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5 Signed Bills Explained: Tax Credits and Prison/Veteran Reforms
We're more than halfway through the allotted time Governor Nathan Deal has to act on bills passed by the General Assembly. He has 40 consecutive days to sign, veto or do nothing to each bill and we're currently on Day 28. Listed below are a few of the major bills Governor Deal has already signed.
HB 958: Extends and creates 5 tax breaks. The back-to-school sales tax holiday will be in effect two more years (this year it will be on August 1-2) with no sales tax on clothes, school supplies, shoes and some computer and software programs. The Energy-Efficient Sales Tax will also take place for two more years (this year will be October 3-5) with no sale tax on ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliances. Thirdly, there will be a sales tax break for construction materials on projects that have “regional significance,” such as the building of the Braves and Falcons stadiums. This bill also gives a tax break for video game developers and companies to keep computer science students in Georgia instead of migrating to San Francisco or Seattle. Lastly, this bill extends a tax break to food banks in order to keep charitable services alive in Georgia.
HB 348: Tax credit for the purchase of alternative fuel commercial trucks or buses. As another tax credit bill, this law aims to encourage companies to purchase new alternative fuel trucks to help improve the air we breathe. However, there are certain specifications:
- The vehicle must be considered heavy-duty or medium duty
- It must operate on electricity, liquid petroleum gas, natural gas or hydrogen fuel
- The vehicle must be new and an original equipment manufacture (not converted)
- At least 75% of vehicle mileage must be driven in Georgia
- Vehicles must be registered in Georgia for at least 5 years
- The tax credit will apply only to vehicles purchased between July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017
You will be able to apply for the tax credit through the Georgia Department of Revenue.
SB 365: Helps rehabilitated offenders re-enter society. This is Phase 3 in Governor Deal’s reform on crime repercussions in Georgia. Phase 1 focused on getting the nonviolent offenders into treatment facilities. Phase 2 made changes to the juvenile justice system. And now, Phase 3 helps prepare inmates for the workforce, requiring the Board of Corrections to create and implement treatment plans and vocational training for adult offenders to complete while in prison. They will then be awarded a certificate that they can present to potential employers after their release.
This bill’s ultimate aim is to remove barriers for employment, housing and education that currently block ex-offenders.
In addition, this bill also changes the child fatality review process and includes revisions to the management of juvenile delinquents in foster care.
SB 320: Establishes a mechanism for creating a veterans court division for criminal court cases. Veterans courts would provide veterans an alternative to our traditional justice system, especially when circumstances (usually concerning situations beyond their control) impede in their transition back into the life as a civilian.
SB 391: Requires all medical facilities in Georgia apply for the TRICARE network. TRICARE is the health insurance program for military members. Medical facilities still don’t have to form a contract or participate in TRICARE, but they have to show an effort of good faith during the application process. SB 391 also creates tax deductions for physicians hosting medical students from Georgia schools.
The Governor's website displays the full list of bills already signed, but be sure to check back here after day 40 for another summary of the major bills that have become laws.
Photo Courtesy of the Governor's Office
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is the Editorial Director for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., with degrees in Visual Communication and History.