Your Georgia Desk:
Gold Dome Update: Crossover Week
Sen. Bill Heath (R–Bremen)
Monday, March 3 marked the Georgia General Assembly’s annual Crossover Day – the final day a bill can be considered in the original chamber before moving to the opposite chamber. In preparation for Crossover Day, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time deciding whether each individual piece of legislation that comes across my desk will truly benefit the citizens of the 31st Senate District and those across the state.
On Crossover Day, the Georgia State Senate passed 27 bills over to the House of Representatives. Upon passage in the House, all bills will then travel to the Governor for final approval. Once there, the Governor will either sign the measure into law or veto the legislation.
Now that bills have transferred over to the opposite chamber, the Senate is busy considering House bills in their respective committees. In the days leading up to the final day of session, the pace is expected to slow down as we deliberate House Bills and focus our energy on passing a balanced state budget. The process of passing a balanced budget is the only thing the Georgia Constitution requires of the General Assembly.
While the Georgia Senate has given final approval to the FY 2014 Amended Budget and transmitted the bill to the Governor, the General Assembly is working hard to complete our work on the FY 2015 General Budget. On Thursday, the Senate came one step closer to fulfilling this constitutionally mandated responsibility, approving its version of the $20.8 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
On Crossover Day, the Senate passed Senate Resolution 783. If approved by the voters, this resolution would amend the Georgia Constitution to prevent the Georgia General Assembly from re-enacting future ad valorem taxes without again securing the approval of the voters. Eliminating the state’s ability to collect the ad valorem tax will ensure Georgia’s tax code is conducive to fostering economic development and strengthening communities statewide. We must continue to do everything in our power to reduce burdensome tax regulations that serve as a barrier, not a bridge, to Georgia’s future economic and development. The decisions we make today regarding our state’s fiscal health will have wide-ranging implications on future generations of Georgians. Last December, my wife and I became first-time grandparents to a healthy baby boy named William. It is my hope that through the passage of this legislation and other fiscally-responsible measures, we will provide William and subsequent generations a more promising future.
After several hours of debate, the Senate also passed SB 98 on Monday. This legislation prohibits the government from using tax dollars to pay for abortions performed through the State Health Benefit Plan or Affordable Care Act health exchanges, except in the case of a medical emergency. This adoption of this legislation is critically important to protecting taxpayers from unwillingly subsidizing abortion. SB 98 simply limits the use of tax money in a manner similar to the decades old federal abortion restriction until the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act.
A measure that would save taxpayers money on printing costs passed out of the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. SB 60, which I sponsored, requires all communications sent to officers, members or employees of the Georgia General Assembly to be sent in electronic format. The electronic format will help catalog and store all communications in case they need to be retrieved at a later date.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to represent District 31. If you have any questions about Senate committees, pending legislation or the budget, please feel free to contact my office. To access additional information about a particular bill, please visit the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov.