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Proposal would restire $1.7 million to local schools
Legislative update
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Liberty County students and property taxpayers could see some much-needed help under a tax relief bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week.
Data released this week shows that under HB 1057, our local schools would recover $1,695,840 in state funding, reversing previous cuts that caused the tax burden to shift to local property owners.
This proposal, introduced by House Democrats, would produce a win-win scenario under which our schools receive relief from the state's unfunded mandates, and property owners receive true tax relief. Under the legislation, local school systems that lower property taxes can access their share of $300 million in restored state education funding.
The allocations would come the next two years from the state's $1.6 billion reserve fund -- $300 million this year and $300 million next year toward the Quality Basic Education formula that funds public education in Georgia. HB 1057 is based on the Georgia values of equipping our students for the future and promoting the American dream of home ownership by reducing property taxes.
On Friday, House members approved a midyear adjustment to the annual state budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The supplemental budget measure, which now moves to the Senate for its consideration, restores some of Gov. Sonny Perdue's education funding cuts and also adds money for health care programs.
The amended budget restores $30.7 million for equalization grants, which provide assistance to schools systems that do not have as much "wealth per student" as systems in more affluent counties. The governor's plan would have slashed that funding.
The measure also sets aside $53 million to fund long-needed improvements in the state's system of trauma care and puts an extra $6.5 million in the indigent care trust fund, reimbursing hospitals for the medical care they provide to uninsured and low-income patients who can't pay their bills.
On the local level, the supplemental budget includes a $10,000 planning grant for construction of a veterans' clinic in Hinesville.
On Thursday, a majority of House members voted to reconsider legislation that had been approved the day before. By a margin of 91-73, the House had voted Wednesday to adopt HB 492, which would change the name of the Composite Board of Medical Examiners to the Georgia Composite Medical Board and make changes to its membership.
Under a law passed in 2006, the board is charged with approving regulations that allow advance practice registered nurses to write prescriptions. However, the current board is made up mostly of doctors and has passed regulations that are seen as too restrictive toward these nurses.
HB 492 would add two lay people and one more physician to the board, bringing the total number of members to 15. The legislation was amended to create a subcommittee of the board, composed of three nurses and three doctors, which would be charged with reviewing the rules on nurses writing prescriptions.
Thursday's vote to reconsider the measure was approved by a 101-58 margin, and HB 492 was sent back to the House Rules Committee.
Also Thursday, the House approved legislation under which the state can now participate in a nationwide automated residential mortgage license system. The purpose is to facilitate the sharing of information and standardize the licensing and application process for mortgage brokers and lenders. The Department of Banking and Finance would be responsible for ensuring the necessary privacy and data security is provided for the licensing system. HB 921 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Williams (D-Midway) represents the 165th District (Liberty County) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 511 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, GA   30334; by phone at 404-656-6372, 404-326-2964, 912-977-5600 or by e-mail at

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