Greetings from your State Capitol!
Session 2016 – The Legislature went back into session on Monday, February 29th. which was Crossover Day. As a reminder, Crossover Day is the day where a bill must crossover to the other chamber in order for it to stay alive for the 2016 session.
Sine Die is almost here! There is an end in sight for the 2016 legislative session. The date for adjournment or Sine Die, has been set for Thursday, March 24th. To view a copy of the adjournment resolution, click here.
On February 18th, I was happy to see my neighbors and great advocates, Heidi Moore and Jacob Moore, at the Capitol. It was great to visit and hear from all those that came to advocate for Georgia to continue to invest in our citizens with disabilities so they can continue a positive path forward. Heidi and Jacob were at the capitol advocating for HB 768, which would establish the ABLE program to use tax exempt accounts to pay for qualified expenses of eligible individuals with disabilities. To view the picture of their visit, click here.
The last week of February was Senior Week at the Capitol and I was honored to welcome Ms. Dorothy C. “Dot” Benson to the House and recognize her with House Resolution 1468 as Georgia’s Distinguished Older Georgian for 2016. Ms. Benson continues to be a valuable member of our Alpharetta Community and it is most appropriate for her to be recognized for all her work, especially for Georgia’s seniors.
Budget Talk: Governor Nathan Deal signed the Amended Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 into law the last week of February. On Friday, February 19, 2016, the House passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that increased support for K-12 Education, Higher Education, Healthcare, Transportation and Economic Development. This proposed budget will now go to the Senate for consideration.
On Wednesday, February 18th, the House passed HB 801, authored by Rep. Jan Jones and others. HB 801 will provide additional weighting for college courses in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) area as identified by the University System of Georgia. The extra weighting will reward students for engaging in these courses by giving an extra .5 score when a course is successfully completed. The idea is to encourage students to pursue these fields with high rigor; under the current system student sometimes feel pressure to leave more difficult majors to keep this average needed to retain HOPE. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration.
I have bene working towards a compromise on HB 684 for presentation to the House Health and Human Services Committee. As a reminder, the bill would allow for dental hygienists to provide services within their current scope of practice under approval of their delegating dentist. This legislation is enabling, keeps patient care under the control of the dentist and gets government out of the way. This bill passed by substitute on February 17th with agreement from the Georgia Dental Association. Sadly, and unexpectedly, on Thursday, February 25th, the same group “changed their mind” and killed the bill in the House Rules Committee. I continued to work toward passage on Crossover Day, but again the GDA prevailed so it appears Georgians will be unable to get additional access for another year despite support for many groups and a favorable letter for the Federal Trade Commission. To view a current copy of HB 684, click here.
As of Friday, February 19, 2016, SB 313 and SB 330 (Senator Beach’s bills for transit expansion via a 50% increase in the MARTA Tax) appear to be dead for this session. I did not support these measures because the bills didn’t address a sound fiscal deployment of over $4B of capital. I was also weary that the solution, at any cost, didn’t match up to solve the actual problems and I look forward to a real discussion that will lead to sound plan to serve the people.
For third party information on MARTA’s transit plan, please click here: For overall transportation plan look here: Click here for a copy of the Georgia Public Policy Transportation Foundation Report.
Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to Beyza Akgun who served as my page on February 11th. If you have a concern or are in need of assistance please do not hesitate to call my office. I look forward to serving our district another year in the legislature.