Your Georgia Legislature finished its first week of session. And, as tradition is followed, Governor Brian Kemp delivered his "State of the State" address, highlighting his legislative agenda. The Governor and the legislature will continue to address gang violence, sex trafficking, and foster care/adoption overhaul.
The Governor supports the House and Senate on dealing with surprise medical billing, which refers to instances where insured patients receive separate, unexpected bills from non-network doctors involved in their care. These unexpected charges – from doctors, anesthesiologists and radiologists, among others - can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Governor Kemp continues to push for an additional $2,000 pay increase for teachers to fulfill his 2018 campaign promise. In a year of budget cuts and revenue shortfalls, this will require innovation. My concern is that the most valuable assets Georgia has are all dedicated State employees fulfilling the mission of their agencies. Time to look at priorities across the board to ensure parity.
Meanwhile, here is what we have accomplished in the first four days of the 2020 session.
HB276, the Marketplace Facilitators Act, was finalized. This bill, continued from last year’s assembly, closes the loophole in sales and use tax disparity that currently exists between brick-and-mortar businesses and their internet competitors. Effective April 1, the state will begin collecting sales and use tax from websites or apps that are used to sell goods and services provided by third parties.
HR882 was approved down party lines. This resolution, which carries no effect of law, simply commends the U.S. military and President Donald Trump for actions to neutralize the number one terrorist in the world, General Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for the deaths of many American lives.
As always, there is legislation dealing with Second Amendment rights - some positive, most negative. Given that legislation of this kind can infringe on a citizen’s Constitutional right to self-protection and due process of law, we must be diligent in the protection of the citizens’ rights. In this time of growing criminal activity, the public has a right to own weapons to protect themselves.
On the local scene, I have received requests from local governments to increase the homestead tax exemption for seniors. This measure would raise the exemption amount based on the appraised value of the property.
Also, I am working on legislation to give local governments tools to correct the procedures used by power-generating facilities that rely on burning various types of materials (including creosote) for their operations. Given recent pollution concerns, I intend to provide local government more oversight and control of the type of materials that can be incinerated to fuel these plants.
This week we are meeting on the state budget.
I am honored to serve you and, as always, appreciate your thoughts and interest. Please feel free to contact me via phone at (404) 656-0276 (Legislative Office) or (706) 206-6500 (Cell) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Alan Powell represents District 32 in the Georgia House of Representatives.