February 15, 2019

The legislature was in session all five days this week and has now completed 16 legislative days.  They are going to take off next Monday for President’s Day and then will be in session for the remainder of next week.

The House Appropriations subcommittees are working on the FY 2020 budget.  The House passed its version of the amended FY 2019 budget last week and handed it over to the Senate where it is now being worked on by Senate Appropriations subcommittees.

The House passed HB 23 which would allow EMCs to offer broadband service and HB 184 which deals with the expansion of 5G service and co-location of cell antennas on existing utility poles located in city/county rights of way.  They also unanimously passed SB 25 which clarifies that vehicles must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with the bus arm extended unless a physical barrier or a raised or grassy median is separating the bus’s lane of traffic and the lane in which you are traveling.

The Senate Regulated Industries committee favorably reported Sen. Gooch’s SB 17 that would authorize telephone cooperatives to offer broadband service.

Governor Kemp’s healthcare bill (SB 106) was introduced Wednesday.  This bill, named the “Patients First Act,” calls for federal waivers that could allow the state to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of poor Georgians who are currently uninsured.

The House Access to Quality Healthcare Special Committee held hearings for two days this week on the CON bill (HB 198).  This legislation repeals the state’s current certificate of need law for hospitals as well as calling for increased transparency for hospital reporting and increasing the rural hospital tax credit pool from $60M to $100M.

Governor Kemp named his “Georgians First Commission” members this week.  The mandate for this 18-member commission is to “slash regulations” and streamline government to remove inefficiencies.  Their first meeting is scheduled for next month.

There was an election on Tuesday for House District 176 which became vacant when Rep. Jason Shaw was appointed to the Public Service Commission.  Two Republicans in that four-person race were the top vote-getters and will face each other in a run-off on March 12: Franklin Patten who is Chair of the Lanier County Board of Education and attorney James Burchett.

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