Capitol building in Atlanta

The state Capitol building in Atlanta at night after lawmakers adjourned the legislative session shortly after midnight on April 1, 2021. 

Gov. Brian Kemp has signed into law several bills on taxes, time change and teacher retention that the General Assembly passed in the 2021 legislative session.

Among the more high-profile measures Kemp signed at a ceremony in Savannah Wednesday is an income-tax credit to recruit and retain teachers for high-need subjects in underserved Georgia public schools.

Sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, the measure allows teachers in 100 rural or low-performing schools picked annually by the state to apply for a $3,000 credit on their income taxes for up to five years if they teach certain subjects that students struggle to learn.

The teacher credit figured as a priority for Kemp in this year’s session. He has also pushed for state budgets to include teacher pay raises and legislation to cut down the number of year-end standardized tests that students must take.

Kemp also signed a bill aimed at putting Georgia on daylight saving time permanently if Congress takes action permitting states to make that change. The measure was passed over separate legislation that proposed establishing standard time year-round.

Also signed into law were bills to levy a $5 per-night excise tax on short-term stays in vacation rentals and hotels booked by online vendors and allow district attorneys to access previously confidential records on offenders seeking parole after serving prison time for a violent felony or sexual abuse of a minor.

The 2021 session wrapped up a few minutes after midnight April 1 amid heated debate over Republican-led legislation on voting procedures and criminal justice issues.

Kemp signed a controversial bill changing Georgia mail-in and early voting laws shortly after state lawmakers passed it on a party-line vote late last month.

The election changes have since become a national lightning rod with Republicans calling them needed for voting integrity and Democrats condemning them as voter suppression.

The governor has not yet signed a bipartisan bill to overhaul Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law.

The law, which dates back to the 19th century, drew criticism last year after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery outside of Brunswick.

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