Two local state legislators, Rep. Beth Beskin and Rep. Deborah Silcox, said they plan to tackle property tax increases during this session of the General Assembly.

The two Republican state representatives previewed legislation they have introduced or plan to introduce during the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, giving the most attention to plans to limit property tax increases following drastic property assessments increases seen by some residents in 2017.

Rep. Deborah Silcox, who represents portions of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, said while she and Beskin hope to pass legislation that would limit how much property tax increases can rise in Atlanta, it won’t become effective until after the 2018 assessments are sent out because it would have to be ratified by voters during the November election.

It will also have to approved by the majority of the 15-member Atlanta delegation in the legislature, meaning they’ll have to get some Democrats on board.

Rep. Beth Beskin was one of the featured speakers at the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. (Evelyn Andrews)

“Unfortunately, it gets caught up in partisan politics,” Beskin said.

They also hope to eventually have a senior school property tax exemption, but both said it is unrealistic to expect to pass both at the same time.

“In reality, we’re not going to get them both at the same time,” Beskin said. 

Tom Tidwell, the chairman of the Buckhead Council, urged the legislators to take action, as he feels many are not doing much to address concerns residents have about rising property taxes.

“We’ve got a train wreck coming towards us, and no one really sees the urgency,” Tidwell said.

Silcox noted she is also working to pass legislation that would put setting limits on what times fireworks could be set off in the control of local governments. The power to set the time they can be set off is currently held by the state, but Silcox said it has become an issue in the area and the local governments should be able to limit it.

Rep. Deborah Silcox speaks at a Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, seated beside the chairman of the organization, Tom Tidwell. (Evelyn Andrews)

She also plans to introduce legislation that would address human trafficking, she said.

They both said they expect hate crimes legislation introduced by Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) to pass and they support it over an alternative bill introduced by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

Both bills seek to add enhanced punishments for crimes based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability and physical disability, but the Black Caucus’s version calls for more “extreme” punishments, including longer sentences, Silcox said.

They also expect legislation aimed at making adoptions easier that failed at the last-minute last year to pass this session now that a controversial amendment would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families has been removed from the bill.

“I was very pleased to see that was taken out,” Silcox said. “Studies have shown children do far better in a loving home regardless of the arrangement.”

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