Legislative Update March 1, 2017

Citizen Impact is working with members of the Ways & Means Committee to update Georgia’s law regarding the taxation of church vehicles. Historically, churches have been exempt from vehicle ad valorem taxes, but when the ad valorem tax law was changed a few years ago churches were not exempted. There is support to correct that, but there is no bill number right now.

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. It is in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

Senate Bill 233 — adds the same provisions of the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Georgia. Unlikely to get any movement this session.

House Bill 217 — raises the cap on the the Tuition Tax Credit program from $58 million to $100 million. It passed the House on 2/28 and now goes to the Senate.

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.”

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.


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