General Assembly facing tight budget again in 2013 season
The 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly will convene Monday, Jan. 14. As has been the case for several years, the major task for lawmakers will be to balance the annual state budget in the midst of a slow economic recovery.
For the first five months of the current fiscal year, state revenue collections are up by 3.7 percent over the same period last year but are short of the 5 percent anticipated growth on which the $19.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 is based. The state is again facing a major shortfall in the Medicaid program.
As a result, Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered a 3 percent budget cut across most state agencies. Lawmakers will also consider renewing the 1.45 percent hospital provider fee to address the Medicaid funding shortfall.
The state's Criminal Justice Reform Council is expected to recommend a comprehensive rewrite of Georgia's 42-year-old juvenile justice code to better serve Georgia's children and promote safer communities. Broad goals of the reform plan include more efficient and fiscally responsible handling of non-violent offenses, which make up the majority of those committed by youth, and to reverse the currently increasing recidivism rate among youth offenders who spend time in youth detention centers.
Among other legislative issues, proposals have been made that would:
• Prohibit gifts from lobbyists to legislators or implement a $100 limit on such gifts.
• Change the Constitution to legalize pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, if approved by the voters.
• Increase the mandatory school attendance age from 16 to 17 in order to reduce the student dropout rate in Georgia.
• Revise state laws governing property forfeitures, providing procedural safeguards for defendants and greater protection for innocent property owners.
• Allow counties and cities to collect a fraction of a percent from a special purpose local option sales tax rather than the full 1 percent now required.
• Increase the boating safety laws on Georgia's lakes, with proposals including required boater education and licensing, lowering the blood alcohol level to 0.08 for boating under the influence charges and mandatory life preserver use for those under 13 years old.
The following general legislation has been pre-filed for consideration by the House of Representatives during the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly:
HB 1 Georgia Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act; enact
HB 2 State income tax; corporations subtract title fee paid upon purchase of motor vehicles; allow
HB 3 Evidence; professional forestry; Department of Public Health; AIDS; provisions
HB 4 State government; pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing; provide
HB 7 Penal institutions; use of restraints on pregnant female inmates under certain circumstances; prohibit
HB 8 Controlled substances; adopt and incorporate by reference certain drug-free zones
HB 9 Education; mandatory for children; change age requirements
HB 10 General Assembly; create Citizens' Redistricting Commission
HB 11 School buses; local school systems establish specific procedures and safety precautions regarding unloading children under eight; require
HB 12 Punishment; sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice; repeal certain provisions
HB 13 Protecting Public School Funds Act; enact
HB 14 Public benefits; no longer require applicant to establish United States citizenship repeatedly
HB 15 Elementary and secondary education; annual reporting of bullying incidents; require
HB 16 Georgia State War Veterans' Home; require Veterans Service Board to apply for certification to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs
HB 17 County and independent school districts; farm to school program; provide
HB 18 Blind Persons' Braille Literacy Rights and Education Act; enact
HB 19 Dropout Deterrent Act; enact
HB 20 Income tax credit; certain volunteer firefighters; provide
HB 21 Adoption; post-adoption contact agreements; provide
HB 22 Incorporation of municipal corporations; certain requirements; provide
HB 23 Carbon monoxide detectors; public and private schools; require
HB 24 Punishment; sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice; repeal certain provisions
HR 1 Horse racing; pari-mutuel wagering; provide - CA
HR 4 Georgia and Tennessee; boundary dispute; propose settlement
For more information on all legislation, please visit www.legis.ga.gov.