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What Happened at the Gold Dome

The Georgia General Assembly convened its 2013 session on January 14 and concluded its work on March 28 at midnight. High-profile topics included the state’s budget, renewal of the hospital provider fee to finance Medicaid, ethics reforms, and expanded gun controls. While the session always presents an array of legislation that impacts nonprofits, here were a few with particular importance for our members.

State Budget Pros

HB 106, the new budget beginning July 1, 2013, totals more than $19.9 billion in state funding. More than any other issue, the state’s budget has sweeping impact on nonprofit organizations. This impact is both direct—as in funding available for contracts—and indirect—as in money for family and child services, education, health care, and other issues that, if underfunded, increase nonprofit caseloads.

Happily, the 2013 budget includes a healthy $850 million bond package to address the needs of schools, the University System of Georgia, roads, and other local projects. In addition, $56 million in new tobacco settlement funds go to help shore up the state’s Medicaid program, along with the hospital provider fee. Another $12.9 million in Georgia Lottery proceeds will provide 180 days of pre-K program funding. It also includes $38 million in funding for Quality Basic Education Equalization; $5 million in grants for community-based sentencing options for juveniles, as per new provisions in the Juvenile Justice Code implemented by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council; and $4.8 million for a 3% rate adjustment for providers of services to children in foster care.

Passed: New Legal Protection for Nonprofit Deductions 

SB 105 amends the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, defining the terms “charitable organization” and “private foundation.” Essentially, this legislation says that a monetary transfer to a charitable organization is irrevocable unless challenged within two years, or unless the organization knew the transfer to be fraudulent. GCN regularly receives notice of nonprofits incurring legal fees to defend gifts, some as old as seven years, being challenged by divorcing spouses or the heirs of deceased donors. The process of returning money used for capital projects or for liquidated assets is untenable and is what this legislation seeks to address.

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Read about the rest of the legislation affecting nonprofits in our detailed summary of the 152nd Georgia General Assembly, and find GCN-original resources to help build your "advocacy mojo."

Passed, but Vetoed: New Nonprofit Sales and Tax Exemptions

Many people do not know that food banks often purchase food, like peanut butter and fresh vegetables, to supplement donations. Until a few years ago, those purchases were exempt from taxes; strapped food banks across the state have been fighting to restore the exemption since its sunset in 2010. HB 193 would have added various sales and use tax exemptions to nonprofits, including purchases of food by food banks; donations or prepared foods for disaster relief; donations of prepared foods for hunger relief; purchases of tangible property by federally qualified health centers and nonprofit health clinics; and sales to qualified job training organizations. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Deal, who is requesting an opinion from the Governor’s Competitiveness Initiative task force “on whether economic or noneconomic justifications exist for the exemptions” before it’s taken up again next year.

Looking to 2014

This session was the first of the legislative cycle, and unsuccessful bills and resolutions carry forward to next year’s session. These include a number of bills that seek to broaden permission to carry guns; amendments to Georgia’s minimum wage laws; and measures to broaden health insurance coverage for autism, hearing aids, and special dietary foods. 

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