In preparation for Crossover Day, the Senate spent long hours deliberating and revising bill language. If Senate Bills did not pass on Crossover Day, they are no longer considered a 'live' bill and must wait until 2014 for re-consideration.
On Crossover Day - the last day a bill can transfer to the opposite chamber, and vice versa- the Senate took action on 29 bills and passed them to the House for further consideration. In total, the Senate passed 54 bills this week.
SB 101, a combination of several bills aimed at protecting second amendment rights, received favorable passage in the Senate this week. SB 101 proposes five measures within the bill, including:
Preventing public housing authorities from restricting the lawful possession of firearms by tenants in lease agreements
Authorizing non-Georgia residents with a weapons carry license from their state to carry their weapon legally in Georgia
Removing the costly and superfluous state required license currently required for a firearms dealer and requiring only a Federal Firearms License
Allowing persons between the ages of 18 - 21 to possess a weapons carry license provided they have completed basic training, or are active duty or those without a dishonorable discharge from any U.S. military branch
Strengthening confidentiality and prohibiting the state from creating and maintaining a database of license holders
If you recall, I introduced a measure earlier this session that would prohibit the state from creating a statewide gun registry; this is also one of the key provisions within SB 101.
Placing the personal information of countless legal gun owners on a public registry should never be an option open for debate. The right to bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right that must be protected. Never should the fact that one has voluntarily submitted to a background check for the purpose of getting a weapons carry license be used to profile.
Additionally, some worry that if our government ever decides to disarm its citizens, weapons carry license holders would be the first to be targeted.
This week, the Senate also voted to pass SB 224. This bill would create the Invest Georgia fund and allow access to seed capital for Georgia high tech companies. The intention of SB 224 is to bring job growth to Georgia.
The Invest Georgia fund might be advantageous to job growth in the short term, but it's projected to cost $95 million over a 5-year period. While I support job promotion in Georgia, I voted against this measure because I believe that investing tax dollars in high-risk ventures is not the best use of those dollars.
During these difficult economic times, we need to take careful account of every dollar. We don't have that kind of money right now. We've all heard of people who thought they would make millions during the dot com boom, only to go bankrupt. I did not feel comfortable voting for something which is high risk and contributes to big government.
One of the most highly debated bills this week was HB 266. This bill would update Georgia's IRS code and clarify measures from last year's tax reform package. When it comes to tax legislation, the General Assembly must act responsibly. The law and Senate Rules requirements for obtaining fiscal notes should be adhered to strictly-rather than when it's convenient.
Every time a major tax bill is revised-even if the bill is believed to be revenue neutral-a new fiscal note should be required before permitting that legislation to be voted upon, whether in committee or on the Chamber floor.
I can't speak to how the bill was handled in the House, but the Senate suspended the Rules multiple times in order to get the desired results. Tax law that places huge new taxes on the masses while simultaneously providing huge tax cuts to a small segment of the population is not good policy.
I opposed this legislation because I felt it violated the Senate Rules and state law and was also poor policy.
As Georgia continues on its road to economic recovery, the legislature should take every precaution to act in the best interests of the Georgia taxpayers. Transparency and due process should always prevail as we conduct the people's business.
Several other bills passed the Senate this week including SB1, SB13, SB23, SB62, SB76, SB85, SB92, SB94, SB96, SB99, SB113, SB116, SB121, SB145, SB155, SB156, SB160, SB163, SB165, SB168, SB170, SB172, SB177, SB178, SB179, SB181, SB185, SB187, SB189, SB193, SB194, SB195, SB204, SB206, SB207, SB209, SB210, SB212, SB213, SB216, SB218, SB225, SB226, SB228, SB231, SB234, SB236, SB241, SB242, SB243, SR293 and SR378.
The remainder of the 2013 Legislative Session will be fast paced and filled with debate; however, I want to hear from you concerning the bills mentioned above and those still on the table.
Please feel free to contact my office at any time with questions or concerns. As always, it is an honor to serve Senate District 31.