Andrew Allison, Acting Director
Kessarin Horvath, Sr. Communications Associate
Week Seven Highlights
By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
We’ve crossed the half-way point of the 2020 legislative session, but still much work remains. The vast majority of my time has been focused on our state budget. Last month’s revenues were a bright spot on an otherwise dim fiscal year. State revenues, however, still appear too weak to make this year’s original budget estimate. I worry particularly about April 2020’s coming revenue numbers. The Senate, under the guidance of Senate Appropriations Chairman and strong friend of south Georgia Jack Hill (R – Reidsville), has worked very hard to minimize the impact of budget cuts on services in the FY 2020 Amended Budget. We’ve taken particular time to minimize cuts to items important to south Georgia like agriculture, forestry, 4-H, DFACS, foster care and our Corrections department. I believe you will see the Senate pass the Amended budget early next week and roll immediately into work on the FY 2021 Budget, which funds the state from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2021. I expect work on the 2021 Budget to be much more stressful than our work so far on the 2020 budget, and feel next year’s work on the 2021 Amended and 2022 budgets will prove more difficult still. In other words, while the current situation presents some difficulties, the road ahead appears even more rocky.
As you know, the budget is not the only thing happening around the state Capitol right now. Here’s a brief highlight of several bills I have heard about from you, at home, that have now passed the Senate and stand before the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration:
- SB 315 – protects many of our small businesses by clarifying that subcontractors are not waiving their right to receive payment by signing waivers and releases of liens.
- SB 123 – raises the surcharge tipping fee on coal ash
- SB 302 – provides for the study of tax credits to ensure taxpayers are really seeing a return on their investments. This is the first step in ending those credits that do not help our state and eat away at our ability to lower the state’s income tax.
- SB 341 – provides for the rapid re-employment of retired peace and correctional officers during disasters and emergencies.
- SB 352 – requires an insurance company to keep the same doctors/hospitals for the entire plan year, so citizens don’t sign a year contract only to find their doctor is removed from their network the next month.
- SB 359 – ends “Surprise Medical Billings” for patients by requiring medical providers and insurers to engage in baseball arbitration on most out-of-network fees.
- SB 303 – requires greater transparency in non-emergency medical situations by requiring insurers to post prices and help their insureds navigate co-pays.
- SB 340 – designates September 1st of each year as Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.
- SB 316 – expedites professional licensing for military spouses to ease their transitions to our communities and get them involved in our workforce.
- SB 377- moves elevator inspections from twice a year to once annually.
Next week, I think you will see the Senate tackle reducing standardized testing and several additional broadband bills that are making their way through committee. I look forward to updating you on their movement then. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our number in Atlanta is (404) 656-0089 and my cell phone number is still (912) 245-9915. Thank you for the pleasure of serving you.
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Sen. Blake Tillery serves as a Governor’s Administration Floor Leader. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.