2018-03-07 / Other Jenkins News

Legislative report

By Rep. Butch Parrish

The House had a very busy seventh week of the 2018 legislative session. As we get closer and closer to "Cross Over Day," our agendas continue to get fuller and our days longer. Cross Over Day is the last day a bill may pass out of its original legislative chamber and remain eligible for consideration this legislative session. I'm including just a few of the bills we passed last week in this newsletter. Please feel free to contact me if you have concerns or questions.

HB 918 addresses the revenue windfall Georgia is projected to receive as a result of the federal "Tax Cut and Jobs Act". HB 918 doubles the standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers effective tax year 2018, decreases the individual and corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% effective tax year 2019, and provides the General Assembly and Governor the ability to decrease rates to 5.5% should it be fiscally responsible to do so in 2020. This tax cut will amount to over $5 billion in savings to Georgia taxpayers and represents the first reduction in Georgia's individual tax rate since 1937 and the first reduction in the corporate rate since 1969.

The House passed several bills that came from the House Rural Development Council's (RDC) legislative recommendations. House Bill 769 is an effort to improve access to quality health care in the rural parts of our state. This bill includes several health care provisions, such as allowing for remote pharmacy orders, updating credentialing and billing practices, establishing the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability, establishing micro-hospitals and creating a grant program for physicians practicing in medically underserved rural areas of the state.

The Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability, through the existing Office of Rural Health, would provide leadership training and health data analysis for rural hospitals and would be located at a Georgia postsecondary institution with a health program or college that focuses on rural and underserved areas of the state. The center would educate and train rural hospital leaders on best practices and hospital operating standards. Furthermore, the legislation would allow for the creation of micro-hospitals, a hospital in a rural county that has two to seven inpatient beds and provides 24/7 emergency services, without requiring a new certificate of need when a hospital is closing or has recently closed and is purchased by a hospital in a neighboring county. Finally, the bill would create a grant program within the Georgia Board of Physician Workforce to provide financial assistance for some rural physicians who establish or operate a practice in an underserved area of the state.

House Bill 853 keeps public school students who are admitted under a physician's order into a licensed psychiatric residential treatment center from paying tuition or fees to a local school system.

The House unanimously passed a measure to help fight the horrific practice of sex trafficking within our state. House Bill 732 would expand the definition of sex trafficking to include anyone who patronizes sexually explicit conduct from a sex trafficking victim. With this clarification to state law, anyone who commits this offense would be charged with a felony and would be required to serve a prison sentence of five to 20 years. House Bill 840 would exempt active-duty military members serving in a combat zone from penalty fees associated with unintentionally unpaid special, occupational or sales taxes and license, regulatory or administrative fees incurred while they are in a combat zone.

We will reconvene on Monday, February 26, for legislative Day 27.

Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts or concerns on pending issues, or whenever I can be of service. My legislative office is located in Room 245 of the State Capitol, and you can reach me by phone at 404.463.2247 or email me. You can also stay in touch by visiting our website at www.house.ga.gov to watch a live stream of the House in action, as well as archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering. Follow me on facebook for updates throughout the year.

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