Happening….UNDER THE GOLD DOME
Week 5 started
Monday, February 5, 2018
Legislative Days 15 through 18~
The fifth week of the 2018 legislative session under the
started Monday, February 5th.
The House of Representatives met Monday through Thursday
to tackle a
very busy legislative agenda. Some of the
Bills to pass this week:
House Bill 700 - the National Guard Service Cancelable
military-friendly measure that would update and expand the National Guard
Service Cancelable Loan program to cover the cost of graduate degree programs
for National Guard members.
700 would ensure that these loans, which are used to repay the cost of tuition
in exchange for National Guard service, do not exceed the cost of tuition and
would also require loan recipients to remain in good standing with the National
Guard and serve two consecutive years upon graduation.
Guard members interested in the Service Cancelable Loan program would be
required to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and utilize
all available funding before seeking the loan. Currently, these loans are
limited to undergraduate degree programs and public postsecondary technical or
vocational schools. This program is a
proven tool that helps our state recruit and retain National Guard members.
228 National Guard members currently participate in this program, and extending
the program to the graduate level would add about 50 individuals to the program
annually and allow Georgia to remain competitive with our neighboring states
that have similar legislation.
House Bill 699 – Firefighters who served in the military
military-friendly measure would allow firefighters who have served as members
of the armed forces to be exempt from firefighter basic training.
law requires all firefighters to successfully complete a basic training course
within one year of their hire date, and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and
Training Council determines the content and duration of this course.
HB 699 would allow individuals who have trained as a member of the United States
armed forces, United States Coast Guard, Georgia National Guard or Georgia Air
National Guard to present documentation of such training to the council and
receive a firefighter basic training certificate of completion.
bill would make it easier for Georgia’s veterans to begin a career as a
firefighter as a result of their service and the sacrifices they have made for
our country and state.
House Bill 701 - Opioid Crisis
our state to test candidates for all forms of opioids during state employment
drug testing but would not affect those with valid and legal opioid
prescriptions. The federal government
recently added opioids to federal drug testing laws, and HB 701 would modify
state law to reflect this national change.
to the Substance Abuse Research Alliance, Georgia is ranked 11th in the nation
in opioid overdoses, and 68 percent of Georgia’s 1,307 drug overdoses in 2015
were caused by opioids and heroin.
701 is another piece of legislation aimed at fighting our state’s opioid
epidemic. The General Assembly has
worked diligently in recent years to pass measures to tackle Georgia’s
devastating opioid crisis.
House Bill 655 - Child Abuse Hotline for Schools
Bill 655 would require public schools, as well as local and state charter
schools, to post signs with the toll-free phone number of the child abuse
hotline in clearly visible, public areas. This 24/7 hotline is operated by the
Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Human Services
and allows students to report incidents of child abuse or neglect to trusted
individuals. In an effort to stop child
abuse, Georgia would join twenty-seven other states that have passed similar
House Bill 159 - Status of The Adoption Bill
passing in the House unanimously, the Senate overwhelmingly passed HB 159. HB 159 would update Georgia’s adoption laws
for the first time in almost three decades and streamline and expedite all
types of adoptions in Georgia, allowing thousands of children to more quickly
and efficiently find their forever families. This legislation is one of the first bills of
the 2018 legislative session to go to the governor’s desk for final approval
House Bill 683, the Amended Fiscal Year
2018 Budget (AFY 2018)
must pass an amended budget each year to account for any differences between
estimated and actual state revenue. The
measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 167-8. The AFY 2018 budget recognizes $306.7 million
in additional state revenue, and brings the total AFY 2018 budget to $25.3
was on education, healthcare and human services, and also targeted funding for
key initiatives recommended by the House Rural Development Council (RDC)
designed to spur development and meet needs in rural communities throughout the
state. Education and Health & Human
Services related appropriations make up some of the largest items in the
amended 2018 budget.
amended budget provides:
►Funding for K-12 education and related initiatives makes
up some of the largest investments in the AFY 2018 budget
►$102.1 million for enrollment growth for 7,515 additional
students, as well as for charter system grants and State Commission Charter
►$15.5 million to purchase 200 new school buses for school
►$400,000 to establish a leadership academy for principals
across the state
► higher education: $10.7 million to meet the needs of
4,720 new Dual Enrollment students
►$10 million for the Board of Regents to cover the growing
cost of graduate-level medical education at Augusta University.
►$8.1 million in lottery funds to keep up with the growing
demand for HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships
►$75,000 to plan for the Center for Rural Prosperity and
Innovations, as recommend by the RDC.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:
AFY 2018 budget includes appropriations for many information technology and
Medicaid infrastructure initiatives.
►$1 million to fund an electronic visit verification
system for home and community-based services
►$1.25 million for crisis services
►$1.1 million to develop capacity for behavioral health
►$128,292 in existing funds for telehealth services
►funding for a program coordinator position in the
Department of Community Health
►funding 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 for out-of-home care growth for the rising
number of children in Georgia’s foster care system, which has doubled since
►$100,000 for a statewide medical fair to recruit
employees in rural areas
►$75,000 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 for more behavioral health crisis
►$10 million to the OneGeorgia Authority to fund beach
nourishment projects in communities that were impacted by Hurricane Irma, which
caused tremendous destruction and devastation across Georgia’s coastal region
►$10 million to replenish Gov. Deal’s emergency fund
►$3 million to purchase equipment to prevent and combat
►$25.2 million to lengthen rural runways to accommodate
larger aircrafts in an effort to increase economic development and investment
in the Georgia’s rural communities
►$5 million for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
to implement the statewide criminal justice e-filing initiative
►$500,000 for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to
purchase supplies needed to process DNA sexual assault kits
683 is now being reviewed by our counterparts in the Senate.
I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office during
session. My office is located across
from the State Capitol, in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building1. Feel free to call or email me with any concerns: Sheila.Jones@house.ga.gov
Visit the House website, www.house.ga.gov
, for several
tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session:
• live stream of House proceedings
• live and archived committee meeting videos
• detailed information on all legislation we are
considering in the General Assembly.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your