The General Assembly concluded the 2012 Legislative Session at midnight on March 29. This session, Senators were laser-focused on passing legislation centered on fiscal responsibility, limited government, pro-business tax reform, 21st century education reform and protecting our children.
As part of our ongoing commitment to pass a fiscally responsible state budget each year, the Georgia legislature passed a $19.3 billion dollar budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
In addition, the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act, which I sponsored in the Senate, received final passage on Sine Die and will now travel to the Governor’s desk for final approval. HB 861 requires recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to undergo a drug test to receive welfare benefits. This bill will help revolutionize how our welfare system functions and better serve those in need while being proper stewards of taxpayer dollars. Final passage of the bill would not have been possible without collaboration from my House colleagues Rep. Michael Harden, Rep. Jason Spencer and Rep. Ron Stevens.
The Senate adopted HB 456, also known as the Georgia Government Accountability Act. This legislation provides a mechanism to determine the continued need of state-run programs through the creation of the Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee. The passage of this historic legislation provides a clear solution for efficient government operations and helps maximize every taxpayer dollar.
In the final days of the 2012 Legislative Session, the Senate passed HB 386 – a comprehensive tax reform package projected to offer Georgia businesses and taxpayers nearly $262 million in tax savings over the next three years. This bill kept Georgia families and businesses in mind by reducing the burden of the marriage penalty, eliminating the birthday tax, and bringing back the tax holiday for school supplies. It will also attract businesses and promote job creation by removing the tax levied on manufacturing facilities, an estimated savings of approximately $150 million per year.
21st Century Education Reform
The passage of HR 1162 creates a constitutional amendment to expand educational options for Georgia’s students. If signed into law and approved by Georgia voters in November, HR 1162 would set a precedent for education reform by granting the state broad power in determining charter school approval.
Senate Bill 289 addresses the need for technological advancement by requiring local school systems to offer students virtual instruction programs and requires high school students to complete at least one of these online learning courses.
Protecting Our Children
In order to protect our children, the Senate passed SB 316 and SB 355, bills which encourage greater accountability in the reporting of child abuse.
HB 954, which passed on the final day of session, will prohibit abortions when the probable gestational age of the unborn child is found to be 20 weeks or more, except when a physician has deemed a pregnancy “medically futile.”