In session for two days this week, the Georgia General Assembly completed the week on Wednesday, the 30th day of session. With 30 of 40 session days complete, legislators are closing in on the marathon and almost to the finish line of the 2011 session.
March 16 was Crossover Day and our time was devoted toward debating legislation for a extended period of time that day. Crossover Day is the last day a bill must pass one chamber in order to be considered by the other. The legislation that crossed over, now goes to the Sentate, where it will follow a similar committee process.
The House debated 41 bills on Crossover Day and concluded the day around 9:30 p.m. With only 10 legislative session days left, the end of the 2011 legislative session is in sight.
On March 14, the House passed several pieces of legislation. One bill of significant importance involved zero-based budgeting and would require all state departments and agencies to periodically justify their spending. A similar bill was passed last year and was vetoed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue.
H.B. 33 passed 126-45 and would begin in January of 2012 by providing zero-based budgeting in the state of Georgia. It authorizes the Joint Fiscal Affairs Subcommittee to determine certain departments and agencies to submit a zero-based budgeting at least once every six years.
The information submitted and reviewed includes: an analysis of the two previous fiscal years, fiscal spending plans, purpose statements and the efficiencies of the programs within the agency. Under this legislation, it also combines budget offices of the House and Senate into a Joint Legislative Budget Office for a proposed savings of $1 million. The goal of this legislation is increased accountability and transparency within the agencies and departments of the state of Georgia.
H.B. 275 passed 160-1 and would clarify which health care providers are allowed to honor do-not-resuscitate orders from patients and would now include nursing homes. If passed, the 9-1-1 centers in communities throughout the state could receive millions of dollars, which would be split based on population.
As mentioned above, Crossover Day was on Wednesday and legislators were at the Capitol for an extended period of time that day and into the late hours of the evening debating legislation. In regard to health care, the House passed H.B. 461 by a vote of 108-63. The legislation is a Health Care Compact Bill. The concern is the federal mandated health care law, and if that law is proven valid and upheld in the Supreme Court, the states need options.
This legislation would allow an alternative to Georgia residents and is part of a national effort across our country to promote the rights of the states. It would allow the state of Georgia to form a compact with other states in regard to healthcare and the rules of it.
Hunting in the state of Georgia is a very enjoyable hobby for some of our residents. Especially in the southern part of our state, the deer population has continued to rise. Many vehicle accidents are caused every year simply due to the overpopulation of deer – currently there are about 43,000 – and many farmers have a difficult time keeping deer out of their crops.
This legislation would apply to the southern zone of the state, below the fall line. H.B. 277 passed 122-48 and would allow hunters in the southern region to aim at a deer at any distance that is near a supplemental feeding source. This bill would remove the restriction that hunters in the southern zone must be at least 200 yards away and out of sight. This would reduce the number of auto-related accidents due to deer and would decrease the herd of deer that frequently enjoy grazing on crops.
If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, Ga 30334, or e-mail me at email@example.com.