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Notes From the Senate
Monday, 18 February 2013

February 18--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville provides an update on state revenue and what's going on in the Georgia Senate.

STATE REVENUES SHOW IMPROVEMENT IN JANUARY

There was some good news in the January Revenues released last week.  The official gain for the month was 10.4%, the highest month over month increase in a long while.  There was, however a caveat, in that electronic refunds were paid out by the state in January due to the federal gov't not releasing any refunds until January 31.  More on this later, but here are the numbers as presented by the Revenue Dept.:  Total revenues for the month were $1.7 billion. Individual Income Taxes are up for the month 16.3% or $143.3 million on Individual Income Tax Revenues of $1.02 billion. Sales Taxes continue to cause concern showing a negative -0.1% decrease in gross receipts for the month.  State distribution was up only slightly at 0.1%. Motor Fuel Taxes are up only slightly for the month at 0.2% with Motor Fuel Sales Taxes down by -3.7% and excise taxes up by 5.3%. Corporate Income Taxes continue to be encouraging showing an increase of $18.2 million. Tobacco and alcoholic beverages taxes were both negative for the month at -12.4% and 0.6% respectively.

 

A SECOND LOOK AT THE MONTH FACTORING ESTIMATED REFUNDS

January admittedly came off better with electronic refunds being paid out by the state.  So we took a look at what revenues would look like with an estimated refund amount figured in.    I am told that last year in January, refunds totaled somewhere near $60 million.  So I recalculated the January figures with the $60 million factored and...well, it's still a good month.  Under this scenario, Individual Income Taxes show a gain of $88.3 million or about 9.4% with total revenues at $108.6 million or an increase for the month of 6.6%.  Still pretty good.

 

YEAR TO DATE NUMBERS ARE ENCOURAGING

Georgia has taken in a total of $10.3 billion dollars through the first 7 months of the fiscal year with a year over year gain of $563.7 million or 5.7%. (Adjusted for the refunds, that net would drop to $503.7 million or 5.1%).  Individual Income Taxes are up 7.2% or $380.6 million dollars.

Sales Taxes are up only 1.0% for the year with the state portion up 2.3%

Motor Fuel Tax receipts are negative at -2.2% for the year through January.  Corporate Tax receipts are up some $97.1 million YTD.  Tobacco tax receipts are down -4.0% and alcoholic beverages are up slightly at 0.6%.

 

BOATING AND HUNTING SAFETY LAWS INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE

In response to two boating tragedies over the summer one killing two boys, Jake and Griffin Prince, the other killing one boy Kyle Glover and injuring a little girl, the Governor has proposed a tightening of boater safety laws.  This week a comprehensive bill was introduced in the Senate to tighten BUI laws lowering the blood alcohol limit from .10 to .08 (the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle).  The law also includes a requirement for children under the age of 16 to complete boater education courses to operate personal water craft alone.  The bill also reduces the legal blood alcohol content while hunting from .10 to .08.

 

PASSED SENATE AND NOW IN THE HOUSE

  • SB 65 -Allows licensed professional counselors to require people who are mentally ill, addicted to alcohol or drugs to participate in involuntary treatment.  This power was previously given to physicians and psychologists.
  • SB 66- Increases the fines for contempt of court to a fine of no more than $1,000.
  • SB 97- Creates the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef.

BILLS INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE

  • SB 114- Requires that any candidate elected to serve on a school board must have lived in that school district for at least one year, bars convicted felons or misdemeanants from serving, changes the conflicts of interest that bar a candidate from serving on a school board, as well as requiring local school boards to create a "code of ethics".
  • SB 127- Adds aviation activities to recreational uses of land that limits liability to the owner.
  • SB 135- Allows law enforcement agencies to require DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested for a felony.
  • SB 138- Allows local boards of education to hire paraprofessionals or other school personnel to serve as para-protection officers who would be allowed to carry concealed weapons at elementary schools, as long as they had five years of non-administrative law enforcement experience and be certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
  • SB 145- Adds the use of property for farm weddings to agritourism property.
 

 

 
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