New state policies set to take effect next year - CBS46 News

New state policies set to take effect next year

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Georgia lawmakers this year pushed through a number of policies set to become law next year.

One of the biggest changes is a sweeping new tax plan that gives tax breaks to big business.

Republicans say the corporate tax breaks will stimulate Georgia's economy.

But Alan Essig, who is executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said it is not clear if they will help or hurt.

"It's hard to tell what the long-term impact is going to be," Essig said.

The package would eliminate the ad valorem property tax on cars titled after next March and replace it with a one-time fee.

The plan also will cut taxes by $262 million and include tax breaks for married couples.

However, Essig said taxpayers should not get too excited about how much money they will save.

"We're talking $20, $30, $40 at the most," said Essig.

Georgia passed a law requiring new welfare recipients to take drug tests to qualify for their benefits.

The governor put that policy on hold, but the state could implement it next year.

State Sen. John Albers, who sponsored the bill, said it will encourage personal responsibility.

"True compassion is doing what's best for people," Albers said.

But Neil Kaltenecker, executive director of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, said it will unfairly target the poor.

"You're taking one section of the population and saying, 'you use drugs.' We don't have evidence of that," Kaltenecker said.

The public voted to amend the Georgia Constitution to grant the state more power to create and fund charter schools, following a fierce debate that saw strange alliances among liberals, moderates and conservatives, who lined up on both sides of the issue.

"This is about whether (Gov.) Nathan Deal and unelected bureaucrats will be able to override the choices of local school boards," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, (D) Atlanta.

"This amendment does one thing. It makes sure children have additional public school options," said state Sen. Alisha Thomas Morgan, (D) Austell.

A law banning abortions after 20 weeks, perhaps the most controversial measure, was set to go into effect Jan. 1. A state judge, however, temporarily suspended that.

State Sen. Nan Orrock, (D) Atlanta, called the law a major blow to women's reproductive rights.

"It's a GOP war against women," Orrock said.

But state Sen. Tommie Williams said the measure protects the fetus.

"It saves babies' lives," Williams said.

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