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Friday, March 17, 2017

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, MARCH 17, 2017

FY 2018 GENERAL BUDGET PASSED

The Senate passed its version of the FY 2018 General Budget and prepared to negotiate with the House towards a final budget for next year.

Some Senate highlights:
$138.7 million in new funds for transportation per HB 170

2% pay scale increase for teachers

2% increase for school bus drivers and school food service employees

3% one time capped benefit for ERS retirees

19% pay increase for DFCS child welfare workers

$485,000 for the Senate to begin streaming committee meetings in 2018

$123 million in new funds for services for the disabled, children and seniors

$6.9 million to fund services for Alzheimer's patients and for an early identification program

$85.8 million in new K-12 Equalization Funds

PASSED BY THE SENATE - FINAL PASSAGE

HB 39 - Gives the State Real Estate Board flexibility to consider notification of conviction of felonies in renewal of licenses. (Final Passage 48-1)

HB 41 - Allows students of architecture to sit for Georgia architectural boards before completing their degree if they offer evidence of active participation in an Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure option within a degree program. (Final Passage 47-1)

HB 49 - Requires livestock dealers and market operators to obtain a license every three years. The triennial fee for dealers cannot exceed $25 while the triennial fee for market operators cannot exceed $200. (Final Passage 50-0)

HB 75 - Protects privacy of information provided by law enforcement or prosecution agencies regarding pending cases in child abuse records. Adds to the list of information that already may be redacted. (Final Passage 49-0)

HB 86 - Expands the definition of child sexual abuse to include trafficking of minors. (Final Passage 50-0)

HB 174 - Allows additional methods of payment of claims by insurance companies including wire transfers, electronic payments, and even gift card. (Final Passage 50-0)

HB 260 - Creates a special license plate for Georgia's electric utility linemen with funds raised going to the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation. (Final Passage 48-1)

HB 276 - Would assist pharmacists and their customers by prohibiting pharmacy benefit managers from charging excessive copays or requiring customers to use mail-order pharmacies. Also allows pharmacists to provide information on and sell more affordable alternative medications. (Final Passage 50-0)

HB 359 - Allows parents to temporarily delegate caregiving authority over their child to the child's great-grandparents, current and former stepparents, step-grandparents, aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, cousins, or siblings, without a court proceeding or involving DFCS. This was already the case with grandparents. Useful for deploying military members. (Final Passage 40-11)

OTHER LEGISLATION PASSED BUT STILL IN PLAY

HB 1 - Removes operators' liability for death or injury to passengers travelling in space vehicles if the participant has given informed consent in writing. (Passed 44-6)

HB 83 - Authorizes the Firefighters' Pension Fund to invest up to 10% in real estate and 10% in alternative investments. (Passed 51-0)

HB 265 - Expands period for mandatory job creation to receive the jobs tax credit for relocating quality jobs to two years. Exempts sales of tickets, fees, or charges of admission to facilities contains an art museum, symphonic hall, and theater from state sales tax. Also exempts the sales of tangible personal property used for the renovation or expansion of such facilities. (Passed 34-18)

HB 268 - Updates election laws, particularly regarding the deadlines and methods of qualifying and filing notice of candidacy. Independents would have to register at qualification period. (Passed 32-18)

Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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