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Posted: March 5, 2017 5:00 a.m.

Belton: Crossover Day brings excitement to the Capitol

This week was a whirlwind of activity as we came upon Crossover Day, the day in which a bill must pass one legislative body to be considered by the other.

Some of the most interesting bills are thus: we added juveniles who commit aggravated assaults with a firearm against a police officer to be tried as an adult.

We also lengthened the minimum time in prison for those who attack police officers. We tightened public assistance language to prevent fraud. We created an income tax credit that will incentivize $2.5 million in new quality jobs. We also made it legally easier to convict child molesters and strengthened our Human Trafficking laws. We insured local cities cannot add any non-tax related fees to sewer and trash collections to your property tax bills. We raised the cap slightly to student scholarship tax credits from $58 million to $65 million (the state spends almost $17 billion on education). We also reformed the way universities address accusations of rape to place such investigations with law enforcement after the horribly botched cases of the Duke lacrosse team, Baylor and many Ivy League schools. We protected our sand dunes and environment by creating a more uniform and protective definition of a shoreline. We also flattened the Georgia income tax to a uniform 5.4 percent instead of the graduated amount where most workers paid 6 percent. This will give almost all of working Georgians a tax cut and leads towards a Fair Tax situation. Finally, we expanded the list of conditions where Medical Cannabis can be used in Georgia.

On the rural front, we helped rural doctors with service cancelable loans. Also, the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act gave investors a credit against the state tax liability on rural investments.  

I’m very pleased with all the military-friendly bills we have passed. These include a Blue Star Scholarship program, a Gold Star Family license plate provision, an Educate Military Children initiative, School Choice for Military Children, a teacher certificate measure that allows military spouses who attained their teacher certificates in other states to teach in Georgia, a further expansion of “Move On When Ready” to allow military veterans to participate in this educational program, the expansion of the term “war veteran” to include Gulf War vets, the creation of a Veteran’s Service Board to establish a non-profit Foundation to seek funds to help our vets, as well as a competitive grant to add Counselors to K12 schools with large numbers of military children and the Governor’s Defense Initiative to assist military communities.

In all, because of the efforts of my new Military Affairs committee, the House passed eleven bills to help our military.

The School Turnaround Bill also passed the House, creating a system of supports and assistance for our 153 chronically underperforming schools. This bill gives the State School Board a systematic method to use already existing law to give resources to our lowest performing schools. We also passed a companion bill that creates a dollar for dollar income tax credit to fund this project while not adding a tax burden. We also passed another Campus Carry Bill that excludes preschool areas.

I was honored to present a House Resolution to hometown hero, Sgt. Stokes on the square in Covington. Her courage and bearing are a credit to Newton County and the United States Army.

I hope you will continue to pray for me as I serve you under the Golden Dome. You can contact me at 706-372-4114 or davebelton112@gmail.com.

 

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