As of Thursday, we have completed 14 of our 40 legislative days for the 2018 legislative session. We are drawing closer to Crossover Day and the workload for committees has increased along with several bills passing on the Senate Floor.
On Jan. 29, we passed two pieces of legislation addressing the Employee Retirement System (ERS). Senate Bill 101 would allow employees who meet certain criteria and participate in the Georgia Defined Contribution Plan to buy into the ERS. Senate Bill 129 would allow former military servicemen who served on or after Jan. 1, 1990 to receive retirement credit through the ERS.
We unanimously passed Senate Bill 321 on Jan. 30. This legislation addresses Georgia’s current Medicaid fraud reimbursement process. By passing SB 321, 45 percent of Medicaid fraud reimbursements will stay here in Georgia instead of the 35 percent currently collected by the state. This means that the percent that goes to the Federal government will be lowered by 10 percent and the minimum Medicaid fraud penalty fee will increase from $5,500 to $11,181.
On Wednesday, I am proud to say that my colleagues unanimously passed Senate Resolution 502. I sponsored this legislation to urge our Federal lawmakers to hastily work towards providing resources and funds to expand access to high-speed broadband across rural America. A majority of my district is considered rural and broadband access is more than just being able to connect inside the home. It is a driving force behind economic development and job growth. It is also vital for education and expanding resources for students outside of the classroom.
Although this legislation passed, my work on this issue is nowhere near complete. I am still busy meeting and working with my colleagues, local leaders and other stakeholders on legislation that will address the expansion of broadband in rural communities throughout the state.
On Thursday, the House passed a substitute to House Bill 159, also known as the Adoption Bill, with several proposed changes to the version that passed the Senate. The Senate needed a few days to thoroughly review all of the changes proposed by the House. This legislation is very important and we do not want to make any decisions without fully understanding the impact it will have on Georgia’s children and families. I am hopeful that we can come to an agreement with the House and pass the best version of HB 159 for Governor Deal to sign into law.
This week the Senate began holding Appropriations subcommittee meetings to review proposals for the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget. Each subcommittee will review funding recommendations for their respective agencies and will prepare a report for the full Appropriations Committee. As chairman of the Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee, I will work with my colleagues to review proposals made by the Department of Transportation, Department of Driver Services, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and other related agencies. We will work with the full committee to ensure funding needs are met for these agencies for the remainder of FY2018.
As we work through the Amended FY18 budget process and
take up more legislation in committees and on the Senate Floor, do not hesitate
to reach out to my staff or me. We are here to serve you and your feedback and
input on issues down at the Capitol or in the district are always welcome.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.