Notes from the Senate
by Whitley Clifton | December 5, 2018 3:40 pm
by SENATOR JACK HILL, 4th District
“THIS N’ THAT”
Here are accumulated bits of information that need passing along to you but in and of themselves do not make up a column. I am beginning to think about the annual “10 Reasons to be Optimistic” column we will publish around the first of the year. If you have suggestions, send’em on.
LEGISLATION TO HELP TREE FARMERS IN SW GEORGIA
In addition to HB 1 EX, the Amended Appropriations bill that was passed during the Special Session Nov. 13-17, the Legislature passed HB 4 EX to assist tree farmers in replanting to replace the 37,687,610 tons of timber on the ground in SW Georgia. The total value of this loss exceeds $762 million.
HB 4 EX will assist landowners in replanting by providing a refundable tax credit equal to $400 per acre on property located in the hurricane zone consisting of 28 counties. The replanting must be in the area affected by the storm and can be sold.
There is a cap of $200 million for approved tax credits. If the cap is not reached by July 1, 2019, the DOR commissioner may reopen the application period until Dec. 31, 2020. Tax credits may be carried forward up to ten years but must be claimed in the year when the taxpayer first completes the replanting of timber and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2024.
Tax credits in excess of the tax liability of the landowner will be refunded.
FOLLOW-UP ON AID TO SW GEORGIA
There are two types of government assistance now available to residents of the storm ravaged area of SW Georgia. Disaster-TANF or D-TANF is special assistance authorized through the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for families in the 20 county area.
This designation authorizes payment of TANF block grant funds for a one-time non-recurrent payment for families at 300% of the federal Poverty rate for those families who lost housing due to the storm. It is believed that some 30,000 families would receive the $1,120 payment.
DISASTER SNAP BENEFITS
DFCS, in partnership with the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, implemented a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) in 20 Georgia counties to aid families as they recover from the storm.
The creation of a D-SNAP program is the fourth such action Georgia DFCS and the USDA has taken to provide relief to low-income families since Hurricane Michael hit South Georgia on October 10. Georgia has not implemented a D-SNAP program since Hurricane Irene in 2011. The state match could range from $11 million to $36 million.
RELIEF FUND SET UP
Sen. Dean Burke of Bainbridge notified members of the Senate last week of the formation of a relief fund, “South Georgia Disaster Relief Fund” with the Community Foundation of South Georgia. Web address: https://www.cfsga.net/donations.htm.
The fund is focused, according to Sen. Burke, on “home repair programs that will assist low and moderate income families who own their homes but cannot afford market rate contractors to perform repairs.
This fund is being managed by local leaders in each community affected with assistance from FEMA and the Salvation Army. Sen. Burke’s office number is 404-656-0040.
STATE TAX EXEMPTION ON JET FUEL EXTENDED TO JUNE 30, 2019
Under HB 5 EX the Legislature will allow the exemption of the state sales tax on jet fuel that was suspended by executive order to be extended only until June 30, 2019. Any further exemption would have to be considered in the upcoming session of the General Assembly in January, 2019. The exact cost of the exemption is based on estimated fuel prices, but could be as much as $44.7 million and applies to all airlines and not just Delta.
NORTH GEORGIA COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS GO WANTING
Each year the legislature funds 42 full-ride scholarships to North Georgia College in Dahlonega to Georgia students interested in serving in the Georgia National Guard. The Fourth Senatorial District has three scholarship assigned and I am told that none of the three have as yet been awarded.
The deadline is February 1, 2019, but interested students would be advised to apply sooner rather than later. Here is a short list of the eligibility criteria for application:
-Must join the National Guard
– 3.0 GPA
-920 score on SAT (480 Math/26 sub score for Reading)
-20 Composite on the ACT (20 English/18 Math)
-Meet UNG Cadet Admissions Standards
-Physically and medically fit
Cadets receive tuition, school fees, books, room, meals and uniforms. They are paid for training, weekend drills and Annual Training and qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill.
Applicants may apply online: ungms.ung.edu/apply.
I may be reached at 234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; 404-656-5038 (phone); 404-657-7094 (fax); e-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov; toll-free at 1-800-367-3334, day or night; or by phone at my Reidsville office, 912-557-3811.