By: Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton)
We’re in the home stretch of the 2017 legislative session with only five more legislative days left to vet and pass legislation. Committees are continuing to review remaining bills to see which ones are ready to be voted on this session and which will need a little more refining over the summer. A lot of the bills passed this week were clean up bills, which correct language or update bills passed in previous years.
Thousands of jobs are consistently created every month, home values are on the rise and Georgia remains the number one state in the nation to do business. Of all of the reasons that contribute to our state’s robust growth over recent years, Georgia’s Constitutional requirement to operate on a balanced budget passed by the General Assembly every year continues to be the most important factor to our continued economic growth. This week, we’ve upheld out obligation to pass a balanced budget with the passage of HB 44, the Fiscal Year 2018 General Budget (FY18). The FY18 budget is almost $25 billion, the biggest budget in our state’s history.
This year’s budget proposal includes $160.1 million to provide funding for a two percent salary base increase for our teachers, school bus drivers and school nurses. The men and women who serve our communities and children in these roles are vital to the future of our state. Protecting our home from terrorist attacks, both in the physical world and cyber world, is a top priority for me. Included in the FY18 budget is $209,000 for two new analysts to work in the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center to provide information on Homeland Security and cyber terrorism intelligence. The Senate has also provided for a $2.5 million bond package to fund the design and equipment for the IT Fiber Backbone improvements at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. There are a lot of other areas such as criminal justice, community health and transportation that also received funding from this year’s budget. You can read the full FY18 Budget here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/Documents/AppropriationsDocuments/FY2018/General/FY18G_SAC_FINAL.pdf.
While we’ve passed our version, the House is required to agree to the changes we made. Unfortunately, they did not and a Conference Committee had to be created to come up with a compromise both chambers can agree on. I’m looking forward to seeing what the finalized version looks like.
I’m happy to report that while we’ve been busy working to vet and vote on House bills, the House has been hard at work examining ours. Senate Bill 2, a majority caucus priority, is a bill I carried and worked hard to perfect through the committee process. SB 2 will make owning and operating a small business in Georgia easier by reducing the regulatory burdens and fees, and eliminating the bureaucratic processes placed on small businesses in our state. It’s now in the House Small Business Development Committee where it is undergoing the vetting process to ensure it is the best it can be for the state of Georgia.
Below are brief summaries of a few other bills passed this week:
HB 41 allows individuals who do not yet have degrees, but who are actively participating in an Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure option within an accredited professional degree program in architecture, to sit for an architectural board exam.
HB 49 would require licensed livestock dealers and auction operators to obtain a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture and renew the license every 3 years in addition to maintaining surety requirements.
HB 86 expands the definition of sexual abuse to include any act involving the trafficking of a person for sexual servitude.
HB 265 would provide a tax credit to employers who create 50 new, quality jobs in the state within a two year period. This bill creates a seven year window for employers to benefit from the tax credit.
As we near the end of this session, your input is more important than ever. I encourage you to reach out to me with any question, comments or concerns. As always, I am honored to represent you under the Gold Dome.