Georgia State Representative Matt Gurtler was hosted by the Union/Towns County Tea Party at their meeting on April 25, 2017, held at the Union County Community Center in Blairsville, GA. Gurtler was in great form as he mingled with the attendees.
Once the meeting came to order and preliminaries were addressed, Gurtler opened by announcing two Georgia House of Representatives Resolutions that he penned. The first Resolution was in honor of the life and memory of Major Leon Davenport of Blairsville, Union County, GA, who passed away in January 2017. He said Davenport had been a veteran of WWII, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Viet Nam Conflict. Gurtler went on to recite the entire Resolution to much applause from the audience. Davenport’s family was present and accepted the plaque.
Gurtler recited a second Resolution that he wrote in honor of former State Representative Steven Allison, who, he said, was instrumental in helping him get his start in Georgia politics.
Calvin Coolidge, said Gurtler, once stated that it is more important to kill bad legislation than to pass good legislation. This was the theme of Gurtler’s presentation. He said Georgia has the third largest state House of Representatives and it is Republican controlled, yet there are House Bills coming out that are anything but conservative. As Georgia Districts go, he said, Georgia District 8 is one of the most conservative in the United States and he is doing all he can to fulfill the promises he made to this District to lessen the burdens on taxpayers and to reduce the size of government.
Gurtler mentioned several Bills. He Said that HB225 that would have regulated and taxed Uber and Airbnb services. He said Uber is a free market solution to taxi cabs, that the prices are a lot lower than taxis because there is competition. Fortunately, he said, this Bill failed. He mentioned, also, the Internet sales tax Bill. He said it would have meant a $274M tax increase to Georgia taxpayers. He said the Bill ultimately failed, but it failed in the (Georgia) Senate. He said many of his colleagues, disappointingly, voted for it and it passed in the House. He said HB 340 originally had a tax increase for used car dealers and buyers, but that was taken out.
Gurtler said that there were some good bills that passed; for example, Campus Carry will probably be signed by Governor Deal. However, he said, it’s so watered down now that some are calling it Compromise Carry. He said he wished it could have been a clean bill allowing for more personal responsibility and less government intrusion. Another Bill, he said, that is good is one that now allows for a tax credit for donations to rural hospitals. The “Back the Badge” specialty license plate Bill passed, he said, and that’s a good thing for law enforcement. The “Beer Bill” passed and is on its way to Governor Deal, he said. Gurtler said he thinks this is one of the best Bills of the year because it deregulates an industry and allows producers to sell their product directly to consumers, rather than require that they use a distributor.
Regarding hotel/motel taxes in Georgia, Gurtler said Columbus, Augusta, Macon and Atlanta are four of the highest hotel-taxed cities in the US; for example, about 22% of a hotel bill in Columbus goes to state taxes. The national average is about 13 per cent, he said.
Gurtler said that his Freshman year as a Georgia State Representative has been an eye-opener. He said having the responsibility of voting for or against something that affects millions of people in Georgia really makes you “put your money where your mouth is”. He said that he votes his principles every time without regard for backlashes from his colleagues. He said the control mechanisms have been in place for a long, long time and pressures to ‘go along and get along’ are very real. He said he had tried to repeal the hotel tax that was passed in 2015 and couldn’t even get it out of committee. He said it’s still in Transportation Committee and he will try again during the 2018 Legislative Session to repeal it. Gurtler said he also introduced Constitutional Carry, a Bill that would allow law abiding Georgia residents to open carry or concealed carry without having to get a license. He said licensure to exercise Constitutional Rights burdens Georgia taxpayers by about $15M a year. He said there’s a big disconnect between what the people want and what the Legislature does, as is proved by the fact that he couldn’t get the bill out of committee even with support from the Republican Party, several gun rights groups, several sponsors and the backing of his District. But, he said, he will continue to fight.
He is making a difference, though. He said there have been instances where colleagues have said to him that his lone dissent (or assent) on something has made them think a lot harder about what they’re doing; and some have even changed their votes. He said he’s trying to assemble a coalition of conservatives and make Georgia truly the best place to do business and allow the freedoms that Georgia’s law abiding citizens are due under our Constitution.
When queried about the growth of government and whether the so-called needs are real or manufactured, Gurtler responded that the natural inclination of government is to expand; and it will grow unless we (the people) fight back. That’s why it’s so important; not only for citizens to be informed, but for politicians to be true advocates for the people; to be cognizant of and fight for what the people really want. He said he doesn’t see many representatives of the people, and not just in Georgia, that put the people ahead of themselves and their special interests.
When asked about the current state of hospitals and health care, Gurtler responded that, currently, one waits an hour to see a doctor for five minutes. In a free market system, he said, one would wait five minutes to see a doctor for an hour.
Gurtler did say, when addressing corporate welfare and government subsidies: “It’s immoral to take from one person and give it to another”.
Several other questions were asked and answered. Gurtler said that the video of the Town Hall Meeting would hopefully be up sooner rather than later on his Website.