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Weather stalled assembly two days

Legislative update

POSTED: February 5, 2014 4:00 p.m.

The fast pace of the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly slowed down considerably last week when Tuesday’s winter storm paralyzed metro Atlanta traffic systems.
As a result, all legislative activity was suspended for Wednesday and Thursday.
I appreciate Robert Stokes, area manager for Georgia Power, keeping me informed about the weather conditions in Liberty County. His reports were helpful while I was unable to leave Atlanta.
Before the snow began to fall, legislation was introduced that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Georgia in certain circumstances. House Bill 885 narrowly was drafted to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis oil, a marijuana derivative, to treat seizure disorders in children.
The proposal is supported by the Medical Association of Georgia and has received positive response from the public about the medical uses of marijuana to treat patients with certain illnesses.
The proposed legislation deals only with a particular strand of cannabis, called “Charlotte’s Web.” It is low in THC (the compound that makes a user “high”) and high in CBD (the medical component). “Charlotte’s Web” is applied orally in an oil-based form and is not smoked. In the only published study on the treatment, significant seizure reductions have been seen in 85 percent of patients.
HB 885 includes tight restrictions and regulations for physician management and is limited in scope to individuals with seizure disorders. I will keep you posted on the progress of this legislation.
Fractional SPLOST: Legislation pending in the House Ways and Means Committee would enable county governments to levy a special-purpose local-option sales tax of less than 1 percent if approved by the voters in a future referendum.
As the sponsor of HB 153, Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, explained in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution guest editorial, “Since some counties and cities have well-developed infrastructure, the 1 percent rate can raise more revenue than necessary to fund critically needed capital projects. Because these funds must be spent on capital projects, some jurisdictions create nonessential projects to ensure all revenue is spent. These nonessential projects could require additional maintenance funds, which must come from a county’s general budget.”
Of the 37 states that have local-option sales taxes, 22 allow a fractional-rate levy so that the community’s needs are met with a lesser burden on the taxpayers.
I am generally in favor of this concept, but I am waiting to hear from our local commissioners on the issue before committing my support of HB 153.
Revised gun proposal: Sponsors of legislation to expand the number of places where licensed persons can legally carry firearms have revised the proposal to remove the controversial provision allowing guns on college campuses.
The new version of HB 875 would make it possible for gun owners to carry their weapons into more public buildings, excluding jails and courthouses.

Williams, D-Midway, represents District 168 in the Georgia House of Representatives. Write him at 511 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; call 404-656-6372; or email al.williams@house.ga.gov.

 

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