On Thursday, the Georgia General Assembly completed its 13th legislative session day. The highlight of the week was the House passage of the FY2011 amended budget. In addition to the amended budget, several bills were debated by lawmakers. Legislation is picking up and more bills are making it through the committee process and onto the House floor for consideration.
By law, all appropriation bills originate and are introduced in the House of Representatives. The amended budget is always the first of the budgets to be passed by the legislature. After passing in the House, the bill is sent to the Senate, where is goes through a similar committee process. The House Appropriations Committee passed the FY2011 amended budget, HB 77, on Wednesday. The following day, it was passed 136-29 in the House. This amended FY2011 budget is $18 billion and runs through June 30. The amended budget will now go to the Senate for consideration, and the House will continue its work on the FY 2012 budget, also referred to as the “big budget.”
Numerous bills were debated on the House floor this week and some were passed. Health care coverage continues to be discussed on multiple levels. HB 107 passed unanimously and allows a spouse or dependent of a deceased public employee the right to continue their health coverage under the state health insurance plan. Another was HB 49. This legislation would simply change the name of the State Board of Technical and Adult Education to the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia.
HB 39 related to unexcused absences of students and would allow local school systems the option to send notification letters to parents via First Class mail. Currently, it is a requirement that letters to parents be sent through Certified mail. However, this places an additional cost on school systems. One concern was that parents would not be made aware or notified of those absences using First Class mail, but the certified letter does not currently require a signature, therefore it would not change that aspect of it. This legislation passed 153-15 and will allow local school systems to reduce this additional cost. With concerns over difficult economic and budgetary matters, all potential savings for our school systems should be evaluated.
The members of the General Assembly went back to work at the State Capitol on Tuesday for the 14th day of session. I will continue to keep all of you informed throughout the 2011 legislative session.
It is a honor to continue serving you in the Georgia General Assembly. Please do not hesitate to let me know your position or thoughts on issues that concern you. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5115 or write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, Ga. 30334, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephens, R-Savannah, serves the 164th District, which includes South Bryan and part of Liberty County.