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Senator Tolleson: Report from the State Capitol | Community Spirit

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Senator Tolleson: Report from the State Capitol
Senator Tolleson: Report from the State Capitol


The 2013 session officially came to an end on March 28 as the Senate adjourned Sine Die.  The term "Sine Die" is Latin for "without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.”  Therefore, when the gavel came down on Thursday night, the General Assembly adjourned until January 2014 and wrapped up the 40-day legislative session.  Sine Die is filled with time-honored traditions and is a long day for all those involved.  Legislators and staff remained busy working until the midnight cut-off time to ensure a fully examined balanced budget and the deliberation of over 60 pieces of legislation.  

The Senate and House mutually agreed upon a Fiscal Year 2014 budget of $19.8 billion the final day of the session.   The bill includes an additional $146.6 million to K-12 education to cover the 1.36% enrollment growth of students and training for teachers.  The Senate and House also agreed to restore the $1.3 million for K-12 school nutrition which had previously been cut.  The University System of Georgia will receive $62.9 million for enrollment and expansion growth to institutions around the state.   In order to fully fund Georgia’s growth of Medicaid and Peachcare, separate from stipulations due to the Affordable Care Act, $225 million was added.  Countless hours of hard work were dedicated in a collaborative effort between the House, Senate and Governor Deal.  The budget will now head to Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for final approval.

Various natural resources bills passed the final hurdle on Thursday that will contribute to the conservation of our environment and utilization of our God-given resources. 

Two bills that will further maintain Georgia’s aesthetics were passed; House Bill 226 will regulate the disposing of tires in a clean and efficient manner, while House Bill 320 will authorize permits relating to inert landfills.  HB 226 requires vehicles carrying scrap and used tires to have an Environmental Protection Division-issued decal on their vehicle and revises the number of tires that may be stored at one particular time.  The Senate tacked on floor amendments to clarify exemptions to tire carrying including an exemption for farms and farmers possessing certain scrap tires in storage or for agricultural purposes.  HB 320 deals with permit requirements for inert landfills.  Inert landfills are solely utilized for solid earth and earth-like waste products such as tree limbs, dirt, concrete, rock, bricks, yard trimmings, bushes, sand, Christmas trees, brush, and land clearing debris such as stumps, limbs and leaves.  This legislation will authorize any inert landfill owned and operated by a local government or authority which, as of January 1, 2014, has been certified by a professional engineer as being in full compliance with all permit requirement rules as they existed on January 1, 2012, to continue to operate under such permit by rule requirements.

A measure to allow special turkey-hunting permits for children and the mobility impaired also passed the Senate on Thursday.  House Bill 207 will allow the Department of Natural Resources to regulate an additional weekend of open turkey season for children 16 and younger and all mobility impaired persons.  The bill will extend the season one weekend prior to the first weekend of open turkey season to provide the opportunity for those persons to hunt.

Lastly, House Bill 155 was passed and will disallow those with blanket commercial shooting licenses the right to release pen raised game birds.  Further, the DNR will be able to issue and sell shooting preserve hunting licenses.

The next step in the legislative process is to transfer all passed bills to the Governor Deal’s desk for his review.  By law, once the bill is transferred to the Governor, he may sign the bill into law or veto the bill.  During the legislative session, he has six days to deliberate the bill, after session, he is given 40 days from Sine Die to consider action on all passed legislation.  If the General Assembly does not agree with the veto, they may override the decision with a 2/3 vote and the measure will then become a law.  If no action is taken with the bill, then it automatically becomes a law after the 40 day time period. 

Since the legislative session has come to an end, I will be spending more time in the district working on behalf of you.  If there are any issues you wish to have addressed, I would love to hear from you.  I look forward to continuing my service on behalf of my constituents in the 20th Senate District.  Georgia is on the right track.   I am confident that the steps we took this year will mean lasting prosperity for future generations of Georgians.  

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