Legislative Report – March 4, 2013

The Georgia General Assembly has passed its halfway point and is focused on the thirtieth legislative day, “crossover” day, by which bills that have a chance of passage must pass at least one house of the legislature.

Parental Choice in Education. HB 140 is intended to increase the statewide maximum for donations to student scholarship organizations, such as GRACE Scholars as well as correct some deficiencies in operations of SSO’s. The bill is now stalled in the house Ways and Means Committee but we are working to have parts of the bill adopted prior to crossover day.

Pro-life / Biotechnology.  After weeks of refining details by Georgia Right to Life and its consultants, HB 481 (Neal) was introduced on February 26 to prohibit human cloning and creation of human – animal hybrids in Georgia.  A special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee has been formed to consider the bill but the lateness of the introduction strongly suggests that there will be difficulty in passing the bill this session.

Human Trafficking. We continue to support HB 141which has passed the House but will impose requirements only until the end of 2018. The bill would require posting of information about a toll free number for those seeking to escape from sexual and labor trafficking as a step toward ending such trafficking.

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. The Senate insurance and Labor Committee has been reluctant to take up the measure.

Special Needs Scholarship. HB 70 has passed the full House of Representatives  and would improve the financial operation of the special needs scholarships which benefit students in some of our schools. Having passed before crossover day, the bill is available for consideration by the Senate.