GENERAL ASSEMBLY; Debate on Tax Reform Ahead HOUSE Richardson's Proposal of a Statewide Sales Tax Instead of Property Taxes Will Be Considered. SENATE Two Measures to Limit the Growth of Property Tax Assessments Are Up for Debate

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Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE

ATLANTA - Jostling over the issue expected to be the session's headline-grabber - tax reform - could begin in earnest this week, with key committees in the House and Senate expected to take action on some of the highest profile measures.

The most sweeping proposal on the table is House Speaker Glenn Richardson's initiative to do away with the portion of local property taxes that helps fund schools and replace it with a broader statewide sales tax.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, said Friday that the House Ways and Means Committee would likely take action on "a tax bill" next week. Asked whether the measure would be the constitutional amendment floated by Richardson, R-Hiram, Keen would only reiterate that the committee would consider a tax bill.

The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, will consider a pair of measures that would limit the growth of property tax assessments.

The newest, introduced Friday by Finance Committee Chairman Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, and backed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, would only allow property values for tax purposes to rise by 2 percent for resident property or 3 percent for non-residential property.

Any local government wanting to opt out of the limits would have to set its own cap on assessments, create a uniform process for reassessments and get approval for the proposal in a referendum. …