Sen. Gooch: Weekly Legislative Update

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Weekly Legislative Update
By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)
ATLANTA (February 17, 2012) – The General Assembly is at
a critical juncture as we mark the midpoint of the 2012 Legislative
Session. With many bills still being reviewed and debated in
committees, there is a growing sense of urgency to pass legislation
prior to Crossover Day.

One bill in particular that I would like to highlight this week is
SB292, also known as the Social Responsibility and
Accountability Act. In recent years, the drastic expansion of
welfare-related programs has placed an enormous strain on the
economic viability of this state.

At its core, SB 292 challenges individuals to become better
stewards of taxpayer money and promotes fiscal responsibility. If passed, this legislation
would require recipients of welfare, specifically individuals receiving TANF or Medicaid, to
comply with state mandated drug tests to determine welfare eligibility.
It is important to note that TANF and other related welfare programs were created to
represent a short-term solution to help families in need. President Reagan said it best,
“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
The passage of this bill would provide a bold and decisive step toward curbing government
entitlement programs while also ensuring hard-earned taxpayer dollars aren’t subsidizing
drug-addiction.

SENATE BILL ACTION Passed in the Senate
SB 286- Prohibits Future Tax Commissioners from Joining the ERS
Senate Bill 286, sponsored by Sen. Bill Heath, passed the Senate on Wednesday to prohibit
future tax commissioners from joining the Employee’s Retirement System. Under the current
system, some county tax commissioners are receiving both county and state retirement benefits.
According to SB 286, tax commissioners could only receive pension for their service as county employees.
After July 1, 2012, any newly hired tax commissioner, tax collector, tax receiver, or employee of such an officer will not be eligible to participate in the state retirement system due to their status as local and municipal government employees. The Bill passed the Senate by a vote of 47-5.

SB 246 – Contributions for Public School Employees Retirement System to Change
Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) presented legislation that increases employee contributions for Public School Employees Retirement System members hired on or after July 1, 2012. Specifically, this bill would increase the employee contribution for all persons who become a
member of the System on or after July l, 2012 from $4.00 per month to $10.00 per month.
The bill was passed Wednesday by a vote of 52-0.

SB 331 – Insurance Bill Passes Senate
Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) sponsored legislation which authorizes only insurers who issue
title insurance policies and who are also responsible for disbursing settlement funds to issue
closing protection letters. A closing protection letter is a document which protects the buyer
or lessee against fraud. The bill passed Thursday with a vote of 50-0.

SB 358 – Bill Mandates Local Governments Give Preference to Georgia
Contractors
Under legislation authored by Sen. John Bulloch (R-Ocklocknee), local governments in
Georgia would be required to reciprocate the preferences granted by out-of-state local
governments for vendors in their own states to Georgia’s vendors. This bill pertains to local
governments awarding bids for goods and services produced in Georgia. The bill passed
Thursday with a vote of 51-0.

SB 366 – Bill to Reduce Violence among Department of Juvenile Justice Inmates
Sen. Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville) authored a bill which will ban potentially dangerous
items from Juvenile Detention Centers (JDC) and Youth Development Centers (YDC)
throughout the state. This legislation would help eliminate violence among detainees of
Georgia’s JDCs and YDCs. Sen. Grant stated before the Senate that the legislation has
received approval from defense attorneys, advocates of the youth detainees, and the law
enforcement community. It passed 52-0.

SB 107 – Bill to Increase Contempt of Court Fines
The maximum fine for contempt of court in a Georgia Superior Court would be increased
from $500 to $1000, according to legislation authored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro).
The last time this fine had been updated was approximately 30 years ago. The bill passed
Friday by a vote of 45-5.

SB 362 – “Deadhead Logs” Bill Passes Senate
In the 19th and 20th centuries, numerous quantities of lumber were deposited in Georgia’s
river systems. Some logs were lost while being transported down the river, and others were
intentionally left for storage purposes. Over time, these logs were protected from
biodegradation due to the low oxygen content in parts of these rivers. These preserved logs
are known as “deadhead logs” and are often valued for their use in furniture.
Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) proposed legislation which would authorize the state to auction off
sections of Georgia’s rivers to harvest these logs. The bill passed the Senate on Friday with a
vote of 37-12.

SB369 – Bill would extend expiration date of Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council
The Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council is an agency established to provide the general
public with reliable geospatial data, including flood map modernization. The maps are
especially useful for FEMA and other emergency relief organizations. The Georgia Geospatial
Advisory Council is set to expire on June 30, 2012; however, legislation proposed by Sen.
Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) would extend the deadline to June 30, 2015. The bill passed the
Senate 50-0.

SB 395 – Bill would change SPLOST Revenue Collection
Legislation proposed by Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen) would authorize the collection of
SPLOST revenues to be fractionally collected up to a full one percent after January 1, 2013. If
enacted, voting referendums may ask to collect just a fraction of the single penny that is
typically requested. The bill passed with a 47-1 vote.
For additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the
Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.

North Georgia College and State University Day
To celebrate “North Georgia College and State University” Day at the State Capitol, I had the
distinct privilege of hosting students, alumni, 50 cadets and several administrators from
North Georgia College and State University on Wednesday. As part of the festivities, we were
also joined by Dr. Jacobs, the first woman president of North Georgia College, as well as BG
Joe Jarrard (alumnus) and 22 NGCSU National Guard officers.
Other groups in attendance included the White County Library Group, State Farm Agents,
and several of my constituents throughout the district.

Caterpillar Plant Moves to Georgia
Governor Nathan Deal held a press conference Friday morning to announce the opening of
Caterpillar’s Orkin facility, which will be located near Athens. This one million square foot
facility is expected to have a substantial impact on the economy through the creation of nearly
1,400 new jobs in Clarke and Oconee Counties.

Georgia was chosen over other states due its close proximity to the ports of Charleston and
Savannah, the availability of a workforce with manufacturing experience, the potential for a
strong supply chain, and overall competitive business climate.
As your representative of the 51st Senate District, I look forward to hearing from you.

Please
feel free to contact my office, and let me know how I can serve you best.

201 Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building, 18 Capitol Square, Atlanta, Georgia 30334
404.656.0028 or outside the Atlanta area 800.282.5803
Sen. Steve Gooch represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens,
and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via
email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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