Session 2018: Week 5
Session 2018: Week 5
As we draw nearer to “Crossover Day,” my colleagues and I remain dedicated to our work. During our fifth week of session, we passed the significant House Bill 683, our Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget. Other bills passed are categorized below.
The AFY 2018 Budget
The AFY 2018 budget is now set to $25.3 billion after being reviewed and passed with an overwhelming vote of 167-8. Concerns for the AFY 2018 budget include education, healthcare/human services, and key initiatives recommended by the House Rural Development Council (RDC). The assorted budgets include the following:
Education – $102.1 million for enrollment growth for 7,515 additional students, charter system grants, and State Commission Charter School supplements, $15.5 million to purchase 200 new school buses for school systems statewide, $400,000 to establish a leadership academy for principals across the state, $10.7 million to meet the needs of 4,720 new Dual Enrollment students, $10 million for the Board of Regents to cover the growing cost of graduate-level medical education at Augusta University, $8.1 million in lottery funds to keep up with the growing demand for HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, and $75,000 to plan for the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovations, as recommend by the RDC.
Health and Human Services – $1 million to fund an electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services, $1.25 million for autism crisis services, $1.1 million to develop capacity for behavioral health services for autism, $128,292 in existing funds for telehealth services in allocations for autism, funding for a program coordinator position in the Department of Community Health and for a program support coordinator in the Department of Public Health to provide behavioral health services to children under 21 who are diagnosed with autism, $15.1 million for out-of-home care growth for the rising number of children in Georgia’s foster care system, $100,000 for a statewide medical fair to recruit employees in rural areas, $75,000 for the Office of Rural Health to identify a postsecondary institution within our state to house the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability, and $1 million for more behavioral health crisis stabilization beds
Natural Disasters & Other Topics – $10 million to the OneGeorgia Authority to fund beach nourishment projects in communities that were impacted by Hurricane Irma, $10 million to replenish Gov. Deal’s emergency fund, $3 million to purchase equipment to prevent and combat wildfires, $25.2 million to lengthen rural runways to accommodate larger aircrafts in an effort to increase economic development and investment in the Georgia’s rural communities, $5 million for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to implement the statewide criminal justice e-filing initiative, and $500,000 for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to purchase supplies needed to process DNA sexual assault kits
House Bill 700 was unanimously passed and would provide coverage to the cost of graduate degree programs for National Guard members in the form of loans. Without exceeding the cost of tuition, these loans will be available to those who are in good standing with the National Guard. Recipients must also serve for a consecutive two years upon graduation.
House Bill 669 would eliminate the mandate of firefighter basic training for those who have previously served in the armed forces. This includes members of the United States Coast Guard, Georgia National Guard, or Georgia Air National Guard who would like to pursue a career as a firefighter.
The Opioid Crisis
House Bill 701 seeks to battle the current opioid epidemic in Georgia by allowing state employment drug testing for opioid, except for those with valid/legal opioid prescription.
House Bill 655 seeks to combat child abuse. By requiring public, local, and state charter schools to post signs with the toll-free phone number of the child abuse hotline operated by the Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Human Services, this bill will help encourage children to reach out about abuse.
There are also updates on House Bill 159 this week. The Senate passed HB 159 on Monday, February 5, and it is now on its way to Gov. Deal’s desk for final approval.
“Crossover Day,” the halfway point of our session, draws nearer as my colleagues and I continue to work on legislation. I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 228-A State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5099, and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.
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