The Georgia legislature has advanced two issues that lawmakers have been debating under the Gold Dome for years. In some cases, decades.
Senate Bill 99, sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, would remove CON requirements for rural acute care hospitals. It passed the Senate 42-13. Here is our background on the issue. Another bill, Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, would have replaced the state’s CON requirement for new health facilities and services with a special healthcare services license. It advanced out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee but was not considered by the full Senate.
As the House considers the legislation to remove CON requirements for hospitals in rural counties, it’s worth asking: If reducing this regulation is a positive step for rural Georgia, why wouldn’t it be good for the rest of the state as well?
SB 99 is a positive step forward, but the work on the issue remains. The same could be said for education and school choice.
After a lengthy debate on Monday, the Senate adopted legislation to create education scholarship accounts in Georgia. Senate Bill 233, also sponsored by Dolezal, passed 33-23. After passing out of committee, the Senate modified the bill so it will now only apply to students who are assigned to schools in the bottom 25% of schools in the state. You can read more about the national momentum for school choice, and why parents deserve these options, here.
These are both big wins for Georgians, and lawmakers should be commended for tackling these issues. The debate on these bills, and many others, will continue in the remaining days of the session and a lot can happen. We will continue to keep you updated.
And please check out our full review from Crossover Day here. There’s a lot more information for you. In the meantime, please check out the new content from the Foundation this week and some of our favorite links below on what is going on in the state and beyond. Have a great weekend!
The focus should be on children
No one is trying to take from public schools anything they are owed. But we shouldn’t focus on what schools don’t have, but instead on what children need.
📺 WATCH: School choice is good for Georgia students and families
9 stories of government corruption or waste in Georgia last month
Last month a federal court sentenced former City of Atlanta Commissioner of Watershed Management Jo Ann Macrina to four years and six months in prison for accepting bribes. This, and more, in our monthly recap of the latest stories of waste, fraud and abuse in Georgia.
Georgia lawmakers looking to reduce barriers to work
Despite being regarded as one of the best states in which to do business, Georgia has room for improvement when it comes to reducing regulations and expanding work opportunities. And lawmakers are considering legislation this session that addresses barriers to work.
📺 WATCH: Universal licensing recognition just makes sense
Bill limiting zoning moratoriums advances
The Georgia House has passed a bill that would set a 180-day limit on any moratorium on zoning decisions related to single-family housing.
School choice programs would provide fiscal savings for public school districts
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has updated our estimates of the fiscal savings for public school districts associated with school choice programs.
After Crossover Day on Monday, lawmakers have until Sine Die on March 29 to move legislation from the other chamber and reconcile any differences. Here is our look at what’s still alive and here is our recap of the ninth week of the 2023 legislative session in Georgia.
- Lawmakers are continuing to work on the state budget. Earlier in the week, both chambers agreed on the amended $32.6 billion budget for 2023 and sent it to the governor. Their focus is now on the FY2024 budget, which, among other items, includes a $2,000 cost of living adjustments for state employees and public school teachers and a boost of $4,000 for public safety employees.
- Earlier in the session, the House advanced House Bill 162, sponsored by Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, which would send $250-$500 rebates to Georgia taxpayers. It’s awaiting action in the Senate.
- House Bill 155, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, would recognize occupational licenses obtained in other states when an individual moves to Georgia. To date, 20 states have adopted universal recognition. It passed the House 168-0 and advanced out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday. It’s now headed to the Senate floor.
- House Bill 203, sponsored by Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, would amend telemedicine laws to include eye examinations. After passing the House without a dissenting vote, it was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday. It’s now headed to the Senate floor.
- House Bill 147, the Safe Schools Act, sponsored by Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville, would create a school safety and anti-gang program for certified school personnel. After being adopted by the House, it was approved by the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is now headed to the Senate floor. This is a priority for Gov. Brian Kemp.
- House Bill 231, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Gullett, R-Dallas, would create an oversight board for the state’s district attorneys and solicitors general. After passing the House on Crossover Day, it’s awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, known as the “Lemonade Stand Act” passed the Senate 52-2 last week. It would prohibit local governments from regulating youth businesses, such as lemonade stands. It’s now in the House Small Business Development Committee.
Vogtle Unit 3 reaches initial criticality
Georgia Power announced that Vogtle Unit 3 has safely reached initial criticality. Initial criticality is a key step during the startup testing sequence and demonstrates that — for the first time — operators have safely started the nuclear reaction inside the reactor.
Georgia leaders plan to review state’s tax credits
Georgia leaders plan to review the state’s various tax credits, saying they want to ensure any credits provide a “significant return on investment” for Georgia’s taxpayers. Lawmakers plan to undertake the review between the Georgia General Assembly’s 2023 and 2024 sessions. Lawmakers could consider any changes during the 2024 session.
Georgia Senate passes bill to create education savings accounts
Under Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, taxpayers would fund $6,000 per student per school year. Families could use the money to defray education costs, such as private school tuition.
Arkansas is the latest state to pass expansive school choice legislation
School choice legislation passed the Republican-held Arkansas State Legislature on Tuesday afternoon and will head to Gov. Sarah Sanders’ desk for her signature. Senate Bill 294, also known as “Arkansas LEARNS,” passed 26-8, marking the latest win for school choice.
Lawmakers seek federal investigations into Wellstar Atlanta hospital closures
A coalition of state lawmakers and other metro-area officials is asking the federal government to investigate Wellstar Health System’s recent closures of Atlanta Medical Center in the Old Fourth Ward and its East Point Atlanta Medical Center South hospital.
Backlog of Georgia courts’ cases ‘could take years to resolve’
The backlog of cases facing courts across Georgia “could take years to resolve,” Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs said. Boggs pointed to Fulton County, where he said there are more than 4,000 “pending indicted felony cases.”
MARTA reveals list of nine priority transit expansion projects
The priority projects include three bus rapid transit lines, a remake of the Five Points bus/rail station, and the Atlanta Streetcar east light rail extension – a project with vocal opposition from many residents near the Beltline and Old Fourth Ward.
FAA announces millions in grants for Georgia airport projects
The feds announced nearly $10 million in funding for upgrades to a pair of Georgia airports.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced the grants as part of nearly $1 billion in funding to 99 airports in 47 states and two territories.
Quotes of the Week
“The old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish has been updated by a reader: Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and french fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his ‘basic rights.’” – Thomas Sowell
“Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.” – Benjamin Franklin
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” – Malcolm Gladwell