February 19, 2016

After having Monday off for President’s Day, the General Assembly met for the remainder of this week to complete 24 legislative days.  Next week will be a full and busy one with legislators meeting all five days.

In a special election runoff, Park Cannon soundly defeated former legislator Ralph Long to represent House District 58 for the remainder of this term. She will fill the seat that was left vacant when Rep. Simone Bell resigned to take a job at Lambda Legal.

The House passed its version of the 2017 budget early on Friday with only one dissenting vote.  The 2017 budget and corresponding tracking sheets can be found on the state’s web site.  This $47.5B budget includes $470M for three percent raises for state employees and public teachers. Earlier in the week, the Senate and House agreed upon an amended FY 2016 budget that has been signed by the governor.

The House approved Rep. Mike Dudgeon’s “Georgia Right to Try Act” (HB 34). 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. It is now in the Senate Health & Human Services committee.

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

The Senate spent the better part of Friday afternoon debating Rep. Kevin Tanner’s “pastor protection” bill (HB 757) that was amended in committee to add provisions from Sen. Greg Kirk’s “First Amendment Defense Act” (SB 284).  After the debate that lasted many hours, they voted along party lines to pass it.

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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