House Passes FY 2015 Budget
On Monday, February 17, the Georgia House of Representatives voted 169-4 to pass the $20.8 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The proposed budget for FY 2015 is $916 million larger than the current spending plan, with much of the new money added in the areas of education funding.
The House budget recommendations of interest to the University System of Georgia (USG) and Georgia State University included $7 million in equipment funds for the new Law/Humanities Building at Georgia State University. Also included is $47.3 million for new USG formula funds, which are critical in meeting enrollment demands along with $60 million in bonds for major repairs and renovation. $11.4 million is included to fund merit-pay and employee recruitment and retention salary adjustments. The increase will provide the basis for a salary increase pool with awards based on merit.
The spending plan earmarks $314.2 million for K-12 education. This will to go toward eliminating teacher furlough days, restoring the full 180-day school calendar throughout the state, and giving teachers pay raises.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittees met this week to begin their budget review process. Chancellor Hank Huckaby, along with Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Affairs John Brown addressed the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee to present the USG FY 2015 budget recommendations.
Calendar Set Thru Day Sine Die
Monday, February 24, in session for day 27.
Tuesday, February 25, in session for day 28.
Wednesday, February 26, in session for day 29.
Monday, March 3, in session for day 30 (*Crossover Day).
Tuesday, March 4 , in session for day 31.
Wednesday, March 5, in session for day 32.
Thursday, March 6, in session for day 33.
Friday, March 7, in session for day 34.
Monday, March 10, in session for day 35.
Tuesday, March 11, in session for day 36.
Wednesday, March 12, in session for day 37.
Thursday, March 13, in session for day 38.
Tuesday, March 18, in session for day 39.
Thursday, March 20, in session for day 40.
*Crossover Day – The last day a bill can cross over from one chamber of the General Assembly to the other in bill form.
GSU Law Students Participate in Legislative Process
Dr. Sylvia Caley’s Health Legislation and Advocacy class gets a first hand look at the General Assembly’s legislative process. The year-long curriculum focuses on the development and implementation of health policy in Georgia through legislative and regulatory mechanisms. In the fall, the emphasis is on the theory and process of creating health policy; the spring term is more about the practical experience of tracking legislation through the process.
HB 910, sponsored by GSU Law student Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), would allow the Department of Community Health to award grants to medical-legal partnerships. These medical-legal partnerships will provide free legal assistance to income-eligible individuals on matters involving the health of such individuals and their families. One such partnership exist between the Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta Legal Aid and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and is scheduled for a vote on the House floor on Monday.
Intern Spotlight: George Graves
The Legislative Intern Program is the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience in the various fields of law, says political science major George Graves. Learning about the legislative process and how the different branches of government interacts, impressed George, who hopes to establish his own law firm one day.
Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, one of Graves’ main duties is to assist with preparing documents for the committee and sub-committee meetings. “This has been an amazing experience and one that I am extremely grateful for and don’t take for granted,” replies Graves. He is especially thankful to Chairman Wendell Willard and his staff for being very welcoming to him.
George’s schedule does not allow time for extracurricular activities. In addition to serving as an intern, he is enrolled in two night classes. After he graduates from Georgia State, he plans to attend law school. Graves feels the Georgia Legislative Internship Program is a great program that he would recommend to any colleague interested in law, government, or politics. “It is just what I needed for the next step in my career,” says George.
Intern Spotlight: Lexi Hurt
Lexi Hurt is a senior, majoring in interdisciplinary studies. Her career goal is to become a public health advisor or analyst.
Lexi was interested in the legislative internship program because she wanted experience in a government or policy setting, which is an important aspect of public health. From this internship, Hurt expects to meet legislators that will teach, mentor and help her gain an understanding of policy issues surrounding public health initiatives.
Hurt’s community service activities include volunteering in the emergency room at Grady Hospital, and at local elementary schools in her county. Her future plans are to continue gaining hands on experience in the public health field, participate in research programs, and attend graduate school to obtain a Master’s degree in public health.
Next Week’s Spotlight: Christina Cason & Enow Roland
Legislation of Interest
HB 516, would allow current Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) members with five years of service to have a one-time opportunity to opt-in to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). If a member chooses to switch plans, they would solely assume the burden of the cost. ORP members would have six months to make the decision. To opt-in, the ORP member will have to pay the value of the projected future benefits for their lifetime. While the bill originally passed the House by a vote of 92-70, several members had questions regarding the fiscal impact and, in a procedural move, tabled the bill for further discussion to work out differences.
HB 788, seeks to preserve the tax-exempt status of public property on the University System of Georgia campuses in order to allow private operation of housing facilities. The measure is a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds approval as well as a ballot referendum. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 697, would create a Zell Miller Grant Scholar designation to pay full tuition for technical college students earning at least a 3.5 grade-point average. The bill does not affect the HOPE Scholarship, which serves students in the University System of Georgia. The bill passed the House by a vote of 172-2 and has been assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 875, would allow licensed gun owners to carry their firearms inside bars and churches with permission from those venues, as well as inside government buildings that do not have active screening by security guards. It would allow school boards to determine whether and which employees could carry guns at public schools. The bill also would reduce the penalty for carrying firearms on public university or technical college campuses by licensed carry permit holders from a misdemeanor to a civil penalty carrying up to a $100 fine and reduce the penalty for unknowingly bringing a gun to an airport to a misdemeanor. The bill passed the House by a vote of 119-56 and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 810, revises requirements for home study students regarding scores on a standardized college admission test relating to HOPE scholarships and grants. In lieu of graduating from an eligible high school, a student earning a score in the eightieth percentile or higher nationally on a standardized college admission test, such as SAT or ACT, shall be eligible. The bill passed the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Appropriations Committee.
SB 372, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), seeks to change the way grade point averages are calculated for the purpose of determining HOPE eligibility. Assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
HB 946, sponsored by Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta), would allow anyone who would have qualified for the HOPE, but graduated from high school before the scholarship began in 1993 to be eligible. Assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.
SB 394, sponsored by Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), would restore the former HOPE teacher’s scholarship, PROMISE teacher’s scholarship, and PROMISE II teacher’s scholarship. These are scholarships programs that were designed to address teacher shortage. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 395, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), addresses eligibility for HOPE scholarships or grants and provides for residency of students who have been in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, so that those students may qualify for HOPE scholarships or grants without waiting an additional 12 months. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SB 396, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), provides for in-state tuition at units of the University System of Georgia and branches of the Technical College System of Georgia for youth who are from foster care or homeless situations. These children would be classified as in-state residents for tuition purposes. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SR 992, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta), encourages the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to provide programmatic assistance to students who are in foster care and unaccompanied homeless youth. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SR 960, sponsored by Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), congratulating Dr. Debby Cannon on being awarded Georgia’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Cannon has served 22 years on the faculty of Georgia State University’s School of Hospitality, and continues to serve as program director, a position she has held for the past 13 years. Dr. Cannon was invited to the Senate Chamber to be recognized. To read the resolution in it’s entirety please click the following link. SR 960
SR 969, sponsored by Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone), commending Dr. Bill Thomas. Dr. Thomas had served as the director of the Georgia Legislative Internship Program since 1986, until his official retirement earlier this year. He has provided countless college students with an invaluable opportunity to participate in and experience the Georgia Legislative process. Dr. Thomas served on the political science faculty at Georgia State University for over 30 years before retiring from teaching in 2003. Read and Adopted. To read the resolution in it’s entirety please click the following link. SR 969
SR 922, sponsored by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), honoring the life and memory of J. Mack Robinson. In 1998, Georgia State University named its business school the J. Mack Robinson College of Business; as the ultimate entrepreneur and business leader, it was a fitting way for J. Mack Robinson’s legacy to be permanently recognized. Read and Adopted. To read the resolution in it’s entirety please click the following link. SR 922
Day 27 – The House and the Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, February 24.
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