Your General Assembly convened for the 2020 Legislative session Jan. 13. In follow-up to last week’s article, I continue to report on issues that will be addressed this year.
We will debate efforts to restore the state’s “Use It or Lose It” law, whereby thousands of Georgians were purged from the voter registration system after not voting for a period of years or responding to a mailed letter from the state election division.
Following changes to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations, we will address proposed legislation that seeks to allow college student-athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses. Questions must be answered. Will this abolish what we currently know as amateur versus professional athletes? If this happens, will college athletes then be taxed on their tuition?
There is also proposed legislation that would define gender equality in athletic participation. Because of the nature of this subject, I anticipate this becoming a “hot button” issue.
While SB289 will not likely see the House floor, the debate, which seeks to ban weapons that can fire multiple rounds (including typical shotguns for sport and hunting purposes), will continue in the Senate. There are numerous other bills that have been introduced that also prove to be detrimental to the Second Amendment, so we will certainly be on the defense in protecting the people’s rights. Hopefully, we will see some positive, common-sense legislation that will expand citizens’ rights to protect themselves.
We will continue to address the state having more control over management of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which has been the topic of numerous complaints. This vital economic resource is currently managed by the City of Atlanta.
We will look at clarifying and restoring the state’s aviation fuel tax that was suspended during the last great recession but could be returned, considering the industry’s current prosperity.
We intend to tighten up language pertaining to tax credits to the television and film industry. While Georgia has provided these incentives to the industry for about 15 years, there are concerns that some are taking advantage of the program, which is not producing the jobs that were promised.
Faced with state tax collections running well below projections over the past six months, we will consider whether we should slash the state’s income tax rate this year from 5.75 percent to 5.5 percent. Our top priority will continue to be reducing spending, while also protecting vital government programs and services. Seventy-five percent of registered Georgians currently oppose additional tax cuts. We continue to study this matter and consider new sources of revenue.
On the local scene, I have received requests from local government to increase the homestead tax exemptions for seniors. We also anticipate carrying legislation to provide senior citizens in assisted living facilities a higher standard and better oversight of their care.
We expect to deal with issues of gang violence — the number one issue of organized crime — and will continue to explore ways to eradicate human trafficking.