Representative Barbara Massey Reece
Week of March 30 – April 3
The first session of the 150th General Assembly adjourned Sine Die at midnight April 3rd. Sine die is Latin meaning “without day.” Georgia’s constitution allows no more than 40 days when the General Assembly convenes each year on the second Monday in January. Days designated for committee hearings and conference committee meetings are not included in the 40 day limit. The General Assembly was recessed for several days while lawmakers studied ways the federal stimulus funds could be used to bolster the state budget.
On Friday, House and Senate conferees agreed on a final version of HB 1189, the state’s FY 2010 budget that begins July 1st. The $18.6 billion budget includes $1.3 billion in federal stimulus money and includes $1 billion in spending cuts for departments.
The budget includes 9 months of funding for the GBI to operate the Summerville, Columbus, and Moultrie Crime Labs. We will continue to work toward funding for these labs during the summer and the 2010 legislative session. Also, $1 million in bonds is included in the budget to purchase equipment for the crime labs.
The final three days of session were filled with votes to agree, disagree, insist, insist and appoint a Committee of Conference, then agree or disagree with the Conference Committee Report. Many bills came back to the House with so many amendments, or other bills added on, that they were called “Christmas Trees.” Legislators try to get bills that are held in committee added as an amendment in the last days of session. This is a dangerous time when bills that have not been studied can be added to a good bill.
I was pleased that one of my bills had already passed the House and Senate before this rush to beat the clock began. HB 464 is expected to save $6 million in Department of Corrections costs. The bill allows the Department to charge reasonable co-pay for inmate prescription drugs. The co-pay does not apply for chronic illness, mental illness, or pregnancy medications. Also, hospitals treating inmates are required to charge DOC at the Medicaid rate. Senator Mullis sponsored the bill on the Senate floor.
Staff of the House and Senate are still finalizing data on final passage of bills. I will have later reports on bills of interest to our citizens. Any bills not passed or defeated this session will be considered during the 2010 session.
Rep. Reece can be reached at (404) 656-7859 or Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org. Rep. Reece serves on the Education Committee, State Institutions & Property Committee, Science & Technology Committee, and the Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee. She is also Secretary of the House Rural Caucus