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Property tax reform is still alive
Legislative update
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The 2008 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly has been a busy one so far.  The first four weeks have set the stage for what is sure to be an exciting second half of the session.
In the House, we have already made history by voting to override the governor's vetoes from last summer and by considering the passage of statewide comprehensive water management legislation.    
Last week the House passed legislation that makes it harder to abuse handicap parking privileges; passed legislation that requires hospitals to offer flu and pneumonia shots to patients who are 65 or older before discharging them; created the Georgia Lottery Corporation Legislative Oversight Committee; and approved internet delivery of the Department of Driver's Services six-hour defensive driving course. Also last week the House passed House Bill 1167, which will allow Liberty County residents to vote to make their homestead exemption transferable to a surviving spouse.
To support our state's growing agricultural tourism industry, the House adopted HB 1088, a bill to help promote agricultural tourism by allowing the Department of Agriculture to work with the Department of Transportation to provide directional signage for agricultural tourist attractions such as wineries, heritage farms, and pecan-packing facilities.  
There are many major issues yet to be addressed in this legislative session.  Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson's GREAT plan (HB 900), which will do away with state property taxes on homes and vehicles, has yet to make its way to the House floor for a vote.  The plan has faced strong opposition from many camps and has been altered several times since its unveiling last year.
The GREAT plan will be only part of a package of property tax reforms that will be considered this session. Property tax relief may help many of our citizens who have seen their property tax bills increase in recent years, especially those on fixed incomes. Reform must not come, however, at the expense of our local governments and certainly should not put more strain on the budgets of our school systems.
I will keep an open mind when the GREAT plan comes up for consideration in the House, but I can assure you that I will vote to protect the needs of people of District 165.
If you have any questions about the 2008 General Assembly, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 404-656-6372.

Williams (D-Midway) represents the Georgia Congressional 165.  He serves on the Appropriations, Economic Development & Tourism, Game, Fish, & Parks and State Institutions & Property committees.
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