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Under the Gold Dome: March Legislative Update

In the last two weeks since Crossover Day, the Georgia House of Representatives were marked by significant legislative activity, particularly focused on passing the FY25 budget, public safety funding and improving workforce development initiatives.Our priorities underscore our commitment to advancing the well-being and prosperity of Georgia's citizens through comprehensive, often-bipartisan measures addressing a wide range of critical issues facing the state.

FY 25 Budget highlights

The Georgia legislature is required by our state constitution to pass a balanced budget every year that balances funding for current priorities while anticipating and preparing for the future. To that end, the House passed our version of the Fiscal Year 2025 (FY 2025) budget, House Bill 916.This budget, set at a historic increase of $3.6 billion over the previous fiscal year, emphasizes investments in education, healthcare, public safety, economic development, and other vital sectors.

Specifically, the budget allocates significant funding to the education sector, including fully funding the Quality Basic Education (QBE) program, enhancing teacher salaries, supporting school nutrition programs, improving literacy rates, and prioritizing school safety initiatives. Substantial investments were made in Georgia's higher education system and healthcare infrastructure, with allocations for behavioral health centers, rural hospital stabilization grants, infant mortality research, expanded newborn screenings, and increased funding for Medicaid providers.

The budget also addresses housing challenges through funding for accountable housing initiatives and homelessness services. It  prioritizes public safety initiatives, including salary increases for law enforcement officers, support for domestic violence shelters and sexual assault centers, and funding for initiatives to combat human trafficking. House Bill 916 also includes provisions for state employee cost-of-living adjustments, transportation infrastructure improvements, election verification processes, and various other projects aimed at enhancing the state's overall well-being and development.

Public safety, workforce and protecting our most vulnerable

In addition to budgetary matters, the House passed several legislative measures aimed at bolstering education funding and workforce development, enhancing public safety, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Notable bills include Senate Bill 410, facilitating licensing for out-of-state veterinary professionals, Senate Bill 334, supporting firefighters' benefits, and Senate Bill 337, establishing honorary titles to recognize citizens' contributions to the state. We also passed Senate Bill 483, entering Georgia into the updated version of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children Act, to expedite the placement of children in safe homes across state lines.

Additional legislation regarding these priorities is below: 

  •  Senate Bill 19, which would enact reporting requirements for fees, sums or other remuneration for the performance of passport duties performed by clerks of superior courts and probate judges. Both clerks and probate judges would issue written reports to counties on a quarterly basis disclosing the total amount of fees received by the clerks or probate judges during the previous quarter
  •  Senate Bill 332, which would remove the requirement that the rules of the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission be approved by the Georgia Supreme Court
  •  Senate Bill 369, which would create a license plate celebrating the United States' semi quincentennial. The design would be selected from designs submitted by students through their civics education class 
  •  Senate Bill 375, which would add the commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council  
  • Senate Bill 377, which would define and clarify qualified residential treatment programs as a type of licensed child-caring institution
  • Senate Bill 443, which would allow for a district attorney, solicitor general, city attorney or county attorney to file a public nuisance and would also seek to recover the expenses incurred by a local government for public safety from a promoter or organizer of an un-permitted event  
  • Senate Bill 205, which would explicitly state that the State Board of Funeral Service must reinstate the funeral director license of a licensee who has previously allowed a license to lapse for 10 years or less and who has applied for reinstatement
  •  Senate Bill 232, which would modify the types and dollar amounts of fees charged and collected by probate court judges and clerks. These fees would be charged for filings such as petitions, motions, claims and certificates, as well as for different applications, licenses and certified copies
  •  Senate Bill 233, which would create the Georgia Education Savings Authority and the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. The bill would change program weights in the Quality Basic Education formula and would allow capital outlays funds to be used for pre-kindergarten programs. SB 233 would also cap tuition fees for out of district student transfers, revise grants to low-performing schools and amend the tax credit for qualified education donations. The bill would create the Georgia Education Savings Authority, which would establish and administer student assistance programs. The bill would also create the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, which would provide $6,500 per student to families for qualified education-related expenses outside of the public school system. 
  • Senate Bill 342, which would allow the Department of Human Services to use records of child abuse or neglect from the child abuse and neglect registry, or from another state, to locate, recover or provide services to a child who is determined by the department to be missing or a victim of sexual exploitation. It would also amend who can have reasonable access to records of child abuse to include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Senate Bill 348, which would change the time frame from 180 days to 60 days for an individual to be considered unattended by a physician in an untimely or suspicious death circumstance. The bill would clarify that no individual would be deemed unattended by a physician while they are a resident of a long-term care facility
  •  Senate Bill 389, which would provide state-sponsored life insurance for members of the Georgia National Guard
  • Senate Bill 436, which would revise the definition of "implement of husbandry" and would add a definition for "operator" as it relates to the operation of farm use vehicles
  • Senate Bill 450, which would exclude certain probate court orders from the petition for review process, clarifying that state or superior courts do not have appellate jurisdiction over an order of a probate court that cannot be appealed. In certain orders, the notice of appeal filing would replace the petition for the review filing process. 

As the legislative session approaches its conclusion, with only five legislative days remaining, the pace of work is expected to intensify. Despite the significant progress made thus far, there is still much work to be done to address outstanding issues and finalize pending legislation before Sine Die on March 28, 2024. 

As we continue working on important policies,  please stay tuned for legislative news and announcements. We will be working diligently on behalf of your family, our district and the state to create and implement simple, smart and effective government. We hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this throughout the session and reach out should you have any questions, concerns or feedback.


Helpful Resources and Links:

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