By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
Last week flew by, and because of the intensity and urgency of Crossover Day, I didn’t really get the opportunity to go in depth about what actually passed in the Senate. Here’s a quick summary of a few of the roughly fifty bills that passed the Senate last week.
SB 133 would eliminate the corporate net worth tax for corporations worth less than $100,000. Small businesses are abundant and vital to the economy of District 19 and this bill would remove the current nuisance tax. This is a pro-business measure that will keep small businesses from having to pay a tax that costs more to process than it collects.
SB 5, which is one of the six majority caucus priorities, would require the Georgia Lottery to give a certain amount of their proceeds to the Lottery for Education Account. The amount of people going to college on the HOPE scholarship in our state is growing, which signifies progress for our state, but could stretch the Lottery for Education Account funds thin in the coming years. This measure seeks to ensure the financial stability of the HOPE Scholarship without the need of casino gambling promoted by some in the Gold Dome.
SB 186 would allow students who earned their high school diploma through dual enrollment to be eligible for a HOPE grant. This is a wonderful opportunity for students who are trying to further their education while still in high school and is the ultimate cost-saver.
SR 228 conveys the old STC property to the Tattnall County Development Authority to recruit new jobs. We have several state properties in our district and it’s good to see the state allowing counties to lease them for the benefit of our district.
Also on Day 30, Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick) and I attempted to use a coastal pipeline protection bill, SB 191, as a vehicle to advance a coal ash restriction bill, but the measure failed. We will keep working to persuade our colleagues of this measure’s importance.
This week, Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough) was kind enough to allow me to present SB 256 to the Regulated Industries Committee. This bill will open the possibility for state land to be used to promote cell and broadband service. I understand fiber is the new craze, but we still have areas of our district where you can’t make a simple cell phone call! Let’s not move so fast we forget simple cell service is important for safety as well as economic development.
House Bill 146 was a bill that was brought up for a vote in the Senate this week and passed unanimously. HB 146 would require fire departments to extend insurance coverage for cancer to firefighters who have served for 12 consecutive months and receive a diagnosis. As we all know, firefights are crucial to keeping our citizens and property safe. However, due to the nature of their jobs, they are often diagnosed with cancer at a higher rate than people with different jobs. Anything we can do to help out both our full time and volunteer firefighters is imperative to maintaining our safety through giving them the access to the medical care they deserve. Without them, we really would be in a world of hurt, which is I so strongly support HB 146.
This week and next week we will be busy with committee meetings where we vet and recommend, or do not recommend, legislation to be heard on the Senate floor. We’re finally getting down to single digits with just nine legislative days remaining in the 2017 session. As always, it is an honor to serve you at the state Capitol and I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta in the future!