February 5, 2016

The legislature met four days this week and will meet again on Monday through Thursday next week. They have now completed 16 legislative days and have settled into the familiar routine of calendar setting by the Rules committees, convening of House and Senate to deliberate and act on their calendar bills, then additional committee meetings to debate and pass along more bills to the Rules committees.

The House Appropriations subcommittees have been meeting to work on the 2017 budget and will continue with their process next week. Senate Appropriations has been wrapping up their version of the AFY 2016 budget.  We expect the amended budget to be on the Senate calendar sometime next week.

Rep. Christian Coomer introduced the “Appellate Jurisdiction Reform Act of 2016” (HB 927) on Thursday.  This bill would enact reforms recommended by the Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission relating to appellate court efficiencies, and it would add two additional justices to the Ga. Supreme Court.

There were two bills introduced this week that would lower the annual fee for alternative fuel vehicles from $200 to $75 (SB 324 and HB 878).

Sen. Brandon Beach introduced two bills this week calling for a voter referendum in DeKalb and Fulton Counties to increase taxes by ½ cent to be used for MARTA expansion (SB 313 & SB 330).  SB 313 was read on Tuesday and assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Operations committee.   SB 330 was read on Thursday and assigned to the more receptive Senate Transportation committee.

The House Motor Vehicles committee passed Rep. Alan Powell’s “move over” bill (HB 767) that adds stopped utility service vehicles to the list of vehicles for which drivers must move over one lane or slow down and be prepared to stop. This bill is on the calendar for full House action on Monday.

Rep. Mike Dudgeon’s “Georgia Right to Try Act” (HB 34) was amended in the House Health & Human Services committee which then passed the bill.  This bill would allow people with terminal illnesses to try experimental medical treatments that have completed their first phase of a federal trial but that are still being studied.  Insurance would not be required to pay for these treatments.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed Sen. Jesse Stone’s revisions to the state’s current garnishment law (SB 255).  Among other things, this bill requires creditors to inform debtors that Social Security benefits, welfare and workers’ compensation cannot be garnished.

The House Judiciary Non-civil committee has its second meeting on cannabis oil (HB 722) scheduled for Monday.  This is a hearing only and no vote will be taken.  Rep. Allen Peake is working on a substitute bill but it is not yet published.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact any of us if you have questions or need information on any legislative issue. All bills can be found on the state’s legislative web site, and live action can be watched in the House and Senate chambers when they are in session.

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