Legislative Update


KEEPING YOU INFORMED…

The Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and our Governmental Affairs Committee want to share information about pending state legislative issues that may affect your business. This weekly legislative review is provided by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and passed on as a service of your local chamber to empower our membership and guard our community’s welfare. Your comments or questions are welcome and will receive response.

March 22, 2010

Federal Health Care Vote
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive overhaul of the nation’s health care system by a slim 219-212 margin despite bipartisan Congressional and public opposition.

HR 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed the U.S. Senate in December and now awaits the signature of President Barack Obama. The legislation is expected to provide government-run health coverage to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured – but it will do so through new taxes and fines on businesses, workers and health plans; hefty subsidies for and mandates on the middle class; and higher health care costs, fewer choices and reduced access for the majority of Americans who already have coverage.

A separate "reconciliation" bill that would impose additional payroll and investment taxes, expand subsidies, and give special treatment to union health plans passed the House 220-211. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it requires only 51 votes to pass.

The Chamber thanks the members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation who voted against the bill, in particular Democratic Congressmen John Barrow and Jim Marshall, who were willing to willing to break party ranks to vote on the side of Georgians.

Tort Reform Decision
This morning, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision striking down award caps for medical malpractice, a key provision of 2005’s Senate Bill 3. The Georgia Chamber believes that the caps as passed struck an important balance between compensating plaintiffs and preventing outrageous monetary awards that drive up the cost of medical care and malpractice insurance. We will be reviewing this decision closely and determining what next steps, if any, should be taken to address the questions of constitutionality raised by the Court.

* * * * * *

Today is the 28th day of the 40-day working session and the General Assembly will meet two additional days – Tuesday and Thursday – this week. Thursday will be ‘crossover day,’ after which no bill that has not already passed one chamber can still be considered for passage this year.

Tax
Legislative leaders introduced legislation last week to create the 2010 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgia (HB1405). This group would include government leaders, business representatives and three of the state’s leading economists and be charged with conducting a thorough review of Georgia’s current tax and revenue structure and making recommendations in time for the 2011 legislative session. The Georgia Chamber is a strong proponent for revising the state’s tax code and supports this legislation.

Economic Development
HR178 was passed by the full House this morning. This legislation would bring much-needed clarity to Georgia employment law and ensure that employers and employees enjoy certainty with regard to employment agreements by allowing judges to make decisions reflective of the original intent of the contract. The bill now goes to the Senate for debate.

Education
HB1195, which will codify the mission and governance of Georgia’s Work Ready program, was passed by the House Industrial Relations Committee last week. The Georgia Chamber is a proud partner in this program, which has already made a positive economic impact on communities throughout our state. To learn more about Georgia Work Ready visit www.gaworkready.org.

For additional updates on legislation affecting Education, visit http://www.gsba.com/home.html.

Transportation
The House Transportation Committee passed HB1218 last week with a number of significant changes from what Governor Perdue originally proposed. In particular, the bill now shifts control of regional project lists from the state planning director to a "regional roundtable," places state legislators on regional roundtables, and moves the referendum date to the general, rather than presidential primary. It also allows for an "opt out" for any region that cannot agree on a project list, a provision explicitly opposed by Governor Perdue.

Water
The Georgia Water Stewardship Act (HB1094, SB370) received final passage by the House last week and now goes to the Governor for his signature. The legislation is based on recommendations made by the Water Contingency Planning Task Force which met late last year and included Georgia Chamber members from throughout the state.

This email was sent on behalf of Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce
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