By: Vaibhav Kumar
Many interesting things have been happening during this phenomenal, productive Capitol Session! To begin, there was an electric car conference to ensure that environmental sustainability was prioritized throughout the state with many representatives including Representative Spencer Frye. This conference was about electric car sales plummeting in the state of Georgia.
During the conference, it was brought to my attention that Georgia had the second most electric vehicles in the nation. Sadly, this trend will not continue as Georgia had nearly 25,000 electric cars on the road because of a $5,000 state income tax credit making it easier for families to buy these vehicles. Recent legislation took these tax credits away in 2015 and replaced them a $200 registration fee. As a result, the state’s registry of electronic vehicles dropped from 1,426 electronic vehicles to 242 cars (after the tax credit expired). House Bill 98 (in House Second Readers) attempts to bring back a $2,500 tax credit for electric vehicles so the amount of electric cars in the state of Georgia can increase steadily instead of plummeting as has in recent years.
In addition to this press conference, one of the largest press conferences held in the Capitol was about Medicaid expansion in the state of Georgia. More specifically this conference was held by Democrats that cosponsored House Bill 669. Democrats such as Representative Robert Trammell (Democrat from district 132//House Minority Leader), Sam Park (Democrat from district 101), Deborah Gonzalez (Democrat from district 117), and Jonathan Wallace (Democrat from district 119) were there to speak about the bill and answer any questions.
During the press conference, these Representatives spoke about the need to expand Medicaid and claimed that healthcare is a right. At the end of this press conference there were many questions asked by the reporters. An AJC reporter asked the Democrats how they planned on paying for Medicaid expansion. Representative Sam Park claimed that one way that Medicaid expansion could be paid for would be with a cigarette tax that would increase the prices of cigarettes by 50 cents. Representative Sam Park claimed that even just a 50 cent increase in cigarette taxes can raise up to 200 million dollars to finance Medicaid expansion. Instead of increasing other taxes, the Democrats crafted a plan for a minute increase on taxes on cigarettes to help pay for expansive Medicaid expansion.