Hamrick Reports from the Capitol

By Bill Hamrick

We have less than ten legislative days left in this year’s session, which means it’s crunch time. All of the bills that will get a slot on the General Calendar must be passed out of committee by the end of next week. This means we are quickly but carefully vetting all the House bills to make sure they are perfect and ready for a vote by the full Senate.

We are especially busy in the Judiciary Committee, which I chair. One of the biggest bills that we hope to see passed this year is the re-write of Georgia’s laws regarding evidence used in court. We’ve been working since 2008 to modernize the code and bring it in line with 42 other states. Our current evidence code was created in 1863. We’ve made a few select changes in the past 146 years, but a true overhaul of the code is necessary. When the original code was written, the telephone hadn’t been invented yet. Needless to say, we had to take circumstances like advanced technology into account with this significant undertaking. These new laws will offer consistency, cost-savings and fairness.

Another major initiative in the General Assembly took a significant step this week when the Joint Special Committee on Tax Reform announced its long-awaited plans to reform Georgia’s tax code as a way to attract jobs and encourage investment in Georgia. The revenue-neutral proposal flattens the personal income tax rate from 6 percent to at least 4.5 percent while broadening consumption taxes. The bill does not levy taxes on groceries or common consumer services, but rather establishes an across the board 7 percent tax on telecommunications. It also eliminates the sales tax on energy while imposing a tax on auto repairs services and person-to-person sales of motor vehicles, boats, and planes. The Council developed the legislation based on recommendations prepared by the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness, a panel of business and economic leaders that studied Georgia’s tax system last year before recommending changes to the legislature. This legislation will go before the House for a vote before facing a floor debate in the Senate.

One of the top agenda items every legislative session is the budget, and this year is no exception. The amended FY 2011 budget was passed and signed by the governor. We have since turned our attention to the FY 2012 budget. The appropriations subcommittees have been meeting the last couple of weeks to detail funding for government agencies and special projects.  We expect the budget to be voted out of the full committee very soon and then it will head to the full Senate for a vote.

As always, it’s an honor to serve you, the 30th Senate District. If you have any questions on current legislation in the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sen. Bill Hamrick serves as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He represents the 30th Senate District which includes portions of Carroll, Douglas, and Paulding counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.0036 or via e-mail at bill.hamrick@senate.ga.gov.

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2011
For Information Contact:
Kallarin Richards, Deputy Director
Katie Wright, Communications Manager