Capitol Update 8 – Budget, Drug Tests, Metal Theft and more

The Georgia Constitution requires one thing of theGeneral Assembly, to pass a balanced budget.  Last week, the House passed HB 742, the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget at $19.2 billion. The budget increased significantly reflecting the growth in population and strengthening state revenues; yet, authorizes per person state spending at a level more than 20 percent less than a decade ago.

Education remains our most important funding priority.  The FY 2013 budget includes an increase in funding for state education programs including 10 additional days of Pre-Kinstruction, a reading mentor program and included $3 million in differentiated pay for newly certified math and science teachers. The House budget plan also includes $112.5 million to fully fund K-12 enrollment growth and pay increases for teachers based on their training and experience. It includes an additional $3.5 million for the school nurse program and $8.6 million in supplemental funding for state special charter schools.

Other significant legislation passed last week in the House includes:  

House Bill 861 requires applicants seeking cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to pass a drug test before receiving any public funds.  This simple measure would ensure drug addicts do not abuse tax payer dollars to support their illicit habit.

HB 1114 creates a new felony stature for anyone who knowingly assists in a person’s suicide punishable by one to 10 years in prison.

HB 872 would combat metal theft by requiring metal sellers to show a valid ID and a work order or receipt to prove the metal was not stolen.

Finally, House Bill 797 would establish the State Charter Schools Commission.  The commission would be responsible for approving new charter schools requested by parents.  This bill is the enabling legislation for House Resolution 1162, a constitutional amendment that provides the state the authority to create new charter schools.  HR 1162 must first be approved by Georgia voters before HB 797 may take effect.

Now that Crossover Day has passed, the FY 2013 state budget and all other House bills are now in the Senate. The remaining 10 legislative days of the session will be used in the House to consider legislation already passed by the Senate.

As always, I welcome your input. Please call my capitol office at 404-656-0254 or if there is anything I may assist you with at the state.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative,

Brett Harrell