This week was spent reviewing the remaining legislation as we completed the 2015 legislative session. The final day of session, Day 40, is known as Sine Die which means “without day” in Latin. This means we are not going to assign another day for further meeting in the 2015 session. Sine Die is the most crucial day throughout the session. It is the final day a bill can be passed if it is to be signed into law by the Governor. If a piece of legislation is not passed on or before Sine Die, it will have to wait until next session to be heard again.
We continued to work diligently, past midnight on both Tuesday and Thursday this week, ensuring sound legislation was being heard and voted on by the General Assembly. Tuesday, both the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget and the transportation Funding Act received final passage.
The FY 2016 Budget includes funding for insurance benefits for part-time school employees and various construction projects across the state. The budget also works to restore funding for the public school system that was reduced due to the economy in previous years. This year’s budget reflects Georgia’s positive economic growth over the past several years.
The final version of the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 includes a 26 cents per gallon motor fuel excise tax and a 29 cents per gallon diesel fuel excise tax. This bill also includes a$5.00 per day fee to hotel and motel rates for stays less than 30 days in length. This legislation is expected to raise almost $1 billion in transportation funding which will be used to repair and maintain our existing transportation infrastructure.
Here are brief summaries of other bills passed in the Senate this week:
House Bill 123 passed unanimously in the Senate on Tuesday. Current law already requires all cargo loads be adequately secured, and HB 123 adds that any motor vehicle towing a trailer must secure it with safety cables or chains. This bill is intended to protect Georgia’s citizens from preventable trailer accidents and other motor accidents in the state.
House Bill 341 provides that certain building, plumbing and electrical code ‘qualified inspectors’ must hold certification from the ICC and the Building Officials of Georgia. To receive the qualified inspector certification, an inspector must meet the minimum experience and testing requirements.
House Bill 70 names the white-tailed deer, which is scientifically named the odocoileus virginianus, as Georgia’s official state mammal. The white-tailed deer was once almost extinct in Georgia, but now, they are thriving with a population close to 1.2 million. The white-tailed deer is a valuable economic resource in Georgia, providing more than $800 million per year in revenue for hunting costs.
House Bill 110 allows fireworks that comply with National Fire Protection Association standards to be bought and sold in Georgia to those 18 years or older. The bill also permits the use of fireworks on any given day between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight. It also establishes a five percent excise tax on all fireworks, including sparklers.
I’m proud that you chose me to represent you in the State Senate. Although the 2015 legislative session has come to a close, my job as your Senator hasn’t. I welcome your thoughts and opinions and encourage you to keep in touch with me through phone or email, so that I may better represent your interests when the Senate meets again in January.
For a full list of legislation passed during this session or more information regarding a specific piece of legislation, visit the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.