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State House OKs $20 billion budget
Legislative update
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The House of Representatives voted March 12 to approve a $19.8 billion state budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1. HB 106 reflects an increase of $512 million over the current year’s budget.

Budget increases include $268 million for public education, including $236 million for K-12 schools. An additional $174 million will go to the Department of Community Health, which administers Medicaid and state employees’ health insurance programs. An increase of $50 million will go toward the deepening of the Savannah Harbor to expand shipping capacity at the Port of Savannah.

The budget plan now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Other House Action: Also last week, the House approved the following legislation:

An amended version of SB 61, the Georgia Self-Service Storage Act of 2013, which would change the due date for monthly rental payments. The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration of House changes, which include my amendment to protect military personnel.An amended version of SB 66, which would increase the penalties for contempt of court violations. The measure goes back to the Senate for consideration of House changes.SB 81, which would change the date of the state’s annual ginseng harvests to ring Georgia regulations into line with federal standards. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.An amended version of SB 193, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which goes back to the Senate for consideration of House changes.

On the Agenda: Wednesday, March 20, will be the 35th legislative day of the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly. With only six legislative days remaining before final adjournment, scheduled for March 28, lawmakers still have a number of major issues on the remaining agenda. Legislation passed earlier in the session by the Senate and now pending in the House includes:

SB 243, which would limit funding at the current $50 million level for a program that awards tax credits to those who contribute to private school scholarships and tighten eligibility standards for the program.SB 213, which would authorize more study of drought conditions in the Flint River basin.SB 242, which would allow downtown development authorities to fund solar power development on private property in towns and cities.SB 65, which would authorize licensed professional counselors to perform emergency evaluations on persons who are mentally ill or alcohol dependent and might need to be involuntarily committed.SB 85, which would authorize pharmacists and nurses to administer vaccines in addition to flu shots under protocol agreements with physicians.SR 378, a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the sale of fireworks in Georgia, with tax revenues going to trauma care and firefighter services.SB 136, which would lower the minimum blood alcohol level to .08 for charges of boating under the influence.SB 224, which would create a state-administered venture capital fund to invest in startup businesses.SB 70, which would change the way that “design/build” contracts are bid, awarded and administered.

Final Approval: House members gave final approval to the following legislation that passed the House earlier in the session and was amended by the Senate:

HB 101, which would allow nonprofit organizations to sell food at short-term events without having to obtain a food service permit. The House voted March 14 to agree to the Senate’s changes, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.HB 198, which would provide for the licensing of health insurance navigators under the health insurance exchange provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.HB 202, which would modify Department of Transportation requirements for performing value engineering studies and allocating federal and state funds for highway projects. The House voted March 14 to agree to the Senate’s changes, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.HB 254, which would allow motorists to present proof of auto insurance electronically on their smartphones in lieu of presenting an insurance card.

It is an honor to represent you at the State Capitol. Please contact me with your views on the issues, or whenever I can be of service.

Williams (D-Midway) represents District 168 in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 511 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372; or by email at

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