February 22, 2019

Today is legislative day 20 and marks the halfway point of this General Assembly session.  It has been a busy week.

The Senate version of the $26.9B amended FY 2019 budget was passed by the Senate yesterday, and a compromise version of this budget passed both House and Senate earlier today.

The Senate passed Sen. Gooch’s bill that would authorize telephone cooperatives to offer broadband service (SB 17).  It is now in the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee.  They also passed HR 1 that names the new state appellate judicial complex after former Governor Nathan Deal.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed Governor Kemp’s “Patients First Act” along party lines (SB 106).  This bill calls for federal waivers that would allow the state to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of Georgians.  It is now on the general calendar in the Senate Rules Committee.

The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee passed Sen. Beach’s horse racing bill and corresponding constitutional amendment (SB 45 and SR 84).

The House Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee met three days this week and heard numerous hours of testimony on Rep. Fleming’s elections bill (HB 316). Among other things, this bill authorizes a new voting system for the state.  It was noted that the bill was bipartisan because several amendments from Democrats were incorporated; however, it passed with votes along party lines from subcommittee and full committee yesterday.

The House Access to Quality Healthcare Special Committee amended and passed the CON bill (HB 198) this morning. This legislation would increase the rural hospital tax credit pool from $60M to $100M.  Some hospitals have contended that the bill would make it more difficult for them to compete and deliver the quality healthcare they are currently providing.

Major legislation introduced over the last couple of weeks includes the “Georgia Major Airport Authority Act” (SB 131) that would establish a state authority to oversee Atlanta’s airport and two bills that would establish a statewide business court (SB 110 and HB 239).  The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing yesterday on SB 110.

Ga. Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton gave his “State of the Judiciary” speech on Tuesday.  The speech was fairly general and a good portion of it praised the efforts, insight and career of his mentor Justice Harris Hines who died last fall.  Chief Justice Melton highlighted two successful programs.  He applauded the “Standing with our Neighbors” program that was founded and managed by the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.  Also, he commended the Kinship Care program that provides legal services to relatives of children who would otherwise be placed in foster care.

Comments are closed.