Fireworks at the Capitol


By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Capitol was exploding with activity as legislators rushed to meet the crossover deadline, so it only seems fitting that three bills related to the purchase and use of fireworks were approved by the Georgia Senate last week. While people were initially excited with the consumer fireworks bill passed last year, it quickly became clear that the law needed some clarification. Senate Bill 369 follows up on the consumer fireworks bill that was passed in 2015 and corrects a number of problems with the original legislation, including time periods of use, seller licensing procedures and locations for ignition.

Two other bills connected to the sale of fireworks will also strengthen Georgia’s trauma care network, if approved by both the General Assembly and voter referendum.  Senate Bill 350 would allocate the proceeds from consumer fireworks excise taxes towards public safety purposes, including funding for the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council. However, Senate Bill 350 cannot become law without the approval of Georgia voters. Senate Resolution 558 is the constitutional amendment that must be approved in order to enact the provisions of Senate Bill 350. The resolution also clarifies that revenues deposited under Senate Bill 350 will not go into the general fund. All three fireworks bills have now been transferred to the Georgia House for consideration.

I presented two bills for a Senate floor vote last week—Senate Bill 316 and Senate Bill 366. The first bill lifts the daily cash or gift prize limit of $1,500 on bingo games, but keeps the weekly prize limit of $3,000. This legislation benefits charities and local organizations that run bingo games as fundraisers. The second bill, Senate Bill 366, allows the Georgia Department of Transportation to use an alternative process for selecting and contracting project services based on the lowest priced proposal. This will ensure efficiency in both project cost and contract selection.

It was an honor to recognize the recreation and tourism of White County with Senate Resolution 877 last week. I was joined by Mayor of Helen Fred Garmon; Chairman Travis Turner, Commissioner Terry Goodger and Commissioner Edwin Nix of the White County Board of Commissioners; and City of Cleveland Council Member Annie Sutton for the presentation of the resolution. We’re very lucky to have such close access to great outdoor recreational areas like the Appalachian Trail, Yonah Mountain and the Chattahoochee River.

Please continue reaching out to me with any questions, comments or concerns about legislation during the 2016 legislative session. I always appreciate and encourage your feedback!

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