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What to expect from this column
Hill Jack
Sen. Jack Hill

As you know, during the year, this column examines mostly budget-related issues as well as other governmental areas along with occasional topics. During the General Assembly, this format changes and becomes the sharing with readers what is going on at the Legislature and what actions the body takes. It is our way of relating information and of course to elicit your input and comment.

So here is what we are planning for the coming weeks:

Continuing information on legislation introduced that has a chance of being seriously considered.

Examining the governor’s budget proposals.

Updates on the issues before the Senate.

Preparing a questionnaire to get your input and the opinion of 4th District constituents.

Following the House and Senate budget process on amended and general budgets.

Monitoring once a month state revenues and growth trends.

Informing you of Senate action on bills and on final action when legislation passes both houses.

So, here is the first edition:

One sentence on five majors issues this session
Legalization of cannabis oil (marijuana) for the treatment of seizure disorders.

Considering the need for new funding for maintenance and high-dollar transportation projects in the state.

Looking for solutions to the problems of rural hospitals.

Common Core curriculum issues and state policy.

Considering the religious freedom issue and determining the need for new laws.

Of course, issues come up that no one saw coming, so this list may grow or change.

Governor’s policy proposals 
In his state of the state message and other venues, Gov. Deal has revealed several new initiatives:

Creating an opportunity school district for consistently failing schools (three years) to be managed by the state to attempt to upgrade educational opportunities.

Combining probation, parole (adult and juvenile) supervision under a new Department of Community Supervision to eliminate duplication.
Creating the Georgia Film Academy linking film production and production skills training and academics in regents colleges and technical institutions.

Major items in FY15 amended and FY16 budgets proposed by Gov. Deal
• $280 million for the K-12 QBE formula that reduces the austerity cut and is intended for systems to pass on to teachers as furlough replacement or pay raises for teachers.

• $16.7 million in Lottery funds for a 3 percent increase in the HOPE scholarship in public and private colleges to keep up with tuition increases.

• $139.8 million to fund the annual required contribution for Employees Retirement, Teachers Retirement and Public School Employees retirement systems.

• $149.1 million in new funds for Medicaid growth and Affordable Care Act compliance, and voluntary case management for the aged, blind and disabled population. Offset by reductions totaling $179.4 million in PeachCare and Medicaid costs and an increase in the federal match.

• $239.6 million to fund growth in K-12 enrollment and teacher pay scale recognizing 1.35 percent increase in enrollment this past year. Georgia’s schools now educate 1.72 million students.

• $800 million in bonds including $230 million for K-12 school construction, $197.7 million for regents projects, and $19.8 million for technical colleges.

More on the FY15 amended and FY16 general budget in later columns.

Legislation introduced in the Senate last week
SB 1 - Provides insurance coverage for basic autism therapy

SB 2 - Students who complete educational requirements may be awarded a high school diploma early

SB 8 - Creates “Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission” and extends the rights of sexually abused children

SB 29 - Compensation for occupational diseases by firefighters

SB 34 - Persons entering locked vehicles to remove a child would be immune from liability

SR 7 - Constitutional amendment allowing additional penalties or fees for sexual offenses against children

SR 27 - Constitutional amendment lowering the age requirements for members of the Senate from 25 to 21

Previous columns can be viewed at:

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811