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Georgia Chamber Legislative Update – 3/11/16

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

Friday (3/11), the General Assembly completed legislative day 35 of the 40 legislative day calendar. This week, the legislature will be in session Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.   

BILLS OF INTEREST

BUSINESS & INDUSTRY

HB 757: “Pastor Protection Act”/”First Amendment Defense Act”

Chamber Position: Oppose

While lawmakers continue trying to address the issue of protecting religious liberties through various proposals this session, last week, Governor Deal and House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) released strong statements warning against any proposal that would allow for discrimination (CLICK HERE to read statements). The Georgia Chamber opposes the current version of HB 757, originally sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), due to language later added to include a state Senate proposal that would prohibit government retaliation against individuals and other “faith-based organizations” for discriminating against others based on their view of marriage. A top priority for the organization is to ensure Georgia is able to grow its economy and maintain its reputation as a leader for global commerce by opposing policies that promote discrimination or would have a discriminatory effect. The Chamber will continue to work with elected leaders on this and other proposals to ensure our state remains welcoming to all.

SB 277: “Protecting Georgia Small Business Act”

Chamber Position: Support

Senate Bill 277 sponsored by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell), successfully passed the House Friday (3/11) by a vote of 113-45 and will be transmitted to the Governor’s office, awaiting his signature. SB 277 states that neither a franchisee nor franchisees’ employees will be considered employees of the franchisor and is intended to provide small businesses with the ability to maintain control of their operations without excessive and onerous federal overreach after a contentious National Labor Relations Board ruling.

Click here to see how your representative voted.

Click here to see how your senator voted. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TAXATION

HB 922: Revise Taxpayer definition relating to Quality Jobs Tax Credit

Chamber Position: Support

Sponsored by Representative Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) in the House and Senator Bruce Thompson (R-White) in the Senate, House Bill 922 is a legislative fix for an unintended omission in the application of Georgia’s Quality Jobs Tax Credit. HB 922 unanimously passed the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday (3/9) and is eligible for consideration by the Senate Rules Committee for a floor vote as early as this week.  

Many companies, for varying business reasons, may choose to set up multiple LLCs with separate FEINs (federal employer identification number) under one parent corporation. Those separate legal entities are “disregarded” for tax filing purposes in Georgia. However, current law does not allow an employer with multiple disregarded entities to claim the Quality Jobs Tax Credit unless all 50 jobs were created under the same FEIN. HB 922 strengthens Georgia’s economic development incentives by revising the taxpayer definition so that corporations creating more than 50 jobs in the state, whether under one FEIN or multiple disregarded entities, are eligible to qualify for the tax credit.

EDUCATION

HB 801: HOPE; include certain coursework in computer science as optional rigor requirements

Chamber Position: Support; Scorecard

Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones’ (R- Milton) House Bill 801, which adds an additional .5 rigor score to students’ HOPE grade point average for taking approved STEM classes, unanimously passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday (3/9) and now awaits a vote by the Senate Rules Committee to authorize floor action. HB 801 is sponsored in the Senate by Butch Miller (R-Gainesville). Recognizing the importance of filling our high demand career fields, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Council ratified a position of support and score-carded HB 801.  

Click here to see how your representative voted.

CANDIDATE QUALIFYING

With qualifying for state legislative races closing Friday (3/11), in-depth analysis of candidates and races isn’t yet complete, however, there are 17 open seats in the Georgia House and 3 in the Georgia Senate. Candidates for open seats will be contacted to complete a candidate questionnaire. The Georgia Chamber uses questionnaires to evaluate the most pro-business candidates. Incumbents are evaluated on the Chamber’s Legislative Scorecard.

The primary will take place May 24 with a July 26 run-off election (where needed). The general election will take place November 8. 

CLICK HERE to view who qualified for which seat.

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