As this Legislative session comes to an end, I am focusing my time to ensure my bills in the House can see a passage on to the Governor.
With only three legislative days left, all the hard work from this year comes to a head. Along with my colleagues, our focus has been to see an overall lifestyle improvement for you, and some effective legislation has gone through to support this. Below is an updated account on the progression of the most important bills I have written or supported.
A bill that will make Georgia’s roads safer for its drivers passed through the Senate this week. The Governor’s Super Speeder Bill (House Bill 160) is one that I led through the Senate, and having already passed the House, is now headed for the Governor’s office.
The legislation directs the Department of Driver Services to collect a $200 fine from any driver, or “Super Speeder,” who is convicted of driving at a speed of 85 miles per hour or more on any four-lane road or 75 miles per hour or more on any two-lane road. All funds collected from “Super Speeders” will be used to fund a trauma care system in Georgia.
We are working to make Georgia roadways safer. This bill provides an incentive for Georgians to drive with more caution at lower speeds. It will also punish those driving recklessly fast with a fine that will fund a system for those already in harm. I am a supporter for finding finances for Georgia trauma care, and I especially support this bill because it will help the state fund the trauma care we desperately need without introducing a new tax.
Employment relief also made its way out of the Senate this week. The Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009 (JOBS) is designed to stimulate Georgia’s small business climate with tax incentives and credits.
The Act is made up of House Bill 481 and 482 which provide a new business filing fee holiday, a $500 credit towards the unemployment insurance tax for each eligible employee hired, a $2,400 income tax credit for each eligible employee hired, the elimination of the sales tax deposit, and the elimination of the state inventory tax on all Georgia businesses.
This is the most important pro-business legislation the General Assembly has ever passed, and its focus on protecting the small business will be the key to bringing Georgia through the current recession.
Two of my other bills I worked hard on in the Sen-ate are making progression in the House.
The Governor’s Landowner Protection Act (Sen-ate Bill 75) allows landowners who charge admission to hunt or fish for the purpose of agritourism on their property to be immune from civil liability. This is only if the landowners’ conduct does not constitute gross negligence and they give fair legal warning.
The bill moved smoothly through the Senate process and upon Senate passage, found its way to a House Judiciary sub-committee.
After passage from the subcommittee, the bill again drew a lot of attention in the full Judiciary Committee. This is a simple bill that provides immunity for landowners who are making their cherished land available for other’s pleasure.
However, there was spirited debate in the committee including, at one time, a motion to table the bill. The good news is that it finally passed and now resides in the Rules Committee awaiting one more favorable vote before being sent for approval by the entire House.
The Governor’s Georgia Aviation Authority Bill (Senate Bill 85) creates one authority under which all state aviation assets and services will be managed.
By consolidating Georgia’s aircraft into one agency, all of the state’s aircraft can be managed in order to gain maximum safety, efficiency and fiscal responsibility. This bill made its way through the Transportation subcommittee, then full committee, and is now in Rules awaiting one final vote to be sent to the House floor for consideration.
As always, I am pleased to serve the people of the 31st Senate District. This upcoming week includes the final days 38 through 40 of this year’s session. It is my hope to report the success of these bills and others to you next week for this session’s final column. Please contact me with any questions, concerns or feedback. I look forward to hearing from you and continue to work for a better Georgia.
Sen. Bill Heath serves as Chairman of the Retirement Committee and Governor Sonny Perdue’s Floor Leader in the Senate. He represents the 31st Senate District which consists of Haralson and Polk counties and portions of Bartow and Paulding counties. He may be reached at 404-651-7738 or by email at: