Criminal Justice Reform, HB1176 Passed!
This bill was a result of Governor Deal’s interest in reforming the criminal justice system in Georgia. Of particular note to retailers was an increase in the felony threshold for retail theft. A joint committee of the House and Senate was convened that spent almost a year discussing all aspects of crime, sentencing, incarceration cost, and rehabilitation programs.
Retailers were concerned about the proposal to increase the felony threshold from $300 to $1500. Industry loss prevention professionals joined GRA lobbyist to explain the real world impact of the proposals. Organized Retail Crime introduced to legislators and many legislators were surprised at the financial toll this theft levied on retailers and their customers.
In the end, thanks to the hard work of our team, the bill was changed to reflect an increase in the felony threshold to only $500. Additionally, we were successful amending the language to include some ORC language that will make it easier to build cases against those engaged at that level.
Mainstreet Fairness…Bill HB386 Passed!
Partnering with the national Mainstreet Alliance coalition, GRA worked with the Governor’s office, the Senate and House leadership, member companies and other state associations to educate the key elected officials and the general public about this important issue.
The process was challenging due to continuous changes in strategy by House and Senate leadership. Some weeks we were pushing a stand-alone bill, other weeks we were part of an ominous tax package. In the end, we were successful in getting our efairness issue in the tax package and it passed almost unanimously. The bill includes both physical and affiliate nexus components, making it a strong start in the overall goal of having all internet retailers responsible for collecting the taxes due.
Back to School Sales Tax Holiday…HB386 Passed!
Beginning the journey as a stand-alone bill, it was rolled into the tax package and passed. Georgia legislators had not passed a BTS sales tax holiday for the previous two years, and we expected substantial push back this year. During the summer GRA contracted for an economic study of the BTS sales tax holiday and its effect on the Georgia economy. This report was very helpful in showing legislators the economic stimulus effect of these events. This year the holiday will be held in August. Details of the tax holiday will be sent to members in the coming weeks.
Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday HB386 Passed!
As part of the tax package that overwhelmingly passed the Georgia legislature and was strongly supported by the Governor and GRA, Georgians will enjoy sales tax relief during an event in October targeting high efficiency appliances. Rules and dates will be forthcoming.
Unemployment Compensation Reform..SB447 Passed!
During the recent recession, Georgia and most other States depleted its workers compensation trust fund and borrowed money from the Federal government in order to pay unemployment claims. Unknown to most of the public, but not employers, is that 100% of the funding for these claims comes from employers. The system is antiquated and must be reformed. This legislation accomplished some of the needed reforms and will result in substantially lower taxes for employers.
Local Inventory Tax SB48 Passed!
Inventory taxes at the State level were removed several years ago but the more expensive local version has remained. This bill allows counties to remove this onerous tax in 20% increments to be more competitive in attracting businesses to their counties. Not mandatory, but a good first step.
Shopping Cart Theft Sign Removal HB1093 Passed!
Thanks to the great work of Kathy Kuzava and the Georgia Food Industries Association, this bureaucratic burden has been removed. Existing law required retailers to post signs reminding people that stealing grocery carts was a crime. No longer required.