Decatur Senior Tax Exemption Bill Passes House; On Way To Governor’s Desk

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A reader wrote in…

Word just in from Rahn Mayo, DeKalb representative, that SB343 the Decatur senior homestead exemption has passed.  The many calls, emails, visits to the Capitol had an effect.

Decaturishconfirms the news thru multiple sources…

Decatur Superintendent David Dude says that Decatur’s bill expanding a homestead tax exemption for seniors has passed the House.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said the bill is on the way to the governor’s desk. The exemption would still have to be approved by voters in a November referendum.

“The House leadership understood that asking its Republican Representatives to vote against a tax cut for Seniors was a bad idea,” Oliver said. “Particularly, when it was demanded by one Representative far from Decatur. And, Decatur folks were great advocates for our city!  Thank you, Seniors!”

Mayor Patti Garrett also just sent out this note to residents…

Happy almost-spring! Some of you may have been following our efforts recently to have several Decatur-local legislative bills pass through the Georgia legislature. Four of the fivebills (SB 339, 340, 341, 342) passed the House on March 8. Then today (March 16), SB 343, which grants homestead school tax relief and the largest benefit to Decatur homeowners 65 and above, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Heartfelt thanks to Senator Elena Parent for sponsoring the legislation in the Senate and to Representative Mary Margaret Oliver for spearheading the efforts on the House side. She sponsored the bill in the house, and House Minority Leader, Stacey Abrams assisted in gaining support for the bill. A number of seniors came to the Capitol last week to ask for senior tax exemption support, and numerous residents emailed state legislators in support of Decatur having the ability to vote on these Homestead Exemptions that affect only residents of the City.

This is local legislation that residents in the City of Decatur will have the opportunity to consider and vote on in the November 2016 election. The Bills were supported by resolution by the City Schools of Decatur School Board and the City Commission. For more information and a summary of each of the five bills, please visit this link on my website.

Decatur Mayor Calls For Action After Most Substantial Senior Tax Relief Bill Is Tabled

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The City of Decatur just provided this release from Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett…

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 four of the five City of Decatur’s homestead tax exemption bills passed the Georgia House of Representatives.  With the previous adoption by the Georgia Senate on February 11, 2016, those four separate pieces of legislation will move forward for the Governor’s signature.  However, SB 343 that provided the most significant tax relief from school taxes to citizens 65 and older has been delayed to a later date upon a motion by Representative Beth Beskin of Fulton County.

Representative Mary Margaret Oliver who represents part of the City of Decatur challenged the motion arguing that Rep. Beskin’s efforts to punish Decatur’s older citizens based on Atlanta’s refusal to grant similar relief to seniors was pure partisan politics.  “I am hopeful we will be able to get over the partisan obstacle created solely by Representative Beskin. I believe the Republican leadership will ultimately be supportive of local control to support the success of the Decatur school system and good management,” said Rep. Oliver.  Rep. Beskin stated to Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett that her motion to table had nothing to do with Decatur or the legislation itself.

“The City of Decatur and the City Schools of Decatur appreciate all of the efforts of Decatur legislators who have worked hard to get these bills passed including Senator Elena Parent and Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver, Howard Mosby, Rahn Mayo and Karla Drenner,” said Mayor Garrett.  “Our delegation members understand the need for property tax relief, particularly for our seniors, and I hope the Republican leadership will also understand our position and consider the merits and value to the citizens of Decatur of the senior homestead tax exemptions.”  The homestead exemption legislation was supported by the Decatur City Commission and the Decatur Board of Education who were acting with the support of the residents of the City of Decatur, including members of the Lifelong Community Advisory Board, a very active group of senior homeowners and the business community.

“It is unsettling that legislation designed by Decatur’s elected officials for the benefit of Decatur’s senior citizens, that would have no impact on anyone other than Decatur residents, has been met with opposition,” said Board of Education Chair Annie Caiola, who added, “We encourage our residents to join us in voicing these sentiments to the Republican leadership. This also happened last year when Decatur’s proposed senior exemptions failed in the eleventh hour due to similar unprecedented maneuvers.  It is our sincere hope that CSD’s homestead exemption legislation will be quickly put back on track to pass.”

To voice your opinion about the City Schools of Decatur homestead exemption, please contact Rep. Beth Beskin ([email protected]); Rep. Jan Tankersley ([email protected]);  Rep. Jon Burns ([email protected]); Rep. Matt Ramsey ([email protected]);  Speaker of the House David Ralston ([email protected]); and, copy Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver ([email protected]).

Make sure they know that SB 343 would provide tax relief to senior property owners and that it is local legislation supported by the City Schools of Decatur, the Decatur City Commission and all of the members of the General Assembly that represent the City of Decatur.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Decatur Schools Release Statement Explaining Support of “Sunset Clause” For Senior Tax Exemption

rp_City_Schools_of_Decatur_Logo.jpgAs has previously been reported, both the Decatur City Commission and City Schools of Decatur have recently passed resolutions in support of legislative action that would expand tax relief for seniors residing in the community.

State Senator Elena Parent has introduced the various pieces of associated legislation in the State Senate.

However, while the City Commission supports permanent relief, CSD has announced that it supports a 5-year “sunset provision” for the legislation.

CSD released this statement and posted it on its website yesterday explaining its position…

The School Board has been and remains committed to providing tax relief for all seniors.  The resolution we passed last fall reflects our commitment to seniors. The purpose of the senior exemption is two-fold. The primary purpose is to help seniors retire in place, at home in Decatur. A secondary purpose is to slow growth in our schools. Experience has shown that when seniors move out, families move in.
The resolution we passed is broad, and it doesn’t address certain details, which the legislative process is intended to address.  In working with our legislators and community members to achieve the goals of the resolution, the School Board has determined that it is in the best interest of the students and the taxpayers to support a 5-year sunset provision.
  
The Board Chair, Vice Chair and Superintendent met with the DeKalb Senate Delegation to present the bill and to ask for their favorable consideration. The Delegation and the Board are in agreement that a sunset should be applied to the legislation and asked the Board to approve a new resolution including the sunset. This resolution will be voted on at the February regular Board of Education meeting on February 9th.
 
The Board of Education supports a 5-year sunset for the following reasons: 

Continue reading “Decatur Schools Release Statement Explaining Support of “Sunset Clause” For Senior Tax Exemption”

Legislature Gives Bikers Legal Option at Unresponsive Red Lights

640px-Atlanta_CyclingOne of the ongoing complaints among cyclists over the years when discussing the old evergreen discussion, “Should cyclists be able to proceed through red lights?”, has to do with a lack of legal alternatives when your bike doesn’t trigger a red light.

Well the legal landscape of this situation could soon change, if Gov. Nathan Deal signs a bill passed this session by the Georgia Legislature.

WABE reports that the General Assembly passed a bill that makes it legal for cyclists and motorcyclists to proceed through red lights if they don’t believe their bike is triggering the stoplight.  Bikers are still required to make a complete stop at intersections and the burden of proof will be on them if their actions result in an accident.

The bill also makes it the law that cars stop for pedestrians in crosswalks with flashing signals.

Photo “Atlanta Cycling” by Tim – Flickr: Canyon. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Future a Little Brighter for Callaway Development Grocery Store Ambition

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Here’s a Georgia Legislature vote we all over looked until Decaturish pointed it out this afternoon:

House Bill 85 allows local municipalities to lift the “no off-premise consumption alcohol sales within 200 yards of a school” restriction in situations where they deem it appropriate.   It was approved yesterday and just needs Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.

As many of you know, this is an important in relation to the City of Decatur’s effort to get a grocery store into the Callaway development, which sits within the aforementioned 200 yards of Decatur High School.

A Very Modified Georgia “Beer Jobs Bill” Passes Legislature

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Strangely, I can find very little info on this yet.  I guess all the wordsmiths are spending all their energy writing missives about LaVista Hills and Tucker?

Luckily that never stopped skilled aggregators such as myself.

There is this post on the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild Facebook page

SB 63 has passed with 40 minutes left in the session. This bill is far from ideal but it is a small step towards helping Georgia breweries and we look forward to Governor Deal signing it into law.

The most detail I can find is in this Atlanta Reddit thread.  Here are some of the details according to that post…

There have been a lot of changes through the process on this bill however we did finally get a version passed that will allow taking beer home from breweries.

It’s kind of convoluted, as the lawmakers were careful not to word it where breweries can have “sales”. Instead they will be able to offer variable pricing on tour packages that can include “free souvenirs” of beer in “a container or containers” up to 72 oz.

The bill also allows brewpubs to can/bottle their beer, under current law they can only offer draft beer outside of the brewpub. There was a section to allow brewpubs to have growlers to go but it was removed in the process. You still will not be able to buy beer to go at a brewpub.

It’s a small step for GA beer but HUGE in the political sense. With the three-tier system and power players like Bud, Miller, and Coors opposed to this legislation – it’s amazing this was passed.

The public was very active on this bill with tons of phone calls and emails to lawmakers. One lobbyist said he’s never seen public support for a bill as strong as he has for this one. Way to go, Georgians!

Three cheers for Georgia beers!

In a follow up, one of the commenters on Reddit said that if Gov. Deal signs the bill in law, the change could take effect as early as July.

Photo courtesy of Three Taverns Facebook page

Mayor Jim Baskett Releases Statement on Fate of Decatur Legislation

JimBaskettThe City just released this statement from Mayor Jim Baskett regarding Decatur’s legislative efforts this session.

The City of Decatur is appreciative of the efforts of Representative Karla Drenner and State Senator Elena Parent to move forward with part of the overall Decatur Annexation Master Plan.  Regretfully, HB 663 was not successful during the 2015 legislative session.  It is our understanding that opposition from neighborhoods in the City of Atlanta annexation plan and concerns about potential lost revenue to the DeKalb County School System resulted in the bill not receiving consideration in the Georgia Senate. During the remainder of 2015, the Decatur City Commission will assess how, or if, we want to move forward on annexation issues in 2016.

In addition, the Decatur City Commission had also supported legislation to increase homestead exemptions for City of Decatur taxes.  We are highly disappointed that property tax relief for our taxpayers, particularly for low and moderate income seniors was defeated in the Georgia House of Representatives. Adoption of the proposed legislation would have made a real difference in the lives of our seniors by providing over $1,100 of annual tax savings.  The Decatur City Commission will try again in 2016 to secure reconsideration of the legislation by the General Assembly.