Legislative Update: February 10, 2017

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JeffJones-GAOfficialHeadshot2015Trans4Web.pngOn February 7, 2017 just two days after our Atlanta Falcons valiant efforts fell short to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI, both the Georgia House and Senate returned to the Gold Dome in Atlanta to begin the 5th Week (legislative days 13 – 16) of the 2017 session. By the end of next week, we will have completed 20 days or half of the 2017 session, and it seems there is still much work to be done.

Legislative

HB146 - (I voted YES) Fire Fighters Cancer Insurance bill passed overwhelmingly out of the House thanks to Rep. Micah Gravely (D67).  Last year, Rep. Gravely was able to get a Firefighter’s Workers Comp bill passed by the House and Senate, only to have Gov. Deal veto the measure.  I agree that this version of firefighter insurance is much better primarily because it allows our counties, cities and community to better project and manage the costs for the coverage. I am proud to support this important step to help our brave firefighters.

Also look at two Firefighter related bills that passed the House HB83 and HB84 (I voted YES to both) which seek to improve Firefighter Pension Fund management.

HB88 - (I voted YES) closes a loophole that could have allowed a disbarred lawyer to serve as a Superior Court Judge. (This almost happened in Georgia!)

HB14 - (I voted YES) a bill I sponsored, makes it clear that all Georgia Sheriffs who are paid on salary, as they currently all are, must remit any fees they collect to the County fiscal office.  The kind of fees include process server fees, metal recycle fees, and similar.

SB70 - (I voted YES) This somewhat controversial bill passed the House 152-14. With the election of Pres. Donald J. Trump, the future of the Medicaid program is unknown. This legislation is vital to help keep our rural hospitals afloat and ensures that the $300 million Georgia has committed to Medicaid will continue, on a year-by-year basis, for the next three years. Passing this bill also ensures that Georgia will continue to receive the $600 million “match” from the Feds. Despite Medicaid’s exploding costs, Georgia’s contribution to this program ranks 49th among states in per capita spending.

HB154 - (I voted YES) This is another bill that seeks to help provide health care to rural Georgia, as well as other areas of Georgia, by making it legal for Dental Hygienists to expand the scope of services they are permitted by law to provide their patients.

HB64 - (I voted YES) seeks to make sure that our local insurance agents are fairly compensated for their time, expertise and efforts.

There are a number of other bills that the House approved this week. This link will take you directly to web pages listing every bill and resolution filed in the Georgia General Assembly. This link will work for the entire 2017-18 session so I encourage you to Bookmark it in your browser.

Local Issues

River Road on Shellman’s Bluff, McIntosh County– This road, which in many ways represents its name-sake “Shellman’s Bluff”, is quickly deteriorating and is very much in need of over $300,000 in basic maintenance.  There are serious problem in getting this much needed work done ranging from “who owns the road and has responsibility for its maintenance” to “getting the cooperation of surrounding property owners” to “where will the money come from”.

Please contact Diane Williams for more information or to offer assistance at 770-841-5462 or by email.

Authored Legislation for 2017-2018 Session

The bills I am sponsoring each require a lot of work. As I continue to perfect them, I am listening to constituents and meeting with a wide variety of interested parties, some in our state agencies, others representing the varied interests on everyone involved.

Coal Ash Protection – I am working on three separate bills, each dealing with separate aspects of how the State of Georgia gives oversight to coal ash pond closure, coal ash pond contamination of surrounding private water wells, and tighter public notice requirements should a local/private municipal solid waste management landfill decide to accept coal ash.

I will keep everyone up-to-date as these bills work their way through the legislative progress.

Teacher Out of Pocket Schools Supplies Tax Credit HB13 Which proposes to give teachers a $250 tax credit instead of the current $250 tax deduction for out-of-pocket classroom supplies. I understand the Georgia Chamber of Commerce gives this bill a SUPPORT position.

NOTE: This is good policy and good legislation that will directly help our teachers so I am passionate about getting it passed.  A major grass roots efforts is going to be required if I am going to get this bill heard in Committee and given the opportunity to receive a vote on the House floor.  Teachers, and others who believe as I do in supporting our teachers, must contact the Chairman of the Ways & Means (WM) Committee, and each of the WM Sub- Committee chairs.

Cash Wire Transfer HB66 Which proposes to charge a fee for cash wire transactions that originate in Georgia and terminate elsewhere, targeting Georgia’s huge, multi-billion underground or cash economy. This hidden economy consists of human traffickers, gamblers, drug dealers and employees paid in cash for their work.  The effort could easily raise $100 million for the state of Georgia – without a tax increase.  I understand the Georgia Chamber of Commerce gives this bill a SUPPORT position.

Sponsored Legislation for 2017-2018 Session

Georgia Space Flight Act HB1 An important regional and state-wide bill that passed out of committee a couple of weeks ago, sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer (D180), and for which I am a co-sponsor. Aerospace jobs in Georgia average over $80,000 per year.

Rep. Spencer is fighting a battle to get the bill brought to the House floor for a vote and can use your support.

Other Legislation

I am working on several additional pieces of legislation that I will report on as they come together.  Until bills are “filled” they do not show up on any official website but you can click here to see 2016-17 Legislation that I have sponsored or have co-sponsored.

Staying In Touch

As always you are welcome to visit me at our capitol office, which is located at Suite 501 in the CLOB (Cloverdale Legislative Office Bldg.). You may call my capitol office at 404-656-086 (note the new number); additionally, I can be reached via email at jeff.jones@house.ga.gov. I encourage you to reach out to me and share your thoughts and opinions as the 2017 legislative session progresses.

Now that session is underway, I want you to know that I will be working diligently on behalf of our entire district while at the Capitol. I hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this to stay informed on legislative matters that affect our district and state. Our House website: www.house.ga.gov has a number of tools to help you stay up-to-date on what’s going on at the Capitol: you can watch a live-stream of the House proceedings, and or archived committee meetings and review legislation we are considering.

As always, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your state representative.

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Rep. Jeff Jones


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