The flow of bills seems unstoppable at the state Legislature as the session picks up steam. The House alone had a dozen bills on its calendar Thursday. But like Ebenezer Scrooge confronting the Ghost of Christmas Past, lawmakers this week are also dealing with a bill they passed last year. On Tuesday, lawmakers attended a joint Q&A session to straighten out the confusion. And then on Thursday, they scheduled a meeting to discuss a part of the bill that exempts caucuses (except it’s not clear what a caucus is).
The issue of Medicaid expansion drew its first full-scale 2014 General Assembly hearing Wednesday. As expected, the arguments reflected the passions surrounding the Affordable Care Act. A House Judiciary subcommittee voted to pass HB 990, which would require the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid here, rather than leaving the decision up to the governor alone.
T-minus 5 and T-minus 15. That’s where things stand with the state legislature. Thursday is Day 25 of the General Assembly’s 40-day session. And in five legislative days, lawmakers will observe Crossover Day and in 15 days, the session will end with a bang on Day 40.
Roughly 100 people rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday to protest changes implemented this year to the State Health Benefit Plan for state employees and educators. Those changes have sparked a groundswell of criticism from thousands of Georgians about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
A Georgia House panel Monday approved a bill that would toughen penalties for operating an unlicensed personal care home, raising a first offense to a felony from a misdemeanor. The vote came after compelling testimony from Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who described to the House Health and Human Services Committee two cases of abuse in unlicensed Cobb County homes.
The sponsor of a medical marijuana bill said Monday after a three-hour legislative hearing that the proposal must get significant revisions before it can move forward in the Georgia General Assembly. But state Rep. Allen Peake’s efforts drew support from the vast majority of people who packed the hearing room.
A bill under consideration by state lawmakers would prevent farmers from withdrawing some water from the Flint River basin during severe drought. Opponents say the bill would permit government overreach, and threaten individual property rights. But the bill’s supporters say it would be in effect during extreme weather conditions only, and would pertain only to water from augmented stream flows.
The 26 community boards that offer services to Georgians with behavioral health problems and developmental disabilities would face new oversight under a state Senate bill introduced this week. The legislation follows recent trouble connected with one such community service board in Coastal Georgia. A September state report on Gateway Behavioral Health Services last year said its operation was riddled with financial irregularities and management problems.
State Sen. Tommie Williams and three other General Assembly members Tuesday urged their colleagues to pass legislation this year that would require private health insurance companies in Georgia to cover treatment for autism. Williams’ niece’s daughter, Ava Bullard, is the inspiration for the proposed legislation, Ava’s Law. The issue has been raised at the Legislature for the past five years, Williams said.
Just when you might have thought SnowJam 2014 was the only thing anyone in Georgia cared about, along comes a day at the state Capitol that shows the depth and breadth of the issues facing Georgians. A short list of the issues addressed Tuesday at the Capitol included convening a new Constitutional convention to introduce amendments aimed at reining in federal spending and removing Georgia from the Common Core educational curriculum standards.