Georgia Chamber CEO gives legislative overview
by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Each year, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce tracks legislation in the Georgia General Assembly.
The General Assembly passed about 15 pro-business bills in 2012, including tax reform and regulatory reform, according to Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark, who spoke to local business leaders Tuesday at Newnan Country Club.
“The work that your members of the General Assembly do, the work your senators and congressman do, does have an impact,” Clark said. “You think that happens very far away and doesn’t have any impact on me. Well, it does.”
Each session, the Chamber tracks about 200 bills and divides them into three categories: bad bills, bills that could be good with some work, and good bills. They lobby hard to pass or kill the bills, and the Chamber puts out a “scorecard” each year for legislators based on their votes.
Business-related bills passed in 2013 include changes to workers’ compensation and a law to strengthen “right to work” protections, as well as the extension of tax credits for “angel investors” and changes to make it easier for those trained in the military to get professional licenses.
“Hopefully, all of you will be seeing some savings” on workers’ compensation, Clark said. The right-to-work law says that people who decide they want to leave their unions no longer have to pay dues.
Angel investors provide capital to start-up businesses.
“We lose 40 percent of all the companies in our incubators. When they get ready to really grow and start adding jobs they move to another state,” Clark said.
Military personnel get a wide variety of training during their service, and some are trained in things such as electrical work, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning. Sometimes veterans who learned a trade in the military were “waiting up to a year to get the license they had already earned” once they were back in the civilian world, Clark said. The bill was signed by the governor, and the secretary of state’s office is working on the process now.
There were also changes made to the way teacher evaluations are done, to link them to student performance, and there was the change to lower the GPA for the HOPE Grant for technical school education.