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Day 21- February 21, 2008

The Senate today passed their version of House Bill 989, the Supplemental Appropriations for fiscal year 2008. The upper chamber made changes in the areas of health care, economic development and education. One other notable change is funding for public defenders. The Governor's recommendation of $3.6 million has been trimmed down to $513,000. The House is expected to disagree with the Senate’s version. A Conference Committee could be appointed as early as tomorrow to work out the differences.

House Appropriations leaders discussed the FY 2009 budget at a press conference this morning. Four key issues are expected to dominate State spending priorities in the coming fiscal year: Education, Natural Resources, Healthcare and Public Safety. Included in the goals are full funding for the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act and financial raises for Georgia law enforcement. Lawmakers’ Bridget Snapp has the details on House Bill 990.

Three pieces of legislation dealing with Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital passed the Senate today. Senate Resolution 748 urges Grady to adopt changes to their employees’ healthcare plan to encourage Grady employees to use Grady healthcare service providers. Senate Bill 353, the Public Hospital Integrity Act prohibits individuals with financial or family ties from serving on a public hospital board. Although the bill has a wider scope than Grady alone, it was introduced after recent decisions made by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority. Senate Resolution 722 creates the Grady Oversight Committee to provide legislative oversight for the State’s largest public hospital. Similar legislation failed back in 1999.

The newly created Trauma Care Commission met today at the State Capitol. This was its third meeting since its creation last year under Senate Bill 60. The Trauma Care Commission has two goals: to find long term funding for the trauma care network and expand the number of trauma care centers in the State. Today Commission members heard from the CEO of Savannah Medical Center, one of only four level one trauma centers in Georgia. Lawmakers Sandra Parrish has that story.

The Senate today also passed legislation that would allow law enforcement access to the GBI database to aid in investigations and trials to prove innocence or guilt. Senate Bill 430 would make it possible to compare DNA of a suspect to other open cases, current law only allows testing and comparison of those convicted of crimes.

Today was Disability Day at the State Capitol. Disabled Georgians and their advocates rallied to encourage the disabled to vote and to encourage legislators to “Unlock the Waiting List”. Lawmakers Minoo Hosseini reports.




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