During our fourth week of the 2018 legislative session, we persisted in our discussion of bill proposals and subsequent passing of meaningful legislation. The following bills were passed this session:
- House Bill 159 – One of our most substantial accomplishments this week was the unanimous passage of House Bill 159, the piece of legislation on current Georgian adoption laws that I described previously as it was being reviewed by the Senate. After thorough examination by my House colleagues, the Senate, and the governor’s office, HB 159’s amendments were approved and reviewed with additional changes, which means this bill will be sent to Gov. Deal’s desk for final approval after being passed by the Senate. These changes include:
- An update on the revocation period for Georgia birth mothers from 10 days to 4 days
- Access to reasonable living expenses for all birth mothers, refining the current law that only birth mothers in agency adoptions are allowed reasonable living expenses
- Safeguards on temporary powers of attorney
- House Bill 661 – HB 661 also passed unanimously, and it seeks to update the process for filing and removing tax liens against real estate. This update keeps the efficiencies of the original legislation, removes the current provision on statewide liens, and reverts back to county specific liens.
- House Bill 694 – Also passed unanimously, House Bill 694 would provide an updated method of submitting monthly motor fuel tax reports for motor fuel distributors and wholesalers. Distributors are currently required to only submit reports electronically if the submission is $500 or more, and this bill would require monthly reports to be submitted electronically regardless of the amount.
- House Bill 135 – Also this week, the House passed a measure to provide more law enforcement officers with important state retirement benefits. House Bill 135 seeks to provide state retirement benefits to an expanded group of law enforcement officers by including the Department of Driver Services (DDS) investigators. An additional five years of creditable service would become available to them in the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) for prior law enforcement services.
The Official State Insect
- House Bill 671 – Our official state insect, the honey bee, is an essential factor in our state’s ecosystem and economy. As the third largest producer of bees and the tenth largest producer of honey in the nation, Georgia remains a leader in the beekeeping industry. This bill will promote the conservation and protection of the honey bee by creating a specialty license plate with the phrase “Save the Honey Bee” and making this plate available for purchase.
My colleagues and I remain engrossed in our legislative duties as prepare ourselves for the following weeks of session, including legislative Day 28, “Crossover Day.” I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
By the end of our third week in session, we reached Legislative Day 10, a marker of our one-fourth completion of the overall 40-day session. We remained busy this week with introductions recommended by our interim House councils and commissions, and we also finalized our adjournment resolution.
Georgia’s economic prosperity, although widespread, has not reached all parts of our state, and some areas need improvement. In our previous session, the House Rural Development Council (RDC) was established through House Resolution 389, followed by extensive, rural community research and an eventual presentation of two reports that outline how to improve these community’s economy.
- House Bill 735 – This bill is the first rural development-related bill that the House has ever considered, and it would encourage investment in rail infrastructure in rural Georgia by creating a tax credit for short line railroad track maintenance expenditures.
- House Resolution 848 – This resolution was adopted in the 2017 session, and it established the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, which examines Georgia transportation issues and discovers ways to improve them. We are expecting to discuss legislation on this topic this session, as the transit commission has been researching over the 2017 summer and fall seasons.
We also determined our calendar for the remainder of the 2018 legislative session this week as we worked with our Senate counterparts. Legislative Day 40, the final day of our session and otherwise referred to as “Sine Die,” will take place on Thursday, March 29.
The House Rules Committee
The House Rules Committee held its first official meeting on Thursday, January 25. This committee is vital to our session, as they determine which bills are worthy of debate and eventual vote on our House floor once they have been passed out of their respective subcommittees. Once these bills are passed by the Rules Committee, they are heard on the House floor the following legislative day, which means voting for our first pieces of legislation will likely begin next week.
Review of Gov. Deal’s Budget Proposals
This week, we took the next step in developing a balanced state budget based off of Gov. Deal’s recommendations by holding hearings with the House Appropriations subcommittees. Once Gov. Deal’s proposals are reviewed in our Appropriations subcommittees, the House floor will draft a bill for the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget and another bill for the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) budget.
- The AFY 2018 Budget – This budget, which covers our current fiscal year until June 30, is nicknamed the “small budget.” It uses a more precise estimate of state revenue to account for any differences between anticipated and actual state revenue.
- The FY 2019 Budget – Nicknamed the “big budget,” this budget covers our entire state budget for the fiscal year of 2019 starting July 1. It is based on projected state revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, and each portion will be passed by its respective Appropriations subcommittees, and reviewed and passed by the full House Appropriations Committee.
- Rules Committee – Once the complete budgets are passed by the House Appropriations Committees, they will then be passed on to the Rules Committee that places them on the House calendar. From here, they will be discussed on the House floor before being voted upon.
- Senate – After being passed by the House, these budgets will be passed along to the Senate and undergo the same process. Because of their likely differences from their original editions, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor will appoint a conference committee to resolve these differences.
- Final Vote – Final voting takes place after the conference committee comes to an agreement, and both chambers must agree on the contents of the bill before approval. After being approved, these budgets finally reach Gov. Deal’s desk, where he has the choice to sign or veto the legislation. If signed, these budgets become state law.
Congressman Doug Collins
On Thursday, January 25, my colleagues and I enjoyed a visit from distinguished Georgian and former state representative Congressman Doug Collins. Along with his praise of our dedicated work and legislative example, he also brought updates from our state’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C. We were honored by his presence and we admire his commitment to improving our state.
National Guard Day
Thursday was also National Guard Day at the Capitol, and we took some time to honor the men and women of the Georgia National Guard by presenting them with House Resolution 902. The Georgia Department of Defense employs over 10,891 Army National Guard Soldiers, 2,746 Air National Guard Airmen, 583 State Defense Force members and over 600 state employees. Since 9/11, over 18,000 Georgia National Guard members have been deployed overseas, and more than 200 are currently being deployed. These selfless men and women provide military-ready forces to the president and disaster response forces to the governor, and we are thankful for their contribution to the state of Georgia.
As we continue with the 2018 legislative session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. I serve as a member of the Code Revision, Judiciary, Juvenile Justice, and Regulated Industries committees, and I encourage you to contact me to discuss any measures that will be discussed by these committees or any other legislation that may interest you. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
During the second week of the 2018 legislative session on Tuesday, January 16, my House colleagues and I convened for legislative Day Five and legislative Day Six of the session, and also began one of our most significant annual undertakings, the state budget process. The process begins with the joint House and Senate Appropriations committees’ review of Governor Nathan Deal’s budget recommendations.
Gov. Deal’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
Because of our state’s exceptional recent economic development, Gov. Deal’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget is the largest budget our General Assembly has ever been presented with. Georgia has become an economic national leader, and Gov. Deal’s proposal hopes to contribute even further to our state’s financial success. The General Assembly also heard testimonies from various state agency heads as they expressed their fiscal needs, which our final budget will supply with state funding.
Once these proposals are reviewed by the House Appropriations subcommittees, each respective subcommittee will pass portions of the state budget to the full House Appropriations Committee, which will then examine and pass balanced budgets for AFY 2018 and FY 2019.
- Transportation – Georgia’s transportation network is a significant factor in the future and continued success of our state’s economy. Gov. Deal’s FY 2019 budget recommends more than $1.9 billion in annual, transportation infrastructure funding, as well as an additional $100 million for bridge repair and replacement. In the governor’s Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget proposal, he also allocates more than $25 million to runway expansion in both urban and rural areas of our state.
- Education – Both Governor Deal and his wife, First Lady Sandra Deal, have a passion for education and our state’s school system. Gov. Deal’s AFY 2018 budget includes $102.1 million for a midterm adjustment for K-12 enrollment growth and $10.7 million for growth in the Dual Enrollment program. For the governor’s FY 2019 budget proposal, he allocates $30 million to assist low‐wealth school districts and adds $127.6 million to fund K-12 enrollment growth and training and experience for Georgia teachers. An allocated $1.8 million would go towards the the REACH Georgia Scholarship program, which would allow the program to disburse an additional 226 statewide scholarships and expand into 44 new school districts. An additional $361.7 million was also proposed for our state’s Teachers Retirement System, which would fully fund Georgia’s employer contribution.
- Healthcare – Since our state’s $240 million investment in behavioral health, Georgia has seen a significant decline in individuals civilly committed to behavioral health hospitals. The governor seeks to improve this number even further with his proposal of $15 million to funding Georgia’s intellectual and developmental disabilities waiver services and to the construction of supportive housing. Gov. Deal’s also recommends to contribute to the Children’s Autism Initiative with $3.5 million in the AFY 2018 budget and almost $7 million in FY 2019 budget. Per recommendation of the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, other recommendations to the FY 2019 budget include: $22.9 million to fund crisis services, therapeutic foster care, Apex grants, telehealth services, suicide prevention, wraparound services, supported employment and education, and opioid prevention and treatment.
- Criminal Justice – Gov. Deal has worked diligently to make his criminal justice reform initiatives successful, and they received additional funding in his budget proposal. Georgia’s accountability court system is one of these initiatives, and it gives low-level, non-violent offenders sentencing alternatives; for example, rehabilitative services are offered as a substitute. A total of $113.9 million has been allotted to these statewide courts since 2012, and the FY 2019 budget includes an additional $5 million.
- Other Highlights – Additional proposals include: funding for Georgia’s child welfare services, including $15.1 million for growth in out‐of‐home care utilization; $10.1 million to continue to increase Georgia’s foster parent per diem rates; $3.6 million to increase out‐of‐home care provider rates; $256 million for Medicaid expense growth to offset federal revenue and settlement loss.
Our colleagues in the Senate also passed House Bill 159 and added House Bill 359 during this week’s session.
- HB 159 – This bill will update Georgia’s adoption laws. No modernizations have made in nearly 30 years on this subject, so this bill was passed unanimously and successfully.
- HB 359 – This bill was vetoed by Gov. Deal last year, and it concerns temporary powers of attorney.
Gov. Deal’s Major Announcements
- State of Emergency Issue – Gov. Deal issued a state of emergency for 83 of Georgia’s central and northern counties impacted by winter weather on Wednesday, January 17. Because of this winter storm, our budget hearings were rescheduled and the House and Senate meetings were postponed to Thursday afternoon; however, the storm could not hinder our legislative duty, and we remained dedicated to finishing our work.
- Amazon’s Short List – Our assembly has long anticipated the release of Amazon’s short list of Top 20 finalists for the company’s second headquarters, and Gov. Deal announced Atlanta’s placement on that list on Thursday morning. As one of the top states in which to do business, Georgia has a strong advantage over other states in this site selection process, and I look forward to seeing the final outcome.
Our legislative session will reconvene on Monday, January 22. I hope that my session updates will continue to help you stay informed on legislative matters that impact our community and state as a whole. The House website has several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session: a live stream of House proceedings, live and archived committee meeting videos and detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
If you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
The 2018 Legislative Session and 154th Georgia General Assembly officially began on Monday, January 8, 2018, and my colleagues and I are prepared to work diligently in the following weeks to discuss and pass important legislation. Day One is always an exciting and significant part of our session, and this week we channeled that energy into our work as we discussed legislative business, met with committees to review and discuss proposed legislation, and Governor Nathan Deal delivered his annual State of the State address.
State of the State Address
Governor Deal’s State of the State address touched on many important topics, including Georgia’s exceptional economic growth, funding for the educational system, and most importantly the figurative significance of planting “orchards of opportunity” for our future generations. Next year we will celebrate his retirement of serving as Georgia’s governor for seven years and serving our state for four decades.
Governor Deal’s touching address began with a rumination of Georgia’s growth since he became our state’s 82nd governor in 2011. He has achieved the following accomplishments: an exceptional drop in Georgia’s unemployment rate from 10.4 percent to 4.3 percent, which is the lowest it has been in over 10 years; the creation of more than 675,000 private sector jobs; the maintenance of our state’s AAA bond rating and addition to our Rainy Day Fund; Georgia’s recognition as the No. 1 state in which to do business for five consecutive years; the booming film and television industry; and investments in education and criminal justice reform.
- Georgia’s Film Industry – Georgia’s film industry growth in the past decade includes a $9.5 billion economic impact, the movement of over 200 new companies to Georgia to support film and television production, the accountability of 92,000 jobs across our state, and an increase in student interest of the courses at the Georgia Film Academy. The film industry will only continue to flourish with programs such as these, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of its growth!
- Education – The following advances in education have been made since Governor Deal has been in office: state spending on education has increased by $3.6 billion for a total of $14 billion in state education expenditures, the HOPE Career Grant program was created, a marketing campaign to highlight Georgia’s technical colleges for post-secondary education growth was developed, and funds were created to establish the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, which is named after his wife, former teacher, and supporter of young learners First Lady Sandra Deal.
- Criminal Justice – Governor Deal has focused heavily on criminal justice reform efforts since taking office, and he has had immense success in his endeavors. There are currently 149 state-funded accountability court programs that sentence alternatives to nonviolent offenders, and each of Georgia’s 49 judicial circuits operates at least one sort of accountability court.
- Amended Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 State Budget – The following proposals were made by Gov. Deal for the 2018 state budget: an allocation of $102 million for K-12 enrollment growth, $10.7 million for growth in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program, $43.6 million for the Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid, $15.1 million for child welfare services to care for children in state custody, $2.4 million for autism services for children under the age of 21, $17.6 million for Forestland Protection Act grants and $10 million for beach nourishment projects and $25.2 million for airport runway extension projects. Gov. Deal’s 2019 state budget proposals include: $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System, $127 million for K-12 education, $30 million to assist low-wealth school systems, $28.8 million for child welfare services to fund out-of-home care growth and foster care per diem increases, $22.9 million to implement recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, $5 million for accountability courts to implement new courts and expand existing courts, and $31 million for transportation and $100 million to repair roads and bridges in Georgia. These proposals will continue to be reviewed and revised as we proceed with our legislative session.
An adjournment resolution, our legislative calendar, was also covered during this session. We create this schedule in order to make the most of our together, as my colleagues and I are not full-time lawmakers and face other obligations outside of the General Assembly. Our time together is critical, and it is important that we adjust our adjournment resolution to the benefit of our Georgia Assembly.
College Football Playoff National Championship Day
Our state was honored to host the College Football Playoff National Championship at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Monday, and we took some time to celebrate this event during our first week of session by adopting House Resolution 867, which recognizes Dan Corso and commends the Atlanta Football Host Committee for organizing this great event for our state. Despite the final outcome of the game, we were proud of our state for hosting this game for the first time in Georgia’s history.
Now that the legislative session has officially begun, my House colleagues and I will be working diligently to pass meaningful legislation on behalf of all Georgians. I hope that my session updates will help you to stay informed on legislative matters that impact our community and state as a whole. The House website has several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session: a live stream of House proceedings, live and archived committee meeting videos and detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
If you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.
With a new year almost upon us, our community and delegation has begun looking ahead to the 2018 legislative session. On December 5, I attended a luncheon at the Henry County Administration Building with other Henry County delegates to discuss the county’s objectives and concerns for the next year. I want to take a moment to thank Henry County officials for having me and for hosting this luncheon and discussion. Here are some informational highlights from our meeting:
Henry County Public Safety Training Academy
Among the topics discussed, Henry County staff emphasized the community’s need for a public safety training academy. The Henry County Police Department would strongly benefit from training their officers locally, rather than sending them to other academies in the state to do so. If the department could train in its own district, they would eliminate the cost of training elsewhere, therefore saving money.
House Bill 204
House Bill 204 was also examined during our luncheon. This bill would remove non-tax related fees from property tax bills, thereby obstructing the county’s revenue sources. BOC Chairperson June Wood strongly encouraged delegates to not support this bill in the upcoming 2018 legislative session.
Henry County Coroner
Lastly, the Henry County staff addressed their desire to pay their coroner by salary, rather than the current state of paid by call. This resolution was approved by the Henry County Board of Commissioners and requested for legislation.
I always enjoy discussing the needs, endeavors, and goals of my districts. Our community is continually striving for growth and improvement, and I am proud to represent it.Read More
The holiday season, though one of the busiest times of the year, is a favorite for me and my family, as well as the Henry County community. Christmas is a time of celebration, gift-giving, and reuniting with loved ones, and there will be many local opportunities to do so this year in our community. Tree lighting celebrations, visits from Santa, Christmas tree sales, and Christmas caroling are just a few!
The much-loved Southern Belle Farm will be having a three week long holiday event, where you and your families can enjoy homemade cookies, fresh apple cider, friendly farm animals, and visits from Santa on the weekends. This “Farmstead Christmas” will take place from November 24 – December 17, so mark your calendars!
Yule Forest in Stockbridge, Georgia will help you find the perfect Christmas tree for your family this year. This local farm does offer pre-cut trees, but they also offer the experience to choose and cut your own tree from their field, as well as Christmas tree delivery. Their Christmas tree farm opens on Thanksgiving Day, and includes Leyland Cypress, Virginia Pines and Blue Ice Christmas Trees.
Enjoy the crisp fresh air at the Panola Mountain State Park Holiday Elf Hike on December 23. If your family follows the Elf On The Shelf tradition, this event is perfect for you. Panola invites your children to bring their elf, doll, or other stuffed animal along for their hike and following hot cocoa. To register for this event, please call 770-389-7801.
As you enjoy these holiday festivities, try to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and the joy it brings to our community, friends, and families. I wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas this year!Read More
Georgia Department Of Transportation contractors have begun clearing vegetation along Jonesboro Road and State Route 81, and construction of the East-West One-Way Pairs in downtown McDonough is now well underway! In an effort to lessen traffic entering and exiting McDonough Square, Jonesboro Road to Doris Street is to be converted to a one-way route heading west, and the Georgia Highway 20 (Hampton Street) heading into the square will be turned into a one-way, as well. A roundabout will also be built at the intersection of Doris Street and Jonesboro Road that will lead drivers to another eastbound one-way. Roundabouts help ease the flow of traffic because cars are only required to yield, not stop. This reduces traffic delay and improves traffic flow. Construction is estimated to last about thirty months.
This project will undoubtedly be beneficial to local businesses, surrounding areas, and McDonough citizens as it will ease traffic congestion near McDonough Square. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation Project Manager Cherral Dempsey, the East-West One-Way Pairs construction will involve at least three temporary road closures. The Georgia Department of Transportation will keep McDonough citizens updated with lane closures and detour information on their website, Twitter, and Facebook. Be on the lookout for signs and message boards around the area for redirection, as well. Although the construction process takes time, the benefits of the results will be well worth the wait!Read More
Last Thursday, March 24, 2016, was “Sine Die.” This means that the legislative session came to an end, but not before we passed a number of important bills.
One of the most important pieces of legislation passed this session was House Bill 751, which establishes the state budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The final version of HB 751 was passed after a House and Senate conference committee worked out the differences between each body’s version of the budget. The budget will guide state spending from July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017. The FY 2017 budget set the state’s largest budget in history at $23.7 billion dollars.
As a result, the House was able to fund a number of its priorities, including:
- rate increases for health and human service providers
- salary adjustments for K-12 teachers, Pre-K teachers, bus drivers, nutrition workers and school nurses
- salary increases for public health nurses, sworn law enforcement officers and other critical positions to address retention issues
We prioritized education funding in the state budget, and we focused on key education policy initiatives last week, passing three education-related measures.
- Senate Bill 18 would establish policies within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) that would allow active duty military or veteran students to obtain academic credit for previous college-level learning attained prior to their enrollment. SB 18 would require any institution within TCSG to grant academic credit for college-level learning accomplished before enrollment and would only apply to training and experience obtained through military service that was substantially related to the coursework credit given by the TCSG. This bill would give those who defend our country a head start in their post-secondary education!
- Senate Bill 329 would expand the Quality Basic Education Act to award high school diplomas to students who complete dual credit coursework. SB 329 would award a high school diploma to students who complete college dual-credit coursework and have earned certification to work in an “in-need” industry as determined by the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia. Furthermore, students who meet these requirements to receive a high school diploma would also be eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship or participate in the Move On When Ready dual-enrollment assistance program.
- My colleagues and I also gave final passage to Senate Bill 348 this week. SB 348 would simplify the process of creating a college and career academy. A college and career academy operates as a partnership and collaboration between businesses, high schools and postsecondary institutions to advance workforce development and work based learning programs. SB 348 would allow local school systems to create a college and career academy as part of a contract to act as a strategic waivers school system. Any established charter or strategic waiver district would have the power to create a college and career academy, as opposed to current law which only allows standalone charter schools to create college and career academies. Finally, SB 348 provides training requirements for the governing boards of college and career academies, including best practices, constitutional and statutory requirements, applicable statutes, and rules and regulations.
Senate Bill 230, the “Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act,” also received final passage this week to provide Georgians with increased access to healthcare resources and medical personnel during states of emergency in Georgia and other cooperating states. SB 230 would waive licensing requirements for volunteer health practitioners from participating states to allow those volunteers to assist with medical needs in the event of a natural disaster or during a state of emergency even if those volunteers are not residents of Georgia. Volunteer health practitioners would be eligible to provide health and veterinary services provided that they are registered with a volunteer health practitioner registration system, have a license to practice medicine in their home state, and are in good standing in the state where they are licensed. During a state of emergency, the governor would define the length of time, locations, and types of medical practice which volunteer practitioners would perform, while representatives of GEMA or any host entity would have the authority to accept or deny volunteer applications.
Senate Bill 304, the “Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act,” unanimously passed the House to outline proper protocol and requirements for recording and reporting evidence collected during a forensic medical evaluation for investigations of rape. Forensic medical examiners would be required to notify law enforcement officials of this evidence, and law enforcement officers would then have 96 hours to collect the kit once the exam is completed. After collecting the kit, law enforcement officials would then have 30 days to submit the evidence to the proper division, where records of all evidence and kits collected would be kept. An annual report would be complied each December and given to the Governor, Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, members of the House and Senate Judiciary and Non-Civil Committees, and posted online at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s website detailing the number of kits tested as well as those that were not tested.
Now that the General Assembly has adjourned sine die, these bills are in the hands of Governor Deal. The governor has 40 days to sign or veto the legislation. This means that any bill or resolution that the governor has not vetoed by Tuesday, May 3, 2016, will become state law in the coming months.
Although session is over, I hope that you will continue to contact me with any questions or concerns that you might have regarding your state government. If you have any questions about these potential changes to state code or if you have any suggestions for future legislation, I hope that you will contact me. You can reach me at my capitol office at (404) 656-0213 or by email at Andy.Welch@house.ga.gov.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
With Crossover Day behind us, my colleagues and I shifted our focus to considering Senate Bills and watching for changes made in the Senate to House Bills and vice versa. We saw bills receiving passage in the General Assembly, meaning that these bills will be sent to Governor Nathan Deal for consideration.
The House unanimously passed Senate Bill 137, which would expand Georgia property insurance laws to allow corporations described as one or two family residential buildings to collect insurance coverage against fire damage when a building is completely destroyed by fire. This bill will further show how business friendly Georgia is!
My colleagues and I also passed Senate Bill 158, the “Consumer and Provider Protection Act.” SB 158 creates a framework for rental preferred provider healthcare networks in Georgia to increase transparency for providers and consumers. A rental network contracts with health insurers to provide access to the terms and conditions of its contract with the provider’s discount, and then sells that contract to another network without the provider’s knowledge or consent. This bill would require these networks to register with the Commissioner of Insurance, and networks will access the discounts only if a contract that states the terms of agreement is signed.
Another bill that received unanimous passage was Senate Bill 279, which would expand the voting membership of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Council to 22 members. P.O.S.T. provides the state with peace officers and criminal justice professionals (such as deputy sheriffs, county police, the GBI, etc.) who are professionally trained. Increasing the council members would see that P.O.S.T. continues to lead the way in our state, and nation, in providing criminal justice leadership.
The Senate passed House Bill 751, which is the FY2017 budget. HB 751 received passage in the House, but the Senate version varied slightly, which promoted a conference committee to be formed. When a bill is altered during the legislative process, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor will appoint a conference committee to work out the differences. Once the committee reaches an agreement, the bill will be presented to both the Senate and House for a floor vote; once approved by both chambers, the bill will be sent to the governor.
During last weeks busy schedule, my colleagues and I took the time to honor both Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Jr., as well as Scott Woerner. Johnson is a Georgia native, and is a former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions and Georgia Tech. Woerner is a former safety for the University of Georgia and the Atlanta Falcons. Both men have received many accolades for their talents, and both have represented the state of Georgia well, on and off the field.
If you have questions or concerns about any of the legislation that the House or Senate will be discussing, please feel free to reach out to me; I am never too busy to hear from you. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and as your representative, I want to make sure that I am truly representing your interests under the Gold Dome.You can reach me at my Capitol office, which is 404-656-0213, or by email at Andy.Welch@house.ga.gov.
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
The seventh week of session began on Monday, February 22. The House had a busy week, convening on the floor every day, working hard to pass legislation ahead of Crossover Day.
A meaningful and possibly life-saving bill was passed, House Bill 965 (“The Honorable Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Act”). This bill would provide patients diagnosed with stage four metastatic cancer increased treatment, and any health benefit plan issued in Georgia cannot deny coverage for a drug covered by the USFDA if a patient does not have a previous history of failing to respond to initial cancer treatment medications.
The House unanimously passed House Bill 831, or the “Protecting Guardsmen’s Employment Act.” This bipartisan legislation will provide employment protections to Georgia workers called into service by the national guard of a neighboring state. This legislation will ensure reemployment to National Guardsmen who are called into service.
Another bipartisan bill passed in the House this week was House Bill 614, the Landon Dunson Act. With this bill, video monitoring camera equipment would be installed, as a safety measure, in self-contained classrooms that provide special education services. Participation would be voluntary, and consent from parents would be needed. Camera footage access would be strictly limited to school administrators for educational and safety monitoring purposes. The Department of Education has final approval of the schools that opt-in, but each school is responsible for providing their own equipment.
The House passed House Bill 768, known as the Georgie Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The bill would include the following:
- ease financial strains on disabled individuals, allowing them to save private funds in tax-exempt accounts without becoming Medicaid ineligible
- Georgia ABLE Program governed by board of directors (appointed by the Governor)
- The board would have several duties/tasks
- oversee the operations (including tax-free savings account criteria)
- establish insurance policies to protect assets of the funds
- Office of the State Treasurer would ensure proper management of funds and bank accounts
- The following state departments will work with the board of directors to define qualified ABLE applicants and program material:
- Department of Community Health
- Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
- Department of Human Services
- Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency
- Department of Education
House Bill 962 was a bipartisan measure, and would create the position of Kinship Care Enforcement Administrator at the Department of Human Services. A kinship caregiver is a relative of a child (other than a child’s parent), that raises the child. Anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 children are in kinship care in Georgia. During last year’s session, House Resolution 474 was passed to develop a study committee, which investigated the state’s kinship services. The study resulted in HB 962. The Kinship Care Enforcement Administrator would be appointed by the Commissioner of Human Services to monitor, facilitate, and ensure compliance with all federal and state laws related to any programs available to kinship caregivers or the children in their care.
We took the time to recognize the University of Georgia’s new head football coach, Kirby Smart. Smart is a Bainbridge, Georgia native who played four years at UGA. Before coaching at our state’s flagship university, Smart coached at the University of Alabama, where he helped the Crimson Tide gain four National Championships.
We were honored to have Presidential candidate, Governor John Kasich, join us last Tuesday. He reminded my colleagues and I to uplift each other, and reminded us that we are Americans before we are Democrats and Republicans.
The House, and the state, lost a true public servant last week. State Representative Bob Bryant from Garden City passed away last Thursday. Bob was a loving husband, father, grandfather, veteran, and friend to all. He served his constituents with grace and humility as their voice under the Gold Dome for 12 years, and the positive impact he made on the House chamber and in his community will not soon be forgotten.
We are gearing up for another extremely busy week at the Georgia State Capitol next week. On Monday, February 29, we are scheduled to complete the 30th legislative day, which is also known as “Crossover Day.” Crossover Day is the last date in which a piece of legislation must pass at least one of the General Assembly’s two chambers to be considered for final passage this legislative session. If you have any questions, you may reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0213 or by email at Andy.Welch@house.ga.gov.Read More