House and Senate Agree on Amended Budget
The Senate passed HB 30, the FY 2019 Amended budget this week by a vote of 53-0. Of the additional spending, a majority of the new revenue focuses on required education growth, safety and well-being of children with grants for school security, funding for mental health services in high schools and additional relief from Hurricane Michael.
The Senate agreed with the House and the Governor to include $69.4 million to provide school security grants of $30,000 each for 2,314 school facilities and add $8.4 million to expand the Georgia Apex Program by providing support counselors for mental health services in high schools. The program currently serves more than 17,000 students in 418 schools. The House and Senate came to an agreement to add an additional $20 million to continue to meet the needs of Georgia farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael and $2 million for rural hospitals damaged in the storm.
The FY 2019 amended budget recommendation of interest to the University System of Georgia (USG) included $9.9 million for the pediatric and adult clinical radiation therapy renovation and expansion projects at the Augusta University Health System campus to promote treatment and accessibility for patients statewide. The Senate agreed with the House to add $500,000 for Augusta University for recruitment to advance basic science and clinical translational research in women’s and childhood cancer and $326,859 to the Georgia Public Library Service to promote early literacy through a statewide children’s digital library. The House and Senate agreed to add $1.5 million to the Georgia Student Finance Commission for the Dual Enrollment program. The amended budget will now head to Governor Brian P. Kemp for final approval and his signature.
Low THC Oil
HB 324, sponsored by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), creates the Office of Low THC Oil Control within the Department of Public Health which is to have the authority to issue licenses for the production, growing, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil. Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
Patients First Act
SB106, would allow the Governor to apply to the federal government for a Section 1332 waiver from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It would also allow the Department of Community Health to apply for a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver that may include an increase in the income threshold up to a maximum of 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
Teachers Retirement System of Georgia
HB 109, proposes changes to the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia. The changes would impact new teachers hired on or after July 1, 2019, not current TRS members or retirees. The bill was heard again in the House Retirement Committee with one major change from the original version. Instead of instituting a minimum retirement age of 60, the substitute uses the “rule of 85” that allows retirement once a member’s age and years of service equals or exceeds 85. No vote was taken on the bill.
HB 390, sponsored by by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), would allow members of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia to receive creditable hours for teaching internationally provided that they pay the full actuarial cost of obtaining the creditable service. Assigned to the House Retirement Committee.
Georgia Hemp Farming Act
HB 213, the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act” would authorize colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia to conduct research on hemp grown in Georgia, including the development of new hemp varieties, seed development, and consumer uses. The bill also outlines the process to receive a hemp growers license. The bill passed the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
SB 48, would require that all pre-kindergarten students are screened for dyslexia and provide a framework to identify and address dyslexia in students between kindergarten and grade three. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 55-0 and has been assigned to the House
Military Affairs & Veterans Legislation
HB 59, would allow children of active duty military personnel to register in a local school district based on the parent’s official military orders rather than requiring the family to establish residency. The bill passed the House by a vote of 166-0 and now crosses over to the Senate.
SB 2, would permit electric membership corporations (EMCs) and their affiliates to deliver broadband services throughout Georgia. The bill passed the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
SB 17, would authorize rural telephone cooperatives to furnish broadband services either directly or indirectly through an agreement or through a broadband affiliate. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 55-0 and has been assigned to the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee.
SANS Institute Partnership
This week, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced Georgia’s partnership with the SANS Institute to provide high school girls and college students with the opportunity to develop their skills and explore careers in the cyber industry through the Girls Go CyberStart and Cyber FastTrack programs.
“Georgia is fast becoming the Cyber Capital of the World, so we must have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Kemp. “Girls Go CyberStart encourages young women to get involved in a growing industry in our state, and I am excited to see this great partnership provide opportunities to these hardworking Georgians.”
School Safety Legislation
SB 15, the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” would address offenses for minors in possession of a firearm, as well as school safety plans including performing threat assessments, drills and coaching on prevention, reporting and appropriate action to take when a threat or suspicious behavior arise. The bill passed the Senate Public Safety Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
Georgia Data Analytic Center
HB 197, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), creates the Georgia Data Analytic Center (GDAC Project), which is to be established and overseen by the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) by September 1, 2019. Any state agency or department that creates, receives, or maintains publicly supported program, fiscal, or health data must transmit or allow access to its data as is deemed necessary to the GDAC Project, as long as sharing the data does not violate state or federal law. The bill passed the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
Pari-Mutuel Betting on Horse Racing
SB 45, would create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission and allow for pari-mutuel horse racing in the state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers. SR 84, sponsored by Sen. Beach, proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. The bills passed the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee and are now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
SB 59, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), relates to wiretapping, eavesdropping, and surveillance. Under current Georgia law, you can record a conversation by phone or in person if you are party to that conversation. This would require you to get consent from all parties to a conversation prior to recording. The bill was heard before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, but novice was taken.
HR 214, reauthorizes the House Rural Development Council until December 1, 2020 and will continue to address economic development and related policy areas including, but not limited to, education, infrastructure, access to health care, and economic growth incentives. The bill passed the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 370, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), would allow advanced practice registered nurses to order up to a 14 day supply of non-narcotic drugs as necessary in an emergency situation. Assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Intern Spotlight: Keridan Ogletree
Keridan Ogletree is a senior political science major at GSU. Knowing little about the legislative process, Keridan applied to the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) because she saw it as a “great opportunity to explore the ropes of politics.”
As an intern, Mrs. Ogletree’s many responsibilities include research, answering phones, making copies, responding to constituent mail and emails, scheduling and other duties as assigned, including organizing the 2019 Legislative Session Kickball Fundraiser.
Although she is unsure of her future plans, Keridan feels the GLIP program has opened her eyes to new career options. “I’m hoping to gain lasting connections that will open doors to many opportunities in the future,” says Ms. Ogletree.
Keridan is a member of the Christian Students Club at GSU. Her favorite book is “Insomnia” by Stephen King.
Intern Spotlight: Maariz Kashem
Friends and family encouraged political science major Maariz Kashem to apply to the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP). Maariz wants to gain knowledge of the inner workings of government and determine whether politics would be the right career path for him.
Assigned to House Science and Technology Committee, Mr. Kashem’s duties include giving tours, preparing for meetings, research and many other duties as assigned.
On campus, Maariz is the Vice President of Secular Panthers and is a member of Model UN. He also works at Staples, and is a DJ in his free time. In the immediate future, Mr. Kashem plans to graduate from GSU and get real world work experience before deciding where to go career and graduate school wise.
Maariz’s favorite quote is “acting in this like the skillful archer, who seeing that the object he would hit is distant, and knowing the range of his bow, takes aim much above the destined mark; not designing that his arrow should strike so high, but that flying high it may alight at the point intended,” by Niccolo Machiavelli. His favorite book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as a webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meetings are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 21: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, February 25.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS TEAM
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Senior Director of Government & Community Affairs
Michael Parkerson, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director for State Relations
Clelia Keen, Assistant Director for Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
Georgia State University
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Atlanta, Georgia 30302
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Visit Georgia State University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs:
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