On Monday, February 3, 2017, both bodies of the Georgia General Assembly reconvened in Atlanta to begin the Fourth Week (legislative days 9 - 12) of the 2017 session. Committee and subcommittee hearings are in full swing as we considered various bills that are making their way through the legislative process. As I have mentioned before, 90% of the legislative debate occurs in sub-committees and full committees. If a bill makes it to the House floor for a vote, except in the rare occasions, the debate has already occurred in committee.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role as your Rep is the occasional opportunity to help someone deal with a difficult situation with a State agency, or being able to give “my two cents” about problems citizens have shared with me. One such concern, that I share, is with poor traffic flow on Altama Connector (Home Depot plaza) where it intersects with the Spur 25. Even though it is time consuming, I enjoy it. As do I also the legislative process and maneuverings that occur daily in the General Assembly.
A couple of bills made it through the committee process and were brought to the House floor for a vote. I voted YES on all three and all three passed overwhelmingly.
HB38 - will distinguish three-wheeled vehicles with steering wheels from motorcycles as far their treatment under Georgia law. While it may not seem like a big deal, it is if you own/operate one of these three wheeled vehicles. Among other things, the bill requires operators of this class of three-wheel vehicles to obtain a Class C commercial driver’s licenses rather than Class M motorcycle licenses.
HB58 - is one of those annual housekeeping bills we must pass each year to adopt changes in Federal regulations regarding motor carriers and commercial motor vehicles into Georgia code. Failing to do so jeopardizes Federal money coming into Georgia.
HB49 - would require licensed livestock dealers and auction operators to apply for and obtain a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture, renew that license every three years and maintain surety requirements to protect livestock producers from fraudulent activity. There is more to the bill that you can read on-line. This bill, if signed into law, will go great lengths to protect Georgia’s farmers from fraudulent livestock dealers.
Again, a seemingly unimportant piece of legislation – unless you deal in the livestock trade as do many Georgians.
Authored Legislation for 2017-2018 Session
Sheriff’s Fee’s HB14 – I originally introduced this bill in 2015, my first year in the House. It is a language clean-up bill that says simply that all fees collected by Sheriff’s, who are paid on salary (and they all are), that these fees must be remitted to the county treasurer or fiscal officer. The intent is to make it clear that Sheriff’s cannot pocket fees such as process server fees and metal recycle fees. Had I known more about the inner-workings of moving bills through, I would have gotten it passed in 2015-16. This bill has now passed out of committee so my next step is to get it on the Rules Calendar to be heard on the House floor for a vote.
Teacher Out of Pocket Schools Supplies Tax Credit HB13 - proposes to give teachers a $250 tax credit instead of the current $250 tax deduction for out-of-pocket classroom supplies. Despite wide-spread support from the teacher community and from citizens, this bill is going to be a challenge to get passed out of committee. Even getting a full Committee hearing and passage of HB13 will require a lot of grass roots support from teachers and those of us who would like to extend a hand of thanks to our state’s classroom teachers.
Cash Wire Transfer Fee HB66 - proposes to charge a fee for cash wire transactions that originate in Georgia and terminate elsewhere, targeting Georgia’s huge, multi-billion underground or cash economy. This hidden economy consists of human traffickers, gamblers, drug dealers and employees paid in cash for their work. The effort could easily raise $100 million for the state of Georgia – without a tax increase. Note: this link to HB66 is more current than the version appearing on the House website.
I am working on several additional pieces of legislation, three of them having to do with Coal Ash storage that I will report on as they come together. Until bills are officially “filled” they do not show up on any official website but you can click here to see 2016-17 Legislation that I have sponsored or have co-sponsored.
Resolutions and Recognition
It is an important function of our General Assembly to take time to honor and recognize individuals for their service, dedication and, in some cases, their sacrifice to their fellow Georgians.
On Tuesday, we remembered and recognized the lives of two courageous officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Peach County Sheriff’s Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron were both shot and killed while responding to a call on November 6, 2016. State Representative Robert Dickey presented House resolutions honoring each officer to the families of Deputy Smallwood and Sgt. Sondron. This was a very emotional and deserving recognition of our law enforcement officers and their families.
Adjournment Resolution Setting the General Assembly Calendar for 2017
We were given our Legislative calendar schedule for the remainder of the 2017 session which is important for many reasons. For me personally, it lets me know when I can come home to the District to work at my “real” job. More importantly it sets “Crossover Day” at day 28 of the session instead of Day 30 as has been the case for the past several years. Crossover day means the days when all bills from one body must crossover to the other body for consideration to allow time for committee hearings and a vote.
The Adjournment Resolution also sets that the last day of the 2017 session will be on Thursday, March 30, 2017.
Staying In Touch
As always you are welcome to visit me at our capitol office, which is located at Suite 501 in the CLOB (Cloverdale Legislative Office Bldg.). You may call my capitol office at 404-656-086 (note the new number); additionally, I can be reached via email at [email protected]. I encourage you to reach out to me and share your thoughts and opinions as the 2017 legislative session progresses.
Now that session is underway, I want you to know that I will be working diligently on behalf of our entire district while at the Capitol. I hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this to stay informed on legislative matters that affect our district and state. Our House website, www.house.ga.gov, has a number of tools to help you stay up-to-date on what’s going on at the Capitol: you can watch a live-stream of the House proceedings, and or archived committee meetings and review legislation we are considering.
As always, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your state representative.
Rep. Jeff Jones