Georgia General Assembly Week in Review: Mar.10th – Mar. 14th

March 14, 2014

Pardon Our Dust

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With only two days left of session, the pace of business at the State Capitol had quickened. That’s especially true in the scramble to push through controversial measures.  The Senate committee Thursday approved a bill that would transfer the authority to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to the State legislature, and a Senate panel on Wednesday also unanimously approved a newly revised bill that would legalize marijuana derivatives in Georgia for treatment of patients with cancer, glaucoma and seizure disorders.   


Other Georgia news:


A new bill, which won approval in the state House of Representatives, would set the stage for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to pump water stored in underground aquifers into streams along the lower Flint River in times of drought using a process called augmentation.  Gov. Deal got behind the bill, as did the Georgia Agribusiness Council and Georgia Farm Bureau. The new version of the bill the House approved Wednesday restricts the augmentation project to “maintaining the minimum stream flows sufficient to protect habitat critical for vulnerable aquatic life” along four streams that feed into the Flint River.The amended version now heads back to the Senate to vote on the House changes.


Georgia counties would be able to put before their voters a sales tax of less than a penny under legislation the state Senate passed Tuesday. Current state law limits the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) to 1 percent, but this new bill would be giving counties the flexibility to seek fractional SPLOSTs would strike a blow for local control.


Nearly 140,000 Georgia consumers have selected a health plan since the marketplace launched, Thousands of Georgians signed up for health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace last month, although the pace slowed considerably from earlier months.  Nationwide, more than 4.2 million Americans have selected plans on the marketplace.


A bill requiring food stamp and welfare recipients to submit to drug testing if suspected of illegal drug use has taken another step forward in the General Assembly. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee narrowly approved HB 772 on Monday.  Rep. Greg Morris told the Senate committee the bill does not mandate drug testing for all food stamp and welfare recipients, but has a testing provision that is triggered when state employees who administer the programs have a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. A positive test would require subsequent screening to get benefits.