Jul 28, 2014

Sen. Hill on Uber Bill, Medical Marijuana & March Town Hall

Sen. Hunter Hill from the 6th District updates constituents on what's happening under the Gold Dome including public-private partnerships and more.

Sen. Hill on Uber Bill, Medical Marijuana & March Town Hall
By Sen. Hunter Hill

It has been a very busy few weeks at the Capitol. With the snow storms behind us, and a goal to complete our work at the Capitol prior to March 20, we are moving at a fast pace.

Next week, the Georgia General Assembly will mark Crossover Day or day 30, which is the last day a bill can transfer to the opposite chamber. Any bill that does not receive a passing vote in its original chamber cannot move on in the legislative process. Also, because this is the second year of the biennial session, any bills that do not become law, will have to be resubmitted next year.

Town Hall Meeting

Before I comment on legislation on which I’ve been working, I wanted to announce a Town Hall Meeting I am hosting on March 13th at 6:30 PM at the Smyrna Community Center. 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna GA 30080. I hope you can attend. Prior to session getting out, I wanted to hear from members of Senate district 6. 

Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

Last summer, I was the Chairman of a study committee to investigate the potential benefit of expanding Georgia’s use of public private partnerships (P3). The concept, which is already legal, did not have established standards, so each government entity that engaged in a P3 was essentially “starting from scratch.”

In an effort to apply the lessons learned from our committee this summer, and to ensure that there is a solid framework by which state agencies and local governments can initiate P3, I sponsored and moved Senate Bill 255 through the Senate. After a favorable passage through the Transportation committee, SB 255 passed the Senate today. This legislation creates a Guidelines Committee as well as a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee to help regulate the way contracts are awarded and managed. The Guidelines Committee will do the important work of creating the rules by which state agencies will engage in P3‘s. 

Eliminate Georgia’s Income Tax

Another bill that’s being debated in the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee is Senate Resolution 8. I am co-sponsoring this measure that proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would eliminate the Georgia General Assembly’s ability to impose taxes on income. The amendment provides a gradual phasing out of the current income tax and only allows for the collection of an income tax under emergency circumstances. In order for this to happen, the legislature would have to approve the tax by a 2/3 vote.

Ride Sharing Industry - “Uber Bill”

In other legislative news, House Bill 907 is expected to reach the House floor for a vote this week. If passed, it would change tax regulations and certain laws governing the taxi and limo industry. This regulation would alter the way companies like Uber and Lyft operate as well as the way they pay sales taxes to the state. There is concern among many, including those in the General Assembly, that this legislation would limit competition and inhibit the free market through overregulation on the ride sharing industry. I am not in favor of this legislation as written, and I believe it would have a detrimental impact on an innovative idea, with a proven value-add to our community.

Medical Marijuana

Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) introduced House Bill 885 earlier this session. This bill calls for the continuation of the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research program, which explores medical marijuana’s effects on certain medical conditions. HB 885 would also provide for the testing, storage, and dispensing of medical marijuana by the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy and many other conditions—especially children suffering from seizures. I am supportive of this measure as it will allow us to test the benefits and potential side-effects of Cannabis oil.  This bill will not allow for the immediate prescription and distribution of Cannabis oil; rather, it will allow for us to conduct clinical trials.

It is an honor to represent you at the State Capitol. I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the legislative process as we move towards Sine Die. For more information regarding a specific piece of legislation, or to view a list of all legislative action this week, you may access the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov.

Hunter Hill is the state senator for the 6th District of Georgia, which encompasses parts of Brookhaven, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, and Vinings.

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