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House bill adjusts state funds to schools
Legislative update
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As I recently reported, one of the most important requirements of the Legislature is to set a budget for the state each year.
Last week, the House amended the fiscal year 2014 budget under House Bill 743, which adjusts state funds by $313.9 million to a total of $20.2 billion for the year ending June 30, 2014. The increase includes $183 million for the mid-year adjustment for K-12 education. This is the final passage on the budget and one that, I think, is sound in our economy.
I believe another measure, unanimously passed, will ultimately cut the state’s costs and support fiscal responsibility. This is HB 412, which allows for county tax commissioners to offer the ability for taxpayers to receive their tax bills and notifications electronically. Electronic notifications save money in that they are an efficient and effective way to communicate with Georgians.
The state’s money was further considered as we addressed and passed HB 937, which revises the code section relating to the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund. This is a non-fiscal retirement bill that revises the definition of “fire department” to align to relating to fire protection and safety. Our firefighters put their lives on the line, facing dangerous situations amid unpredictable circumstances, in an effort to help and protect the lives of fellow Georgians. I believe it is our duty to provide this pension fund for the loved ones they leave behind upon death. It is my privilege to support the men and women who honorably serve in this way.
The health and protection of Georgians also was considered with HB 549. This bill creates a new code section that states that if any substance that endangers the health or property of downstream water users in Georgia is discharged into these waters, it is the duty of the person in charge of the substance to immediately notify Environmental Protection Division of the discharge’s nature and location, and to immediately take all reasonable steps to prevent injury to the health of property of downstream users.
If EPD determines that the health or property of downstream users is threatened, it will consult with the appropriate emergency-response agencies to determine if it is necessary to prepare and distribute a public notice concerning the threat.
This is responsible legislation that encourages conscientiousness for our environment and for fellow Georgians.  
Recently, I reported on the HOPE scholarship, and last week, HB 810 was unanimously passed and amends HOPE eligibility requirements for students who complete a home-study program instead of graduating from an eligible high school. Under this bill, home-schooled students must score in the 80th percentile or higher nationally on a standardized admission test, such as the SAT or ACT, to receive HOPE scholarships. As more and more Georgians are home-schooling their children, this is sensible legislation and one that makes the HOPE scholarship available to all our excellent students across the state.
Call me at 404-656-5115 or email to My mail address at the Capitol is State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334.

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