Since the 2018 Legislative Session wrapped up in late March, we have been busy with study committee meetings and preparing to pre-file legislation for the 2019 Legislative Session.
The Georgia Senate School Safety Study Committee, which I chair, has met four times around the state. I sponsored Senate Resolution 935, which created this study committee. Members of the Study Committee have been traveling the state and meeting with all stakeholders to determine ways that each community can keep their schools and children safe. The Committee’s goal and job throughout the meetings has been to listen, compile information, and make actionable suggestions to be included in a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation. Additionally, a Committee website was launched: GaSenatek12Safety.com. All interested parties are encouraged to visit the website to provide feedback for Committee members to review, compile, and consider before recommendations are made in preparation for the 2019 Legislative Session.
Along with Study Committee meetings, I’ve been reviewing the impact of legislation we passed this past session and what legislation is necessary next session to continue to make Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. This past session, we passed not only the largest income tax cut in Georgia’s history, but also the first individual income tax cut since 1937, and the first corporate tax cut since 1969. House Bill 918 includes a doubling of the standard deduction for taxpayers of all statuses, effective January 1, 2018. In addition, the update will reduce the income tax rate from six percent to 5.75 percent for both individuals and businesses as of January 1, 2019, and it contains a provision to lower income tax rates further, to 5.5 percent, effective January 1, 2020, if approved by the General Assembly after a comprehensive review of the state’s economic outlook. Next session, I will continue my quest to bring income tax down to a more flat and fair rate.
I have also been reviewing the impact of House Bill 930. Under HB 930, the newly created Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission is responsible for overseeing planning, transit funding, construction, and coordinating transit projects across thirteen metro Atlanta counties. Although I believe this legislation is taking us in the right direction by putting our transit organizations under one roof, I still believe there is more work to be done. I plan to look at additional traffic congestion relief legislation by working with cities, counties, and state agencies to improve commute times and safety for our citizens.
Along with pursuing further action on our income tax rate and transportation relief, I think it’s important to address surprise medical billing. Last session, House Bill 314 addressing surprise medical billing did not receive final passage. I plan to champion this legislation again in 2019 to protect patients, bring greater transparency, and ensure that all our citizens have a clear understanding of medical costs.
Additionally, I would like to review the impact of putting technology first by having first grade students begin learning about important information technology skills and software development (coding). It is evident that we live in a world where technology is evolving not by the year, month, or hour, but oftentimes by the minute. It’s important that we introduce these skills as early as possible to ensure that our students have every tool to not only be successful later in life, but to keep up with the constantly evolving culture of technology.
I will continue to provide updates during the interim and once session begins. Please reach out with any questions, suggestions, or feedback. My door is always open.