2020 Session Weeks 7 and 8

Greetings from your state Capitol. Today marks a very important deadline within the General Assembly- Crossover Day. Before midnight our bills must pass our respective chambers in time for our legislation to be considered for this term. As adjournment is set for April 2nd, we have hit full speed in doing our best to pass legislation which will benefit our state and her citizens. 

Last week was eventful as I had the opportunity to welcome some very special visitors to the Capitol, including my daughter-in-law, Kamesha Harbison, who served as Doctor of the Day. These medical professionals are recognized and then stay for the duration of one session day to provide medical support to the members and staff of the Georgia General Assembly.

I also had the great pleasure of hosting leaders from Macon and Chattahoochee counties. These individuals had the opportunity to hear presentations from the Economic Development rural initiative team, as well as, from the GA Dept. of Transportation. I sincerely appreciated all for taking the time to make their way to Atlanta to represent our district concerns.

In addition to our regularly scheduled session, our Georgia Secretary of State also hosted qualifying week for the upcoming election cycle. After much prayer and consideration, I am excited to announce that I will be seeking re-election to continue my service as your state Senator within the Georgia General Assembly. I sincerely appreciate the guidance and wisdom so many have lent over the years and I am grateful to have your support as we continue to work in unison for the betterment of our district and state.

You can read more about Senate happenings in my full reports below. I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session. If you need anything at all, please let me know. Again, I thank you for your continued support and much needed prayers. It is an honor to serve you. Be blessed my friends!

Ed Harbison
Senator of the 15th

2020 Session Week 6

Greetings from your state Capitol. It is hard to believe that we are already one third of the way through this year’s legislative session. Friday, February 21 closed our sixth week under the Gold Dome. Last week brought the passage of several bi-partisan measures within our Senate body.

We are also pleased to report that the House successfully passed House Bill 792, also known as the House version of the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 budget. This action brings us one step closer in fulfilling our only constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget. 

We are anxious to begin reviewing their version in our Senate body, where we will either agree with their recommendations or make revisions to be discussed in further detail. Per our state Constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House and we appreciate their diligence and hard work in working to meet session deadlines. We are also expecting their version of the full Fiscal Year 2021 budget, set to begin in July, the start of our state’s fiscal year. 

We also managed to get a number of measures passed in the Senate, including a bill which I co-sponsored in support of our Veterans. You can read more about this bill and others which were up for floor votes in my full report below. 
I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session. If you need anything at all, please let me know. Again, I thank you for your continued support and much needed prayers. It is an honor to serve you. Be blessed my friends!

Ed Harbison
Senator of the 15th

2020 Session Week 4

Monday, February 3, we gathered under the Gold Dome for our fourth week of the 2020 legislative session. Last week brought many committee meetings and much discussion regarding issues of importance. 

We also convened on the Senate floor for three days, where we passed several measures, including an adjournment resolution which sets our session schedule in the upcoming weeks. Also passed on the Senate floor was my bill, Senate Bill 262, which you can read more about in my detailed report below. All bills passing the Senate now move to the House for further consideration.

Last week, I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by the GPB show, Lawmakers. Lawmakers covers each session day specific to our legislative action and is a great way to keep up with daily news from under the Gold Dome. If you missed the episode, you can click here to watch!

I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session. If you need anything at all, please let me know as I am here to represent YOU. Thank you for your continued support and much needed prayers. It is an honor to serve you. Be blessed my friends!

Ed Harbison
Senator of the 15th

2020 Session Week 3

Friday, January 31, brought to a close the first month of the new year and the third week of our 2020 legislative session. We convened every day this week and spent a great deal of time in our respective committees to review proposed legislation.

Many of the bills reviewed in committee over the last week are those resulting in work completed by our many study committees which met during the off- session season to further explore issues of importance. Study committees such as the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics, the Rural Development Council, and the House Committee on Maternal Mortality brought forth legislation with recommendations on how to best implement sound policy for each respective area moving forward.

I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session and please, if you need anything at all, let me know. Thank you for your continued support and much needed prayers. It is an honor to serve you.

Ed Harbison
Senator of the 15th

Budget Week 2020

Tuesday, January 21, marked the beginning of what we refer to as “Budget Week.”  Members of the House and Senate appropriations committees listened carefully as Governor Kemp presented his proposals for the 2020 amended Fiscal Year budget and the 2021 full Fiscal Year budget. State agency directors were also on hand to review their progress and make funding requests.

You can read a more detailed overview of budget week in my report below. 
I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session and please, if you need anything at all, let me know. Thank you for your continued support and much needed prayers. It is an honor to serve you.

Ed Harbison
Senator of the 15th

Week 1 Update for the 2020 Session

Monday, January 13, was exciting, as legislators from across the state made their way to the Capitol to mark the beginning of the second half of the 155th meeting of the Georgia General Assembly. 

It was great to catch up with friends and colleagues as we began preparation for the legislative days ahead. Over the remaining days, we will introduce and discuss new bills while revisiting 2019 legislation which did not receive a floor vote prior to our day forty deadline. Therefore, we can expect last year’s hot topic items such as casino gaming, healthcare, education and tax reform to reappear.

This week will bring the conclusion of “budget week.” I will update you on all budget happenings in the weeks to come. The budget is a living document and will change numerous times before final passage.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your voice under the Gold Dome. It is an absolute honor to represent our district. Be on the lookout, as I will continue to update you throughout the legislative session. If you need anything at all, please reach out to me as I am here for YOU. Be blessed my friends. Until next time…

Ed Harbison

Preview of the 2020 Session

Greetings from the Gold Dome!

The 2020 session is rapidly approaching as we prepare to return to Capitol Hill on January 13, 2020, marking the second year of the current session term. Given the upcoming election cycle, with primary’s taking place in May, we expect a quick but productive 40 legislative days on Capitol Hill. The two-year session cycle also means that any bills presented during the 2019 session are still available for passage during the 2020 year. The second year of any term is always hectic as we will closely monitor newly introduced legislation, while tracking last year’s bills which did not receive a final floor vote before the day 40 deadline.

Although our General Assembly is considered a “part-time” legislature, we were busy throughout the off-session season participating in numerous study committees appointed by House and Senate leadership, traveling our districts and hearing constituent concerns. Study Committee reports, required to be submitted by the end of December, are expected to result in the introduction of many bills related to healthcare, education, rural initiatives as well as ongoing discussions regarding our upcoming fiscal year budget. Georgia law also allows us to pre-file bills for the upcoming session the first week of November, meaning pre-session debate has officially begun. If you are interested in checking out what bills have been pre-filed, I encourage you to do so at the Georgia General Assembly website. Below I have outlined a few areas that will most likely be up for debate. You can read these by clicking on my full report below. 

As always, if you have concerns, questions or ideas regarding any issue, my door is open. Please feel free to contact me anytime. Be on the lookout for weekly updates beginning next week!

It is an honor to work as your voice under the Gold Dome and I will continue my service to ensure that our district receives the attention and consideration it deserves at the state level. May God bless and keep you my friends and may He continue to bless the great state of Georgia. 

Ed Harbison
Senator of Georgia’s 15th District

What’s in store for 2020?

Senate approves supplemental budget for FY 2010

The Georgia Senate voted Feb. 18 to approve a $17.4 billion amended state budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2010, which ends June 30. The revised budget is reduced by $1.2 billion from the original budget for this year and reflects a 23 percent decline in state revenues over the past two years.

The Senate version of HB 947 rejects an attempt by Gov. Sonny Perdue to take $33 million in lottery revenues out of the HOPE Scholarship program to pay for other scholarships currently funded by general revenues and restores $17.4 million in state equalization grants to low-wealth school districts, which the governor had proposed to eliminate.

The Senate also added $1.8 million to the Department of Revenue budget for the hiring of more employees to process income tax returns and avoid repeating last year’s severe delays in refunds to taxpayers and delays until next year the payment of $14 million to private “disproportionate share” hospitals to compensate them for medical treatment of indigent patients.

Unfortunately, HB 947 cuts another $281 million in Quality Basic Education funding to local school systems, bringing the total school cuts under the Perdue administration to almost $2.5 billion. These cuts short-change our public school students and force property owners to make up the difference in higher local school taxes. The budget also forces teachers and other state employees to take three additional unpaid furlough days between now and June 30.

HB 947 now goes to a conference committee to resolve differences in the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the budget.

Long Adjournment: Immediately after adopting the 2010 supplemental budget, the Senate voted 35-17 to take an 18-day recess for the stated purpose of allowing Appropriations Committee members to give undivided attention to the fiscal year 2011 budget. Continued declines in revenues have lawmakers genuinely concerned over Gov. Perdue’s rosy forecast of a 4.2 percent budget increase for next year. I voted against the adjournment resolution because, in addition to the budget, the state has major problems to be addressed. The legislature should remain in session and work overtime on a daily basis, if necessary, to do the people’s business. But a majority went along with the proposal, and the full Senate and House are now in official recess until March 8.

Economic Development: Legislation that would create an economic development council of state lawmakers to evaluate all state-funded activities that support Georgia’s economic development strategy received unanimous approval in the Senate. SB 374 would establish a council of Senators and House members for the purpose of reviewing current goals, tax exemptions and credits, as well as activities and expenditures of the Department of Economic Development. The bill is now under consideration in the House.

Kidney Patients: The Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation that would allow persons who are under age 65 but eligible for Medicare because of disability or end-stage kidney disease to purchase Medicare supplemental health insurance. SB 316 is primarily intended to help kidney patients pay expenses for dialysis treatments. It would also save the state $20 million over five years. SB 316 now goes to the House for its consideration.

Harbison legislation clears Senate Committee

Legislation I introduced, addressing the issue of who has the right to handle the disposition of the body of a deceased U.S. service member, was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee on Feb. 10.

I proposed SB 355 as a result of several stories from families who were plagued by the decision of who would handle their deceased loved one’s body. Kept in the U.S. Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data, DD Form 93 allows the service member to designate an authorized person to handle their body in the event of death. My legislation would ensure this form is utilized in Georgia, ending any disputes over the matter. SB 355 now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

This week, I also co-sponsored legislation that would provide much-needed assistance to U.S. military veterans who want to attend one of Georgia’s public colleges or universities. SB 405 would allow veterans who have enrolled but have not received their G.I. Bill money to attend classes until that assistance arrives from the Veterans Administration.

Currently, service members returning from active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan are unable to remain in a University System institution while awaiting their financial aid to arrive. Some have been kicked out of school, dropped from classes or assessed fines. This is no way to treat the troops who have put their lives on the line for our country. Our legislation would provide a grace period for these veterans to get their finances in order without delaying their pursuit of a college degree.

Board of Regents officials have expressed support for SB 405. A separate measure, SB 404, would excuse veterans from taking certain classes that they may have taken in the military. Both bills were referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee for its consideration.

Real Estate Loans: The Senate voted unanimously to give final approval to HB 926, which would make it easier for business owners to renew real estate loans with their local bank. State-chartered banks are currently barred from renewing loans to borrowers who owe an amount equal to at least 15 percent of a banks available funds. This measure would eliminate that restriction, allowing these companies to stay in business. The governor signed the bill into law on Thursday.

Revenues Fall Again: For the 14th consecutive month, state revenues declined in January. The 8.7 percent drop from the same month a year ago brings the total revenue shortfall for the first seven months of fiscal year 2010 to $1.28 billion, a decline of 12.9 percent from the previous year. Income tax collections were off 16 percent in January, while sales tax collections were down 5.5 percent. Corporate income tax collections actually experienced a huge 634 percent gain, but that is the smallest portion of revenue and was not enough to offset the other losses.

Communications Deregulation: The Senate approved an amended version legislation that would remove most remaining regulations on the telecommunications industry in Georgia. HB 168 would lower access charges, which are still fixed at 1995 rates, to current market rates. The measure goes back to the House of Representatives for final consideration.

Paperwork Reduction: Legislation has been introduced that is intended to cut government spending by reducing its paperwork. SB 388 was recommended by a task force of business leaders appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to suggest ways the Legislature could cut spending in the current state budget. The measure would require state agencies to publish information in an electronic format rather than printing it as a paper document, except in cases where current law requires a printed format. The Senate State & Local Government Operations Committee will consider the proposal.

Ethics Legislation:SB 394, introduced this week, would prohibit anyone who has had an ethics fine levied against them in the past 10 years from serving on the State Ethics Commission. The measure is intended to increase public trust in the Ethics Commission. The Senate Ethics Committee has the bill under consideration.