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Senate approves budget
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On Wednesday the Senate approved its version of HB 78, the FY2012 budget, by a vote of 47-4. This concludes the Senate stage of the process, and the bill will now go to conference committee for finalization.

The Senate FY2012 budget focuses on enhancing customer service by moving funds to the Department of Revenue’s customer service department and the licensing section of the Secretary of State’s Office. Additionally, the Senate proposal adds more agencies to “shared services,” which includes combined payroll and other services for greater efficiency.

The State Health Benefit Plan’s $270 million shortfall is being partially addressed through shorting the State’s Medicaid fund. To help meet the overall shortfall, the Senate is proposing to add new auditors and investigators to the Department of Revenue who are estimated to be able to collect $100 million or more in taxes due the state.

The Conference committee of the House and Senate will be working to resolve differences between their versions over the coming week.

Senate action last week

House bills passed in Senate
HB 99: Requires fingerprinting and background check for practical nursing license applicants.
HB 200: Toughens penalties for human trafficking and child prostitution.
HB 226: Allows developmentally disabled persons to open a custodial bank account with oversight.
HB 275: Allows nurses, physician assistants, and caregivers to carry out a “do not resuscitate” order issued by a physician.
HB 199: Bans frequently abused drugs often marketed as bath salts.
HB 189: Prohibits dental insurers from requiring or promoting discounts on services not covered.
HB 261: Exempts records related to government security training from public disclosure requirements in order to protect against possible terrorist access.
HB 266: Adds constables of magistrate courts to the list of officials exempt from normal firearm carry laws. Others on this list include judges, district attorneys, clerks of superior court, etc.
HB 40: Requires addition of denatonium benzoate to antifreeze to remove the presently sweet taste and leave an unpalatable taste. Antifreeze has posed a danger to children and pets because of its sweet taste and smell, and has also been used as a poison.
HB 214: Establishes the Department of Public Health as a separate agency, removing it from the Department of Community Health.
HB 277: Allows hunting deer over bait in Georgia’s southern zone with written permission of the landowner. Also prohibits setting bait within 50 yards of a property line.
HB 292: Delays an automatic increase in the employer contribution rate for the Unemployment Compensation Fund. The rate currently stands at 2.62 percent, and would otherwise increase to 2.7 percent on Jan. 1, 2012. HB 292 also extends the suspension of the Reserve Ratio Surcharge for an extra year, or through December, 2012.
HB 339: Establishes procedure for challenging an emergency quarantine or vaccination order in court.
HB 421: Creates a timeline for handling cases of people deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.
HB 503: Allows the Crime Victims Emergency Fund to pay for rape exams.

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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