NEWS

Published on: Mar. 4, 2016
Georgia Chamber Legislative Update – 3/4/16

CROSSOVERMonday, Feb. 29 was day 30 of the legislative session and was the last day for all proposed legislation to move from one chamber to the other, or cross over, and still have an uninterrupted path to becoming law. Crossover Day saw many of our supported pieces of legislation move across with overwhelming support, and we continue to monitor opposed bills throughout the entire legislative session.

CANDIDATE QUALIFYING
Qualifying for the May 24 Georgia general primary election will be held from Monday, March 7 through Friday, March 11 at 12 p.m. If needed, the general primary-runoff election will be held on July 26 prior to the general election on Nov. 8. As of today, we are aware of 14 open seats in the House and 3 open seats in the Senate.

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR
Wednesday (3/2), the General Assembly completed legislative day 31 of the 40 legislative day calendar.  This week the legislature will be in session Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

BILLS OF INTEREST

JUDICIARY
HB 1017: E-discovery
Chamber Position: Oppose; Scorecard
House Bill 1017, legislation which would increase costs and burdens on all parties in the discovery process of civil litigation, was not voted out of the House Rules Committee and did not receive a vote on Crossover Day. We will remain vigilant in the event that a version of the legislation is attached to another bill, however, we would like to thank the business community for raising your voice. Your efforts in contacting House members were critical in stopping HB 1017.

Although ultimately endorsed by the Georgia Bar, HB 1017 contained provisions strongly opposed by over 50 leading Georgia companies, significant portions of the Georgia Bar, the Georgia Chamber and other like-minded trade associations. If HB 1017 were passed, Georgia would be alone in affirmatively acting to make discovery more expensive and time-consuming, ultimately impacting the state’s ability to attract and develop industry. Simply put, this legislation, if passed would be catastrophic for small business and extremely costly and problematic for larger employers. (Click here for a one-pager regarding the issue).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TAXATION
HB 828: Income Tax Credit; Hiring Qualified Parolees
Chamber Position: Support
House Bill 828, sponsored by Representative Virgil Fludd (D- Tyrone), creates an optional income tax credit of $2,500 per hire for employers who hire qualified parolees. The job must be full-time (more than 30 hours per week), be without a predetermined end date, involve work in the state for a minimum of 40 weeks per taxable year, and be at or above the average wage for the county in which the job is based. HB 828 successfully passed the House Monday (2/29) by a vote of 153-16 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Recognizing the positive impact that full-time employment has on the lives of returning citizens, as well as the positive impact on the state’s economy, the Chamber is supportive of efforts to reduce Georgia’s recidivism rate.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

HB 922: Revise Taxpayer definition relating to Quality Jobs Tax Credit
Chamber Position: Support
Sponsored by Representative Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), House Bill 922 is a legislative fix for an unintended omission in the application of Georgia’s Quality Jobs Tax Credit. HB 922 successfully passed the House Monday (2/29) by a vote of 171-1 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Many companies, for varying business reasons, may choose to set up multiple LLCs with separate FEINs (federal employer identification number) under one parent corporation. Those separate legal entities are “disregarded” for tax filing purposes in Georgia. However, current law does not allow an employer with multiple disregarded entities to claim the Quality Jobs Tax Credit unless all 50 jobs were created under the same FEIN. HB 922 strengthens Georgia’s economic development incentives by revising the taxpayer definition so that corporations creating more than 50 jobs in the state, whether under one FEIN or multiple disregarded entities, are eligible to qualify for the tax credit.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

HB 935: Ad valorem tax; properties eligible for a freeport exemption
Chamber Position: Support
Sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), House Bill 935 extends the inventory ad valorem tax exemption, also known as the Freeport exemption, to fulfillment centers. This legislation encourages, among other things, the presence of internet retailers in the state and helps bolster Georgia’s business climate. HB 935 unanimously passed the House Monday (2/29) by a vote of 169-0 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

HB 936: Income tax; wages necessary to qualify for a job tax credit
Chamber Position: Support
Also sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), House Bill 936 provides clarity to an existing tax credit program designed to entice job creation throughout the state. HB 936 provides that a “new full-time employee job” means a newly-created position requiring a minimum of 35 hours per week paying at or above the average wage in the lowest county with the lowest average wage. The Chamber is supportive of efforts, such as this jobs tax credit, that provide economic incentives intended to encourage growth and increased industry in Georgia. HB 936 unanimously passed the House Monday (2/29) by a vote of 166-0 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

HB 937:  Sales and use tax; exemption for projects of regional significance
Chamber Position: Support
Also sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), House Bill 937 extends the sunset provision on the sales and use tax credit for competitive projects of regional significance through 2019. This credit for projects of regional significance is an essential tool used by the Department of Economic Development in recruiting new industry to Georgia. HB 937 successfully passed the House 161-6 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Click here to see how your representative voted.

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