By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Legislators discuss bill details
Issues include economy, creating jobs
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
More than 10 percent of Georgians are looking for work.

A group of legislators is hoping to answer that call by introducing the Jobs, Opportunity and Business Success Act of 2010.

District 12 state Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, announced the bill Thursday alongside bill co-sponsors, including District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming.

The legislation, dubbed the JOBS Act, is designed to attract new business, create jobs and help expand current industry.

It is one of many bills being sculpted by Forsyth County’s state legislative delegation, all five members of which are Republican.

District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy of Cumming said he is carrying about five bills this session.

Among them is a measure that would require an affidavit with a complaint filed against certified police officers. It’s aimed at preventing frivolous lawsuits.

Another is a bill requiring driver’s license exams be administered only in English. The measure passed out of the House last session, but is awaiting a Senate vote.

Though he’s working on a few others, Murphy said he is likely “going to limit it to those five or six right now, because that’s plenty.”

Graves’ JOBS bill was introduced last session, but Hamilton said a few items were tweaked in the 2010 version, which is being divided into two bills, HB 1023 and HB 1024.

The bulk of the plan falls under HB 1023, which includes enhancements from last year’s bill.

The most significant addition is called the “angel investor” tax credit, which provides up to a 50 percent income tax credit for an investment made in a small or startup Georgia business with 20 or fewer employees.

The credit would be available only after two full years of investing in the company.

The bill also would exempt someone starting a new business from any state fees and offer quarterly credits toward unemployment taxes for every employee hired who had been receiving state jobless benefits.

There would also be a $2,400 tax credit for companies hiring and maintaining the “most difficult to employ” workers for at least two years.

“We want to make sure we’re creating new companies that are creating new jobs and that we’re putting people to work,” Hamilton said. “We’re trying to tell companies and employers that Georgia wants you to come here to start your business.

“This is a way to become more competitive with competing states, not only in the Southeast, but in other parts of the country.”

HB 1024 contains the gradual phasing out of sales tax deposits on small businesses. Nearly $200 million currently being held by the state could be returned to small businesses.

“We’re not saying the JOBS Act is the only bill that will pass ... it’s just a good starting point,” Hamilton said. “We really want to be the state in this country that is known for jobs.

“We feel very good about where we’re headed.”

District 51 state Sen. Chip Pearson of Dawsonville, whose district includes some of Forsyth, has authored several bills.

Perhaps the most notable is a measure to require that at least 30 percent of privately-funded transportation project contracts go to local contractors and small businesses.

The goal is to help the local tax base and small businesses.

He also wrote a bill creating a public/private initiative for private operation or ownership of water supply reservoirs to help with the state’s limited water resources.

Pearson has co-sponsored a measure to block any measure forcing state residents, businesses or health care providers to participate in any health care system by enforcing a penalty or fine.

Pearson and Murphy have both signed onto a resolution urging the state’s transportation department to allow retail developments in rest areas along Georgia’s interstates.

The commercial presence, they believe, would help spark some recovery in the economy. The bill could also require the businesses to assume the cost of operating and maintaining the rest areas.

That decision, however, is up to the Federal Highway Administration, which would need to issue a waiver to the state department.

Despite his campaign for state insurance and safety fire commissioner, District 24 state Rep. Tom Knox of Cumming said he is focused on his current role.

One bill he plans to introduce would require an interlock device be placed in a car of anyone convicted of driving under the influence, even on a first offense.

The device would not let the car start until the driver passes a breathalyzer test.

Knox is also planning a bill that would ban the use of gas chambers to kill stray pets in city and county facilities.

District 9 state Rep. Amos Amerson of Dahlonega has submitted two bills calling for action on cell phone use in cars.

One measure would ban them completely from being used in cars, excluding public safety and emergency personnel.

“Even people using hands-free cell phone [devices], their brains disconnect,” said Amerson, whose district includes parts of Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties. “They’re not thinking about driving.”

The other measure bans text messaging and similar “wireless communication device” actions, such as reading and sending e-mails.

There are other similar bills being floated in the House, and it’s likely a committee will condense them all into one bill later in the session.
Amerson’s, however, has the highest fines — up to $300.

“I don’t think $300 is high. It is enough to get their attention,” he said. “In fact, I got an e-mail yesterday from a retired judge who thought it ought to be $1,000 and a six-month suspension.

“The goal is not to make money for the state, but to act as a deterrent.”