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Budget heads to the Senate
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This week the House passed the general appropriations bill, HB 106, for FY 2014 which begins on July 1. The budget is $19.8 billion in state funds and around $800 million in bonds. The House version would cut almost $6 million from the governor’s recommendation in tuition assistance to students attending private colleges and universities. The Senate will be voting on its version of the fiscal year 2014 budget this week. A conference committee will settle the differences.

Senate passes video gaming regulation
The Senate passed HB 487 this week which would provide more oversight on some video gaming machines. Many of these machines exist outside of the law, and this bill aims to bring more operators into compliance.

HB 487 would give the Georgia Lottery Corporation control over these machines, and part of the profits raised from the revenues would go towards HOPE programs.  HB 487 does not make any additional types of gambling legal; it simply just tries to insure the state is receiving revenue from all of the machines currently in use. It also strengthens the penalties for operators who fail to comply with fines of up to $50,000.

Bills passed in the Senate
HB 101 - Expands food service exemptions to include events sponsored by political subdivisions and non-profit organizations, allowing those organizations to avoid permit requirements.
HB 198 - Allows the Insurance Commissioner to license and set up standards for becoming a “navigator” under the Affordable Care Act.
HB 202 - Changes the minimum expenditure by the Department of Transportation to perform value engineering studies from $10 million to $50 million.
HB 154 - Caps the length of worker’s comp payments for non-catastrophic injuries at eight years. Changes the interest rate calculated on lump-sum payments from 7 percent to 5 percent. Increases the maximum weekly benefit for a temporary total disability from $500 to $525 and temporary partial disability from $334 to $350.
HB 254 - Allows drivers to use a cell phone app for their proof of insurance. The Senate added a committee substitute to prohibit officers from accessing any other information on the driver’s cell phone.
HB 234 - Requires sellers to provide better notification of a contract expiring if it is an auto-renewable contract.
HB 255 - Transfers the responsibilities of the Unified Carrier Registration Act of 2005 from the Department of Revenue to the Department of Public Safety.
HB 124 - States that a “no” vote on the sale of distilled spirits on Sunday does not nullify previous votes of Sunday package sales of malt beverages and wine.

Bills passed in the House and now in the Senate
HB 123 - Allows parents to petition the local school board to turn any low-performing public school into a charter school. They must have 50 percent of the parents sign the petition. Referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
HB 164 - Extends a sales tax break on engines, parts, equipment, and other tangible personal property used in the maintenance or repair of aircraft. The bill was favorably reported by the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 482 - Allows retiring corrections officers who have served a minimum of 20 years to retain their firearm as part of their retirement. Referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee.
HB 372 - Changes the minimum GPA requirements for the HOPE grant for technical colleges from 3.0 to 2.0. Referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 517 - Allows local governments to decide to sell beer and wine in retail stores near college campuses. The bill was reported favorably by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, and rests in the Rules Committee.
HB 512 - Allows people with carry permits to carry in bars and churches, but the owners of the property can prohibit or eject people in possession of a weapon. The bill also allows possession of a weapon in or on any public university or technical college, except on property which is used for sporting events or student housing.

If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly Web site at

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