Sunday, March 15, 2009

lunsford weekly

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 14, 2009


This legislative week ended with Cross-Over Day on Thursday, legislative day number 30, which is one of the longest days of session.  It is the responsibility of the legislature to enact new laws and legislative day 30 plays a key role in the law making process.  This day is significant in that it is the last day that legislation must pass one chamber in order to be heard by the other.  The House voted on more than 70 measures on day 30 which was Thursday into the night. The Georgia General Assembly meets for up to 40 session days, so only ten legislative days remain.


Every year on our birthdays, the one thing we dread is the so called birthday tax on our vehicles.  As legislators, we realize that all of us do not look forward to having to pay the ad valorem tax on our vehicles yearly.  For the second year in a row, we are trying to tackle the issue of the ad valorem tax paid on vehicles.  HB 480 passed out of the House on Cross-Over Day by a vote of 133 to 39.  This Bill would replace the sales tax and annual ad valorem tax on our motor vehicles with a one-time title fee.  Another benefit of this bill is that the excess funds could be dedicated to help partially fund trauma care in the state of Georgia; but, will still be subjected to the appropriations process.  If passed by the Senate, this would take affect on or after January 1, 2010. The total of the one time state and local title fees on the vehicle would be the lesser amount of $2,000 or 7% of the value of the vehicle.  This bill is essential as it means that instead of paying the yearly ad valorem tax, a one time state and local title fee would be paid when the vehicle is titled.


Several tax bills were on the minds of the General Assembly this week.  Two GOP proposals, HB 481 and HB 482 passed out of the House on Thursday.  The Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009 (HB 481), passed by a vote of 164 to 4.  Both of these bills make changes to the tax code while both promoting and encouraging businesses and employment in Georgia.  HB 481 would provide a $2,400 credit to businesses that keep people employed for at least two years, gives a $500 credit per employee to employers for hiring people that are unemployed and receive unemployment benefits, and also gives refunds for sales tax deposits.  HB 482 passed unanimously.  This bill would provide an exemption on all business inventories from the state’s 0.25 mill ad valorem tax.  This is subject to the approval of voters on the 2010 ballot.  Also included in this bill is a business sales tax day which would waive the $100 state filing fee for businesses in Georgia.  In Georgia, job create and increasing business is essential during economic times like we are in and these tax break proposals help to accomplish both of those needs.  Unfortunately one measure that would have helped, failed that was HR 22 a constitutional amendment protected the right to secret ballots for union elections. The democrat party took an official position against this bill. The outcome could be disastrous for business across this nation.


One bill that many of us are watching is SB 169. The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act passed out of the Senate on Cross-Over Day after much debate. 

This bill declares an embryo to be a living person and the current version which passed out of the Senate by a vote of 34 to 22 would limit at least one form of embryonic stem cell research.  Although initially intended to restrict multiple births through invitro fertilization, the bill was given an in-dept look once debate opened up on the Senate floor.  The current version of the bill would restrict researchers from mixing human and animal genes.  Also, it mandates that embryos be created for the purpose of making babies.  This bill will now come to the House for consideration. 


The Insurance Delivery Enactment Act of 2009, HB 321, passed the House with bipartisan support on Thursday with 171 members voting for the bill.  This bill amends the Georgia Code by changing the definitions of group accident, sickness insurance, and true association.  Also, the bill reduces the number of people required for an association from 25 to 10 people.  This bill now requires that spouses be included under a policy issued to a legal entity providing a multiple employer welfare arrangement.  Other changes relate to the amount of insurance under the policy and makes changes in the required number of years in existence from 5 to 3 years.  We want to help our small businesses in Georgia to be able to continue to grow and offer group health insurance to their employees at reduced costs. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at




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