State Representative Roger Bruce

 Georgia House of  Representatives
District 61
                                                     February 17, 2017
This Issue - Newsletter #5

Letter From Representative Bruce

Legislative News

Under The Gold Dome Episode #5

Representative Bruce Plays Baseball

Douglas County Day

100 Black Women Day

A Moment in Black History

Representative Bruce Plays Baseball

On Tuesday, February 14, 2017 (Valentine's Day), Representative Bruce was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Douglas County High School baseball game. 



Douglas County Day at the Capitol

On Thursday, February 17, 2017 a coalition of Douglas County leaders and citizens visited the State Capitol to speak with their representatives on a range of issues. The Douglas County delegation, which is chaired by Rep. Bruce includes Senator Mike Dugan, Senator Donzella James, and Representative J. Collins. 



National Coalition of 100 Black Women

On Thursday, February 16, 2017 the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metro Atlanta Chapter paid a visit to the Capitol to discuss important issues that ranged from education and economic development. Rep. Doreen Carter spoke at length at HB 338, which is the new education bill Republicans have proposed to overcome the defeat they suffered this past election with their OSD (Opportunity School Districts) constitutional amendment proposal. Rep. Bruce spoke at length to the group on economic diversity, challenging the attendees to think about building and maintaining black wealth. Furthermore, Rep. Bruce spoke about how economic diversity can lead to financial freedom in marginalized communities. 


A Moment In Black History

In an effort to honor this expansive and growing history, Black History Month was established by way of a weekly celebration in February known as "Negro History Week" by historian Carter G. Woodson. But just as Black history is more than a month, so too are the numerous events and figures that are often overlooked during it. Today we would like to honor a few special African Americans who have played a major role in shaping the political  arena here in the State of Georgia.

Between 1868 and 1907, fifty-eight black legislators served in the  Georgia General Assembly . The next black elected to the legislature after 1907 was Senator Leroy Johnson in 1962. The Supreme Court, in Gray v. Sanders (1963), eliminated the county unit system and required that Georgia follow the one-man, one-vote principle. The passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 resulted in significant black voter registration, and in 1965 and 1966, after redistricting, eight African Americans were elected to the Georgia House of Representatives: six from Atlanta(William Alexander, Julian Bond, Benjamin Brown, J. C. Daugherty, J. D. Grier, and Grace Towns Hamilton) and one each from Columbus (Albert Thompson) and Augusta (Richard Dent). Black members met periodically to discuss issues and strategies.

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This was a wonderful week at the Capitol. I had many visitors from the community. The were there to advocate for several issues, voting rights, economic parity, protection against discrimination due to sexual preference, protection against domestic violence and a whole host of other topics. We had the Douglas County Chamber, The South Fulton Chamber, 100 Black Women, Inc. and the Girl Scouts. It gives me great joy to see the involvement of so many  in the process of governing this state. 

We had a heated discussion this week on the topic of required discloser by anyone that is carrying any strain of the Aids Virus. Some felt it was discriminatory to require the discloser of this Virus but not other viruses. Others felt it was a public safety and humanitarian responsibility to disclose. There was also an argument that some strains of the virus were so mild that it was not deadly due to advances in science and treatment. We are going to make this the topic of an upcoming "Under The Gold Dome" discussion. It would be great to hear your thoughts on this one as I know it will be a topic of interest and concern for many. Stay tuned! 

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Legislative News

A summary of bills that passed out of the House Floor this week.
HB 1 (J. Spencer/R) Georgia Space Flight Act
House Bill 1 adds new chapters to Title 51, related to torts, to provide a limited waiver of liability for persons who agree to participate in space flight activities and space flight operations provided such persons sign a written waiver agreeing to those limitations. The bill provides the warning and written agreement that the flight participant shall sign, and it provides a list of what makes the warning and written agreement effective and enforceable. This limit on liability does not cover injuries caused by gross negligence (acting carelessly) for the safety of the participant or intentional injury. Liability is also not limited for: any other person who is not a participant of a space flight who has not signed such a waiver; for breach of contract for the use of real property by a space flight entity; or for an action by the federal government, the State of Georgia, or any state agency to enforce a valid statute or rule or regulation. All space flight lawsuits that occur in Georgia shall be brought in Georgia.

HB 9 (S. Blackmon/R) 
Crimes and offenses; use of device to film under or through person's clothing under certain circumstances; prohibit  House Bill 9 criminalizes the conduct, when knowingly and without consent of the person observed, of using any device or apparatus to observe, photograph, videotape, film, or record underneath such person's clothing for the purpose of viewing intimate body parts or undergarments commonly known as "up skirting" or "down blousing." Moreover, it is unlawful to disseminate any such image or recording. Conduct in violation of HB 9 is punished as a felony.

HB 42 (E. Lumsden/R) 
Elections; election superintendents to correct mistakes and omissions on ballots for a primary or election; authorize 
House Bill 42 allows election superintendents to make corrections to primary election ballots if they discover a mistake or omission on printed ballots or on the display screens of electronic voting machines. Finally, it allows municipalities, if they deem it practical, to hold a special election or run-off election in conjunction with a federal special or run-off election.

HB 44 (D. Ralston/R) 
General appropriations; State Fiscal Year  July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018Bill House Bill 44, the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, is set by a revenue estimate of $24.9 billion. This represents an increase of $1.25 billion, or 5.3 percent, over the FY 2017 original budget. The bill, tracking sheet and highlights may be found on the House Budget and Research Office website: 

HB 143 (B. Williamson/R) 
Financial institutions; provide for definitions; provisions 
House Bill 143 allows the Department of Banking and Finance to investigate a person or corporation performing financial services for a financial institution as if the financial institution performed the services itself.

HB 169 (J. Corbett/R) 
Charlton County; probate judge; provide nonpartisan elections  
House Bill 169 states that future elections for the office of probate judge of Charlton County, who also serves as the chief magistrate of the Charlton County Magistrate Court, shall be nonpartisan elections.

HB 183 (R. Dickey/R) 
Community Affairs, Department of; Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council; recreate House Bill 183 recreates the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council under the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). All data, reports, and other documents of the former Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council that existed under the Department of Natural Resources prior to  June 30, 2017 , shall be transferred to DCA for use by the newly created council. The commissioner, or his or her designee, shall coordinate with state executive branch departments and agencies to appoint members of the council, which may consist of representatives from state departments and agencies, local governments, universities, regional commissions, or any other entity the department determines to be active in the development or consumption of reliable geospatial resources. The council may closely coordinate its efforts with the Georgia Technology Authority to ensure compliance with all state and federal standards, contracts, and procedures.

HB 61 (J. Powell/R) 
Sales and use tax; certain retailers to either collect and remit or notify purchaser and state; require.  House Bill 61 amends the definition of "dealer" in 48-8-2, relating to state sales and use tax, to include any person who, in the previous or current calendar year, obtains gross revenue exceeding $250,000 or conducts 200 or more separate transactions from the sale of tangible personal property that is physically or electronically delivered into this state. The bill also allows the Department of Revenue to bring an action for declaratory judgment in any superior court against any person the department believes meets the amended definition of dealer. Any final decision of the superior court shall be directly appealable to the Supreme Court. The bill also amends 48-8-30 by defining the term "delivery retailer" to mean any retailer that, in the previous or current calendar year, obtains gross revenue exceeding $250,000 or conducts 200 or more separate transactions from the sale of tangible personal property that is physically or electronically delivered into this state. The bill further states that a delivery retailer must either collect and remit sales tax or notify the purchaser that sales or use tax may be due to the State of Georgia on the purchase, send a sales and use tax statement to all purchasers whose purchases during the calendar year totaled $500 or more, and submit a copy of all sales and use tax statements to the Department of Revenue by January 31 of each year. 

HB 73 (P. Houton/R) 
 Income tax credit; incentives to promote the revitalization of rural Georgia downtowns; provide.  House Bill 73 adds 48-7-40.32, which creates tax credit incentives to promote the revitalization of vacant rural downtowns. The commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and the commissioner of the Department of Economic Development are provided with the authority to designate an area as a revitalization zone .
HB 117 (S. Watson/R) 
 Sales and use tax; certain voluntary contributions; exclude from definition of retail sales  House Bill 117 amends 48-8-2 by removing voluntary contributions to places of amusement, sports, or entertainment from being subject to sales and use tax.

HB 125 (R. Stephens/R) 
Sales and use tax; certain tangible personal property sold or used to maintain a boat; create exemption.  House Bill 125 amends 48-8-3, relating to exemptions from state sales and use taxes, by adding an exemption for the portion of a boat repair, refit, or maintenance event that exceeds $500,000 in the aggregate value of engines, parts, equipment, or other attached tangible property.

HB 138 (L. Hawkins/R)  
Superior courts; fifth judge of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit; provide.  House Bill 138 amends Code Section 15-6-2(26) to add a fifth superior court judge to the Northeastern Circuit. The additional judge will be appointed by the Governor for a term continuing through  December 31, 2020  and until his or her successor is elected. The judge has the same powers, duties, dignity, jurisdiction, privileges, and immunities as other superior court judges, and is authorized to employ court personnel as his or her counterparts in the Northeastern Circuit. The election will be in 2020 and the term, starting  January 1, 2021 , will be for four years.

HB 139 (D. Belton/R) 
Education; provide transparency of financial information of local school systems and schools; provisions.  House Bill 139 requires the Department of Education to post certain school-level budget and expenditure information, excluding information made confidential by law, on its website. The purpose of this legislation is to promote transparency within public schools. The type of information required includes, but is not limited to the cost of: materials; salary and benefit expenditures; professional development; facility maintenance and small capital projects; new construction or major renovations on a cost-per-square-foot; the annual budget of the local board; annual audits; per student expenditures, and findings of irregularities or budget deficits by the Department of Audits.

HB 160 (K. Tanner/R) 
 Mass transportation; create Georgia Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, provisions.  House Bill 160 creates the Georgia Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. The purpose of this commission will be to study and assess needs for, potential methods of funding of, and means of providing a system of mass transportation and mass transportation facilities for any one or more metropolitan areas of the state, while including consideration of federal programs. A written report of findings a detailed proposal to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker, and the director of planning for a system of regional, integrated, and comprehensive mass transportation. The proposal must include a recommended regional governance structure along with means of funding construction and operation of mass transportation and mass transportation facilities including state funding. This proposal, and any recommended legislation, is required no later than  December 31, 2017  and the commission is abolished by  December 31, 2018 .

HB 185 (C. Coomer/R)
 Probate court; associate judges; change provisions
House Bill 165allows an associate judge of the probate court, who is serving as an advocate general or in any other military role in a reserve position of the United States armed forces (Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force, National Guard, Georgia National Guard, Georgia Air National Guard, Georgia Naval Militia, or the State Defense Force), to engage in law practices outside the scope of an associate judges' role. It shall be unlawful for any part-time associate judge of the probate court to engage directly or indirectly, in his name or in another's in any court, on any matter in which his/her own court has pending jurisdiction or has jurisdiction. It is also unlawful for full-time or part-time associate judges of the probate court to give advice or counsel to any person, for any matter, that has arisen, directly or indirectly, in his or her court unless that advice or counsel arises while the associate judge is performing his/her duties of the probate court.

 Taxation; certain for profit corporations to participate in the indirect ownership of a home for the mentally disabled for primarily financing purposes; allow.  House Bill 195 amends 48-5-41, relating to property exempt from taxation, by expanding the property tax exemption on homes for the mentally disabled to allow for homes which are indirectly owned by limited liability companies (LLCs), if the LLC's parent organization is a qualified 501(c)(3)organization under Internal Revenue Code, to be included.

HB 198 (K. Dempsey/R) 
 Elementary and secondary education; influenza vaccine; provide information.  House Bill 198 amends Code Section 20-2-778 by requiring school systems to include information relating to influenza and its respective vaccines if, and only if, the school system already provides information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications, or other school health issues.

HB 214 (R. Golick/R)
 Crimes and offenses; consistent punishment for the unlawful manufacture, sale or distribution of a proof of insurance document; provide.  House Bill 214 brings into alignment violations of the law regarding false insurance documents within the criminal and insurance sections of the Georgia Code by making the punishment identical felonies.

HB 231 (B. Broadrick/R)
 Controlled substances; Schedules I, II, IV and V; change certain provisions.  House Bill 231 is the annual narcotics update regarding Schedules I, II, IV, and V controlled substances to capture new synthetic opiates and synthetic marijuana, commonly known as bath salts.

 for more information on weekly events for the 
2017 Legislative Session.


Under The Gold Dome Episode #5

with Georgia State Rep. Roger Bruce (D-61) 
Episode #5 Feb. 10, 2017
Guest: Rep. Al Williams, Legislative Aide Sharon Matthews, Legislative Aide Jason Gathing


Representative Roger Bruce's Staff

A.D. Fields - Legislative/Policy/Communications Aide
Jason Gathing - Legislative/Policy Aide.
Judith Richards- Administrative Aide/Executive Asst.
Tiffani Palmer - Communications & Media .
Sharon Matthews - Legislative/Policy Aide 
John L. Sanders- Photographer 

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