State Rep. Trey Kelley

State Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown

Polk County’s representative talks about updates to the Rural Hospital Tax Credits and also autonomous vehicle legislation.

State Rep. Trey Kelley had more news to announce last week beside his work to help get Polk

County money for Cherokee Road as his work during the 40 days under the Gold Dome continues.

Kelley and his colleagues in the House celebrated the Senate passage of legislation updating Georgia’s adoption system, long overdue for systemic changes to make it easier for potential parents to be matched up with a child.

“The senate finally realized that it was the right thing to do,” Kelley said.

He added the legislation updates Georgia’s adoption code, which until the law is signed and takes effect puts the state well behind the rest of the nation in how adoptions are processed, along with fixing problems with the code governing how the process works. Ultimately he said it will help the 15,000 children in foster care potentially find permanent homes and families.

The hang-up in the Senate was over language the governor opposed allowing for temporary guardianship status to be turned over by a parent for no more than a year. It was similar to what Governor Nathan Deal had vetoed in 2017.

With the house and senate passing the legislation with a clean bill of health, it can move onto the governor’s desk for his signature.

Kelley’s week ended as well as it began, with three of his bills moving out of committee toward the house floor. Two of those include small updates to legislation he pushed during the 2017 session involving Rural Hospital Tax Credits and autonomous vehicles.

The first of those updates to legislation seeks to increase again the tax credits individuals and businesses get from donating money to the nonprofit arms of a list of 48 rural hospitals around the state, that includes Polk Medical Center.

Georgia’s incentives for individuals and businesses who donated funds to those hospitals started off at a 70 percent cap to deduct off of state income taxes in 2016, and then was raised last year to 90 percent of the funds donated.

Kelley said this year the rate is being raised 100 percent, or dollar for dollar if his legislation makes it through the State Senate.

He said the reason for the change again is the lack of participation in the program. Of the $60 million set aside by the state for tax credits, only $9 million has thus far been claimed. Additionally the legislation allows for LLCs, or Limited Liability Corporations, and S-Corps, or a “pass through” corporation, to take part in the program.

The other legislation updates an item he helped pass after his own bill was worked into others during the 2017 session involving autonomous vehicles. Kelley put together an update to the bill passed last year allowing for provisions for driverless vehicles to operate in the state now adds a needed consumer protection to ensure that buyers don’t get caught without recourse when they purchase a car that doesn’t function as advertised.

Kelley said he worked with Attorney General Chris Carr on the language of the bill, which is also moving toward the house floor.

He said his bill is just another piece of how Georgia during the past year has moved forward on autonomous vehicles, with one recent announcement proving just how dedicated the state is to getting driverless vehicles on the road. The addition of Waymo bringing their cars to Georgia roads is just one of many announcements Kelley said he believes is showing Georgia can be a major player in this and other tech-driven industries.

“Things like this happening in our state catch the eyes of big companies who dominate technology and are looking to expand, like Amazon or Apple, and show us as being a tech-friendly environment,” Kelley said. “It plays a big role in our recruitment of Amazon and Apple and in the decisions they make on where to locate their next manufacturing facilities.”