House, Senate prepare for battle on tax reform

ATLANTA --- Jostling over the issue expected to be the session's headline-grabber -- tax reform -- could begin in earnest this week, with key committees in the House and Senate expected to take action on some of the highest profile measures.


The most sweeping proposal on the table is House Speaker Glenn Richardson's initiative to do away with the portion of local property taxes that helps fund schools and replace it with a broader statewide sales tax.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, said Friday that the House Ways and Means Committee would likely take action on "a tax bill" next week. Asked whether the measure would be Mr. Richardson's, he would only reiterate that the panel would consider a tax bill.

The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, will consider a pair of measures that would limit the growth of property tax assessments.

The newest, introduced Friday by Finance Committee Chairman Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, and backed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, would allow property values for tax purposes to rise only by 2 percent for resident property or 3 percent for nonresidential property. Any local government wanting to opt out of the limits would have to set its own cap on assessments, create a uniform process for reassessments and get approval for the proposal in a referendum.

Mr. Rogers said his committee would look at that proposal and one by Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, that would cap reassessments at the rate of inflation.

Senators and Mr. Cagle contend that reassessments are the most disturbing types of tax increases for Georgians because they are not directly approved by elected officials.

Mr. Keen said the House could also take up a midyear spending bill proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue by the end of the week.

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Georgia lawmakers voted last week to re-elect the chairman of the state transportation board despite the objections of House Speaker Glenn Richardson. North Georgia lawmakers decided to keep Mike Evans around for another five year term, and legislators from southeast Georgia let Raybon Anderson of Statesboro keep his seat.


- The Senate slapped Gov. Sonny Perdue with a rare rebuke, approving Georgia's first veto override in 34 years. The Senate voted 47-7 to approve the override, one of 12 the House passed on opening day of the session.

- The House passed legislation that would allow residents to stop credit reporting agencies from releasing their information without written permission.

-- Associated Press