Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Session Wrap Up

The 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly ended Thursday, March 20 at midnight. Several highlights include:

Bills passed and waiting action by the Governor
Bills not vetoed by the Governor will become law on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

HB 744 The 2015 Budget at $20.8 billion in state dollars reflects a 4.6% ($916 million) increase over the prior year. K-12 education received 72% ($660 million) of all new revenue; Health and Human Services including Medicaid, PeachCare and Department of Justice received 22% ($203 million) of new revenue. I voted YES.

SB 365 Continues the multi-year Criminal Justice Reform efforts that have resulted in annual savings in excess of $20 million thus far. The bill provides added flexibility for judges regarding non-violent and juvenile offenders. I voted YES.

SR 415 Voters will have the opportunity to cap the state's income tax rate at the current 6% via passage of this Constitutional Amendment authored by Gwinnett Senator David Shafer. I voted YES.

HB 60 Expands Second Amendment rights where law-abiding citizens who have had a background check, fingerprinted, and licensed may carry a firearm. I voted YES.

HB 697 Pays full tuition for the state's highest achieving technical college students. I voted YES.

HB 1080 Authorizes a privately funded monument of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. placed on the grounds of the state Capitol. I voted YES.

Bills failing to pass this Session

HB 885 Allowing the use of cannabis oil to treat certain seizures failed to pass with the addition of an autism health insurance coverage provision. I voted YES.

SB 167 Prohibited testing based on national Common Core standards. Did not reach House floor for a vote.

HB 153 Authorizing fractional SPLOST - sales taxes at varying increments of less than one cent. I voted NO.

Bills I sponsored this Session

HB 412 Electronic property tax billing passed House, added to HB 295 a comprehensive ad valorem tax reform bill in Senate, passed Senate amended, conference committee failed to reach agreement, bill died. I voted YES on both HB 412 and HB 295.

HB 737 Permits home brewers to transport up to one gallon of their creation - passed.  I voted YES.

HB 762 Adds sanitation vehicles and workers to current law improving public safety, passed House, passed Senate committee, died in Senate Rules. I voted YES.

HB 900 Saves state and manufacturing industry money by exempting "consumables" from sales tax - passed. I voted YES.

HB 954 Improves definition of Fair Market Value for residential properties constructed using state housing tax credits - passed. I voted YES.

SB 286 Permitted Georgia wineries to fortify wine within the state rather than having to ship the product out of state - passed. I voted YES.

SB 325 Strengthened Fire Safety Commissioner's ability to regulate fire suppression sprinkler systems - passed. I voted YES.

Obviously, numerous other bills passed and failed this year. Should you have interest in any legislation before the General Assembly and/or my position, please contact me.

Like all candidates and elected representatives, I too require funds to actively communicate with my constituents and mount a campaign for re-election to enable me to continue advocating for our shared values at the state Capitol. Please take a moment to click this link and make an online contribution today - $10 goes further than you may believe and $50 buys 50 campaign signs. I need your support today. 

Legislation Authored or Co-Sponsored
Should you be interested in the legislation that I have authored or co-sponsored and the current status, you may review those bills here.

As always, I remain appreciative that you allow me to serve as your state Representative. I encourage you to contact me with any comments or questions you have about the legislation being considered at the state Capitol.  Now that we are out of session, you can reach me on my cell at 404-966-5804 or via email at 

 Thank you,
 Brett Harrell  

In the District
Please call, email, or write Brett in the District.

Representative Brett Harrell
P.O. Box 1135
Snellville, GA 30078 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Capitol Update Week 7 - Preparing for 'Crossover' Day

Last week

Last week was a very busy week completing necessary committee work in preparation for "Crossover Day" on Monday. Crossover is the 30th day of the 40-day legislative session and the date by which a bill must pass one chamber to permit enough time to complete the process in the other chamber and become law. The House has seventeen bills on the first calendar for Monday and we will likely have one or more supplemental calendars prior to adjourning for the day.

Three bills I either authored or co-sponsored passed the House last week and are now pending committee hearings in the Senate. HB 412 permits voluntary electronic property tax billing. Gwinnett County estimates it may save up to $140,000 a year in billing costs.HB 731 included an Amendment to repeal an unconstitutional article from Georgia Code.HB 658 by Representative B. J. Pak removed the last remnants of the Estate Tax from Georgia statute.

The House voted down HB 153 a proposal to permit a "fractional" SPLOST of less than 1-cent. I voted No. The author has asked the House to reconsider the bill on Monday. Initially the idea of a SPLOST at less than 1-cent may sound like a good idea - lower taxes. I see it differently. I view the idea as a tax increase from zero up to the fraction rather than from 1-cent down to the fraction. I also agree with the Department of Revenue that multiple rates at multiple fractions in multiple counties may result in a number of administrative burdens. Finally, SPLOST should sunset when the need is fulfilled. I view the implementation of a fractional SPLOST as an attempt to continue taxes when the voters would otherwise let the penny lapse.

Finally, the House passed HB 459 by Representative Bill Kitchens, a former State Patrol Commander, commonly referred to as the "Slow Poke" law to require drivers in the left lane to move over when approached by a faster moving vehicle.

It was also my great pleasure to welcome students from the Grayson Elementary School Cluster on Monday and the Choir from Snellville Middle on Tuesday to the Capitol.
SMS Choir
SMS Choir with Governor Nathan Deal
The SMS Choir toured the Capitol and performed two songs at noon
to the great enjoyment of all.  

Next week

Among the more noteworthy bills the House may consider next week are:
HB 885 - would permit medical cannabis treatments for certain seizure disorders
HB 707 - would prevent any state resources used to implement the Affordable Care Act
HB 990 - would require a vote of the Legislature prior to expanding Medicaid

Committee calendars
House committee meeting calendar:

Senate committee meeting calendar:

As always, I remain appreciative that you allow me to serve as your state Representative. I encourage you to contact me with any comments or questions you have about the legislation being considered at the state Capitol.  You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0254 or on my cell at 404-966-5804 or via email at
 Thank you,
 Brett Harrell  
At the Capitol
Please call, email, or visit Brett at the Capitol.

Representative Brett Harrell
601-D Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square
Atlanta, GA 30334

Committee assignments:
Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Regulated Industries, Transportation, and Ways & Means