Georgia lawmakers met in special session last week, and walked away Saturday morning with a hurricane relief package, a tax credit for certain taxpayers within Southwest Georgia’s timber industry who incurred significant expenses due to Hurricane Michael and suspension of the collection of the state’s 4 percent sales and use tax on jet fuel through the end of FY 2019.
“The work of the General Assembly this week will help the families, businesses, farmers and communities that were most severely impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “By providing roughly $270 million to help our neighbors in Southwest Georgia, the appropriations in this amended budget will provide critical support for devastated communities, including those most heavily dependent on agriculture and the timber industry. I appreciate the General Assembly working together diligently and quickly to see that this relief funding will be delivered to those in need as rapidly as possible, as the rebuilding process is just beginning for some of Georgia’s citizens. I thank the leadership of both chambers and legislators from all over the state for coming together this week to support those most heavily impacted by this natural disaster.”
On Saturday morning, at the close of the special session, Gov. Deal signed legislation (HB 1EX) which amends the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Act to provide roughly $270 million in emergency funding for state agencies and local governments in areas most heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 162-1 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0.
The Governor also signed HB 4EX, which allows timberland owners in the given 28 counties to apply for an income tax credit worth 100 percent of timberland’s value lost to Hurricane Michael. The income tax credit has a cap of $200 million and the credit would be capped at $400 per eligible acre of qualified timberland. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 157-2 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0.
Finally, Deal signed HB 5EX, which ratifies his executive order from July 30, 2018, and suspends collection of the state’s 4 percent sales and use tax on jet fuel through the end of FY 2019. Additionally, it would prevent the governor from suspending the sales and use tax on jet fuel unless a state of emergency is declared.
“The number one priority going in to this past week’s Special Legislative Session was to help our neighbors in Southwest Georgia who suffered severely from the devastating destruction of Hurricane Michael,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R – Gainesville). “I can’t even begin to imagine what these individuals and families are going through, but I know that the citizens of Georgia are strong and together will be able to heal from this tragedy. Though our funding is only a small step in helping Southwest Georgia rebuild, seeing the time and devotion first responders and volunteers have already given to the victims of this storm reinforces the confidence I have in the community of our state as a whole as we continue to help our friends keep their heads held high during this hard time.”