Governor Signs Hospital Provider Fee Bill
Gov. Nathan Deal this week (Feb. 13) signed SB 24, which will allow the Department of Community Health board to set the hospital fee percentage based on the General Assembly’s appropriation in the Medicaid budget. The funds raised through this fee can only be used for the purpose of drawing down federal matching dollars that will then be redistributed to hospitals. “Giving DCH the power to authorize a provider fee, as it currently does with nursing homes, will help ensure that hospitals, particularly rural hospitals and those serving a large number of Medicaid patients, still receive their fair share of reimbursement,” said Deal. The provider fee is expected to raise approximately $400 million to support the Medicaid program and avoid a deficit in the FY2014 budget.
House Subcommittee Reviews Budget
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, began review of the FY2014 budget recommendations for the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia. Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Affairs John Brown testified for the USG and provided background and details on each budget item. The committee is expected to hold a hearing on the Capitol request in the next few weeks.
Ethics Debate Continues
HB 142, sponsored by Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), was heard for the first time this week (Feb. 14) before a full House Committee. The latest revision, presented to the House Rules Committee would prevent lobbyists from paying the airfare of public officials when they travel to events. Lobbyists could still cover other travel expenses, lodging and food and beverage costs under the proposal.
The plan released Thursday goes farther, exempting volunteers who lobby for free from filing required lobbyist financial disclosure statements so long as they have not spent money to influence officials over the past year and do not plan to in the coming year.
HB 333, sponsored by Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton), to allow the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to investigate public officers upon a written complaint any failure to file or pay taxes. Assigned to the House Ethics Committee.
GSU College of Law Mock Trial Team Honored
The Georgia State University College of Law’s Mock Trial team was honored with HR 114, sponsored by Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), for winning the National Trial Advocacy Mock Trial Competition. The GSU team placed first among 30 participating schools. The GSU College of Law had the best record this past fall of any law school in the country, also having teams finish runner up at the Lonestar Classic and Daniel National Mock Trial Competition.
Intern Spotlight: Sofia Siraj
Sofia Siraj, a senior political science major from Newnan decided to become a legislative intern because she wanted to gain a comprehensive understanding of Georgia politics and state government. Assigned to the State Institutions and Properties Committee, Siraj finds it interesting to learn the operation of our state legislature.
Along with being signed to a local Atlanta talent agency, Siraj is secretary of the GSU Model United Nations team and a member of the GSU Players theatrical productions team. Her future plans are to pursue a lifelong dream of acting in Los Angeles and acquire a law degree.
Intern Spotlight: Deyvid Madzharov
Deyvid Madzharov was told that “every person in the capitol is an opportunity,” and he is taking that to heart. This junior political science major from Sofia, Bulgaria is excited about gaining a better understanding of how the legislative process works. He’s always been interested in politics and couldn’t wait to participate in the internship program so that he could get good hands on experience in a legislative environment.
Drafting response letters, answering calls, and scheduling subcommittee meetings are just a few assignments that Madzharov is responsible for while interning for Appropriations Chairman Senator Jack Hill.
Madzharov is a member of the college of arts and sciences undergraduate advisory board, the political science advisory board, and president of the freshman-sophomore political honors society. After graduation, he plans to attend law school and start a business in real estate sales and contracts.
Next Week’s Spotlight: Sheila Kazemian and Phillip Fordham
January Revenues Increase
January revenue collections were up 10.4% as compared to this time last year. Through seven months of FY 2013, net revenue collections are up $564 million, or 5.7%, compared to the same period last year.
Additional Firearm Bills Introduced
HB 248, sponsored by Jay Neal (R- LaFayette), proposed a bill similar to Rep. Charles Gregory’s HB 28, to authorize the carrying of a weapon in a place of worship. Assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
SB 138, sponsored by Sen. Ronald Ramsey (D-Decatur), entitled the “Elementary School Protection Act” would authorize local boards of education to employ elementary para-protection officers to carry a firearm and provide security in public elementary schools. Assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.
HB 303, sponsored by Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), would allow a person who has been denied a license to carry a weapon or has had such license revoked because of mental incompetency may reapply after five years. The bill also would require a background check for guns purchased at gun shows. Assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 325, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), requires notification by the principal or principal’s designee to parents and guardians of students when a weapon has been brought to school or found on school grounds. Assigned to the House Education Committee.
SB 146, sponsored by Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), prohibits the possession of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines and enhances the penalties when used during crimes. Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 60, which provides an exemption from certain laws regarding the carrying and possession of firearms by retired judges passed the House by a vote 167-3. The bill now crosses over to the Senate.
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee passed HB 35, which would allow each local school board to designate one or more administrators in each school in the school system to possess and carry firearms. The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee for consideration.
Other Legislation of Interest
HB 50, requiring nurses and hospitals to report certain violations to the Board of Nursing passed the House by a vote of 152-16. The bill now crosses over to the Senate.
HB 275, sponsored by Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Reynolds) proposed a bill similar to a HB 152, she introduced earlier in the session. It would no longer require an applicant for a public benefit or license who has clearly established his or her United States citizenship to repeatedly establish his or her citizenship for the same benefit or license. Assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 285, sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), creates the Invest Georgia Fund. Georgia would put up to $100 million over five years into a venture capital fund. The money would be matched by private venture capital. A five-member committee appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker would choose a fund manager. Eighty percent of the profits on each investment would be added to the fund. Assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 287, sponsored by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), transfers the Division of Archives and History from the Office of the Secretary of State to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. This is enabling legislation for transfer of funds in the FY2014 budget. Assigned to the House Government Affairs Committee.
HB 293, sponsored by Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville), provides that certain private universities that were not in existence 10 years prior to January 1, 2011, and that offer a course of nursing shall be considered a qualified proprietary institution of higher learning. Assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
SB 150, sponsored by Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus), provides that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia shall establish a process for granting academic credit or exemption from required coursework for veterans for previous instruction received while in military service. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 151, sponsored by Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus), provides that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia shall establish a process by which veterans receiving educational benefits administered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs may pay their tuition in installments or as funds are received from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 155, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), relates to scholarships, loans, and grants to change the membership of the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation and Georgia Student Finance Authority to accommodate the Fourteenth Congressional District. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 315, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), expands competency requirements for nurses seeking license renewal. Assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 332, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), would reconstitute the Georgia Board of Nursing and repeal the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses. Assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Day 19: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Tuesday, February 19.
Information on legislative activities including all bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meetings are available via the General Assembly website at www.legis.state.ga.us.
Government Affairs Team
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 3999
Atlanta, Georgia 30302