Legislative Notebook: Beverly calls for ‘neighborhood stabilization’ tax measures

January 22, 2014 

Low-income Macon-Bibb County residents who own inexpensive houses would get a renewed property tax break if county voters approve an idea by state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon.

It’s a “neighborhood stabilization” bill meant to keep people in their homes even as values rise and gentrification begins, he said.

The first $30,000 of a house’s value would not be subject to property tax if the owner makes less than $30,000 annually and the house is worth less than $85,000.

A similar property tax break expired in 2009, said Beverly, but Macon-Bibb houses have been revalued since then. Some values on houses in his district have risen from as little as $14,000 to more like $50,000, leading to people getting unaffordable property tax bills, he said.

The bill will be published in the next few days and needs House and Senate approval before any Macon-Bibb referendum.

Panel recommends music marketing, displays

Georgia should market itself as a music industry capital, according to the just-released final report of the House Georgia Music Industry Study Committee, a panel of state lawmakers who held hearings this summer.

They heard testimony statewide from professionals -- from rappers and disc jockeys to theater owners to composers of video game music.

The panel also said the state should dust off the holdings of the now-closed Georgia Music Hall of Fame, formerly in Macon. Those items, as well as other music-related archives, are now at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Library. The panel recommends greater public access to the items. It did not go so far as to recommend a museum.

Savannah lawmakers want better beer access for St. Patty’s Day

In a bipartisan move to save green beer from blue laws, Savannah lawmakers led by Republican state Rep. Ron Stephens want to make it easier to sell the suds on any Sunday that falls too close to St. Patrick’s Day. Their House Bill 784 allows cities, like, say Savannah, that mandate closed bars on Sunday, to waive the rule once a year for the holiday honoring the fifth-century Irish bishop.

Bill looks to block some seasonal workers from unemployment

A state House subcommittee has approved a bill aimed at blocking seasonal workers of private companies from qualifying for unemployment benefits.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports House Bill 714, which is sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Hamilton, of Cumming, passed the House Industry and Labor subcommittee in a party-line vote on Tuesday.

The state in 2011 tried blocking certain seasonal employees from unemployment and had to pay qualified workers $8 million in back benefits.

Panel approves $41B budget

The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to approve a revised $41 billion budget for the financial year that ends in June. House lawmakers must still decide whether to approve it in a floor vote.

-- Telegraph writer Maggie Lee and Associated Press

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