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Week Four Under the Gold Dome

Week Four Under the Gold Dome Week Four Under the Gold Dome

Week Four is in the books and usually this is about the time things really start moving in the legislature. However, this year, that’s not the case — we’re off to a record-setting pace and big items that usually don’t move until later in the session have already made substantial progress or hit substantial roadblocks much earlier than in previous years. Here’s a brief summary of the past week: Income Tax Reductions — The Senate is awaiting an income tax reduction acceleration bill. The House claims it has to start in their chamber for constitutional reasons.

Property Tax Freezes — several different items that freeze or cap property tax increases are in the Senate Finance committee. I think the best idea is a floating homestead exemption that freezes one’s property taxes on their homestead only the year after purchase. The freeze would last until the homeowner adds on the home/ property or the home is sold. If we’re worried about citizens, particularly those on fixed incomes, being forced out of their homes due to property taxes, this proposal makes the most sense, however other proposals capping increases seem to have more juice.

Gambling — a bill that would allow sports betting passed out of the Senate. I opposed it. While it may be happening all around us, the societal effects of gambling are not worth the purported gain. This bill also allowed certain sports teams to have licenses for sports betting. Allowing the teams to have an interest in the outcome of a bet seems like a dangerous idea. For example, if there was a bet on how many homeruns Ronald Acuna would hit this year and the Atlanta Braves would earn more money for their license if he didn’t hit that number, would sports betting create an incentive where the Braves’ owners would tell Manager Brian Snitker to let Acuna sit out and “rest” for a few games? I don’t know, but it certainly would change the game many of us love.

Tort Reform — With the help of the Lieutenant Governor, I’m carrying a bill that would end direct action suits of insurance companies in certain situations. Insurance companies tell us this will curb “nuclear verdicts.” We are looking to them to halt increases in premiums once this is done. I’m also carrying a bill that caps the liability a foster parent could face if they allow a foster child to drive the family vehicle. We want to promote foster families, not discourage them with legal liability, and I believe this helps. Lastly, I’ve introduced a bill that repeals OCGA 9-11-26.1, the apex doctrine. This is the statute Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is citing to oppose her deposition in a pending legal matter.

I also opposed SB 26 this week on the Senate Floor. This bill gives powers to the State Dept. of Economic Development under the auspices of promoting the EV industry that I just don’t feel comfortable with at this time. The bill was tabled for further discussion but will likely rise again.

The House is expected to pass the FY 2024 Amended Budget next week, so my time will shift to focus almost exclusively there soon, and I’m sure this column will be much more “budget based” in the coming weeks. If you have an issue affecting you, though, please don’t hesitate to call. My cell number is still 912-245-9915 or you can reach me in Atlanta at 404-656-0089. Thank you for the pleasure of representing you in Atlanta.

Sen. Blake Tillery serves as Chairman for the Senate Committee on Appropriations. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Bacon, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Coffee County. He can be reached by email at blake.

By Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia)

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