Budget Hearings Underway
Governor Nathan Deal has proposed a spending plan of $23.7 billion for fiscal year 2017, a $2 billion increase over the current state budget. Deal addressed the General Assembly’s joint Appropriations Committee this week, kicking off the legislative budget hearings. Deal gave a broad overview of his spending plan before focusing on education in Georgia’s criminal justice system. Governor Deal is asking lawmakers to commit $4.3 million for more charter schools at prisons, expand a GED certificate program to all 13 of the state’s transition centers and hire more teachers. “The best way we can advance the quality of life in our state is to have as many of our citizens as possible educated,” said Deal.
In his annual address to the General Assembly, state economist Kenneth Heaghney told lawmakers that jobs and consumer spending are on the upswing and the housing market is improving. Heaghney said tax collection have been strong during the last six months, largely because of $363 million in new revenue from the transportation funding bill passed last session.
Chancellor Hank Huckaby, along with Vice Chancellor of Fiscal Affairs and Planning Shelley Nickel presented the USG budget recommendations to the House and Senate Joint Appropriations Committee. Chancellor Huckaby emphasized that a salary increase for faculty and staff is the top priority for the University System. He asked members to support the Governor’s recommendation of a 3% pay raise. The Governor’s bond package totals $850 million for the state, of which $159.6 million is recommended for the University System.
Taser and Firearm Bills Introduced
HB 792, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), would authorize the carrying, possession and use of electroshock weapons by persons who are students or are employed at any public technical school, vocational school, college, university or other institution postsecondary education. This bill has been assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
SB 270, sponsored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), allows for retired law enforcement officers to carry a gun in any part of the state including areas that are off limits to other permit holders such as school zones. Assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.
HB 778, sponsored by Rep. Pedro Marin (D-Duluth), would require applicants that are obtaining or renewing a weapons carry permit to demonstrate completion of a firearms safety training course within three years prior to the date of the application. Exceptions will be made for active duty and reserve military personnel, and NRA firearms safety instructors. Assigned to the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.
Election to the Board of Regents Proposed
HR 1112, sponsored by Rep. David Stover (R-Newnan), is an amendment to the Constitution to provide for the election of the members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. If passed current members term would end on December 31, 2018. The new Board of Regents shall consist of one member from each congressional district in the state and five additional members from the state at large, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee.
Special Election Results
Former Rep. Ralph Long (D-Atlanta) and Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) are headed to February 16 runoff in House District 58. This special election is to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Simone Bell. Bell resigned to take another job. District 58 represents portions of DeKalb and Fulton counties.
Calendar Set Thru Sine Die
The House and Senate adopted an adjournment resolution today that will take them all the way to Sine Die. Day 30 also referred to as Crossover Day is set for February 29. Crossover Day is the last day a bill can cross over from on chamber of the General Assembly to the other in bill form. Sine Die is scheduled for March 24.
HB 746, sponsored by by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), would allow employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members. Immediate family members would be the employee’s child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, parent or any dependents shown on an employee’s most recent tax return. Assigned to the House Industry and Labor Committee.
HB 723, sponsored by Rep. David Stover (R-Newnan), would prohibit a current member of the General Assembly or a former member that has been out less than a year from taking a non-elected job within state government. Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
SR 675, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), proposing an amendment to the Constitution to declare English as the official language of the State of Georgia.
HB 727, sponsored by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville), establishes local control provisions that allow local governments to enact or enforce local noise ordinances as a way to restrict the usage of fireworks and sanctions the collection of a one percent excise tax to be used for public safety purposes. It also changes the time in which people can detonate fireworks from midnight to 10 p.m., except on select days specified for celebrating the New Year and Independence Day. Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
SB 266, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), would require any person who is a lobbyist and who makes expenditures of any amount for the purpose of influencing the passage of legislation to legalize casino gambling shall disclose all such expenditures. Assigned to the Senate Ethics Committee.
HR 1053, sponsored by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia), would create a House Study Committee on Technology Workforce Development. This committee shall be composed of five members appointed by the Speaker of the House. Assigned to the House Special Rules Committee.
Intern Spotlight: Edward Yoon
Obtaining experience from representatives and senators at the Capitol “makes all that I have learned in my coursework come to life,” says senior political science major Edward Yoon. He feels learning
first-hand how politics work and how legislation gets passed will be a valuable experience for him.
Assigned to Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins, Edward’s duties include scheduling, planning, receiving calls and emails from constituents, researching specific bills and laws, and preparing for committee meetings.
Mr. Yoon’s extracurricular activities include teaching a second grade Sunday school class and volunteering with AWANA, a program to help children learn scripture. He is also a recipient of the Coca Cola First Generation Scholarship. After graduating from Georgia State, Edward plans to either join the military or pursue a career in policy.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 9: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, January 25.
Georgia State University Day at the Capitol: February 3, 8:00 am – 11:00 am
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
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