Quotes of note
“April 1st: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four.” -Mark Twain
“Today is April 1, April Fools’ Day, a day that people try to fool their friends and relatives. Don’t confuse that with April 15, when people try to fool the IRS.” -Jay Leno
“When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are ruled by criminals.” -Edward Snowden
On Our Desks
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Tax facts: In his weekly column, Kyle Wingfield explains why now is the time to tackle tax reform.
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At the Capitol
Tax time: The Senate Finance Committee passed an amended version of legislation that would lower the state’s personal income tax rate. The bill, which would gradually phase in a flat tax of 4.99% depending on state revenues, also capped the state’s film tax credit at $900 million and prohibited film companies from selling the credits.The Senate Rules Committee then removed any modifications to the film tax credit from the bill. The House passed an earlier version of this bill that featured a 5.25% flat tax and did not modify the current film tax credit.
New tax credits: The Georgia House backed a measure to create a new state tax credit allowing individuals and corporations to target taxes they would normally pay into the state treasury to support local law enforcement. Under the bill, Georgians and corporations would have their state income tax liability reduced for writing a check directly to local police or sheriff’s foundations. The tax credits would be capped at $5,000 per individual ($10,000 per married couple) or 75% of a corporation’s tax liability. The program would be capped at $75 million.
Mental health: The mental health bill unanimously passed both chambers of the state legislature and now awaits Governor Brian Kemp’s signature. The amended version removes all references to the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental health disorders, along with modifications to the original language defining coverage parity for insurers.
No smoking: A bill before the House would address “surgical smoke,” reports Georgia Health News. Surgical smoke is an emission from the use of lasers and other devices during surgical procedures, and it has been shown to contain toxic gasses, vapors, viruses, and bacteria dangerous to anyone inhaling it. While surgeons may perform only a couple of procedures in a day, operating room nurses are often exposed repeatedly over the course of an 8-hour shift.
New classmates: Gwinnett County Public Schools is set to report its highest-ever enrollment this fall. Nearly 183,000 students will call Georgia’s largest school system home. Enrollment temporarily dipped below the previous peak due to COVID-19. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Feeling blue: The state has fined insurance carrier Blue Cross Blue Shield $5 million for violating state laws and agency rules and regulations,the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Among the most frequent complaints cited by Insurance Commissioner John King is the inaccuracy of the company’s list of “in-network” providers, resulting in much higher charges than customers anticipate. The company said it has taken steps to correct that problem. King also cited improper claims settlement, violations of the Prompt Pay Act, and failure to respond to customer complaints in a timely manner. The fine is the largest in agency history.
Energy and Environment
Muddying the waters: Interest in commercial oyster farming in Georgia is keen among scientists, state officials and restaurateurs, but it may face strong opposition from the public, according to the Saporta Report. Oysters are grown in cages submerged below floating frames, often in public waterways leased from the state. They impair both the view and the recreational use of those waterways. In May, the University of Georgia will host the first meeting of a consortium of state officials from coastal states to discuss best practices in managing aquaculture.
Derailed? MARTA told members of the Atlanta City Council on Wednesday that it is considering bus rapid transit as an alternative to light rail in the Clifton Corridor connecting Lindbergh station with Emory University, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The agency recently expressed concerns over the cost of rail for other projects, including a line along Campbellton Road and the transit element of the Atlanta Beltline. An Emory representative told council members the university would accept either mode. Atlanta voters approved an additional transit sales tax in 2016 that is projected to raise $2.7 billion over 40 years. Emory and the nearby Centers for Disease Control and Prevention constitute one of metro Atlanta’s largest job centers. The Foundation has long recommended the more flexible and cost-effective BRT for proposed transit expansions.
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Have a great weekend.
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