Sen. Mike Dugan: Update from the Capitol

27
Mar

Sen. Mike Dugan: Update from the Capitol

Your Georgia Desk:

DUGAN: Update from the Capitol

 From: Sen. Mike Dugan (R- Carrollton)

The 2014 Georgia General Assembly session officially came to an end on March 20th as the Senate adjourned Sine Die.  The term “Sine Die” is Latin for “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing”.  Therefore, when the gavel came down on Thursday night, the General Assembly adjourned until January 2015.  Legislators and staff remained busy working until the midnight deadline to deliberate over fifty pieces of legislation on behalf of all Georgians.

On Tuesday, members of the Senate and the House came to a compromise during a conference committee on the $20.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year ’15.  The budget encompasses state spending from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 and is a 4.6% increase from last year’s budget.  It is an immense responsibility of legislators to construct the budget. A point of pride for our state is we are mandated to pass a balanced budget, unlike the federal level.  After spending countless hours in Appropriations meetings, the General Assembly carefully analyzes each line item to ensure each penny is spent responsibly.  The FY ’15 budget accounts for around $916 million of the new revenue for education expenses that will finance enrollment growth, disseminate more funds to local school systems, and increase opportunities for technical education.  The budget also allocates $35 million to complete the state’s portion of the $652 million Savannah Harbor project.

This week I was able to carry House Bill 449 through the Senate.  This bill will prohibit audio recordings of emergency 911 calls from being requested under the Georgia Open Records Act if the call contains distressed speech or cries of an individual who passed away during the call or contains speech or cries of someone who was a minor at the time the call.

I also carried House Bill 1108 through the Senate.  In January, members of the Douglas County Board of Education (BOE) voted on a resolution asking local legislators for a reduction in their salary.  HB 1108 achieves the Douglas County BOE’s request for separating their salary amounts from Superior Court Judges.  This legislation also gives the school board raises only when teachers get increases in salary.

Legislative Actions on Day 39 and 40:

House Bill 697 establishes the Zell Miller Grant and defines additional opportunities for taxpayer contributions towards nonprofits that focus on educational assistance.

House Bill 251 regulates alternative nicotine products and vapor products for minors.

House Bill 60 will allow places of worship to specifically opt-in or state that worshippers can carry guns in the sanctuary or on church grounds. Licensed carry holders who violate a church’s gun carry policy will be subject to a $100 fine. Individuals without Georgia gun carry licenses may be subject to a fine and misdemeanor charge.  Additionally, permit license holders may legally carry firearms in bars unless otherwise stated by the property owner.

House Bill 773 creates exceptions to discharging a gun or pistol near a public highway or street for certain places and persons engaged in legal hunting.

House Bill 914 requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) and child protection agencies to acknowledge the receipt of a report made by a school employee of suspected child abuse.  DHS also must disclose to either a school counselor or the school principal whether the suspected child abuse was confirmed by an investigation.

The next step in the legislative process is to transfer all passed bills to Governor Deal’s desk for his review.  By law, once the bill is transferred to the Governor, he may sign the bill into law or veto the bill.  During the legislative session, he has six days to deliberate the bill, after session, he is given forty days from Sine Die to consider action on all passed legislation.  If the General Assembly does not agree with the veto, we may override the decision with a 2/3 vote and the measure will then become a law.  If no action is taken with the bill it automatically becomes a law after the forty day time period.

Since the legislative session has come to an end, I will be spending more time in the district.  I look forward to seeing many of you around the district and I encourage you to reach out to me with any issues you feel is of importance to your elected officials.  As always, it remains my honor to serve the 30th Senate District. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 404.656.0036 or via email at mike.dugan@senate.ga.gov.

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