In addition to the 300 or so local bills passed during the 2012 legislative session, the members of the General Assembly passed 172 bills which are now being reviewed by Gov. Nathan Deal. Constitutionally, the governor is given 40 days from the last day of session to sign or veto the bills sent to him. If he does not act upon a bill in one of these ways, it automatically becomes law without his signature. This year, Gov. Deal has until May 8 to complete this task.
It is important to note that the amount of bills that the General Assembly has passed has continued to decrease as our state’s budget has suffered. Many laws require additional funding to be successfully implemented. As we have seen our state suffer financially, we have made responsible decisions to only pass bills we think are vital to our growth as a state and measures that are necessary for our citizens’ safety.
The governor has created the following website where you can see a list of all bills that were passed and have been signed into law:
One bill I was proud to support which will make a difference for our veterans is Senate Bill 473. This bill extends the eligibility for Purple Heart license tags to include service members on active duty or in reserves. Men and women throughout the state have made great sacrifices for our country by serving in our armed forces. Prior to this law passing, those wounded soldiers who were still serving were not allowed to receive their Purple Heart license tag. I am proud that this bill received unanimous bipartisan support in order to show honor and respect to veterans both past and present.
Another bill that may be of interest to you is Senate Bill 332. This bill requires local governing bodies to annually publish in the newspaper and on their government website (if they have one) an accounting of how the monies collected from Special Local Option Sales Taxes are being spent. The report shall include any excess proceeds that have not been expended for any approved project or purpose, estimated completion date, and the actual completion cost of a project that has been completed during the current year. The bill also allows retailers to advertise a price that includes the sales tax so long as the receipt shows the amount of sales tax to be remitted by the retailer on the purchase.
Over the next few weeks, I will seek to touch on some additional pieces of legislation that I feel will mean a great deal to you. As we have discussed for quite some time now, tax reform for Georgians is something I am dedicated to in many ways. As the co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure, I have worked with many different individuals to seek long-term reform that will benefit both you and future generations of Georgians. This year we laid a small but necessary foundation upon which we can begin to build the future of tax reform.
As we begin to discuss other legislation—including zero-based budgeting, abortion, transportation, education and tax reform—I encourage you to look at the bills we passed and reach out to me with specific legislation you would like for me to discuss further. I hope to take the opportunity this summer to look more deeply into the details of the tax reform bill and discuss the many ways we can continue to reform our tax system to create a flatter and fairer tax system.
I look forward to my time away from the State Capitol and back at home where I can spend more time in the community discussing what our greatest needs are. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me during this off-season with your comments and concerns. It is during this time that some of the most important ideas are discussed, leading up to and becoming the foundation for vital legislation for our state.
I hope you and your family have a happy and safe Easter weekend as believers celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave just as he had promised.
State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen
State Sen. Bill Heath serves as chairman of the Finance Committee. 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 email@example.com.