By: Maddie Moore
This last week, the current Georgia state representatives and senators got together for one last time before the end of the year to review the annual fiscal spending plan. The primary focus of this special session was to help Georgia after the loss many suffered due to Hurricane Michael this past October. The hurricane made landfall in Georgia as a category 3 and caused a great deal of damage as it stormed through Southwest Georgia; the farming and timberland industries were severely damaged and the two industries were devastated by the powerful winds. Overall, Georgia suffered around $2.5 billion in immediate and long-term damage.
In the House, the Hurricane Relief Bill (Bill HB 1EX) passed with a vote of 162-1 for the amendment to the 2019 budget. On Saturday, November 17 the Senate approved the bill as it passed 52-0 and was later signed by Gov. Deal. This bill will provide $270 million of emergency and tax incentives to those who suffered loss due to the hurricane. The second bill (HB 4EX) provided an addition $200 million in tax credit for those affected by Hurricane Michael in the timberland industry providing $470 million overall in helping Georgians continue to move forward after the loss they suffered and assists farmers who suffered crop losses due to the storms and aids the forestry industry and cleanup and replanting of trees.
Another bill that was signed and passed was a tax break for Delta amongst other airlines. The bill (HB 5EX) was passed and signed by Gov. Deal which ratifies his executive order that he signed on July 30, 2018; this bill suspends collection of state’s 4% sales and use on jet fuel.
The Senate closed the special session with passing the special legislation on Saturday, November 17. The House did not meet as many representatives attended the funeral for Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun who passed on Tuesday, November 13 instead. He was the Rules committee chairman and had been a diligent leader in the house since he was elected in 2004. He will be greatly missed by those who knew him.
The Georgia General Assembly will reconvene for the new year on Monday, January 14 with the newly elected representatives and senators from this past midterm election.