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Taxpayers to get refund
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The 2007 amended budget was agreed to by Senate and House negotiations Tuesday night, which will return $142 million to homeowners around the state.

This property tax cut will provide a one-time increase in the homestead exemption from $10,000 to $12,750. Details are still being worked out but the intent is for this refund to be paid out directly to homeowners.

Other provisions of the 2007 Amended Budget included:
• Funding of PeachCare totaling $81 million.
• Tornado damage relief funding for southwest Georgia — $11 million.
• Funding for Indigent Care for hospitals - $15.5 million.
• Funding for KIA project infrastructure - $46 million.
• Funding for Public Defenders – $9.6 million.
• Funding for mid-year education adjustment — $164 million.
• $9 million to cover mental hospitals shortfall.
• $700,000 for War Veterans Nursing Homes one-time pharmacy expenses.

Senate action last week
The following bills were passed by Senate last week:

• House Bill 91 passed 48-0, providing detail on state agency spending in annual reports to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees and the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee.  

• House Bill 330 passed 44-0, allowing the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy to establish and maintain a registry of pharmacy technicians.

• House Resolution 102 passed 41-0, authorizing the Department of Corrections to compensate Robert Clark for 23 years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit. He was proven innocent by a DNA test.

• House Bill 147 passed 36-17, adding to the information that must be provided to a woman prior to an abortion by including that they must be given the opportunity to view the ultrasound and hear the fetal heartbeat and must be provided with a list of facilities which offer ultrasounds free of charge.  

• House Bill 202 passed 54-0, making a contractor ineligible to bid for additional contracts if they are found more than 25 percent behind in the performance of two or more state public works or DOT contracts, and the delay is the contractor’s fault.   

• House Bill 227 passed 52-2, authorizing that video service providers may obtain a franchise to provide the service by the Secretary of State or by the local government. Statewide franchise holders will be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of income by denying service to a specific area; moreover, there are no build out requirements on statewide franchise holders.

• House Bill 231 passed 47-1, protecting persons or services which remove vehicles or other obstructions from the roadway at the direction of law enforcement, fire or transportation officials from liability, except in situations involving gross negligence.

• House Bill 128 passed 44-0, authorizing a sales tax exemption for school-related supplies during the first weekend in August and for energy efficient products during the first weekend in October.    

• House Bill 155 passed 46-0, requiring background checks for owners of personal care facilities who have access or control over the facilities.

• House Bill 497 passed 41-1, allowing fathers to execute a pre-birth surrender of rights to ease adoption proceedings.    

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