2018-02-14 / Society

House passes legislation on budgets, education and more

Under the Gold Dome House News
Representative Gerald Greene

The House kicked off the fifth week of the 2018 legislative session Monday, Feb. 5, and with only a few weeks left until “Crossover Day.” My House colleagues and I worked to pass several bills, including House Bill 683, the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AFY 2018) budget. House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) presented HB 683, the AFY 2018 budget, the measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 167-8, and I will discuss some of the highlights of the amended 2018 budget.

The AFY 2018 budget recognizes $306.7 million in additional state revenue and brings the total AFY 2018 budget to $25.3 billion. The amended version of the 2018 budget focuses on required growth in education, healthcare and human services, and also provides targeted funding for key initiatives recommended by the House Rural Development Council.

Funding for education and related initiatives makes up some of the largest investments. The budget includes $15.5 million to purchase 200 new school buses for school systems statewide. The budget also includes $8.1 million in lottery funds to keep up with the growing demand for HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships.

Health and human services-related appropriations also make up some of the largest items in budget. As recommended by Governor Deal, the House allocated funds in the AFY 2018 budget for initiatives for children diagnosed with autism, including $1.25 million for crisis service.

In addition to passing the amended state budget this week, the House also overwhelmingly passed House Bill 700, a military-friendly measure that would update and expand the National Guard Service Cancelable Loan program to cover the cost of graduate degree programs for National Guard members.

In an effort to address Georgia’s current opioid crisis, the House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 701. It would update Georgia law by allowing our state to test candidates for all forms of opioids during state employment drug testing but would not affect those with valid and legal opioid prescriptions.

The House also passed a bill this week that would help protect our children. House Bill 655 would require public schools, as well as local and state charter schools, to post signs with the toll-free phone number of the child abuse hotline in clearly visible, public areas.

Finally, I would like to update you on the status of House Bill 159, the adoption bill. The Senate overwhelmingly passed HB 159 Monday, Feb. 5. The final version of HB 159 would update Georgia’s adoption laws for the first time in almost three decades.

Thursday, Feb. 8, marked legislative Day 18, and my House colleagues and I are almost halfway through the 40-day legislative session. As your representative under the Gold Dome, your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and I want to know which issues are significant to you and your family. If you find yourself in Atlanta during the legislative session, please feel free to visit my Capitol office, which is located in room 131. You may also call my Capitol office at 404- 656-5105, or email me a t gerald.greene@house.ga.gov

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative and that is the way it is under the Gold Dome.

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