Legislative Update from Rep. Werkheiser

Bill Werkheiser

Below is a list of the top bills passed this Session. Rural Georgia was the focus this year and many measures reflected that.

HB 684, the Fiscal Year 2019 budget would have to be listed first. Once again, Georgia passed a conservative balanced budget. Nearly 60 percent is budgeted for education which included fully funding Quality Basic Education (QBE). Another 30 percent is budgeted for health and human services, leaving only 10 percent for non discretionary spending.

HB 918 reduces the tax rate for income tax at all levels and doubles the standard tax deduction for all filers. This is the first reduction in income tax in 80 years.

HB 769 is the Rural Development Council’s recommendations regarding healthcare.  Provisions relative to pharmacy practices, credentialing and billing will help small, local hospitals. It also established the Rural Health System Innovation Center and the establishment of micro-hospitals. It provides for a grant program for insurance premium assistance for physicians practicing in medically underserved rural areas of the state. A big win for Evans Memorial was increasing the value of the tax credit to 100 percent for tax contributions.

HB 159 updated our adoption laws which will benefit all those involved in the adoption triad: the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents. This was a big win for the nearly 15,000 children in the current foster system.

SB 402 is the ‘Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act’ to provide for the deployment and expansion of broadband services. This is another huge win for Rural Georgia. It is a very lengthy 11- part bill. If you want the full description, please feel free to email me.

HB 831 establishes the Employment First Georgia Council. It will help those with disabilities as it promotes options for those who want to seek employment. 

SB 118 amends Ava’s Law by increasing the age of coverage for the treatment of Autism Spectrum disorders from six-years to 20-years-old and the limit on coverage an additional $5,000.

HB 834 allows a tenant to terminate a residential rental agreement without being subject to penalties when the tenant or the tenant’s minor child is a victim of family violence

HB 515 allows the Department of Community Health to develop rules for any medical facility, fire station, or police station to inform the general public that the facility is an authorized safe place to leave a newborn child. 

HB 876 prohibits counties and municipalities from preventing the use of wood as a construction material, so long as the wood meets the standards for Georgia State Fire Code and other relevant state codes.  This was a big win for our forestry industry.

Bill Werkheiser – State Representative

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