Libertarian Legislative Victories
Politics can seem quite depressing for libertarians. Coalitions to restrict liberty appear easier to assemble than coalitions to enhance it. Despite the difficulty, liberty enhancing coalitions continue to pass legislation throughout the country. Today I will focus on libertarian successes during the recent legislative session in my home state of Georgia.
Georgia allows taxpayers to use a limited amount of their tax bill to contribute to state-approved educational organizations. Taxpayers can utilize this program until total contributions reach $100M. Unfortunately, a sunset clause in the original legislation hangs over the program like Damocles Sword. HB 517 raised the total contribution cap to $120M, doubled the amount taxpayers can contribute, and made the program permanent. This bill represents another victory in the fight for school choice. I echo the words of Buzz Brockway, vice president of Georgia Center for Opportunity, “The real beneficiaries of this legislation are the thousands of Georgia kids who will benefit from expanded access to a great education.”
As Uber enters the market of robot vehicle delivery, it becomes imperative to set the basic rules and regulations for this industry. HB 1009 accomplished this feat for the state of Georgia by setting the rules for what are called “personal delivery vehicles.” The legislation specifies the weight of the vehicles, where they can operate, speed limits, safety practices, and liability standards. Time will reveal the level of burden the law will place on users of personal delivery vehicles, but Georgia earned its reputation for the best state for business for a reason.
Food trucks traverse the state of Georgia, bringing their amazing food to all corners of the state. Unfortunately, their mobility subjects them to regulation in each county they operate. The cost of regulatory compliance squashes the dreams of many food truck entrepreneurs. HB 1443 allows food trucks who possess an active permit in a county to operate in other counties. I talked to the owner of Eclectic Soul Bistro, a local food truck, who extolled high praise to those involved in shepherding the legislation through the Georgia legislature. I’m proud to say that America’s Future did our part, we held an event with America For Prosperity to discuss this bill. If an event like this sounds interesting to you, please join the AF-Atlanta Chapter.
Georgia tax system consists of six total brackets with the top marginal income bracket between $7,000 for individuals and $10,000 for joint filers at a 5.75% tax rate. The low top marginal tax bracket results in Georgia nearly utilizing a flat tax. By 2030, HB 1437 will consolidate the six brackets into one tax bracket with a flat tax rate of 4.99%. According to the Tax Foundation, the bill also increases the standard deduction for joint filers during the same time period until it reaches double the level of the standard deduction for single filers. This change eliminates the marriage penalty in Georgia’s tax code. The Tax Foundation currently ranks Georgia 32nd in their State Business Tax Climate Index. Full enactment of HB 1437 could improve Georgia’s ranking to 16th.
Georgia’s gun friendly culture just became even more friendly. Two laws passed during the recent legislative session enhanced and protected the right of Georgia residents to bear their arms. According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, SB 319 allows all citizens who purchased a legal firearm in Georgia to conceal carry their firearm without needing to obtain a conceal carry permit. HB 218 recognizes concealed carry permits issued by other states for non-Georgia residents. The bill also instructs Georgia’s Attorney General to create reciprocity agreements with other states in order for Georgia residents to keep their constitutional carry rights when they travel to other states. This victory results in Georgia becoming the 25th state to pass a bill protecting constitutional carry.
In the recent legislative session, Georgia enhanced liberty with regard to education, robots delivery, food trucks, taxes, and guns. While some of our favorite legislative proposals did not pass this session, let’s make a toast to Georgia’s liberty coalitions who shepherded these liberty enhancing bills into liberty enhancing laws.