Update From the Gold Dome: Week 5
By: Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga)
More bills are making their way out of committees and onto the Senate floor as we approach the halfway point of the legislative session. The Senate continues its work to pass sound policies that ensure a better future for the people who our great state “home.”
In 2014, the Georgia General Assembly passed SB 65, a measure allowing licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to perform emergency examinations on individuals who are mentally ill or drug or alcohol dependent. These examinations are used to determine whether an individual requires involuntary treatment. Previously, the only people able to authorize these emergency examinations were medical doctors and psychologists. This bill included a sunset clause repealing the act in its entirety if is not extended through legislative action by March 15, 2015.
Last week, the Georgia Senate passed SB 53 to extend the sunset clause to June 30, 2018. This extension will allow the state to collect enough data to determine if it is beneficial for LPCs to continue conducting these examinations. SB 53 now goes to the House for consideration.
The Senate also approved several bills focused on protecting family structure and the safety of children last week. Senate Bill 3, the “Supporting and Strengthening Families Act,” will allow parents to temporarily transfer custodial oversight to another adult during times when extenuating circumstances impact the ability to properly care for a child. Companion bills SB 8 and SR 7 aim to bring more severe punishments to those who capitalize on the innocence of a child and establishes a fund that provides support services to these victims.
The Georgia Senate unanimously passed SB 5, which amends legal language relating to the Georgia Ports Authority’s ability to accept federal loans in Georgia’s effort to deepen the Savannah Port. The bill simply gives the Georgia Port Authority the power to indemnify the federal government from any liability that might arise during the $705 million project. This is just one more step toward making one of Georgia’s best economic-development engines even more prosperous.
The Senate also passed our version of the Amended FY 2015 budget last Wednesday; setting the total amount of funding at $21.1 billion based on reported tax revenue growth of 3.6% over FY 2014 collections. The revenue increase includes additional funding for K-12 education growth, as well as public health care initiatives. A conference committee will likely be appointed to negotiate the small differences between the House and Senate versions of the supplemental appropriations bill.
As always, I am honored to represent you in the 53rd Senate District. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district – my door and phone lines are always open!
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Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as Chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.