State ses­sion con­cludes

State Rep. Trey Kel­ley and his col­leagues race to the fin­ish line as 40 days at the Gold Dome ends.

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick SJ Edi­tor

The leg­isla­tive year was kind to Polk County, es­pe­cially when it came to the state bud­get and de­ci­sions made in the gold dome to pro­vide lo­cal gov­ern­ments with some ad­di­tional re­sources.

When the gavel fell in the House at mid­night on Sine Die day, State Rep. Trey Kel­ley fi­nally got to take a sigh of re­lief. It had been a long, hard race through this year’s 40 days in At­lanta. Pro­pos­als had passed, and oth­ers went into the waste­bas­ket un­til they can come back in 2019. Many mea­sures come and go, but for this year’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion, what hap­pened lo­cally mat­tered a lot.

Polk County’s love from the state came in the form of cash for sev­eral projects, from the widen­ing and resur­fac­ing of Chero­kee Road, to the forth­com­ing air­port run­way ex­ten­sion pro­ject, with plenty more lo­cal lead­ers are still smil­ing about as they be­gin the work to make the money be­come real progress.

The love was enough this year to bring Gov­er­nor Nathan Deal to Cor­nelius Moore Field to sign the amended 2018 state bud­get with state and lo­cal lead­ers in a cer­e­mony in March.

“This ses­sion I was proud to see the Re­pub­li­can led leg­is­la­ture work­ing with our Re­pub­li­can Gov­er­nor Nathan Deal pass a bud­get that funds ed­u­ca­tion at the high­est level ever,” Kel­ley said. “Polk County di­rectly ben­e­fited from these bud­gets with the in­clu­sion of fund­ing for our air­port, repaving of Chero­kee Road, and the new Ca­reer Cen­ter in the Cedar­town In­dus­trial Park. We passed this bud­get while also de­liv­er­ing the first in­come tax cut in our state’s his­tory. This is a re­sult of con­ser­va­tive gov­er­nance un­der Re­pub­li­can lead­er­ship.”

One of the most im­por­tant pieces of leg­is­la­tion Kel­ley got through the State Capi­tol this year had noth­ing to do with is­sues, but were all about show­ing love and sup­port for lo­cals who have been the vic­tims of tragedy.

He spon­sored House Res­o­lu­tion 1195, which nam­ing the bridge on Sy­bil Bran­non Park­way over Ga. 278 the De­tec­tive Kris­ten Snead Hearne Memo­rial Bridge. Hearne was shot to death in Septem­ber while in­ves­ti­gat­ing a re­port of a sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle.

“The state of Ge­or­gia con­tin­ues to mourn the loss of one of its most dis­tin­guished cit­i­zens,” the res­o­lu­tion states.

Hearne, who would have turned 30 in Novem­ber, grad­u­ated from Rock­mart High School and served four years in Floyd County law en­force­ment be­fore join­ing the Polk County Po­lice Depart­ment in 2012.

“A com­pas­sion­ate and gen­er­ous woman, De­tec­tive Hearne will long be re­mem­bered for her love of fam­ily and friend­ship, and this loyal wife, daugh- ter, mother, and friend will be missed by all who had the great for­tune of know­ing her,” the res­o­lu­tion states.

It later got in­cor­po­rated into a Se­nate Res­o­lu­tion ded­i­cat­ing a DeKalb County in­ter­change for Robert H. “Bob” Bell ini­tially, but in­cor­po­rated a num­ber of in­ter­changes be­ing re­named across the state into one mea­sure that re­sound­ingly passed with­out much ob­jec­tion in both cham­bers of the State Capi­tol.

“We all know our com­mu­nity suf­fered a tremen­dous tragedy when De­tec­tive Kris­ten Hearn was killed while serv­ing in the line of duty. I am honored to have passed leg­is­la­tion which will name the bridge on the bypass which over­looks the Polk County Po­lice Depart­ment in her honor,” Kel­ley said.

Ex­pect more news on ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­monies later this year.

It was a good year for Kel­ley on the reg­u­lar leg­isla­tive side as well. He pushed through leg­is­la­tion in both the state House and Se­nate sev­eral mea­sures he hopes will im­pact Ge­or­gians in the years to come. In­cluded in that was a mea­sure that might be an at­trac­tive en­tice­ment de­signed to bring big tech­nol­ogy firms to the state.

House Bill ( HB) 696 was passed by the Se­nate on Sine Die Day and just awaits Gov. Deal’s sig­na­ture and cre­ates the op­por­tu­nity for ex­emp­tions for those com­pa­nies who want to in­vest in build­ing high tech­nol­ogy data cen­ters in the state can do so, if they meet cer­tain re­quire­ments and go through a bond­ing process, can be ex­empted from sales and use taxes on the equip­ment run­ning those data cen­ters start­ing July 1 and con­tin­u­ing through 2028.

A con­tract for that equip­ment has to be signed for at least 36 months be­fore it qual­i­fies, and the state also has a clear def­i­ni­tion of what they’ll count as a data cen­ter and what equip­ment is ex­empt from state sales and use taxes, up­ward of $250 mil­lion in ex­penses in a county with over 50,000, and $150 mil­lion in coun­ties with pop­u­la­tion be­tween 30,000 and 50,000, and $100 mil­lion for a county with a pop­u­la­tion un­der 30,000.

The leg­is­la­tion not only could en­tice big data com­pa­nies like Ama­zon, Google or Face­book to build new data cen­ters in Ge­or­gia, but also act as a po­ten­tial sweet­ener for un­known star­tups to con­sider Ge­or­gia as they be­come known by mil­lions on­line through the next sev­eral years, or un­til the leg­is­la­tion ex­pires in 2029. It also pro­vides one clear way to get telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies to ex­pand their re­sources into ru­ral ar­eas, Kel­ley said.

“HB696 builds on Ge­or­gia’s tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship by en­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ments by data cen­ters in our state. As we con­tinue to ad­dress the ru­ral broad­band prob­lem which ex­ists in Ge­or­gia data cen­ters and the fiber they build out will play a crit­i­cal role in this ef­fort,” he said of the mea­sure that passed on Sine Die Day.

Long fought for hopes of re­duc­ing in­come taxes passed ear­lier this year, and just ahead of Sine Die Day also got his amend­ment to au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles leg­is­la­tion passed as well. That will al­low pur­chasers of au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles who be­lieve they got a le­mon to have the same le­gal rights as driv­ers who own cars that don’t have the tech­nol­ogy.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Ru­ral Hos­pi­tal Tax Cred­its that Kel­ley sought to in­crease to 100 per­cent for donors to deduct off of state in­come or busi­ness pay­roll taxes for in­di­vid­u­als and corpo- ra­tions also made it through. His mea­sure was in­cor­po­rated into a larger se­nate pack­age of ru­ral healthcare is­sues and passed with­out is­sue.

“I was pleased to see the lan­guage from my ru­ral hos­pi­tal tax credit in­cluded in the com­pre­hen­sive ru­ral healthcare bill. Our com­mu­nity will cer­tainly ben­e­fit from this leg­is­la­tion,” Kel­ley said.

Not all the hoped for leg­is­la­tion made its way through to com­ple­tion at the state capi­tol for Kel­ley this year.

His Fan­tasy Con­tests Act, HB 118 that made it through the House in 2017, was tabled by the State Se­nate in some mi­nor dra­mat­ics on the other side of the Capi­tol on Sine Die Day. Since it was pushed off be­fore the ses­sion’s close, the bill will have to come back up dur­ing the 2019 ses­sion if Kel­ley seeks to do so again.

The bill sought to ad­just the def­i­ni­tion of fan­tasy sports from a game of chance in Ge­or­gia to one of skill, and set some guide­lines and fees for on­line sites like DraftKings to op­er­ate legally in Ge­or­gia.

He said he’ll eval­u­ate it dur­ing the off-sea­son of the State Leg­is­la­ture.

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