Rep. Deffenbaugh: Week 7 Georgia Legislative Report

Sunday, February 25, 2018
Rep. John Deffenbaugh
Rep. John Deffenbaugh

The House got back to work at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and we had a very busy seventh week of the 2018 legislative session. As we get closer and closer to “Cross Over Day,” our agendas continue to get fuller and our days get longer. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, Governor Nathan Deal, along with several House and Senate members, held a press conference to introduce House Bill 918, legislation that would update Georgia’s tax code. After being vetted in committee, HB 918 made its way to the House floor on Thursday, Feb. 22, where it passed overwhelmingly. This legislation would make necessary changes to our state’s outdated tax code, which has not been updated in decades, and seeks to decrease the tax burden on our citizens by cutting individual and corporate state income taxes. HB 918 would double the state standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers for all filing statuses, effective Jan. 1, 2018, and would reduce the income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to 5.75 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2019. The legislation would further reduce the tax rate to 5.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, but would require approval of the General Assembly and signature of the governor in order to take effect. Furthermore, the bill would eliminate the sales tax on jet fuel to help our state be more competitive and to encourage airlines to fly additional direct flights from Georgia to global destinations. Finally, this revenue neutral tax proposal would also address the state revenue projections resulting from the recent Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This historic tax update would benefit all of Georgia’s citizens by allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, and I am proud of the General Assembly’s work on this important measure.

This week, the House passed several bills that came from the House Rural Development Council’s (RDC) legislative recommendations. On Wednesday, Feb. 21, the House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 769 in an effort to improve access to quality health care in the rural parts of our state.  Under HB 769, a Georgia licensed pharmacist located within the United States could remotely place pharmacy drug orders for hospital patients, provided that the orders are reviewed by a pharmacist who is physically in the hospital within 24 hours or by the next business day. This measure was the first RDC-related bill to pass the House this session, and the bill’s wide-ranging health care provisions would allow this critical sector to thrive in rural Georgia. 

In addition to passing rural development-related bills this week, the House unanimously passed legislation that would benefit Georgia’s students. Under House Bill 853, public school students who are admitted under a physician’s order into a licensed psychiatric residential treatment center would be exempt from paying tuition or fees to a local school system. Under current law, public school students receiving treatment in medical hospitals are exempt from tuition and fees, but students who are referred to psychiatric residential treatment facilities are not exempt from such fees. There are six psychiatric residential treatment facility hospitals across our state, and approximately 300 to 500 students are treated at these centers annually. This legislation would allow these students to continue their education and stay on track academically while receiving long-term medical and psychological treatment.

This week, the House unanimously passed a measure to help fight the horrific practice of sex trafficking within our state. House Bill 732 would expand the definition of sex trafficking to include anyone who patronizes sexually explicit conduct from a sex trafficking victim. With this clarification to state law, anyone who commits this offense would be charged with a felony and would be required to serve a prison sentence of five to 20 years. HB 732 would ensure that individuals who knowingly engage in sex trafficking acts with victims of sex trafficking are prosecuted accordingly, and this bill is a significant step to address this serious issue in our state.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the House unanimously passed a bill that would have a great impact on Georgia’s active-duty military members. House Bill 840 would exempt active-duty military members serving in a combat zone from penalty fees associated with unintentionally unpaid special, occupational or sales taxes and license, regulatory or administrative fees incurred while they are in a combat zone. HB 840 does not exempt active-duty military members from paying these taxes, but it does give them 60 days from the time they return from their military service to make full payment of the taxes due without penalties if they present proof of their presence in a combat zone. Oftentimes, active-duty military members are unable to renew licenses, like small businesses licenses, that expire while they are stationed in a combat zone, and this bill would prevent our service members from being penalized with late fees while they are deployed. 

Next Wednesday, Feb. 28, marks legislative Day 28, otherwise known as “Cross Over Day.” This is the last day a bill may pass out of its original legislative chamber and remain eligible for consideration this legislative session. With this deadline in mind, my colleagues and I will be working even longer hours next week to ensure that quality and meaningful legislation passes the House this session. If you have any questions or concerns regarding any legislation up for consideration in the House, or any input on how I may better serve our community, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at my Capitol office at 404-656-0202, or via email at john.deffenbaugh@house.ga.gov. Also, if you ever find yourself in Atlanta during the legislative session, please feel free to stop by my Capitol office, which is located at 507 CLOB.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.
Rep. John Deffenbaugh




Will God Still Bless America?

Our homeland is in peril Dire straits no doubt Contempt for each other Voiced in scornful shout  We must desire to reconcile Our differences posthaste Beg the Lord for one last chance To earn his saving grace  We need to bind our wounds and heal Before the end is neigh How many tears must we spill Before our soul runs dry?  Heavenly Father, ... (click for more)

It's Been A Good Run

Six years ago, I made the decision to run for the Georgia State House and enter the world of state politics. It has been a challenging and daunting experience for which I am very thankful. It led me to national and international involvement for the state, meeting many interesting people of differing ideologies. Sharing ideas with both parties and listening to their views enabled ... (click for more)

Funeral Service For John P. Franklin Will Be Friday; Public Memorial Service Is Thursday Night

Funeral services will be Friday for John P. Franklin, Chattanooga's first elected black official in the post Jim Crow era. Mr. Franklin died Thursday at the age of 96. He will lie in state in the chapel of John P. Franklin Funeral Home from noon until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday,. Public viewing will resume at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Olivet Baptist Church, and a ... (click for more)

Woman, 20, Killed While Trying To Cross Highway 153 Early Sunday Morning

A woman, 20, was killed early Sunday morning while trying to cross Highway 153. The victim was identified as Ansleigh Kaylyn Harrison. At approximately 1:28 a.m. , Chattanooga Police officers responded to a pedestrian struck at 5256 Highway 153. A Toyota Sequoia driven by 31-year-old Asher Powers was traveling north on Highway 153 in the inside lane. The pedestrian ... (click for more)

Chris Douglas Wins Waterfront Triathlon Sunday

More than a thousand trim and fit men and women gathered at Ross’s Landing Sunday morning for the annual Waterfront Triathlon with McKenzie’s Kirsten Sass the only one of four defending champs to successfully defend her title. There were two races held on Sunday, including a sprint event that included a 400-meter swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 5K run.   The longer intermediate ... (click for more)

UT Athletics Department To Host Tribute To John Ward On Wednesday

  The University of Tennessee Athletics Department and The Vol Network are hosting a Tribute to "The Voice" event honoring John Ward on Wednesday, June 27, starting at 6 p.m. ET at Thompson-Boling Arena. The legendary broadcasting and marketing icon passed away this week following a lengthy illness. He was 88. Wednesday's event will take on a celebratory ... (click for more)