By: Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton)
Over the last few weeks, the Senate has worked around the clock to put the finishing touches on legislation before Crossover Day, which the occurred on Tuesday last week. In the lead up to this important deadline, our committee workload increased dramatically in order to have as many quality pieces of legislation available for a floor vote as possible. On Crossover Day itself, we considered over 45 measures over an 11 hour period, and entered into the home stretch of the 2022 session.
Over the last two weeks, we considered a number of important bills including Senate Bill 377. SB 377 would prohibit local school systems or government agencies from teaching such concepts, which include ideas such as the Unites States being inherently racist or that one race or ethnicity is inherently superior to another. This bill would in no way inhibit a teacher from tackling difficult subjects of our nation’s history, such as slavery or the Civil Rights movement. Rather, it very clearly seeks to unite us and not divide our children and indoctrinate them with the idea they should feel less-than another, simply because of the color of their skin. This is another example of a pro-student measure to ensure our kids can continue to receive an unbiased, quality education.
As the number one state in the nation in which to do business for eight consecutive years, Georgia has done an incredible job in attracting and growing business across all corners of the state. In order to maintain our competitive edge, however, we must continue to find innovative ways to grow our workforce and, specifically, target the growing need of workers in select high-demand career fields. SB 379 would create the High-Demand Career Initiatives program, to be administered through the Office of Workforce Development of the Technical College System of Georgia. This program would provide monetary awards to employers who have apprentices successfully complete their high-demand job program, granting students much needed on the job training and certification opportunities, while creating an efficient pipeline to connect these students with careers in in-demand industries.
Last Wednesday, Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 910, the amended budget for 2022, into law. This budget prioritizes investments in the areas of public safety, education and healthcare while also returning nearly $1 billion back to Georgia’s taxpayers through refundable tax credits. Additionally, the $30 billion midyear budget also ensures that our teachers and other state employees receive a $5,000 bonus for their critical work in maintaining our state’s most basic functions, even during a global pandemic. Work also continued throughout this week on the general budget for 2023, with Appropriations subcommittee hearings taking place. While work on these budgets is long and arduous, it is necessary to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in a fiscally prudent manner.
Later in the week, the Senate passed House Bill 1302, a measure we previously discussed as being incorporated into the budget. HB 1302 provides a one-time tax credit for all eligible taxpayers while filed a return in both 2020 and 2021. Single filers would be eligible for a tax credit of $250, those filing jointly will be eligible for a credit of $500 and those filing as a head of household would be eligible for a $375 credit. Taxable nonresidents who would otherwise qualify for the credit would be prorated based on the ratio of taxable income to Georgia. This is another example of Georgia passing along our economic surplus back to the people of Georgia.
On Thursday, the Senate granted final passage to an urgently needed measure to bring relief to all Georgians. With skyrocketing gas prices from the lack of domestic oil suppliers and because of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine, Georgians are in desperate need of financial relief just to travel to and from work, school or to receive medical care. In an effort to ease the financial pressure placed on our citizens, the Senate passed House Bill 304, which would suspend the collection on the state excise tax on gasoline until May 31, 2022. While this will not bring down gas prices overnight, it will provide some degree of relief for those impacted by the unacceptably high cost of gasoline.
We only have nine legislative days remaining and, with Crossover Day behind us, we have our work cut out for us over the next few weeks. While we can no longer introduce Senate Bills with the hope they become law this year, there are still countless pieces of legislation awaiting action in both the Senate and the House. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these bills, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
Sen. Mike Dugan serves as the Senate Majority Leader. He represents the 30th Senate District, which includes portions of Carroll, Douglas and Paulding counties. He can be reached at 404.463.2478 or by email at email@example.com