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Democrats offer school tax relief

Legislative update

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POSTED: February 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.
This week, Georgia House Democrats announced two legislative proposals that would put a stop to school funding cuts and relieve the burden of nearly $1.6 billion in tax shifts from local property owners. The plans provide fiscally sound property tax relief by fully funding the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act.
Under one proposal, counties that lower property taxes can tap into $300 million this year in state education funding. The second measure requires the state to fully fund the QBE Act for the first time in more than 20 years. This will ensure that K-12 public education is adequately funded and no longer shifts the burden to taxpayers.
These bills provide immediate, effective tax relief without creating any new taxes. The funding would come from the stateís reserve fund for the next two years, $300 million each year, and would be dedicated to the QBE formula for local schools.
I call on our House leadership to support and enact these proposals to help our students and Georgia taxpayers.
On Jan. 29, House members adopted legislation that would modify the stateís sex offender laws with regard to residency restrictions. HB 908 would address the lawís provisions that were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Georgia.
The current law requires registered sex offenders to move from their residence if a school or day care center opened within 1,000 feet of their home. The court ruled that provision amounted to an unconstitutional taking of property.
HB 908, which now goes to the Senate for its consideration, provides that if a registered sex offender has purchased a home and is in compliance with the law at the time of purchase, he or she can continue to reside there if a school, church or day care center later opens within the 1,000 foot radius.
Legislation that would impose tougher criminal punishments for dog fighting in Georgia was adopted by the House on Jan. 28. HB 301 would make it a felony offense to own, transport, train or sell a dog for the purposes of fighting, or to advertise, host or bet on a dog fighting event. Attendance at a dog fight would be a misdemeanor for the first offense.
Awareness about cracking down on dog fighting in Georgia was raised during the case of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is serving time in federal prison after pleading guilty to dog fighting offenses in Virginia. HB 301 moves to the Senate for its consideration.
Georgia consumers wanting to stop identity theft would be able to freeze their credit reports under legislation that passed the House on Jan. 30. HB 130 gives consumers control of their credit reports for the first time by allowing them to pay a fee of up to $3 to each of the three credit rating agencies, totaling $9, to stop the buying and selling of their credit information. The Senate will now consider the measure.
On Thursday, a majority of the House voted in favor of HB 881, which would make the petition process easier for the creation of charter schools in Georgia. There would be no limits on the number of charter schools, which would also receive more tax revenue under the bill. I voted against the measure because of the loss of local control at the community level.
This week, I went to the well of the House to express my opposition to the use of Chinese granite for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial to be placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I asked my colleagues, ìWhat is the message we send to the world if we build a memorial to the prince of peace, nonviolent prophet from a country that has the worst human-rights record in the world?î
Dr. King is a native son of the state of Georgia, and the granite for his memorial should rightfully come from the ìGranite Capital of the World,î which is Elberton, Ga.† Additionally, I introduced HR 1115, in an effort to help raise awareness of this issue and bring about a change in plans.

Williams (D-Midway) represents the 165th District (Liberty County) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 511 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, GA† 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372, 404-326-2964, 912-977-5600 or by e-mail at al.williams@house.ga.gov.
 

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