The blog.

3
Feb

Sen. Judson Hill: 2015 Session Weekly Update # 3

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Judson Hill

Judson - Bio Photo 2013

 

Greetings from your state Capitol  

We settled into the 3rd week of the 2015 Session. All pending bills die at the end of every 2 year term; therefore, the Senate committees have only a few pending new filed bills meaning in Chamber Session days will be shorter until more bills are filed. A bill has until legislative Day 30 to pass one Chamber so our focus will not turn to House bills for several more weeks. Below is a list of notable legislation that has been introduced in the Senate and is under deliberation in their respective committees.

The legislature continues to hold hearings on the proposed state budgets in various Appropriations subcommittees. We will adjust both the current FY 2015 ($20.8 billion) budget as well as consider and pass the FY 2016 ($21.1 billion) budget. This 2015-16 GA State Budget link takes you to documents to view a more detailed description of Governor Deal’s proposed 2015 Amended and 2016 state budget.

The Georgia State Budget Process

The Amended FY2015 State budgeting process ensures Georgia closes out the fiscal year with a balanced budget on June 30th in order to begin the new fiscal year on July 1st.

After consideration and passage of the Amended 2015 Budget, which considers the second half of the fiscal year, the General Assembly will work on the fiscal year 2016 budget, commonly called the “big budget” because it will determine spending and programs hrough June of 2016.

Several FY 2016 Budget Highlights presented in the Governor’s Budget-

1.      $280 million for the K-12 QBE Formula is intended for systems to pass on to teachers as furlough replacement or pay raises for teachers.

2.      $16.7 million in Lottery funds for a 3% increase in the HOPE scholarship in public and private colleges to keep up with tuition increases.

3.      $139.8 million to fund the Annual Required Contribution for Employees Retirement, Teachers Retirement and Public School Employees Retirement Systems.

4.      $149.1 million in new funds for Medicaid growth and Affordable Care Act compliance, and voluntary case management for the Age, Blind and Disabled population.  Offset by reductions totaling $179.4 million in PeachCare and Medicaid costs and an increase in the federal match.

5.      $239.6 million to fund growth in K-12 enrollment and teacher pay scale recognizing 1.35% increase in enrollment this past year.  Georgia’s schools now educate 1.72 million students.

6.      $800 million in bonds including $230.0 million for K-12 school construction, $197.7 million for Regents projects, and $19.8 million for Technical Colleges.

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Sen. Jeff Mullis: Update from the Gold Dome

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Jeff Mullis 

Mullis

Update from the Gold Dome

The General Assembly took a break from the regular legislative schedule during the week of January 19 – 23 to attend budget briefings and review the funding requests presented by state agencies. While the Governor’s budget recommendations are certainly a guiding framework, it is up to the House and Senate to finalize the general FY 2016 and the amended FY 2015 appropriations bills—right down to the very last line item. While the amended FY 2015 bill has already passed the House and is now undergoing review in the Senate, the general FY 2016 budget will take much longer to evaluate.

Past years of responsible budgeting, even during tough financial times, has allowed Georgia’s economy to rebound faster than many other states. The proposed budget increase—from $20.8 billion in FY 2015 to $21.7 billion in FY 2016—is proof that Georgia is continuing to grow and invest in the future of our state. Governor Deal’s FY 2016 budget recommendations include $239 billion to fund enrollment growth and training for over 1.72 million K – 12 students and 121,000 teachers and administrators. An additional $280 million has been included to increase instructional days and properly compensate our best educators.

The HOPE scholarship program allows Georgia college students to receive a quality, affordable education in their home state, but the program has seen a sharp decrease in funding in recent years. Governor Deal has recommended, for the second year straight, a 3 percent increase in the award amount for HOPE scholarships and grants. This will be funded through $16.7 million in additional lottery funds. Nearly $19.7 million in bonds has been recommended for new capital projects, as well as renovations and new equipment, throughout the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

Improving Georgia’s transportation infrastructure remains a top priority for both the Governor and the General Assembly. Approximately $17.5 million in additional motor fuel funds have been allotted for road and bridge projects, based on anticipated collections.

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Sen. Frank Ginn: Taking Care of Georgia Citizens

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Frank Ginn

Sen. Frank Ginn

Taking Care of Georgia Citizens

The eighth day of the 2015 legislative session saw a significant piece of legislation pass through the Georgia State Senate. I am proud to say that with unanimous consent, Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate and is now headed for consideration in the House. Specifically, the legislation seeks new guidelines for the coverage of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children up to six years old, including diagnostics and medically necessary treatments or therapies. Georgia will become the 36th state in the nation to require some form of autism insurance coverage if SB 1 receives final approval by the General Assembly and the Governor. I believe there is a huge payback to our citizens for the small cost of coverage. This early diagnosis and intervention can help a child to become a productive citizen instead of becoming a ward of the state.

In order to remain nationally and globally competitive, as well as maintain the safety of our roadways, Georgia must take immediate and significant steps to fund transportation investment. This week, our House counterparts unveiled legislation that will help fund future transportation infrastructure. Our economy is mobility driven—we have the busiest passenger airport in the world, as well as the fourth largest container port in the country. I plan to spend time analyzing this proposal, while also considering other legislative options. I would love to hear from my constituents about how you would like to address our transportation needs. Creating a responsible transportation plan is of utmost priority to lawmakers under the Gold Dome during the 2015 legislative session. What we do—perhaps more importantly, what we don’t do—will echo throughout our state for decades to come.

Some of you have contacted me about Governor Deal’s budget recommendations, in particular, eliminating coverage for approximately 11,500 school cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other employees who work less than 30 hours per week. In response to the Governor’s proposal, the House passed their version of the amended FY 2015 budget last week; specifically including language supporting the idea of keeping health coverage for these valued staff members. These individuals play a vital role in the quality of our children’s education, and should be compensated for their important jobs. Bus drivers safely transport our children to and from school, and cafeteria workers feed our children. Our school systems could not operate without these employees.

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Sen. Isakson & Perdue: Fight to Fully Repeal Obamacare

Your Washington Desk

From Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue

senate

Senators Isakson, Perdue Fight to Fully Repeal Obamacare

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) today co-sponsored legislation to fully repeal Obamacare.

The Obamacare Repeal Act was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and has 44 co-sponsors. The legislation would fully repeal Obamacare effective 180 days after its enactment, allowing Congress and the states six months to develop and vote on new patient-centered health care reform.

“Since the day that Obamacare was signed into law, I have worked to repeal it because of its terrible consequences for America’s families and small businesses,” said Senator Isakson. “Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear from Georgians who are seeing the cost of their health care go up, or who can’t keep their insurance or continue seeing their doctor, all because of Obamacare. This entire law is fundamentally flawed and must be taken out root and branch. We need commonsense solutions that improve the cost and quality of health care through competition and choice, rather than imposing job-killing taxes, mandates, and penalties on the American people.”

“Georgia families and small businesses, as well as people all over the country, have been hurt by the effects of Obamacare,” said Senator Perdue. “Since this disastrous law has been put in place, millions of people have been denied access to their doctors and the cost of healthcare has continued to skyrocket. Obamacare has prevented businesses from hiring and slashed employees’ hours, further damaging our economy. I’m proud to stand with the people of Georgia in rejecting this flawed law, because Obamacare has hurt the middle class for too long and now it must go.”

3
Feb

Sen. David Perdue: Proud To Support Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Veteran Suicide

Your Washington Desk

From Senator David Perdue

David Perdue Country2

Senator David Perdue Proud To Support Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Veteran Suicide

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today voted for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Named after Clay Hunt, a young veteran who took his life in 2011, the bipartisan bill would improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American service members. The bill passed both chambers of Congress unanimously.

“Twenty two veterans commit suicide every day, and that is nothing short of a national tragedy,” said Senator Perdue. “Georgia has a large veteran population, and I’m proud to support commonsense legislation like this to help our nation’s heroes. I’m glad that both sides of the aisle were able to reach quick agreement on this bill, because keeping promises to our veterans must be one of the federal government’s biggest priorities.”

The bill requires the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to:

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Sen. Johnny Isakson & Richard Blumenthal: Praise Unanimous Senate Passage of Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill

Your Washington Desk

From Senator Johnny Isakson

Johnny 2016

Isakson, Blumenthal Praise Unanimous Senate Passage of Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill

‘The Clay Hunt SAV Act’ heads to president’s desk in show of strong bipartisan, bicameral support

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, praised Senate passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act today by a vote of 99-0.

The legislation (H.R.203) — passed unanimously out of the Senate VA Committee on Jan. 21, 2015, as the committee’s first priority this Congress — seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American veterans.

“I am pleased the full Senate acted quickly following VA Committee passage on this urgent legislation,” said Isakson, who also is a veteran. “When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide – which is more veterans than have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we’ve been fighting – then you have a serious problem. This legislation is an important step toward providing better access to mental health resources for our veterans.”

“This breakthrough bipartisan step will help countless veterans overcome invisible wounds of war that lead to 22 tragic suicides every day,” said Blumenthal. “We owe these wounded warriors more effective mental health care, so they can win the war against inner demons that come home from service. This bill will help save lives – courageous, strong veterans who need and deserve enhanced psychiatric care, counseling, outreach support and accountability from the Veterans Administration. A friend of mine, Justin Eldridge of southeastern Connecticut, braved mortar fire and snipers in Afghanistan, returning to his young family with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. Tragically, he slipped through the cracks at his local VA facility and eventually took his own life. As brave as he was on the battlefield, he could not win his war at home. We have an obligation to keep faith with our veterans, and this legislation – providing an impartial review of VA mental health programs, more centralized information and outreach, more support for VA psychiatrists – constitutes an important step.”

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Supports ObamaCare Repeal

Your Washington – GA 3 – Desk

From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland 

Lynn

Westmoreland Supports ObamaCare Repeal

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 596, a bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Congressman Westmoreland is a cosponsor of this legislation and has voted in favor of a full repeal of ObamaCare at the start of every congress since the law was passed in 2010. In addition, Congressman Westmoreland has voted almost 50 times to repeal, delay, defund, or change the President’s healthcare law. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.

“We knew ObamaCare was bad, but the botched ObamaCare rollout in 2013 showed the American people how truly bad this government takeover actually is,” stated Westmoreland. “Premiums and healthcare device costs have doubled while many are still trying to make ends meet. Employers have been burdened with costs and are cutting back hours of part-time employees to save where they can, resulting in 2.5 million hard working Americans being cut from full-time status. As we approach the tax season, we are also seeing how ObamaCare is digging into tax returns and costing households even more. In fact, there have been $47 billion in IRS fines under the individual mandate and $1 trillion in new taxes. ObamaCare takes away from the patients and gives far too much power to the IRS.

“This ObamaCare repeal vote is more than a symbolic one, it’s a plea from the American people to scrap this trainwreck law and start over. ObamaCare was horribly written when it was passed, and it continues to get worse the more it’s implemented. The American people don’t want the government involved in their healthcare, and I will continue to vote to dismantle and repeal ObamaCare every opportunity I get.”

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Rep. Tom Graves: Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Your Washington – GA 14 – Desk

From Congressman Tom Graves 

Tom Graves 2

Rep. Tom Graves Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) issued the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 596, legislation that would repeal Obamacare:

“We need real health care reform that puts patients first and expands choice, not Obamacare’s top-down mandates that have resulted in higher premiums, limited choice and the cancellation of millions of health care plans. By repealing Obamacare in its entirety, we can start fresh on health care reform without the constraints of the unworkable and unfixable disaster that is Obamacare. House Republicans are developing patient-centered solutions, which preserve personal freedom, expand choice, and allow people to keep the doctor and health insurance plan they like and trust.”

Last week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced a new working group to continue developing patient-centered health care solutions to replace Obamacare. The group’s members are Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline.

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

Sen. Buddy Carter: Supports Full Obamacare Repeal

Your Washington – GA 1 – Desk

From Congressman Buddy Carter 

Congressman Budy carter

Carter Supports Full Obamacare Repeal

 Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01) voted in favor of H.R. 596 today to fully repeal Obamacare. The legislation was passed by the House this afternoon.

“Today, I voted to repeal the health care law that is destroying the healthcare system that I proudly worked in for thirty years,” Carter said. “As a small business owner and healthcare professional, I have seen firsthand that many Georgians can no longer afford the astronomical costs of healthcare and they are forced to skip visits to the doctor, put off medical procedures and avoid filling prescriptions. No one should be burdened with the choice of whether they can or cannot receive medical care because of a misguided law that continues to kill jobs and our economy. Obamacare is driving the free market out of healthcare and preventing patients from having a say in their health – I refuse to let that happen.”

In addition to fully repealing Obamacare, the legislation would require Congress to create replacement legislation within 180 days of enactment.

“While I am pleased to support a full repeal, we can’t stop there,” Carter said. “American families deserve better than Obamacare and this legislation will allow Congress to create solutions to repair our broken healthcare system and empower patients with more choices, lower costs and better services.”

Continue Reading..

3
Feb

VIDEO – Rep. Rick Allen: Supports Full ObamaCare Repeal on House Floor

Your Washington – GA 12 – Desk

From Congressman Rick Allen 

Rep. Rick Allen Supports Full ObamaCare Repeal on House Floor