The House and Senate approved a $21.82 billion budget for fiscal year 2016, with only one dissenting vote between the two bodies. A total of $490 million in new funds were directed for K-12 education, including an austerity reduction of $280 million. Other big issues addressed in the budget included continuing health care coverage for non-certified public school employees, like school bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Judges of the Supreme Court, court of appeals and superior court, and district attorneys and public defenders will all receive a 5-percent raise. Superior court judges, district attorneys and public defenders in circuits with accountability courts will receive a $6,000 yearly increase. More complete budget information to follow in subsequent weeks.
HB 170 - transportation funding
The conference committee report between House and Senate versions of the plan now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. The state needs an additional $1 billion a year to keep the state’s roads and bridges maintained and begin projects to relieve congestion, according to the Transportation Commission Report.
Highlights include a 10-year transportation needs plan approved by the transportation committees. It sets the excise rate for the motor fuel tax at 26 cents per gallon for gasoline, and 29 cents for diesel fuel while capping fuel tax sales locally at a $3 rate. The bill creates a $200 fee on electric vehicles, and $300 for commercial vehicles and indexes the fees.
The bill repeals the alternative-fuel vehicle tax credit as of July 1, 2015. HB 170 also creates a new highway impact fee on commercial trucks, $50 or $100, annually, depending on their weight and imposes a new $5 per night hotel/motel fee. It also eliminates the tax break on jet-fuel purchases for airlines. The break had benefited one of the state’s largest companies, Delta Air Lines, and other airlines. HB 106 also allows for regional or county TSPLOSTs and creates a special joint committee on revenue structure.
Final passage and sent to the governor
SB 133 - Upon ratification of a constitutional amendment in November 2016 (SR 287), this enacting legislation establishes a statewide school district, the opportunity school district (ODS), to turn around failing schools in Georgia, converting them to charter schools. There are no failing schools in the 4th District.
HB 505 - Allows physical therapists to treat patients without referral from a physician for eight visits or 21 days from the initial visit, whichever occurs first.
HB 452 - Changes the short title from “Family Violence and Stalking Protective Order Registry Act” to “Protective Order Registry Act.” Protective order adds that a pretrial release or sentencing order that prohibits contact is included as a protective order, and thus that person is subject to inclusion in the registry.
HB 131 - Expands the definition of “bullying” to include cyber bullying coming from electronic communication originating off school campuses or technology.
HB 313 - Authorizes full-time state employees eight hours paid leave yearly to promote education in Georgia.
HB 328 - Implements recommendations of the Criminal Justice Reform Council relating to adult offender reforms to make it easier to obtain employment and not fall back into the corrections system. Inmates with felonies applying to work for the state no longer have to check a box on their job applications that discloses their criminal histories and would often disqualify them from being considered for a job from the outset.
HB 110 - Legalizes and expands the use, possession, manufacturing, transporting and storing of fireworks. I voted against this bill.
HB 72 - Strengthens current law by providing more tools to detect, report and prosecute cases involving abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of disabled adults and elder persons.
SB 76 - Motorcycles may treat an inactive stop light as a stop sign due to light not changing. Sometimes a motorcycle will not trigger automatic light changes.
SB 164 - Encourages local boards of education to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RTI) programs and initiatives, especially in high-needs schools.
Some bills may have been combined with others. We will review legislation, the 2016 budget and state revenues over the next few weeks. Legislation and final action may be accessed online at: www.legis.ga.gov, and the state budget through the Senate budget and evaluation Web site.
I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811