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Handful of new laws take effect in Georgia

ATLANTA — Most bills the General Assembly passes each year take effect on July 1. But a smattering of new laws enacted during the 2022 legislative session kicked in 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.”

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.

Another bill that will take effect on Sunday, Jan. 1, 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.”


Local
MLK ‘infusion’ marks 20 years

Honoring the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been reason enough for Pamela Baker-King to bring together local youth each January. This year, there is something a little extra in holding the MLK Jr. “Youth” Infusion and Community Service Rally.

The 2023 event will be the 20th annual and the theme of “Stand and Deliver!” will be present throughout as the community is invited to join together at Friendship Baptist Church in Cedartown at 4 p.m. on Jan. 15.

Baker-King is the founder/executive director of Youth Working Together for a “Speedy” Awareness, Inc., a nonprofit that sponsors the event each year.

“Infusion means putting together activities that help youth grow, whether in community service or educational and vocational programs,” she told the Cedartown City Commission at its December meeting.

“We have to stand as a community together in order to help everybody. Not just one part, everybody has got a piece.”

For two decades, YWTSA has made some historical milestones in Cedartown, including sponsoring the first MLK mini-walk in 2005 led by Youth Minister Lamar Daniel III across M.K. King Boulevard. The group worked with the city in 2007 to have the first proclamation recognizing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in Cedartown.

That has continued through this year, with City Commissioner Jessica Payton reading the 2023 MLK Jr. Day Proclamation written by YWTSA at last month’s commission meeting.

Baker-King has brainstormed with many people regarding YWTSA’s implementation of youth programs, including Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Contributed 

YWTSA founder and executive director Pamela Baker-King (left) has discused the group’s programs with Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The mistress of ceremony for the 20th MLK Jr. “Youth” Infusion and Community Service Rally is Coy Frasier, with guest speaker Minister Frank K. Jones and State Rep. Trey Kelley bringing greetings.

YWTSA is asking everyone to bring canned foods to the service to be given to needy families in Cedartown.

YWTSA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to train, motivate and empower youth using real life experiences, thereby assisting youth in becoming humanitarians. YWTSA’s annual Literacy Y.E.S. reading program, which stands for Youth Experiencing Success, and community service programs are an integral part of the MLK Jr. “Youth” Infusion program.


Local
County commissioners take oath of office ahead of new term

Polk County Probate Judge Bobby Brooks performed one of his first duties in his newest role last Wednesday as he swore in three county commissioners who begin their new four-year term on Jan. 1

District 1 representative Gary Martin, District 2 representative Linda Liles and District 3 representative Hal Floyd each took the oath of office in the probate courtroom at Polk County Courthouse No. 1 in Cedartown.

All three won re-election to their respective posts after defeating challengers in the Republican primary in May 2022. There were no Democratic candidates, so each ran unopposed in the November General Election.

Floyd has served on the board since 2017, while Martin has been a county commissioner since 2019. Liles was appointed to the commission in March 2020 to fill the seat vacated by Jennifer Hulsey.

Brooks, who won the special election for probate judge in a runoff earlier this month, was recently sworn in by Tallapoosa Superior Court Judge Andrew Roper and was serving his first full day on the job when he swore in the county commissioners.

He also plans to swear in the Polk School District board of education members who will start new four-year terms in the new year. Those are Britt Madden Jr., Bernard Morgan, Vicki Mayes, and newcomer Judith Renshaw. All four ran unopposed in the 2022 primary.


Local
Rome woman charged in hit-and-run that killed Floyd County man

A Rome woman is charged in connection with a hit-and-run that killed a Floyd County man whose body was found on the side of a Polk County highway this past week.

Chasmine Miye’ Lowe, 24, was arrested by the Georgia State Patrol and booked into the Polk County Jail on Tuesday. She is charged with felony counts of first-degree vehicular homicide, and hit and run resulting in serious injury or death.

The Polk County Police Department requested the Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team’s assistance with the investigation after finding a body by the roadway on Monday.

According to the GSP, Sharad Robinson was walking southbound on the east shoulder of Ga. 1 towards Cedartown when he was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound.

“After the impact, the vehicle continued northbound, fleeing the scene,” the GSP report stated.

Robinson had been reported missing from Floyd County on Dec. 18 and, according to the GSP, it appears that is when the incident occurred, meaning his body remained at the scene for just over a week. The incident is still under investigation.

Lowe is also charged with misdemeanor failure to maintain lane and failure to report an accident resulting in injury, damage, or death. She was released on $10,000 bond according to Polk County Jail records.


Local
Standard Journal Area Calendar of Events from the Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023 edition

Keep Polk Beautiful will host a Bring One for the Chipper event on Jan. 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Camp Antioch, 3900 Antioch Road, Cedartown. People may bring their Christmas trees for recycling and receive a free seedling while supplies last. For more information contact Randy Cook at 678-246-1083.

Second Baptist Cedartown’s men’s ministry is hosting a fishing seminar with professional fisherman Randy Howell on Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Howell, the 2014 Bassmaster champion, will be talking spring time bass fishing and sharing his testimony. Tickets are $15 each or $10 each for groups of 10 or more. Advance purchase required. Tickets will not be available at the door. Tickets are available online at www.tinyurl.com/sbcfisherman or call 770-748-5252.

ONGOING

Sons of the American Legion Post 12 in Rockmart hosts a $5 All-You-Can-Eat spaghetti and meatball supper each third Wednesday of the month from 5-7 p.m. at 1 Veterans Circle. Each meal comes with garlic bread, salad and tea, and all proceeds got to veterans’ and children’s programs.

The Good Neighbor Center Food Pantry, 71 Woodall Road, Cedartown, is open the second and fourth Sunday of each month from noon to 3 p.m. for anyone in need of food assistance. The pantry is located next to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. For more information call 678-901-9184.

The Rockmart Cultural Arts Center has several art classes scheduled for children and adults through the end of the year. Take time to learn something new and bring out your creative side. For more information, visit the RCAC Facebook page at facebook.com/rcac.ga or contact the Arts Center at 770-684-2707 or rcac@rockmart-ga.gov.

Want to get your event or announcement on the calendar? E-mail JStewart@polkstandardjournal.com with details at least two weeks before the event begins.


Local
Woman dies after shooting at Northwest Polk County home

A GBI medical examiner is expected to conduct an autopsy on a 48-year-old woman who died after being shot two days before Christmas in her home in rural Polk County.

According to the GBI, Darnetha Chester Elliott was found deceased at a home on Michael Boulevard in Cedartown on Friday, Dec. 23, in the afternoon after officers were called to a shooting happening at the residence.

Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd confirmed Elliott was shot and died as a result of her injuries. Dodd said his agency requested the assistance of the GBI with the investigation and questioned her husband.

Dodd said the incident began as a domestic altercation between the husband and Elliott, with both having weapons and the husband defending himself. He said no charges have been filed.

The home is located just south of the community known as Chubbtown in Northwest Polk County. No further details about the incident have been released.


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