Legislative Report – February 18, 2013

The week of February 11 has seen an increase in legislative activity as the midpoint of the session approaches.

Parental Choice in Education. Student scholarship organizations (SSO’s) are being widely discussed at the Capitol and in the press. GRACE Scholars has been an important source of funding for families who seek the benefits of a Catholic education for their children. Among a number of bills related to education choice, HB140 (Rep. Ehrhart, R – Powder Springs) currently includes provisions which would most enhance opportunities for our families; namely, an increased annual maximum donation amount from $50 million to $80 million; an increase in individual donation amounts up to 50% of one’s state tax liability; and restriction of corporate donations to 25% of the statewide maximum.

Human Trafficking. HB 141 would require certain business, such as bars, etc., to post notices with a toll free number and other information to help people caught in sex or labor servitude trafficking.  The Conference supports the bill and has further encouraged adding reproductive services clinics as a location where women caught in trafficking could see the toll free number.

Abortion Funding under Insurance Exchanges. The Conference supports SB 98 which proposes to prohibit payment for abortions by insurers operating under the health insurance exchanges that will be created as part of the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Special Needs Scholarship. HB 70 was favorably reported by a subcommittee of the House Education committee and would improve the financial operation of the special needs scholarships which benefit students in some of our schools. We expect the bill to be heard by the full Education committee in the near future.