On Monday, February 5th, the House began the 5th week of the 2018 legislative session. With Crossover Day fast approaching, my colleagues and I are working hard to pass bills that are essential to Georgia’s success. “Crossover Day” is the last day for a bill to pass from one chamber to another and is scheduled for legislative day 28. In this blog post, I’ll highlight bills we were able to pass including updates on the recently passed adoption bill.
Passing HB 683- The AFY 2018 Budget
I’m happy to share that the House has passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget with a vote of 167-8. The Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) budget passed during the 2017 session at $24.9 billion. We amended FY 2018 in order to account for differences between the projected budget numbers and the revenue that our state actually accrued. Our state has an additional $306.7 million additional funds to incorporate into the budget which brings the amended version of the budget to $25.3 billion. These funds will go towards improvements in education, healthcare, human services, and to the benefit of our rural areas.
Continue reading to learn how the AFY 2018 funds will be allocated.
– $102.1 million will go towards enrollment growth for 7,515 additional students, charter system grants, and State Commission Charter School supplements.
-$15.5 million will go towards purchasing 200 new school buses.
-$400,000 is allocated to create a leadership academy for Georgia principles.
-$10.7 million will go towards accommodating 4,720 new Dual Enrollment students
-$10 million will cover the growing cost of graduate-level medical education at Augusta University.
-$8.1 million in lottery funds will go towards HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships
-$75,000 will go towards planning for the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovations in order to support our rural communities.
Health and Human Services:
-$1 million to fund an electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services.
-Funds to aid children with autism- $1.25 million for crisis services, $1.1 million to develop capacity for behavioral health services, and $128,292 in existing funds for telehealth services. Additionally, the passage of HB 683 will provide funding for a program coordinator position in the Department of Community Health and for a program support coordinator in the Department of Public Health to provide behavioral health services to children under 21 who are diagnosed with autism.
-$15.1 million will go towards out-of-home care growth for the rising number of children in Georgia’s foster care system.
-$100,000 will go towards a statewide medical fair to recruit employees in rural areas
-$75,000 is allocated for the Office of Rural Health to identify a postsecondary institution within our state to house the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability.
-$1 million will go towards purchasing more behavioral health crisis stabilization beds.
Additional GA Needs:
-$10 million will go towards the OneGeorgia Authority to aid in repairing the damage to Georgia’s coastal region caused by Hurricane Irma.
-$10 million will go towards replenishing Gov. Deal’s emergency fund
-$3 million will go towards purchasing equipment to prevent and fight wildfires.
-$25.2 million is allocated to lengthen rural runways which will make room for larger aircrafts thus increasing rural Georgia’s economic potential.
-$5 million will go towards the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to create the criminal justice e-filing initiative.
-$500,000 is allocated for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to purchase supplies for DNA sexual assault kits.
With the passage of the AFY budget, the House Appropriations subcommittees can now focus on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. I look forward to seeing how this budget will go on to serve the many needs of Georgia and support our growing economy and population.
House Bill 700- National Guard Loan Repayment bill
House Bill 700 is an update to the National Guard Service Cancelable Loan program which will cover the cost of graduate degree programs for National Guard members. Eligible service individuals to remain in good standing with the Guard and serve two consecutive years after graduation. Interested National Guard members will need to complete a application for FAFSA in order to use available funding before seeking this loan. The loan is already available to undergraduate degree programs and public post-secondary technical or vocational schools. HB 700 would extend this to graduate degree programs in order to recruit and retain National Guard members and support their education.
House Bill 699- Veteran Support
House Bill 699 also concerns our military personnel. This bill would allow firefighters who have served in the armed forces to be exempt from firefighter basic training. Currently, firefighters must complete basic training within one year of their hire date. HB 699 would allow members who have already undergone training in the US armed forces to provide documentation of their training to the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council and receive a firefighter certificate of completion. This bill will make the transition to civilian life easier for our state’s veterans.
HB 701- Aiding the Opioid Crisis
In order to address our states growing Opioid crisis, The House passed House Bill 701 which would allow our state to test candidates for all forms of opioids during state employment drug tests. This will not affect those with legal opioid prescriptions. Georgia is ranked 11th in nation for opioid overdose, and 68% of GA’s 1,307 drug overdoses is attributed to opioids and heroin. This bill is just another piece in the puzzle for combating these statistics and helping our state fight opioid addiction.
House Bill 655 -Protecting our Young Citizens.
House Bill 655 is a measure that will help protect our state’s young citizens. This bill would require public schools to post signs with a toll-free number of the child abuse hotline in visible, public areas. GA joins 27 other states in this effort to stop child abuse. The hotline is operated by the Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Human Services. Students will have 24/7 access in order to report abuse or suspicions of abuse in a safe way.
House Bill 159 – Adoption Law Updates.
I’m proud to announce that House Bill 159 has successfully passed through the senate. This bill will modernize our adoption laws making it easier for children to find homes. This legislation is one of the first bills to be sent to the governor’s desk and I am excited to see how it will positively affect the lives of adoptive parents, birth parents, and children in our state.
We are currently halfway through this year’s session! We still have plenty of work to do before we adjourn, but I am confident that we will continue to pass meaningful legislation for Georgia’s future. If you missed my last blog post, read it here.
You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at email@example.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!