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State lawmakers eye taxes, alcohol, criminal justice reforms
Action at Capitol heats up as Crossover Day approaches
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As state lawmakers push closer to Crossover Day — the 30th day of the 40-day session when bills have to pass out of either the House or Senate, which is tentatively set for March 13 — a grab bag of news is coming out of Atlanta.

Income taxes

Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, has introduced the More Take Home Pay Act, which seeks to lower the state’s income tax rate and replace lost revenue with increases in sales taxes.

The proposal aims to lower the state income tax to 4 percent from 6 percent over three years, while increasing states sales taxes 1 percent.

The bill would also phase in a statewide grocery sales tax, plus additional taxes on cable and satellite communications, and on cigarettes.

Criminal justice

Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday signed an executive order that removes questions about criminal history from the initial application for state employment.

Georgia is the 14th state to implement a fair-chance policy, along with nearly 100 cities and counties nationwide.

Several companies, including Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot, have also removed the conviction question from their initial application forms.

The executive order is part of Deal’s larger criminal justice reforms.

Craft beer

Craft beer makers and microbreweries are pushing for a bill that would ease restrictions on the sale of alcohol at breweries.

Brewers want to be able to sell directly to the public, but currently can only provide tours and tastings.
Georgia is just one of five states with such prohibitions.

Democratic agenda

In the Republican-dominated state legislature, Democrats have a tough time advancing their own priorities. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying.

Liz Flowers, executive director of the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus, said committee hearings have been held on a proposal to raise the minimum wage for all workers in the Peach State.

Additionally, committee hearings have been held on a local version of the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants greater opportunity to attend college and university, as well as receive in-state tuition rates.

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