Senate Resolution 377, introduced early this month, is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would offer income tax credits to law enforcement officers across the state.
The measure may be a response to the 20 percent raise that this year’s state budget includes for state troopers – a raise that local government officials, county sheriffs included, say they would be hard put to match.
Then again, the late introduction of the bill suggests that it’s meant for discussion next year – not this year. And three of the bill’s top GOP sponsors – Michael Williams of Cumming, Josh McKoon of Columbus, and President pro tem David Shafer of Duluth – are considering statewide runs for office in 2018.
However, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police has cut loose with a harsh analysis of the legislation that includes these paragraphs:
SR 377 seems designed to increase the incomes of all law enforcement officers who have arrest powers to enforce criminal laws of the municipal, county, state and even the federal government. To fund every dollar of tax credits and state subsidies paid to one group of people, the State must either increase the taxes paid by other citizens, or curtail state programs and services available to all citizens.
The refundable tax credit created by SR377, in effect, provides state subsidy payments from the Georgia State Treasury, thereby shifting part of local government operations funding burdens to citizens who do not enforce the criminal laws.
In Georgia, the expense of local policing always has been the sole responsibility of local governments. Thus, through their elected local political representatives, local citizens maintain fiscal controls over their own employees-including their police officers and deputies.
The “refundable tax credit” proposed in SR 377 would change this. Citizens in northern counties like Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb might be required to subsidize policing in Valdosta, Perry, Tifton and Waycross.
Finally, there is a very legitimate question of why the citizens of Georgia should pay to increase the incomes of federal law enforcement officers. As a group, these officers already enjoy compensation and benefits far superior to those received by most state and local government law enforcement officers.
One may wonder why the citizens of Georgia should drain their Georgia Treasury to further supplement the incomes of federal law enforcement officers like FBI Agents, IRS Agents, Federal Protective Service Officers, ATF Agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents, and all other federal employees who enforce criminal laws with the powers of arrest within the State of Georgia.
Williams, the lead sponsor of the effort, tells us that the inclusion of federal law enforcement officers was a "drafting error" that would be quickly corrected. "It's only meant for local people, to make sure they're getting paid so they can take care of their families," he said.
Speaking of 2018 ambitions: We’re told that a proposed rule change in the Senate, to require President pro tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to resign his post as the chamber’s leader should he activate a campaign for lieutenant governor, has been withdrawn after a private meeting of GOP senators. Democrats approached had identified the author of the movement as Brandon Beach of Alpharetta.
The Senate regulated industries committee on Thursday held a hearing on House Bill 118, which would legalize Internet-based fantasy sports contests in Georgia. Some background can be found here.
In the presentation of his bill, state Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, carefully invoked Attorney General Chris Carr, though not by name:
“I want to be clear, because think there’s been some confusion, and there’s been some misrepresentation about an issue.
“I drew this trying to really listen to the concerns for safeguards and oversight, so I have the authority from the attorney general to say that the attorney general is not taking a policy position on fantasy sports contests, but I’ve worked with him and his office to make sure that this bill has strong, common-sense, conservative protections for Georgia citizens, and that it is on solid legal ground should it face a court challenge.”
Translation: This bill easily passed the House, but faces tougher scrutiny in the Senate. Right now, fantasy sports contests are considered illegal. Georgia’s ban on gambling (lottery excepted) is contained in its constitution. Democratic and Republican senators alike have questioned whether, simply by act of the Legislature, lawmakers can redefine fantasy sports competitions as games of skill rather than chance.
Kelley was reassuring senators that, yes, they can do just that.
Former Georgia secretary of state Cathy Cox is leaving the mountains for Macon.
Cox will become dean of Mercer University's School of Law in June after 10 years as president of Young Harris College. She leaves Young Harris after helping transition the school from a two-year to a four-year college and more than doubling the size of the faculty and student body.
In Washington, the conservative advocacy group American Action Network is gearing up to defend the House Republican health plan.
The super PAC launched one million robocalls to voters in 30 House districts - including the backyard of U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, one of two House GOPers in Georgia who say they won't support the plan without more changes.
The calls urge constituents to contact their representative and urge them to back the plan endorsed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Listen to an example of the call here.
Democrat Jon Ossoff is getting even more reinforcements in his bid for Georgia's Sixth District.
The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC is backing the Democratic first-time candidate. The group said he would stand up for gay rights. The organization was formed after the murders of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and Ossoff is its first endorsement this year.