Legislative Update and an Invitation to my Town Hall Meeting


The legislative session has been proceeding unusually quickly, and I want to fill you in on what's happened so far. Today is the 14th day of the 40-day session. The 29th day, which precedes Crossover Day (Day 30), is scheduled for March 5th. Crossover Day is the day by which a bill must have passed either the House or Senate to "cross over" to the other chamber. If that does not occur, it will not become law this year.

Earlier this year, I told you that our state was faced with a budget deficit of around $500 million, most of which was a shortfall in our Medicaid program. Last week, the House and Senate approved SB 24, the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act. This renews the state's hospital provider fee, allowing the state to avoid losing about $450 in federal Medicaid money. The Medicaid program in Georgia serves approximately 1.7 million children, senior citizens, disabled individuals, and low-income adults. Beyond that, if this bill had not passed, there would have been a significant hole in the budget and hospitals in rural Georgia would have closed. The bill was imperfect but it needed to pass, and it did.

Hearings have begun on HB 142 and HB 143, a pair of bills that would begin to address our state's urgent need for ethics reform. You know where I stand on this issue: I support efforts to improve our state's ethics laws. To that end, I support greater transparency and a ban on lobbyists' gifts. The first draft has been revised and there may be further revisions. This story from the AJC provides an update on the current status of the legislation.

DeKalb Schools Update:

The State Board of Education will be conducting the second hearing with the DeKalb County School Board on February 21st. I know many of you are closely following this issue and are well aware of the serious implications. At the hearing, the State Board will consider whether it should make a recommendation to the Governor to remove the current DeKalb School Board members and appoint a new Board.

In addition, Superintendent Atkinson is departing effective today. This news has been speculated for weeks and is now official. The interim Superintendent will be Michael Thurmond, a former Commissioner of Labor. I plan to meet with him soon to discuss his plan to move things forward.

Town Hall meeting:

I would like to invite you to a town hall meeting on Monday, February 25th, from 7-8:15 PM. It will be at Clairmont Baptist Church, 3542 Clairmont Rd., in Brookhaven. We will discuss the current legislative session, the latest developments with the school system, and community concerns. I want to hear your views.

Study for a Proposed New City:

A group named the Lakeside City Alliance issued a press release this week indicating that they were studying a potential new city in our area. Their website is http://lakesidecityalliance.org/ and they are holding an informational meeting from 7-8 PM at the Lakeside High School. 3801 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30345.

Green 81

Earlier this year, I invited you to participate in a new initiative called Green 81. I believe in sustainable practices and I want to promote them. I'd like us to have an ongoing discussion about how we can make our community more sustainable. If you send your tips and suggestions to Green81@repscottholcomb.com, I will then share them with those on this newsletter.

Anand Thaker from Drew Valley sent this: "Have more associations move their newsletter to an electronic format for distribution. Instead, mail newsletters to only those who request/required a print copy which saves money, time, trees and keeps the streets clean. Also, it will provide everyone a channel to read the newsletter as they choose."

It's always a good idea to think before you print. Not only will electronic copies save resources, they are easier to update. Thanks for the suggestion Anand!

Page Program Opportunity

If your son or daughter is interested in the Page Program, and is over the age of 12, please contact Madge Owens at 404-656-6372.

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