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Bartow citizens benefit from legislative session
by Monica Burge
April 02, 2013 03:14 PM | 2546 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly is in the books and a local legislator said lawmakers were kept “busy” working to revise current laws and new ones that directly impact Bartow County citizens.

“It’s been a busy session, full of real ‘nuts and bolts’ legislation,” said State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville. “We had sweeping revisions to criminal justice and juvenile justice, tax code fixes, and education updates. We passed new ethics legislation, a balanced budget, and job development policies designed to keep Georgia ahead of others in recruiting industry and training a skilled, modern workforce.”

Coomer said there were several bills passed during this session that he sponsored that will have “direct and discernible effects in Bartow County.”

House Bill 318 is a revision to portions of the Georgia Tourism and Development Act that gives local governments more control in granting tax exemptions to tourism projects that meet the requirements of the Act.

Coomer said this bill, which he co-sponsored with State Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, and others, will help Emerson and Bartow County absorb the impact of the LakePointe project.

Another bill with local impact is House Bill 188 is the Georgia Veterans’ Workforce Development Act Coomer said.

“It provides an incentive for military veterans and spouses to use skilled labor in Georgia by providing avenues for obtaining skilled trade certifications without less of the red tape normally associated with getting state approval to work in those trades,” Coomer said. “I wrote this legislation and carried it in the House of Representatives.”

A third bill, House Bill 372, returns the GPA requirement for keeping the HOPE Grant to the level required prior to the changes implemented by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2011.

“In 2011, the governor lead the effort to make several changes to the HOPE program to save it from falling into insolvency,” Coomer said. “Among those changes was raising the GPA required for technical college students to keep HOPE Grants from 2.0 to 3.0. Since 2011, revenues to the program have stabilized and more money is available for technical college training.”

Coomer said the change to 2.0 only applies to the HOPE Grant at technical colleges and does not change HOPE scholarship requirements for four-year college and university students.

“Lowering the GPA requirement will provide HOPE Grant assistance to about 5,000 students, at a total cost to the [Georgia] Lottery of about $8 million, but no cost to tax payers and the state treasury,” Coomer said.

Coomer was the primary sponsor of this legislation and carried it in the state house.

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