Georgia grand jury heard another Trump call recording
A special grand jury that investigated whether Donald Trump and his allies illegally meddled in the 2020 election in Georgia heard a recording of the former president pushing a top state lawmaker to call a special session to overturn his loss in the state.
Georgia House speaker proposes 1K bonus for police, deputies
Georgia’s House speaker said Wednesday he will seek $75 million in the state budget to give each police officer and sheriff’s deputy a $1,000 bonus, increase salaries for prosecutors and public defenders and bolster the capacity of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Gov. Kemp signs modest state income tax cut into law
Brian Kemp signed a modest state income tax cut into law Monday, saying Georgia’s ability to cut taxes was proof that his approach to the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in a strong economy. The tax cut will save individual tax filers up to $43 a year, and married couples filing jointly up to $63. However, the tax cut does not take effect until Jan. 1, and most Georgians are unlikely to notice it until 2023, when they file income tax returns for 2022. Before the pandemic scrambled state revenues last year, Republicans were eyeing a larger tax cut. Lawmakers cut the state’s top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% in 2019.
Georgia Senate sends $140M state income tax cut to Kemp
ATLANTA – A $140 million state income tax cut is on its way to Gov. Previously, Kemp and Republican House Speaker David Ralston had expressed concern the tax cut could threaten federal funds. The tax cut would save individual tax filers up to $43 a year, and married couples filing jointly up to $63. Before the pandemic scrambled state revenues last year, Republicans were eyeing a larger tax cut, a second reduction in the state’s top income tax rate. Legislators cut the top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% in 2019.
Georgia House passes budget as GOP rejects Democrat Medicaid expansion
The state would spend $27.2 billion in state tax money, plus billions more in federal money and money raised in fees and tuition. That’s up from $26.6 billion in state money this year. Brian Kemp had already proposed spending $22 million more on mental health, but House members want an overall increase of $58 million. The House would spend more on service providers, including $12.3 million for a 5% rate increase for providers of adult intellectual and developmental disability services. Ad“This House of Representatives recognizes the need for these services and is prioritizing them accordingly,’' said Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican.
Georgia House unanimously approves $140M income tax cut
ATLANTA – A unanimous Georgia House voted 171-0 Wednesday for a $140 million state income tax cut, in what Republicans hope is just a first step in further tax relief. Before the pandemic scrambled state revenues last year, Ralston was eyeing a larger tax cut, a second reduction in the state’s top income tax rate. Legislators cut the top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% in 2019 as part of a package of changes meant to prevent Georgia’s state income tax collections from increasing sharply after changes to the federal income tax. AdWhen the first phase of the tax cut was passed, lawmakers envisioned the additional quarter-percentage decrease to 5.5% this year. The measure lets some businesses who can’t use all their income tax breaks dip into the employee income taxes they collect.
House GOP resumes tax-cut push as Georgia finances rebound
ATLANTA – House Speaker David Ralston is backing a $100-million-plus state income tax cut, one sign of a rebound in state finances even as government and school budgets have yet to be fully restored to health. House Bill 593 would raise the amount of money that someone could earn before starting to pay state income taxes. Blackmon said the idea was to give a “modest” tax cut to the largest number of people possible. Legislators cut the top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% in 2019 as part of a package of changes meant to prevent Georgia’s state income tax collections from increasing sharply after changes to the federal income tax. Georgia could also get billions in federal aid added to its coffers in coming months, although state lawmakers could adjourn for the year before Congress acts.
Georgia leaders want to pay bonuses to many state workers
ATLANTA – Georgia officials are proposing one-time bonuses of $1,000 to many state employees who make less than $80,000 a year. “Our state employees work incredibly hard despite the global pandemic,” Kemp said. Both teachers and state employees are unlikely to see the whole $1,000 after taxes, health insurance and retirement contributions, officials said. “We are aware of the discussions and the possibility of this action and will mirror the state plan,” Diamant said. The largest groups of state employees work in job classifications with pay averaging $37,000 to $47,000 a year.
Georgia House member removed for refusing COVID-19 testing
ATLANTA – A member of the Georgia state House was removed from the chamber Tuesday for not abiding by the legislature’s COVID-19 testing policy. Rep. David Clark, a Republican from Buford, was asked to leave the chamber floor by House Speaker David Ralston. Clark recently mounted a bid to become House speaker that fizzled after he found little support. “You know, sometimes this job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,’' Ralston said after having Clark removed. Stay home.’'Several members of the state House and Senate have tested positive for the virus since the session began Jan. 11.
GOP leader in Georgia Senate tests positive for COVID-19
ATLANTA – The Republican majority leader of Georgia’s state Senate announced Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 during mandatory testing at the state Capitol. Dugan said he received the positive result Tuesday morning, the second day of Georgia’s legislative session. The mask requirement is a new policy in the state Senate, which made mask wearing optional during the final days of last year’s session — despite having several members sickened by COVID-19 in March. House Speaker David Ralston said earlier that multiple members of the state House are currently out because of COVID-19 as well. Ralston said Tuesday that 74 members of the House who were present Monday did not get tested, even though House leadership had sent several emails reminding members of the requirement.
Some assembly required: Georgia lawmakers meet amid COVID-19
ATLANTA – It’s going to be another weird pandemic session of the Georgia General Assembly. A House and Senate still struggling to operate amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak will see its members sworn in Monday to two-year terms. And all 180 House members won’t be sworn in at once, but rather in four socially distanced waves. “There hasn’t really been enough time to have any policy discussions,” said state Sen. Brian Strickland, a McDonough Republican. The House and Senate plan joint budget hearings for the following week, when the full chambers are unlikely to meet.
Georgia’s historic blue switch overshadowed by Capitol siege
Brian Kemp, during a press conference Wednesday evening, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, to condemn the breach of the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The reaction is just coming in from locals and lawmakers over the results of Georgia’s runoff elections after Trump’s mob siege on the Capitol overshadowed the historic outcomes. Political newcomers and Democrats Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated their opponents, both incumbent Republicans Sens. “I called Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff this morning to congratulate them on their hard-fought campaigns. “The insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol was incited by Trump’s poisonous lies & flagrant assault on our Constitution.
Georgia GOP seeks mail-in ballot changes after Biden’s win
Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all.
Georgia House member loses post over John Lewis criticism
ATLANTA Georgia's House speaker on Friday took away a committee leadership post from a fellow Republican who said in a radio interview that the late U.S. Rep John Lewis' "only claim to fame was that he got conked on the head." A number of state lawmakers, including some Republicans, are supporting the proposal, saying they want to honor Lewis leading role in the civil rights movement. John Lewis, his only claim to fame was he got conked on the head at the Pettus Bridge. The comments made by Representative Benton are offensive and disgusting, House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement. They can't fix anything else, so they take out their frustrations on those statues, Benton said.
Gambling expansion, tort reform on Georgia lawmakers’ to-do list
ATLANTA – Onlookers are placing bets on whether Georgia will make a push to expand gambling in the state this year, but the odds for such a wager remain unclear. Georgia could also allow each county’s voters a separate referendum on local gambling. “At some point, I think it is appropriate to let the people of Georgia have the final word,” he said. Local governments say they need to protect local property values and that the state is trying to take away what should be local powers. SEAT BELTSSome lawmakers aim to make Georgia join 30 other states that require back seat passengers to wear seat belts as well as front seat passengers.