Governor Deal Signs FY 2017 Budget
Governor Nathan Deal signed a $23.7 billion state budget this week that will increase state spending by $1.9 billion over the fiscal 2016 budget adopted last spring. Much of the new money was added in the areas of transportation, education and 3% merit-based raises for teachers and state employees. The fiscal year begins July 1.
Of interest to the University System of Georgia and Georgia State University included $5.2 million in funds for the construction of Alpharetta Labs and Student Learning Center at Perimeter College and $101 million for merit-based pay adjustments and new USG formula funds. These funds are critical in meeting enrollment demands, providing for maintenance of new facilities and funding strategic initiatives. Also included was $60 million in bonds for major repairs and renovation.
The governor made only one line-item veto in the spending plan. That veto deletes $138,840 in debt service to finance the construction of a seawall on Hutchinson Island in Savannah, through the issuance of $600,000 in five year taxable bonds.
Governor Vetoes Campus Carry
HB 859, would have allowed anyone with a weapons carry permit to carry a firearm anywhere on a public college, university, technical school, vocational school or other institution of postsecondary education, except for dormitories, greek housing or athletic events.
Governor Deal issued an Executive Order to the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia and the Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, requesting that they submit a report to he, the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House by August 1, 2016, as to the security measures that each college within their respective systems has in place.
HOPE Legislation Signed
HB 801, revises the academic eligibility requirements to receive the HOPE scholarship by including computer science in the advanced science category. Beginning in academic year 2017-2018, the cumulative GPA for calculating HOPE would include weighted grades for specific science, technology, engineering and math college courses. The grade assigned by an instructor would be increased by an additional .5, if grade is a B, C or D. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 798, will allow home-schooled students to qualify for the HOPE Scholarship by completing a home study program and scoring in the seventy-fifth percentile or higher nationally on the SAT or ACT. It would also allow home-schooled students to qualify for the Zell Miller Scholarship by completing a home study program and scoring in the ninety-third percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 1072, relates to service cancelable education loans for Georgia National Guard members. It repeals a provision which would make students ineligible for the loan if they were also receiving the HOPE scholarship or HOPE grant funds. Effective July 1, 2016.
Dual Enrollment Legislation Vetoed
SB 329, adjusts the established coursework rigor requirements of the HOPE Scholarship, and allows the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to identify strategic workforce needs for the purpose of updating technical college certificate program requirements.
HB 959, sought to eliminate duplicative testing requirements for dual enrolled, AP and IB students and encourage inter-agency cooperation.
Kinship Care Legislation Signed
HB 962, creates a ‘kinship care enforcement administrator’ within the Department of Human Services. It also authorizes the Department of Human Services to provide a separate link or portal on its website specifically for kinship caregivers in order to provide information on public assistance benefits. Effective July 1, 2016.
expands Georgia’s right to visitation laws to include great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. Right to visitation laws are enforced when a child custody case has gone before a court or when the parents are no longer living together. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 887, would require the Department of Family and Children Services, when placing a child in a foster care home, to place the child with a relative who is an adult or is regarded as being part of the family even though they are not related by either blood or marriage bonds. Effective July 1, 2016.
Taser Bill Signed
HB 792, authorizes the carrying, possession and use of electroshock weapons by persons who are 18 years old or enrolled in classes on campus or are employed at any public technical school, vocational school, college, university or other institution postsecondary education. Effective July 1, 2016.
Drone Legislation Vetoed
HB 779, provides definitions and regulations related to the use of unmanned aircraft systems “drones” and images captured by such systems for law enforcement purposes.
Governor Deal would like to continue to study the use of drone use and is encouraging universities and technical colleges to offer classes and instruction on this new scientific technology and is encouraging state agencies to utilize drone technology where it can provide cost savings and improve safety for Georgians, all while following proper FAA regulations.
Fireworks Legislation Signed
HB 727, regulates where and when fireworks can be exploded and sanctions the collection of a one percent excise tax to be used for public safety purposes. It 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. Effective Immediately.
SB 350, enabling legislation for a corresponding constitutional amendment SR 558, to provide that the existing excise tax on fireworks shall be specifically dedicated to the provision of trauma care, fire services, and local public safety purposes. Effective on January 1, 2017, if ratified at the 2016 general election.
Georgia Film and Television Trail Act Signed
SB 417, would create the “Georgia Film and Television Trail Act.” This trail would be overseen by the Department of Economic Development, it would be responsible for locating various film and television locations for productions and work with local governments on this Trail. The department would be required to get written approval from the property owner prior to any signage or materials being printed about the property being a part of the Trail. The Department of Transportation would be authorized and directed to place signs in the State at film and television production sites. Effective July 1, 2016.
Carry Forward Signed
HB 745, allows the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to write off small amounts due to the state and carry forward certain fees and revenue through July 1, 2021. This mechanism allows the USG to better manage their operational budget to meet the critical needs on campus. Effective June 15, 2016.
Other Signed Legislation of Interest
SB 323, establishes the time period for a response to an open records request of intercollegiate sports programs of any unit of the University System of Georgia, including athletic departments and related private athletic associations shall be 90 business days from the date the request is received. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 54, provides financial assistance in postsecondary education for children of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, and prison guard employed by the state or other public employer and Highway Emergency Response Operator who was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 802, raises the deduction from taxable net income for contributions to a Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan (529 Plan) for married contributors filing joint returns from $2,000 per beneficiary to $4,000 per beneficiary. Effective upon signature.
SB 18, would require the Technical College System of Georgia to establish policies for granting academic credit to active duty military or veteran students for college-level learning acquired prior to their enrollment from military service. Training and experience from military service must be substantially related to the coursework credit given by the Technical College System of Georgia. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 951, would remove the tax on tickets to the Super Bowl, any semifinal or championship college tournament, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer or National Basketball Association all-star game, or any other major sporting event determined by the commissioner of economic development and the state revenue commissioner to be expected to generate revenue of at least $50 million in the host locality. The bill also provides a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday to take place July 30 – July 31, 2016 and a tax exemption period for energy efficient products to take place from September 30 – October 2, 2016. Effective July 1, 2016.
HB 976, would modify the retention schedule for law enforcement surveillance cameras, body worn cameras and in-car cameras. It would require that recordings from police surveillance cameras be stored for 30 days; and recordings from body worn cameras and vehicle mounted cameras be stored for 180 days, except in the following situations: if the recording captures an arrest, use of force by an officer, or a vehicular accident, the video must be stored for 30 months, or if there are other investigations or pending litigation, the recording must be kept through final adjudication. Effective July 1, 2016.
SB 319, clarifies and allows for professional counselors to diagnose emotional and mental problems or conditions. In addition, the bill requires the board which governs professional counselors to develop curriculum of continuing education for licensed practitioners relating to diagnosing individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse. The bill also adds the ability to diagnose to the definition of professional counseling, provided the counselor has graduate level education and supervised experience, or its equivalent, working with people with mental illness. Effective
SB 270, 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. Effective July 1, 2016.
Other Vetoed Legislation
HB 757, “Religious Liberty”, religious official would not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their religious beliefs.
HB 59, creates a blanket waiver of sovereign immunity, with limited exceptions, as to claims seeking a declaratory judgement or injunctive relief against the state and local governments.
HB 216, expands the eligibility for workers compensation benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer, if caused while performing work related duties.
HB 219, allows properties with private pools to opt out of state inspections and regulations.
HB 370, waive fines for some ethics violations between January 1, 2010 to January 10, 2014.
HB 659, greater public transparency of financial information on both the local system and individual school levels.
HB 726, amended the excise tax provisions on tobacco products.
HB 916, provides that clerical or other errors do not constitute a basis to recoup payments made by providers of medical assistance.
HB 1060, firearms housekeeping legislation.
SB 243, expanding eligibility for the Georgia Judicial Retirement System to the Office of Legislative Counsel.
SB 355, allows federal, state and locally-mandated assessments to be optional for certain students.
SB 383, removes waiting period on permits for trimming vegetation around a lawfully erected on premise sign promoting an agritourism facility.
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)
Primary Election: May 24, 2016
General Election: November 8, 2016
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
404-413-2030 (office) • 404-413-1410 (fax)
Visit Georgia State University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs:
** ga.gsu.edu (http://ga.gsu.edu)