House Passes Amended Budget
The House this week passed HB 792, the FY 2020 Amended budget by a vote of 126-46. The amended budget is set by a revenue estimate of $27.3 billion, a decrease of $159 million from the original FY 2020 estimate. Due to slow revenue growth, the governor ordered state agencies, with few exemptions, to submit budget reductions of 4% for the current fiscal year and began reducing allotments to agencies effective October 2019.
The changes made by the House in the Amended FY 2020 budget reflect the ongoing support of expanded mental health care and crisis intervention services, as well as access to health care; restoration of public-facing budget items, including grants to county health departments and public libraries; and the reinstatement of funds to ensure a fully-functioning criminal justice system, including adequate funding for public defenders, accountability courts, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) crime labs.
The FY 2020 amended budget recommendations of interest to the University System of Georgia (USG) included reduced cuts made to the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service in the Board of Regents by more than $2.8 million. The restoration allows the Cooperative Extension Service to retain an April 1, 2020 start date for vacant positions and prevents the program from losing about $800,000 in grants and county funds in FY 2020. The restoration allows these programs to maintain support for Georgia agribusinesses without interrupting services.
HB 792,restores $1.3 million to the Georgia Public Library Service for materials grants that will allow system libraries to purchase books and other resources for patrons. The amended budget now crosses over to the Senate for consideration.
Tuition Legislation Hearing
SB 282, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), would require that designated research universities offer at least 90 percent of early action admissions to Georgia resident students. University of Georgia President Jere Morehead and Georgia Institute of Technology President Ángel Cabrera testified in opposition of the legislation. The bill was heard before the Senate Higher Education Committee, but no vote was taken.
Free Speech Hearing
SB 318, sponsored by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), would prevent the creation of “free speech zones” at public institutions of higher education. It would also prohibit public institutions of higher education from denying benefits to or otherwise discriminating against a student organization on the basis of the student organization’s religious, political, or ideological positions. The bill was heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.
Teachers Retirement System
HB 292, repeals the requirement for an accrued liability to be paid to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia on behalf of participating Regent’s Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) members and the normal contribution rate resulting from employees who cease to be members of TRS. The bill passed the House by a vote of 159-1 and now crosses over to the Senate.
HB 390, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), would allow certain members of the Teachers Retirement System to be eligible to obtain creditable service for international teaching service by paying the full actuarial cost of obtaining such creditable service. The bill passed the House Retirement Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
SB 294, sponsored by Sen. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), would allow the Teachers Retirement System to make alternative investments with up to 5% of the value of the fund. The bill passed the Senate Retirement Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
Military Affairs & Veterans Legislation
SB 268, would allow notaries to use a valid Veterans Health Identification Card as evidence of identity. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 54-0 and now crosses over to the House.
Ground Crew Resolution
SR 728, sponsored by Sen. Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson) and HR 1113, sponsored by Rep. Marie Metze (D-Atlanta) recognizing and commending Barbara Pace Hunt, Myra Payne Elliott, and Iris Mae Welch. These women applied and were qualified for admission to the newly formed Georgia State College of Business Administration. On June 14, 1956, were denied admission because of their race. The three women successfully sued the State of Georgia and the Board of Regents on September 18, 1956, on the grounds that they were unfairly discriminated against and denied equal protection under the law.
These sacrifices and efforts have resulted in future generations of minority students attending Georgia State University, which now awards more undergraduate degrees to African Americans than any other university in the country.
The journey of these young women is chronicled in a new book, Ground Crew, by Maurice C. Daniels, dean emeritus of the University of Georgia’s School of Social Work.
Tobacco and Vaping Legislation
HB 909, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), makes it a crime to sell any tobacco or tobacco related objects, vapor products or marijuana flavored products to anyone under the age of 21. The bill also sets up regulatory framework for those selling these products. Assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
SB 134, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), reassigns the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust from the Department of Community Affairs to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. The bill passed by a vote of 50-0 and now crosses over to the House.
January Revenues Increase
Revenue collections for the month of January totaled $2.36 billion, for an increase of $100.8 million, or 4.5 percent compared to the revenue collected in January 2019. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $14.21 billion for an increase of $133 million, or 0.9 percent compared to the same point last year.
Intern Spotlight: Celina Cotton
Political Science major, Celina Cotton is gaining a greater understanding of the healthcare system in Georgia by interning for the Health and Human Services Committee. “Representative Cooper has taught me so much about the healthcare system and aspects of healthcare I didn’t realize existed,” says Ms. Cotton who is an intern this spring semester under the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP). From insurance, to elderly care, to housing, there’s so much that goes into regulating health says Celina.
Celina’s duties include helping prepare for committee meetings, researching topics of interest, and other tasks as assigned. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, where she volunteers many hours working at community service and fundraising events.
After graduation from Georgia State, Celina plans on working in healthcare consulting while studying for the LSAT. Thereafter, she plans on attending a top law school where she can specialize in healthcare law.
Ms. Cotton’s most inspiring quote is “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing,” from James 1:2-4 of the Holy Bible. Her favorite book is Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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 17: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, February 24.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS TEAM
Trey Kilpatrick, Vice President 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
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Visit Georgia State University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs:
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