as a friendly reminder. You’re on your own for birthdays and anniversaries! I look forward to speaking with you each week about matters that are near and dear to your heart, your head, and your pocketbook. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am honored to serve as your voice at the State Capitol and there is no matter too small for me to learn about.

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    Senator Bill Heath
    E-Mail: billheath@billheath.net

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