Greetings from under the Gold Dome! We recently wrapped up week 11 of the 2019 legislative session. To say our time on Capitol Hill has been eventful, would be an understatement. Many of Gov. Brian Kemp’s initiatives have made their way through the “process” and await his signature, including Georgia’s "Heartbeat Bill," of which I am a proud sponsor.
Our great state is now recognized as a state that chooses LIFE! Last week I had the humble honor of standing in solidarity with my colleagues in the House as we voted in favor of final passage for House Bill 481, which recognizes “personhood” after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It was an extraordinary moment in the House chamber and one that I will never forget. Thanks to all who shared words of support, encouragement and most importantly sent your prayers. This legislation has the full support of Gov. Kemp and we look forward to his signature and passage into law.
Medicaid Waiver Program
We are another step closer to expanding health care coverage for more Georgians through the final passage of Senate Bill 106. The measure would empower the governor to work with state officials to pitch two kinds of waivers to the federal government. One would ask for Medicaid dollars to go to local programs that tweak the requirements of the federal health insurance program. Another would aim to reduce costs for consumers who buy insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Medicaid expansion has been a huge debate under the Gold Dome in recent years. This bill is a compromise which takes a conservative approach. We feel confident that this measure will make a positive impact for our citizens searching for quality care at reasonable costs. This bill has already been signed into law by Gov. Kemp.
Georgia’s Hope Act
The good news is that Georgia’s Hope Act was passed by the Senate last week. The bad news is that there were changes made to the bill during the Senate committee process. The House did not agree with those changes, therefore forcing a Conference Committee between our respective chambers.
As an appointee, representing the House, our conference committee has been hard at work over the last several days to reach a compromise between the two versions of the bill. If no agreement is made, the bill will not be considered again until next year. If we reach a compromise, we will file our committee report to the House and Senate where they will vote on the legislation as presented by the final report.
2020 FY Budget
Legislative day 38 brought the passage of House Bill 31, fulfilling our only constitutional obligation, to pass a balanced budget. Our 2020 Fiscal Year budget allocates more than 50 percent of available funds to education, 22 percent to health and human services and 8 percent to transportation and economic development. I am also proud to announce that our House body voted to approve the largest salary increase in our state’s history for teachers and certified personnel! This action will raise the base pay of our hard-working educators by $3,000, starting in July of this year. Please be on the lookout for my upcoming budget column which will include a detailed report of final allocations, including any Capital projects expected for our region of the state. Georgia’s new Fiscal Year will begin, July 1.
Today, April 2, will bring our final day of the 2019 legislative session. We expect several bills to pass prior to our deadline, set for midnight. It has been a great session as we look towards a productive off-session season, filled with study committee work and district events. If you ever need anything, please reach out to me anytime. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you under the Gold Dome!
State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, represents House District 67 which includes parts of Douglas and Paulding counties. He can be reached at 404-463-8143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.