On Tuesday, November 13th, Governor Nathan Deal called for a special legislative session to allow for the House and Senate to amend the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. Our state’s agriculture communities in Southwest Georgia took a serious hit during Hurricane Michael. By the end of this 5-day special session, the General Assembly was able to amend the budget which will provide approx. $270 million in emergency funding for our southwest neighbors.
Continue reading this blog post for more updates from this special session. You can learn more about what goes on at the capitol on the Georgia General Assembly website.
Hurricane Michael – Damages & losses
The following is a snapshot of how much Hurricane Michael affected Southwest Georgia:
-$550 million loss in cotton crop
-$13 million loss in the landscape and green industry
-$480 million loss in high-yielding vegetables: tomatoes, peas, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and sweet corn.
-$560 million loss in the pecan industry
-129 commercial poultry houses loss and over 2 million chickens – a $25 million loss
-$25 million in peanut losses
-$763 million loss in timber
The House passed the amended budget which will provide $270 million in areas most impacted by the storm. $69 million of this budget is allocated towards the Governor’s Emergency Fund to cover damages and operating costs. The Department of Human Services will also benefit from this fund so they will be able to provide grants to families in need of housing assistance.
Amended Budget Allocations:
-$55 million to the Georgia Development Authority for farmers to access for agricultural loss relief
-$20 million to the Georgia Development Authority for timberland cleanup efforts
-$25 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide for local communities and statewide economic development efforts.
-$15 million towards Regional Economic Business Assistance grants to allow Georgia to pursue economic development opportunities in affected areas
-$69 million to the Georgia Department of Transportation for transportation projects and to offset expenses incurred during the storm
HB 4EX – Timber Tax Bill
In addition to the amended budget, the house passed the Timber Tax Bill which will aid in the nearly 2.4 million acres of timberland lost – a value of $762 million. Sadly, the effects from the hurricane continue to grow. This bill would allow timberland owners to apply for an income tax credit worth 100% of the timberland lost between Oct. 8 and Dec. 31. This income tax credit has a cap of $200 million overall and $400 per acre damaged.
The 2019 session convenes on January 14, 2019. I encourage you to reach out to me with your questions, concerns, and thoughts on how we can improve the state of Georgia. You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!