by REPRESENTATIVE BUTCH PARRISH, STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 158
Legislative Week in Review
The Georgia General Assembly resumed its legislative business on Monday, March 21. Now that we have completed Crossover Day last week, my colleagues and I went back to work in our House committees to examine Senate bills. As a result, the House Rules Committee scheduled several Senate bills for a vote on the House floor last week. Meanwhile, our Senate counterparts gave final passage to some House bills that are now eligible to be signed into law by the Governor.
We unanimously passed Senate Bill 358 on the House floor to encourage those who serve in the U.S. military to live and work in our state as they transition to civilian life. This legislation would allow the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to reimburse the specific training costs incurred when active duty, retired or honorably discharged members of the U.S. military participate in basic law enforcement training. This bill would not authorize reimbursements for travel, lodging or supplemental salaries and would solely supplement costs of tuition incurred for training. If implemented, this funding would be subject to appropriations by the Georgia General Assembly. By making it easier for interested veterans to participate in basic law enforcement training, we can provide a pathway to good paying jobs for these veterans and help fill vacancies within our law enforcement agencies across the state.
The House also passed Senate Bill 396. Named the Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank (F2FB), this bipartisan legislation would help food banks purchase fresh, affordable produce from Georgia farmers. Food banks estimate that they are offered approximately 14 million pounds of food products each year, but they are forced to turn away four to five million pounds due to a lack of funding to purchase these fresh foods. Consequently, the House and Senate are working together to ensure that state funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget to match federal funds for F2FB to address unused agricultural products and fresh produce shortages in regional food banks. With SB 396 and an increase in state funding, our state could provide fresh food to those struggling with food insecurity, while also helping local farmers across the state find a new customer base for their surplus products so they don’t go to waste.
Many Georgians living with chronic illnesses, along with their doctors, typically have to jump through hoops to get certain medications covered by insurance. The House passed Senate Bill 341 to help lessen this burden for doctors and their patients and provide a better pathway for obtaining treatment. Oftentimes, patients with chronic illnesses must submit prior authorization forms to their insurance provider every few months for medications used to treat chronic conditions, but SB 341 would allow these patients to go through a single authorization process that would last for a minimum of one year. SB 341 would allow Georgians living with chronic illnesses to get these necessary medications with minimal disruption to their daily lives, as well as allow doctors to focus on treating patients instead of navigating government red tape.
A Look Ahead
The governor also signed House Bill 1302 into law this week to create a one-time tax credit for Georgians using $1.6 billion in undesignated surplus funds from the Amended Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Eligible Georgia taxpayers can expect to receive a tax credit based on their 2020 tax filer status. Single tax filers will receive a $250 refund, head-of-household filers will receive $375, and those who file jointly will receive a $500 refund. The two measures reflect the House’s goal to keep Georgia an affordable place to call home.
There are only five legislative days left in the 2022 legislative session, and the House will be busier than ever during these final days to ensure that we pass sound policies for all Georgia residents. As we continue to work with the Senate to secure the final passage of legislation this year, please do not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts you may have about bills being considered at your State Capitol during these final days of the session. Your input will help guide my decisions during this crucial time, and I always appreciate your feedback.
I remain dedicated to serving your interests as your state representative, and I hope that you will contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the legislative session or with any proposals or recommendations for future legislation.
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. Thank you for allowing me to be your representative.
Representative Butch Parrish