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Under the Gold Dome: Crossover Edition

This past week, the General Assembly marked “Crossover Day,” the 28th day of the legislative session. This is the deadline for bills and resolutions to pass from their originating chamber to remain eligible for final consideration by Legislative Day 40, or "Sine Die." On Crossover Day alone, the House passed 72 bills, working long hours and late into the night to tackle a range of pressing issues important to Georgians and our state. Here are a few key pieces of legislation:

Amended Budget for FY24

The General Assembly gave final passage this week to House Bill 915, the Amended Fiscal Year 2024 budget, via the adoption of a joint House and Senate conference committee report. Set at a revised revenue estimate of $37.9 billion, this amended budget includes $2 billion in surplus funds, resulting in a total infusion of $5.4 billion, marking a notable 16.9 percent increase over the original budget estimate.

Noteworthy investments would include unprecedented funding for the state's infrastructure, particularly for essential technology and capital projects. The Rural Workforce Housing program would receive $23.9 million to provide funding for projects that address current workforce housing needs through housing expansion or improvement. Capitol Hill building improvement projects would secure an additional $392 million, which would be allocated toward repairs and improvements to our Gold Dome for occupant safety and public access, as well as a new legislative office building.

Education would also see substantial support in this budget as $102.5 million would be allocated to the Department of Education for Quality Basic Education midterm adjustments, and $8.9 million would be designated for the Summer Transition program to provide rising Pre-K students and rising Kindergarten students with extra support in language, literacy and math to close the achievement gap.

Notably, the employee retirement system would receive $500 million for enhanced benefits to provide greater cost-of-living benefits to state retirees in future years, and state employees and teachers would benefit from a one-time salary supplement through an appropriation of more than $300 million. This budget would also appropriate funding for healthcare initiatives, including $178 million for a new dental school at Georgia Southern University and $50 million for the construction of a medical school at the University of Georgia.

Additionally, $500 million would be earmarked for the new Freight Infrastructure Projects program to enhance the state’s rapidly growing and thriving freight network; $250 million would go to the Local Road Assistance Administration Program as a one-time infusion to support local transportation infrastructure projects across the state. HB 915 recognizes many of the House’s budgetary priorities and was signed into law by Governor Kemp on Thursday, February 29.


House Bill 1339 represents a significant effort to modernize Georgia's healthcare regulations, with a particular focus on addressing the unique challenges faced by rural communities.

The bill proposes a comprehensive overhaul of the state's Certificate of Need (CON) laws, derived from the findings of the House Study Committee on Certificate of Need Modernization. These reforms aim to enhance accessibility and affordability of healthcare services for all Georgians.

Key provisions of HB 1339 include:

Regular Reviews and Updates: The bill mandates the Department of Community Health (DCH) to conduct regular reviews and updates of the state health plan every five years, ensuring it meets the evolving needs of the state.

Streamlined Application Process: HB 1339 seeks to streamline the CON application process by requiring individuals to submit a letter of intent to the department at least 25 days prior to the application. This shortens the existing timeframe and facilitates a more efficient process.

Expanded CON Exemptions: The legislation expands CON exemptions, including extending the allowable period for repurposing closed hospitals without a CON, raising the bed capacity expansion threshold, and extending the maximum distance for healthcare facilities to relocate without a CON. It also exempts psychiatric or substance abuse inpatient programs for Medicaid and uninsured patients when agreements are reached with nearby hospitals.

Addressing Noncompliance: HB 1339 introduces measures to address noncompliance through mechanisms such as increased monetary penalties and exemption revocation.

Rural Healthcare Support: The bill aims to bolster rural healthcare through the expansion of rural hospital tax credits and the establishment of the Comprehensive Health Coverage Commission. This commission would advise the governor, General Assembly, and DCH on healthcare access and quality for low-income and uninsured communities.

House Bill 451, on the other hand, addresses the specific healthcare needs of first responders diagnosed with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The bill requires public entities to offer additional, illness-specific insurance to these individuals, including a $3,000 cash benefit and income replacement disability benefits provided 90 days post-diagnosis.

Recognizing the heightened risk of PTSD among first responders due to exposure to traumatic events, HB 451 acknowledges the sacrifices and challenges these individuals face in protecting the community. By providing supplemental insurance coverage, the legislation aims to ensure adequate support and financial resources for first responders grappling with occupational PTSD, ultimately promoting their mental health, resilience, and the overall security and welfare of Georgia's citizens.

Second Amendment

House Bill 971, also known as the Firearm Safe Handling and Secure Storage Tax Credit Act, represents a proactive approach to promoting firearm safety and responsible gun ownership throughout Georgia. This legislation aims to foster a culture of responsible gun handling and storage practices among gun owners while providing incentives for participation in firearm safety education programs.

Under the bill, Georgia taxpayers would be allowed to claim a tax credit for eligible expenses related to firearm safe handling instructional courses and the acquisition of firearm secure storage devices.

The tax credit would cover the amount of eligible expenses or up to $300, whichever is less. Eligible expenses include the purchase of firearm secure storage devices for personal use and the cost of in-person firearm safe handling training sessions lasting at least two hours. The training would include instruction on safe handling, use, and storage of firearms.

Taxpayers seeking the tax credit would be required to apply for preapproval with the Department of Revenue. Approval would be granted on a first-come, first-served basis until the annual tax credit cap of $3 million is reached. The legislation sets an annual combined cap of $10 million. HB 971 institutes a lifetime limit of $300 per individual taxpayer for the tax credit. Additionally, it prohibits the carryover of unused credits, ensuring that benefits are distributed equitably among all eligible citizens.

By providing incentives for firearm safety education and secure storage practices, HB 971 promotes responsible gun ownership across the state. By encouraging participation in vital gun safety education programs, this legislation aims to cultivate a safer and more secure environment for all Georgians, ultimately contributing to the overall well-being and safety of communities.

Military Families and Workforce

We also unanimously passed a bipartisan measure to support Georgia’s servicemembers and their families as they relocate to our state with House Bill 880. HB 880 would bring our state in compliance with the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by allowing the spouses of servicemembers to continue practicing their jobs without a license in certain circumstances.

To qualify, the spouse would be required to hold a current license from another state and be in good standing in that state, submit an expedited license by endorsement application along with the servicemember's military orders, which could be filed prior to relocation to Georgia, as well as be employed by an in-state employer. If the license by endorsement is not granted within 30 days after the application is submitted, the spouse could still work for the in-state employer without being licensed. However, if the spouse is denied an expedited license by endorsement, he or she would no longer qualify to practice the occupation in this state.

This military-friendly legislation would streamline the licensing process by providing clear guidelines for qualification and expedited application procedures, offering timely relief to military spouses seeking employment opportunities upon relocation to Georgia.

With Crossover Day now behind us, the House of Representatives will shift its focus to reviewing legislation that has passed by our counterparts in the Senate as we move through the final weeks of the session. We will also be tracking the progress of House legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process in the Senate to ensure final passage of our House bills.

Please stay tuned for additional updates and do not hesitate to call my office should you require assistance. As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.


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