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Notes From the Senate
Monday, 29 August 2011

August 29--  Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville discusses congressional reapportionment and the state gasoline sales tax in his weekly "Notes From The Senate."



The Congressional Reapportionment map passed by the House and due to be voted on by the Senate on August 31 will only slightly change counties in the Fourth Senatorial District.  Presently all seven counties in the Fourth District are located in the 12th Congressional District.


Under the map working its way through the legislature, six of the seven counties in the Fourth will still be in the 12th Congressional District.  Only Effingham is affected with part of the county (21,373) in the 12th and the remaining part of Effingham (30,877) in the 1st District, represented by Congressman Jack Kingston.


The counties wholly located in the 12th now are Bulloch, Screven, Burke, Richmond, Jenkins, Emanuel, Candler, Evans, Tattnall, Appling, Toombs, Treutlen, Laurens, Montgomery, Wheeler, Jeff Davis and Coffee.  Counties partially in the 12th are Columbia and Effingham.


Counties wholly in the 1st District include Chatham, Bryan, Long, Liberty, Wayne, McIntosh, Glynn, Bacon, Pierce, Brantley, Camden, Ware, Charlton, Clinch and Echols counties.  Partial counties include Lowndes (Moody AFB) and Effingham.


The major difference in the two districts from the present configuration are that the previously split counties of Richmond and Chatham are now wholly in a district - Richmond in the 12th and Chatham in the 1st.


Of course, these maps, as well as the Senate and House maps, will be reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department and possibly by federal courts.



The Legislature has ratified Gov. Deal's decision to freeze sales tax on gasoline in the state.


 During the first half of 2011, gas prices spiked dramatically spurring the governor to issue an executive order in June of 2011 suspending the collection of a portion of state taxes on sales of motor fuels and aviation gasoline. In order for the executive order to be extended it was necessary that members of the House and Senate approve the executive order during the 2011 Special Session. The tax increase would have been due to a biannual adjustment to the state's motor fuel tax.


Georgia's gas tax comes with several different parts: a fixed 7.5 cent per gallon excise tax and a state sales tax of 4 percent calculated and converted to a per gallon cost based on the average retail price for midgrade gasoline during the previous six months.  These two taxes, along with an 18 cent per gallon federal excise tax, are collected at the retail distribution level and built in to the cost of the gasoline.  Local governments can add a variety of local option sales taxes on to the retail cost of gasoline.  The state's 4 percent sales tax on gas is recalculated twice a year unless the price varies (up or down) by 25 percent or more, which triggers an immediate recalculation of the cents per gallon tax rate.


For example, in March of this year, fuel prices soared high enough to trigger a recalculation.  The state's sales tax portion increased from the 10.1 cents per gallon (as established on January 1, 2011) to a rate of 12.9 cents per gallon which took effect on May 1.  Had the governor not issued his executive order to prevent an increase, the sales tax portion of the gas tax would have increased again on July 1 (the normal bi-annual recalculation date) all the way up to 14.5 cents per gallon.


The legislation passed this week keeps the sales tax at the 12.9 cent rate or what will be slightly less than 4%.
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