House Bill 340 — is an update to Georgia’s law regarding the taxation of vehicles (TAVT). It includes an exemption for churches and other non-profits from TAVT if the vehicle was donated to the church. Historically, churches have been exempt from vehicle ad valorem taxes, but when the TAVT law was implemented a few years ago churches were not exempted. Status: the version of this bill which passed the House and Senate did not include the correction for churches.
House Bill 118 — would expand gambling in Georgia as well. It legalizes Daily Fantasy Sports leagues. Click here for an excellent synopsis of this legislation. Status: passed the House and on 3/20/17 passed out of Senate Committee, and never received a vote in the full Senate, but likely will be taken up again in 2018.
Senate Bill 17 — expands the sales of alcohol on Sundays. In 2011 the General Assembly enacted a law that allowed local municipalities to vote to allow sales of alcohol on Sundays (prior to that, there was a state-wide ban). However, it prohibited alcohol sales on Sunday before 12:30 p.m. This new bill allows alcohol sales to begin at 10:30 on Sunday morning. It further allows this change to be made without requiring it to be on a ballot for the voters of the municipality to decide. Status: did not pass the Senate by Crossover Day, but could be considered in 2018.
Senate Bill 233 — adds the same provisions of the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Georgia. Status: an effort was made to attach the language of this bill to another bill during one of the final days of the session. However, it failed to receive a vote.
House Bill 217 — raises the cap on the Tuition Tax Credit program from $58 million to $100 million. Status: passed the House on 2/28 and was voted down in the Senate on March 30.
Senate Bill 79 — would allow casino resorts in Georgia. It requires a change in the Georgia constitution. House Bill 158 is the companion House bill. The Senate bill is supposedly dead for 2017, fallen under the weight of reality. The reality that it will not be the economic windfall that is being promised. The reality that places like Atlantic City have acknowledged that they are not benefiting from casinos. The reality that selling casinos to voters requires a lot of smoke and mirrors and downright deception. The reality that it will bring crime, including more human trafficking, for which Atlanta has gained quite a reputation. The reality that changing the Georgia Constitution is not easy. The AJC reported that the casino bill sponsor, Sen. Brandon Beach said, “I will double down and plan to crisscross the state starting in April” to build support for the bill in 2018; which he is, of course, entitled to do. I will be crisscrossing the state, too, speaking in churches across Georgia, doing what I can to raise awareness, so that people of faith can continue to communicate to their legislators this message: “not in my state.” Status: neither the House or Senate version received a vote before the session ended on March 30, but will likely be taken up again in 2018.