ATANTA – Tax reform is again the subject of a temporary committee as well as the Coastal Greenway, HOPE Scholarship and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle released late Tuesday his appointments to 11 committees assigned to consider complicated policy issues in more detail than is possible during the hectic, 40-day legislative session. The committees will meet three or four times, hearing from various experts, and submit recommendations for legislation by the end of the year.

The legislature established a task force of economists and business people in 2010. Most of its ideas were never enacted because of controversy around its call for a tax on groceries. In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed a commission that made some tax-reform suggestions that became law the next year, such as eliminating the sales tax manufacturers paid on energy and capping the retirement income exclusion for senior citizens at $65,000.

The new reform effort is because the transportation-funding law that took effect July 1 which raised the gasoline tax included a provision to create a committee to look for ways to restructure all of the state’s taxes. The goal is to replace all or some of the income tax somehow because Republican leaders say states like Texas and Florida are prospering because they don’t have an income tax.

Among those on the committee are Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer, R-Duluth; Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens; and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, R-Reidsville.

The panel dealing with the Coastal Greenway will look at how to link into a proposed hiking trail running from Florida to Maine. Except for Senate Natural Resources Chairman Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, the membership is from the coast, including Sens. William Ligon, R-Brunswick; Ben Watson, R-Savannah and Lester Jackson, D-Savannah.

Cowsert will also serve on a committee tasked with preserving the HOPE Scholarship. One of two Democrats on that seven-man group is Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta.

Like Cowsert, Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, wound up appointed to two committees, one on city annexation and one on the effects on Georgia from the United States’ normalization of relations with Cuba.

Other committees will examine youth substance abuse, women’s healthcare, solo-practice physicians, school construction and relations with Alabama.



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