food truck
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ATLANTA – Most bills the General Assembly passes each year take effect on July 1.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

But a smattering of new laws enacted during the 2022 legislative session will kick in this Sunday, Jan. 1, including a bill making it easier for food trucks to do business and several new or expanded tax credits.

The food truck legislation does away with a current requirement in Georgia law that food truck operators obtain a permit and inspection in every county where they do business.

“Almost all food trucks operate in multiple counties,” said Tony Harrison, board president of the Food Truck Association of Georgia. “That means multiple permits and fees. It’s just insane.”

Under House Bill 1443, which members of the General Assembly passed unanimously last March, food truck operators need only notify county health departments when they open for business in their communities.

“We do not have to go through all the paperwork and fees,” Harrison said. “We’ve already seen an increase in food trucks popping up before the law has even taken effect.”

New tax credits

While the tax credit bills technically became effective last summer, they don’t really become reality until New Year’s Day, the beginning of the tax year.

Three of the measures create new income tax credits.

House Bill 424 will provide a tax credit to Georgia taxpayers who contribute to nonprofit organizations that help foster children about to age out of the foster care system. More than 700 young men and women age out of the system each year.

Senate Bill 361, which was championed by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, will provide a dollar-for-dollar income tax credit on contributions to public safety initiatives in the taxpayer’s community. Law enforcement agencies will be able to use the money for police officer salary supplements, to purchase or maintain department equipment and/or to establish or maintain a co-responder program.

Senate Bill 87, the Jack Hill Veterans’ Act, honors the late state Sen. Jack Hill of Reidsville, who died in 2020. It provides income tax credits in exchange for contributions to scholarships for service-disabled veterans through the Technical College System of Georgia Foundation.

The General Assembly also expanded Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit through House Bill 1041, which increases the annual statewide cap on the credit from $60 million to $75 million. Rural hospital administrators and the program’s legislative supporters originally sought to raise the cap to $100 million but were forced to settle for the lower figure.

Fiscal conservatives in the General Assembly have launched efforts in recent years to bring closer scrutiny to Georgia’s tax credits to ensure they’re worth the hit to state tax revenues.

But tax credits that incentivize taxpayers to contribute toward popular causes that need financial help have tended to survive unscathed, said Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

“There don’t seem to be a whole lot of problems with them,” Wingfield said.

Online sales protections

Another bill that will take effect on Sunday, Senate Bill 332, also known as the Inform Consumers Act, is aimed at preventing criminals from selling goods stolen from retail stores on any online marketing platform. It establishes financial and contact information requirements for high-volume sellers to online marketplaces and requires such platforms to establish an option for consumers to report suspicious activity.

“Here in Georgia, we will do everything possible to curb crime and make life difficult for those who break the law,” Gov. Brian Kemp said last May as he signed the bill. “We’re dealing another blow to the organized gangs that steal from Georgia shops and stores by making it much harder for them to profit from their heists.”

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.