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From the Desk of Rep. Jim Cole – Legislative Update as of Feb. 25

Dear Friend, There is one issue this legislative session that is on everyone’s mind at the State Capitol – the economy. Recently, several different ideas have been introduced to help turn around our struggling economy. Most of these ideas revolve around the belief that true economic recovery comes from the creation of new jobs, not temporary government programs. They seek to remove government barriers in order to create an environment in Georgia that encourages job creation. One of the more comprehensive plans has come from Representative Tom Graves, who introduced the Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009. This legislation is comprised of House Bills 481 and 488. It will give tax credits to employers for each unemployed person they hire, suspend filing fees for one year, and eliminate several business taxes. These steps will help small businesses grow and create new jobs. The legislation is supported by House and Senate leaders as well as the National Federation of Independent Business. Representative Ron Stephens introduced House Bill 261. This bill will give a state income tax credit of up to $3,600 to people who buy a single-family home within six months after the bill has taken effect. The resulting increase in home sales will support several areas important to Georgia’s economy. This week, Governor Perdue signed House Bill 143, legislation that will fully fund the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant for the current fiscal year. It is encouraging that Governor Perdue worked with the House and the Senate to fund this program and prevent local governments from issuing supplemental tax bills requiring homeowners to repay the $200 to $300 more in taxes. I’m happy to know that we were able to deliver on our promise to fund the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant this year. Transportation has been another topic that has received a lot of attention at the State Capitol this year. On Thursday, Governor Perdue, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker of the House Richardson announced the Transforming Transportation Investment Act. This legislation will merge the current powers of the State Road and Tollway Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority into a new State Transportation Authority. The new authority will assume many of the Department of Transportation’s current duties. In addition, it will be responsible for developing a statewide, strategic transportation plan and making budget requests from that plan each year to the Governor and General Assembly. This reform will create a more accountable and responsive transportation agency that will ultimately deliver transportation projects faster and more efficiently throughout the entire state. This week centered on different ideas of how to rejuvenate Georgia’s economy and restructuring the state’s transportation agencies. While this is currently the top issue in most peoples’ minds, there are other issues being addressed in the General Assembly. I want to know your concerns and what is important to you and your family. I will keep you informed through weekly updates. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my Capitol office @ 404-651-7737 or via e-mail

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