The 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly convened Monday, Jan. 14. During the first week, the Senate took action on ethics rules and the hospital bed tax, and the Senate Democratic Caucus rolled out our legislative agenda and responded to Gov. Nathan Deal’s State of the State address.
In addition to serving as Senate Minority Leader during this year’s session, I have been appointed to the following Senate committees:
- Administrative Affairs
- Government Oversight
- Health & Human Services
- Natural Resources & Environment
- Reapportionment & Redistricting
- Regulated Industries & Utilities (Ex-Officio)
- Urban Affairs (Vice Chairman)
I am proud to be able to represent the people who live in the 41stDistrict and hope to hear from you during the session on issues of importance, so please do not hesitate to call my office at 404-656-0085 with your thoughts. You can also send me an email at email@example.com or call me on my cell phone if it is urgent at 678-907-2723.
State Senator, District 41
Senate implements lobbyist gift cap rule; Sen. Henson introduces stronger legislation
On the first day of the 2013 legislative session, the state Senate adopted new rules that will put an immediate limit of $100 on the gifts, meals or entertainment that a lobbyist can spend on a Senator.
The new rule is intended to be a first step toward ethics reform in the General Assembly, which Georgia voters supported in straw-poll ballot questions during the 2012 primary elections.
While the $100 gift cap currently applies only to the Senate, Sen. Steve Henson has introduced legislation that would put a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists to all public officers in a calendar year.
SB 48, was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee for its consideration.
Sen. Henson has also co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure the Georgia Ethics Commission receives adequate state funding in order to carry out its responsibilities. SR 13, which was also referred to the Senate Ethics Committee, would specify a fixed sum for funding the Ethics Commission in the state budget for each fiscal year. As a proposed constitutional amendment, the resolution must receive a two-thirds vote of approval in both the Senate and House of Representatives and majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2014 general election.
Senate approves ‘bed tax’ renewal for Medicaid funds
A majority of the Senate voted Jan. 17 to approve legislation that would renew the Medicaid provider fee that hospitals pay in order to bring in more than $400 million per year in federal matching funds to the state.
SB 24 would shift the authority to apply and manage the fee, also known as the “bed tax,” to the state Board of Community Health. The legislation authorizes the fee, representing 1.45 percent of a hospital’s net revenue, to be renewed for four additional years.
SB 24 now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
Legislative budget hearings get under way in Capitol
As the state’s budget hearings got under way this week in Atlanta, Georgia’s Senate Democrats remain concerned with the disparities between the economic goals set out by Gov. Deal in his State of the State address last week and the actual budgetary proposals.
The newly proposed budget of $19.8 billion includes a number of all too familiar state budget cuts and a serious lack of investment in areas key to Georgia’s long-term economic growth.
Funding for the state’s already ailing education systems will also remain insufficient under the current budget arrangement.
The HOPE scholarship will also continue to suffer if full funding is not restored.
Gov.Deal’s budget proposal recommends increasing the HOPE scholarship by three percent, but due to increased tuition and related expenses, the increase may not keep pace. The lottery-backed scholarship currently provides only 90 percent of tuition expenses, and no financial aid for books or extra fees. Loss of full coverage has also led to a decrease in college enrollment, making for fewer citizens eligible for the workforce.
Senate Democrats believe these troubling disinvestments, coupled with bone-deep budget cuts have created an economic structural deficit caused by a lack of accountability and poor spending priorities.