Bill Introduced to Exempt Tickets to Big Sports Events From Sales Tax

A bill that could bring the Super Bowl and other high-profile sporting events to Atlanta was filed in the House this afternoon. House Bill 951, sponsored by Rep. Chad Nimmer of Blackshear, Jay Powell of Camila, Stacey Abrams of Atlanta and others would exempt tickets to certain sporting events from sales tax.

The bill defines “Major Sporting Event” as a National Football League Championship Game, a semifinal or final game of a national collegiate tournament, All Star games in baseball, soccer or basketball, and any other sporting event that the commissioner of economic development and state revenue commissioner say would generate $50 million in revenue to the host city from lodging, meals, car rentals, and similar activities. If passed, the exemption would apply to admissions purchased after January 1, 2017.

Some have complained that the measure is a taxpayer giveaway. But if the only way you are going to get the sporting event is to forego sales tax revenue on tickets that you wouldn’t get if the event didn’t occur, is it a giveaway or a way to recoup some of the investment in sports facilities?

House Judiciary Votes Do Pass on Civil Rights, Pastor Protection Bills

The House Judiciary Committee voted out Do Pass recommendations for the Pastor Protection Act and the Georgia Civil Rights in Public Accommodations Act, sending both bills to the Rules Committee prior to a vote in the full house. While the Pastor Protection Act passed without controversy, there was considerable discussion and proposed amendments to the civil rights bill.

Representative Rich Golick of Smyrna explained the civil rights law to the full committee much as he did on Monday for the subcommittee. And, much as happened on Monday, Rep. Taylor Bennett of Brookhaven offered an amendment that would protect additional classes of people, including sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or veteran’s status. Rep. Trey Kelley of Cedartown proposed an amendment dealing with public hiring and contracting that was ruled out of order by Chairman Willard. Rep. Beth Beskin of Atlanta offered an amendment to the Bennett amendment that stripped out all the proposed protected classes with the exception of sex. Continue reading “House Judiciary Votes Do Pass on Civil Rights, Pastor Protection Bills”

President Obama Submits $4.1 Trillion Budget (And Reaction)

President Barack Obama submitted his final budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2016. The budget would be a record $4.1 trillion and would increase taxes by $2.6 trillion over the next decade. $319 billion of the tax increase would come on a $10 per barrel tax for crude oil. You can dig into the President’s budget HERE.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R, GA-3):

“President Obama’s budget request does nothing to address our out-of-control spending and $19 trillion national debt. This is nothing more than a progressive playbook for his liberal agenda during his last few months in office.

The burden this President is putting on our grandchildren is disgraceful and his priorities, as usual, are way off. Creating the oil tax would increase the cost of gas by 24 cents per gallon – just when people were starting to feel relief at the pump. Creating the oil tax, or raising any tax for that matter, is not the solution to our spending problem. The President is also using this as a last-ditch effort to expand ObamaCare, through Medicaid expansion, to states that have already made a decision and rejected this failed healthcare system.

It has been 7 years of bad budgeting, and the people are sick of it. I am hopeful that with new, Republican leadership in the White House in 2017 that we can finally fix the financial mess this President has put us in.”

More responses after the break, including Gov. Nathan Deal’s views on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) shortfall in the FY17 Budget.

Continue reading “President Obama Submits $4.1 Trillion Budget (And Reaction)”

Senator Perdue Introduces Measure to Improve Federal Budgeting

Following up on a Senate floor speech late last month in which he addressed the country’s growing national debt, Georgia Senator David Perdue on Monday introduced the Accurate Accounting Act of 2016. The measure attempts to improve on the federal budget process, which has produced the desired effect of deliberating on and passing 12 appropriation bills each year only four times in the 40 years the measure has been in effect.

The measure has three major effects once it is implemented. It requires zero based budgeting similar to what is used in business, requiring the executive branch to justify its priorities each year. It puts Social Security on the budget resolution, instead of being an off-budget expense. Senator Perdue hopes this will reveal the true cost of the program, instead of being hidden behind a lockbox and trust fund. Finally, the measure increases accountability by requiring the Congressional Budget Office to report annually on every program with appropriations, even those which typically run on autopilot.

In a statement, Senator Perdue said,

Washington will never get spending under control unless we have a budget process that works. Without an honest and accurate assessment of the federal balance sheet, Americans don’t know what the government takes in and what it spends. There should be no hidden trust funds or unaccountable spending programs. We can start addressing this financial mess today by adopting cost-control techniques used readily in the business world. This is the first step to realigning federal spending with the American people’s priorities.

After spending much of his freshman year in the Senate observing how governing differs from running a business, Senator Perdue has said he plans to introduce reform legislation to improve the process. The introduction of the Accurate Accounting Act is the first of these measures.

Morning Reads for Mardi Gras 2016!

Happy Mardi Gras! If you’re the kind of person who enjoys being happy (not all of us are; that’s okay), keep an ear tuned to WWOZ today. Here are a few places you might want to eat today:

Who else should be on this list? Bonus points if they import Leidenheimer’s bread and only use Camellias for their red beans.

Now, for those of you who are muttering to yourself about how this is supposed to be a political site, here are the (mostly political) Reads:

Continue reading “Morning Reads for Mardi Gras 2016!”

Judiciary Subcommittee Sends Civil Rights Bill Forward

Rep. Rich Golick explains HB 849 to the Judiciary Subcommittee.  Photo: Jon Richards
Rep. Rich Golick explains HB 849 to the Judiciary Subcommittee. Photo: Jon Richards
A House Judiciary subcommittee on Monday voted to send House Bill 849 to the full Judiciary Committee. The bill, entitled the Georgia Civil Rights in Public Accommodations Act, would provide civil rights based on race, religion, and national origin in places of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and movie theaters. Georgia is currently one of five states without a civil rights law, which means anyone with a complaint would need to seek a federal remedy. In presenting the bill, its author, Rich Golick of Smyrna, said that by defining a process to make a claim the Georgia’s existing Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity, anyone who felt their rights were being infringed on could have their issue resolved more quickly at the state level.

The only witness called was Jeff Graham, the executive Director of Georgia Equality, who extended his appreciation to Rep. Golick and the committee for working on civil rights legislation, although he noted there were no protections for women, the elderly, the disabled, and other minorities. He also noted there were 59 cities and counties in Georgia that went further in combating discrimination by passing local ordinances. Continue reading “Judiciary Subcommittee Sends Civil Rights Bill Forward”

Marco Rubio Campaign Announces 25 New Members of Georgia Leadership Team

Georgia for Rubio State Chairman Congressman Austin Scott with supporters at a Capitol press conference.  Photo: Jon Richards
Georgia for Rubio State Chairman Congressman Austin Scott with supporters at a Capitol press conference.
Photo: Jon Richards
As advance voting got underway in Georgia on Monday, the Marco Rubio campaign held a press conference at the state capitol to announce additional members of Rubio’s Georgia leadership team. The most significant addition to the team is 3rd District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. Other notable additions include State Senators Dean Burke and Tommie Williams, and seven state representatives.

According to someone who was not authorized to speak for the campaign, Rubio supporter South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy will be in Atlanta on Thursday, February 18th to raise money and campaign for the candidate. Efforts are being made to get Rubio himself to Georgia, but to date, no firm arrangements have been made. Continue reading “Marco Rubio Campaign Announces 25 New Members of Georgia Leadership Team”

GA Tax Revenues Up 6.4% In January

An announcement was made today by Gov. Deal stating that Georgia’s net tax collections for January, 2016 totaled almost $2.05 billion, an increase of about $119.3 million (6.4%) from January, 2015. This brings the net tax revenue collections to $12.49 billion for the current 2016 fiscal year, which is up $1.02 billion (8.9%) from last year.

In addition, $67.4 million was generated for transportation in January due to changes implemented by House Bill 170.

The following is a breakdown of the January, 2016 revenues in comparison to January, 2015:

Description Amount Collected Change From Jan., 2015 Percentage Change
Individual income taxes $1.14 billion $83.1 million 7.9%
Gross Sales & Use Tax $1.03 billion $6.2 million 0.6%
Net Sales & Use Tax $557.5 million $13.2 million 2.4%
Corporate income taxes $34.4 million $18.4 million 115.7%

A copy of the January, 2016 financial report can be seen below the fold. Continue reading “GA Tax Revenues Up 6.4% In January”

Spite Is Behind Motivation To Block Super Bowl

Mercedes Benz Stadium In  May 2015
Mercedes Benz Stadium In May 2015
This week’s Courier Herald column:

During the process to approve partial taxpayer financing of Atlanta’s new Mercedes Benz stadium, I was perhaps one of the most frequent and outspoken of the critics. Atlanta had and has many infrastructure needs. The decision to tie up a dedicated revenue stream for three decades in order to replace a 20-year-old Georgia Dome didn’t seem to be the highest priority.

I lost the battle. And I moved on. Others, apparently, have not.

One of the benefits of building a new stadium is that favorable consideration is given to that city to host a Super Bowl. Atlanta is now in the running to host “the big game” in either 2019 or 2020. The bid package for review includes a requirement that sales taxes on the ticket sales to the game be waived. This would require legislation to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly this year. This is also giving critics another opportunity to resume fighting lost battles. Continue reading “Spite Is Behind Motivation To Block Super Bowl”

Good Bye, Cities Lite. Hello Townships

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and the House that would allow for the creation of townships in Georgia. This new form of government, which is used in other states, would have control over zoning and code enforcement issues, but not the other responsibilities that come with running a city. In the House, Rep. Mike Dudgeon of Johns Creek introduced HB 785, along with the necessary proposed constitutional amendment in HR 1051. A similar bill and resolution was introduced by Sen. William Ligon of Brunswick as Senate Bill 272 and Senate Resolution 724.

In a township model, residents of the township would elect representatives, who would then act as a planning commission to approve or disapprove of future development independently of the county. The township would be able to levy a tax up to half a mill to cover its expenses, including code enforcement. Townships, unlike cities, would not get a share of the county’s LOST and SPLOST sales tax revenues, and wouldn’t be able to raise taxes beyond the half mill cap.

The push to allow townships comes following a report by a Senate study committee tasked with studying annexations, deannexations and incorporations last summer. The report concluded that the “City Lite” government offering only a few services that was used by Tucker and Peachtree Corners is likely unconstitutional. In the city lite model, the enabling legislation authorizes the city to provide a few services, typically dealing with zoning, while leaving other services, such as fire protection and water supply to the county. In theory, providing fewer services reduces the taxes needed to pay for city operations, making the proposed city more appealing to voters. Continue reading “Good Bye, Cities Lite. Hello Townships”