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Senate begins work on amended 2018 budget
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The Amended Budget is basically a “true-up” budget where critical new needs are met, formulas like QBE are lined up with enrollment changes and certain one-time projects are funded. This is per the Senate’s “Principles of Budgeting” originated by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle a number of years ago that brought some discipline to the “small budget” that completes the fiscal year. Quick Review: The Amended Budget adds $313.0 million to the FY 2018 Budget, about 2.3 percent.

Passed by the Senate
this week
SB 321 — Recently, this Column wrote that SB 321 doubles the penalties for false or fraudulent Medicaid claims. A substitute further increases the penalties to the maximum allowed by law (slightly over double).
SB 257 — Mandates veterinarian consultation before filing criminal animal cruelty charges to determine whether or not treatment of cattle, swine, goats, or sheep constitutes customary or standard practice.
SR 502 — Encourages the federal government and its agencies to create and fund policies bringing high-speed broadband service to Rural America.

Passed by the House and now in the Senate
HB 658 — Makes permanent a $5.00/night excise tax on rooms, lodgings, and accommodations dedicated to transportation.
HB 694 — Requires that all monthly tax reports by motor fuel distributors be filed electronically.

Passed out of Senate
HB 181 — Helps counties and cities determine if businesses are collecting and remitting sales taxes by attaining basic information on businesses’ sales tax certificates from the Department of Revenue.
HB 61 — Defines “delivery retailer” as an out-of-state retailer whose in-state revenues exceed $250,000.00 or 200 or more separate retail sales. Requires the retailer to collect and remit sales tax. If not remitting, retailer is obligated to notify purchasers of their obligation to pay the sales and use tax.

Introduced this week in the Senate
SB 357 — Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council which unites the major stakeholders and components of Georgia’s health care system in one coordinated effort to provide more effective health care.
SB 359 Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act — The “Surprise Billing Act” ensures a patient knows if any of the attending physicians are out of network and limits the difference that can be charged.
SB 366 — Calls for each county and municipal authority to perform a comparable wage and compensation study of the governing authority’s law enforcement agency and sheriff’s office. The studies must conclude by December 31 of 2019, 2020, and 2021 based on the population of the county or municipality, to be updated every 5 years. Establishes law enforcement grants dependent on fund appropriation.
SB 367 — Permits the estate of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMT, emergency management specialist, state highway employee, or prison guard to receive indemnification payment of $150,000.00 upon the employee’s death in his or her line of duty. Maintains the allowance of an un-remarried spouse or dependent to receive indemnification upon the employee’s death if the will does not specifically request to indemnify the estate.
SB 368 — Authorizes the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide technical support and assistance, including grant programs, to any local law enforcement agency which the Council deems to have inadequate technical services.
SB 370 — Increases carve-out of home value to $25,000 before state seizes for Medicaid repayment. Would be repealed if Federal Agency disallows increase.
SB 375 — Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act — Protects from adverse action child-placing agencies who decline a department referral or decline to perform particular services due to their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
SB 377 — Moves the State Workforce Development Board from the Department of Economic Development to the Technical College System of Georgia. Authorizes the State Workforce Development Board to implement and modify local workforce development programs.
SB 378 — Requires a state auditor to conduct an economic analysis of a tax bill before the tax exemption or tax credit bill can be introduced, amended, or adopted by the House or Senate.