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Hill: On the governors desk
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The governor reaches the end of the 40-day signing period this week and will be signing or vetoing the last of the legislation from the 2009 session.

Here is a list of additional legislation passed and either already signed or being considered by the governor:

For a review of other legislation from this committee, see column in the April 21 edition of the Herald.

HB 143 — Legislation that puts into code the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant and assures the payment of the grant when tax revenues reach previous levels in the last year the HTRG was awarded, FY 2009, and exceeds that level by 3 percent plus the rate of inflation.

HB 334 — Authorizes the revenue commissioner to require individuals or businesses with a tax liability of $1,000 or more to file electronically for the 2010 tax year. In 2011, that requirement to file drops to a $500 liability.

HB 358 — exempts from sales taxes cooked food donated to food banks and non-profit relief programs

HB 444 —Imposes a $500 civil penalty on tax preparers who file returns for others and understate tax liability in order to collect a higher fee. Provides for a $5,000 penalty for willful or intentional understatement of income or a penalty of 50 percent of derived income.

Government oversight
SB 44 — Requires school systems and state and local governments to give preference in purchasing to Georgia made products in contracting and purchasing supplies, materials, equipment or agricultural products. Allows for “reasonableness and practicability” in determining how to apply this requirement. They are required to consider on contracts over $100 information provided by bidders or suppliers on the multiplier effect on the state gross product and the effect on state revenues. Prohibits the dividing of contracts to evade these requirements.

HB 310 — Updates the Georgia Building Authority’s mandate to operate a recycling program. Adds plastic bottles, steel cans and all grades of paper and cardboard.

Health and human services
SB 8 — Allows students to carry and self-administer epi-pens in school for severe allergic reactions. Parents must pre-approve with a note to school officials with specifics as to dose and frequency.

SB 165 — Allows the Department of Community Health to obtain income verification from the Department of Revenue when considering or reviewing applications for Medicaid or PeachCare applications. The information is not specific to amount but as to whether income exceeds the relevant income threshold.

SB 201 — Expands the cancer check-off on tax returns now for use in breast, prostate and ovarian cancer research to include any type of cancer.

HB 54 — Requires a funeral director to file the death certificate of the deceased within 72 hours and establishes corrective action when the responsible physician does not complete, sign and return a death certificate within 30 days. Allows for instructions on the handling of death certificates during a state of emergency due to an influenza pandemic.

HB 217 — Sets the requirements for influenza vaccine protocol agreements between physicians and pharmacists or nurses. Authorizes a protocol for vaccine for a group by a physician. Cannot prescribe for children under the age of 13 without an individual prescription and parental consent. Also sets the definition for a “pandemic influenza emergency.”

HB 237 — Allows adoptive parents of hard-to-place foster children to receive financial assistance from the state regardless of whether the adoption is private or handled by the state.

HB 457 — Expands the definition of disabled adult to include a person over 18 who has Alzheimer’s disease. Adds that provision to the law against abuse, neglect or exploitation of a resident of a long-term facility.

Higher education
HB 157 — Changes the “triggers” which kick in when lottery contributions for the HOPE scholarship decline. Instead of elimination of fee allowances when there is any decline, the bill sets up a tiered system that reduces book allowances to $150 when the year-end balance drops to 92 percent but exempts Pell Grant awardees. Then at the 84 percent level, the book allowance is eliminated but exempts Pell Grant awardees. At a decline to under 75 percent of highest year-end balance, then all scholarships or grants for mandatory fees are eliminated.

HB 484 — Qualifies dependent children of military personnel stationed in Georgia as being eligible for the HOPE scholarship.

Insurance and labor

SB 94 — Allows individuals who have lost health coverage due to job loss to continue receiving health coverage under COBRA with the federal stimulus act paying 65 percent of the coverage as a subsidy between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009. Covers family members as well.

HB 321 — Reduces the minimum number of members for self-insurance qualification from 25 to 10.

HB 581 — Allows Georgians on unemployment to take advantage of federal stimulus funds to extend benefits.

The next column will review what is rumored to be a severe downturn in April revenues and continue to look at legislation from the 2009 session. If there are vetoes by the governor, those will be reviewed as well.

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