Editor's note: the following was submitted by State Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell):
The Georgia General Assembly completed day 38 of the 40 day session on Thursday, March 13, 2014. As the 2014 legislative session progresses, there is a growing number of bills being sent to the Senate floor. We are laser focused on finishing our work to support families, business and public safety.
One of my bills, Senate Bill 235, received favorable passage out of the House of Representatives this week. SB 235 wouldallow firefighters who perform at least 1,040 hours of annual service to be eligible for membership in the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund. By setting this minimum time requirement, SB 235 ensures any firefighter who puts their life on the line to protect the citizens of Georgia receives the benefits they deserve. This bill will now head to the Governor for final passage.
House Bill 702, which I carried, passed the Senate this week. HB 702 approves the placement of a historic granite monument featuring the Preamble to the Georgia Constitution, the Ten Commandments and the portion of the Declaration of Independence. This monument will stand outside the hallowed walls of the Gold Dome as a continual reminder of our founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while also highlighting the Judeo-Christian values that made this country great.
We also passed House Bill 1080, which commends Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through the passage of this bill, private funding will be used to erect a commemorative statue honoring Dr. King on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried his dream of freedom and equality to the world and is recognized as one of the most notable Georgians. Similar to our state’s motto, Dr. King stood for the principles of wisdom, justice and moderation – always choosing peace over strife, love instead of hate. We look forward to working with the King family to make this monument a reality so that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream will live on for generations to come.
In recognition of the mutually-beneficial relationship shared between the state of Georgia and Israel, the Senate adopted SR 741. Georgia is home to over 50 Israeli-based companies, further highlighting our state’s ongoing commitment to strengthening bi-lateral trade agreements and economic ties with the nation of Israel.
Finally, the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill that repeals the Georgia estate tax. HB 658 will end the Georgia estate tax, more commonly known as the “death tax,” and any requirements for related estate tax returns on July 1, 2014.
Currently in Georgia, any property or assets transferred to others at the time of death is taxed on the fair market values of the item or property. The bill will not affect tax, penalty, interest liabilities or refund eligibility for taxable years prior to the sunset date. The death tax is one of Georgia’s most despised taxes and places a significant burden on the families of the deceased. The passage of this legislation further reiterates the Georgia General Assembly’s ongoing commitment to the taxpayers of this state.
Other notable bills receiving a Senate vote this week include:
HB 770 establishes the crimes of home invasion in the first and second degree in both the criminal and juvenile code. Under this legislation, both offenses may be designated and punished as felonies.
HB 153 authorizes local governments to propose Special Option Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST) of less than one cent. This fractional penny SPLOST will not apply to education local option sales taxes.
With only two working days left in the 2014 session and Sine Die (the final day of the session) approaching quickly, I urge you to contact me in my office and let me know the issues that concern you and our community. Please feel free to contact my office at any time with your questions and concerns, or feel free to visit my social media pages: