February 10, 2017

We are nearing the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session.  The legislature met for four days this week and has now completed 16 legislative days.  They will reconvene on Tuesday, February 14, and will be in session through next Friday.

Recently introduced bills include HR 158 which is a constitutional amendment requiring fees and taxes collected for specified purposes to be dedicated to those purposes, SB 118 raises the cap for mandatory insurance coverage of autism from 6 to 21 years of age,  HB 217 and HB 236 both substantially increase the current $58M cap on the state’s private school tax credit program, HB 61 requires online retailers with a minimum of $250,000 or 200 sales per year to collect state sales tax, HB 280 revisits the “campus carry” issue that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses,  HB 232 and SB 136 both require completing a gun training course in order to get a gun license.

On Thursday the Senate passed the $24.3B supplemental budget (HB 43). The Senate only made a few changes from the House version which makes a $600M adjustment to the current FY 2017 budget. HB 43 passed the House and Senate with only one “no” vote in each chamber. After the House and Senate agree on a final version, it will be ready for Governor Deal’s signature.

The House passed the bill to recreate the Judicial Qualifications Commission (HB 126) and the bill extending the sunset date for the Medicaid provider fee to 2020 (SB 70).  SB 70 passed the Senate last week with only three dissenting votes and will raise $311M in revenue from hospitals and an additional $600M in matching funds.

The House and Senate each passed their own versions of legislation that would allow dental hygienists to clean teeth in schools, nursing homes and public health clinics without having a dentist on the premises (HB 154 and SB 12).

The House Medical Cannabis Working Group unanimously passed HB 65 that would expand the diagnoses for which patients could be treated with medical cannabis to include AIDS or HIV, Alzheimer’s, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome and intractable pain.

The Senate Regulated Industries committee held its first hearing on a casino bill (SB 79) and the Chairman said another hearing will be scheduled within the next couple of weeks.

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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