February 24, 2017

The House and Senate met Tuesday through Friday this week and have now completed 24 of 40 legislative days.  The legislature will meet for four days next week, but Thursday will be the recess day.  Friday will be Day 28, which is the new crossover day according to recent Rules adopted in the Senate and agreed to by the House. Crossover day is the final day for bills to pass out of the chamber where they were introduced, so House bills must pass the House and Senate bills must pass the Senate before House and Senate adjourn on Friday in order to continue this session. This is usually a very late day for both houses as they work to get many bills passed.

This week the Senate unanimously passed a bill creating the Ga. Regional Transit Council (SB 6) to address the state’s transit needs and develop a consolidated plan for the state’s transit systems.  They also unanimously passed legislation to address the problem of “surprise billing” (SB 8)  to assist hospital patients who receive medical bills from out-of-network providers even though the hospital itself is in network for their insurance. Today the Senate demonstrated broad support for law enforcement by passing four bills: specialty license plates (SB 169), longer sentences for persons convicted of assaulting officers (SB 160), a 50% increase in the amount of money received by the family of a slain law enforcement officer (SB 154), and creation of a Local Law Enforcement Compensation Commission to study police salaries and report their findings and recommendations back to the legislature (SB 155).

A House Public Safety subcommittee passed legislation requiring hands-free use of electronic devices while driving (HB 163).  A House Appropriations subcommittee passed a bill to raise the salary of the governor from $139,000 to $175,000 effective 1/1/19, after Governor Deal has completed his term (HB 202). The House Ways & Means committee passed a resolution that would allow voters to decide through a constitutional amendment if fees and taxes collected for specified purposes have to be spent on those purposes (HR 158).  The House overwhelmingly passed legislation to regulate fracking for natural gas (HB 205).

The special election for Senate District 32 is set for April 18.  Senator Judson Hill resigned this seat to join the crowded field running for U.S. Congress in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.  The 6th District was formerly represented by former Congressman Tom Price who is now the Secretary for U.S. Health and Human Services. Five Republicans and three Democrats qualified to run for Senate District 32, and just like the Congressional race, all candidates will be on one ballot.  If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will be in a run-off election on June 20.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact 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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