Legislative Report – February 25, 2013

On February 20, the Georgia General Assembly passed the legislative midpoint of its forty day session. Intensity will increase over the next ten days since bills must be adopted by at least one legislative body by the end of the thirtieth legislative day to be further considered this year.

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. The House Judiciary Non-civil Committee recommended passage of HB 141 to 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 the House Education committee and to improve the financial operation of the special needs scholarships which benefit students in some of our schools. The bill is now ready for consideration by the full House of Representatives.