You are currently browsing the daily archive for 03/11/2011.

Children’s Law Re-Write: The major revision to the Juvenile Code has made it out of sub-committee and now rests in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The vast number of other bills assigned to that committee have consumed much time this week, and it remains to be seen when exactly this bill will be heard this session.  The JUSTGeorgia coalition and Voices will continue to track the bills progress.  For more information on the development of the bill’s language and other aspects of this issue, click here.

Runaway Shelter Bill: HB 185 (Rep. Tom Weldon, 3rd Dist.) was given a Do Pass recommendation out of the Setzler Subcommittee and out of the Non-Civil Judiciary Committee. it is now on the House General Calendar and supporters are hoping that it will be debated and voted on in the House Monday or Wednesday.  The Runaway Youth Safety Act would require that service providers who deal with runaway or homeless youth to contact the parents or legal custodians of a runaway child or file a report in compliance with Code Section 19-7-5 no later than 72 hours after initial contact with a child to prevent being charged with the crime of interfering with custody. This bill would also define a service provider to mean any community-based program with staff trained to provide services to children who have run away or children who are homeless or their families.

Department of Community Health: The House Appropriations Committee passed the proposed DCH budget for 2012.  The Health Appropriations Subcommittee made the changes to the Governor’s proposed bill, a few of which are highlighted below:

  • Changes Medicaid certification period to 12 months, rather than the current 6-month period
  • Restores $1.5 million in state funds for the Children 1st Program
  • Transfers $1.3 million in funds to DCH from DHS to streamline enrollment in Medicaid and in WIC
  • Kept in place the optional benefit coverage for adult vision, dental, and podiatry services, to the Medicaid Aged, Blind, Disabled enrollees
  • Decreased the provider reimbursement cut by ½, resulting in a total proposed cut of 0.5%
  • Despite concerns raised by Voices and other provider groups, the Health Appropriations Subcommittee did not make any changes to the proposed implementation of co-pays for enrollees in PeachCare for Kids

Department of Human Services Budget: The House Appropriations Committee also passed the proposed DHS budget for 2012.  Among the changes by subcommittee were:

  • Inclusion of $680,000 to provide 15 waivers for youth who are scheduled to age out of the state foster care system
  • Increased funding for 400 new slots for child care services
  • Transfer of $1.3 mil to DCH for fast-tracking enrollment among Medicaid and WIC enrollees
  • Restoration of proposed cuts to Marcus Institute
  • Rejection of the proposed transfer of Georgia Family Connection Partnership to move under the purview of the Georgia Office of Children and Families

Medicaid Fingerprinting: A substitute to SB 63 (Sen. Albers, 56th) was submitted by Senator Johnny Grant (Dist. 25) and the sub passed favorably out of the full Senate Insurance Committee with one dissenting vote from Sen. Nan Orrock (Dist.26).  The substitute is similar to the original in that its intent is to decrease incidence of Medicaid fraud, but the bill was stripped of the requirement that a biometric identity verification process must be used.  Instead, the bill calls for the use of a “smart card” to verify identification and provides that the department may also use biometric technology to verify the identity of Medicaid enrollees.  The vote came after a rather lengthy hearing, at which about 11 different individuals testified, the majority of whom stated concerns about the original bill.

Department of Public Health: HB 214 (Rep. Mickey Channell, dist. 116), which would establish a separate Department of Public Health, passed out of the House this past week.  The bill is being carried in the Senate by Sen. Greg Goggans (7th).

Health Exchange: HB 476 (Rep. Richard Smith, Dist. 131) would establish the Georgia Health Exchange Authority, a governance body to oversee planning for a health insurance exchange for Georgia.  The bill passed favorably out of subcommittee and the full House Insurance Committee by substitute this past week.  The only change included in the substitute was to move up by a few weeks the date by which this advisory committee must issue its report.

Note: The 30th legislative day takes place this coming Wednesday.  This is generally the last day which a bill can pass from one chamber to another during this session.  That said, the days leading up to and including Wednesday will be busy both in committee and on the floors of the Chambers. 

Georgia’s Pre-K: Monday, Governor Deal announced his revised plan for the Lottery funded Pre-K Program.  The program will maintain it’s current full day (6.5 hour) program, shorten the annual number of days from 180 to 160, eliminate funding for Pre-K Transition Coaches, and will add 2000 slots (as opposed to the 5000 slots proposed in the initial plan), bringing the total number of Pre-K lots to 86,000.  For more details, click here.

HOPE: Having passed the House on Tuesday, the Governor’s HOPE bill (HB 326, Rep. Doug Collins, 27th Dist.), which lays out parameters for post-secondary education funding, passed the Senate on Wednesday, adding four amendments.  Thursday, the bill went back to the House, which approved the amendments.  It now goes to the Governor for his signature, which is expected early next week.  There is no GA Pre-K language in that bill.

Faith based Child Care Centers and Pre-K’s: Wednesday, SB 152 (Sen. Don Balfour, Dist. 9) was heard in the Academic Support Subcommittee of the Senate Education & Youth Committee.  The bill would require day-care centers and child care learning centers operated as part of a local church ministry, a nonprofit religious school or a nonprofit religious charitable organization operate in accordance with the same fire safety, health, and safety rules and regulations established by the board for the operation of licensed day-care centers, but would exempt these day-care centers from licensure all other rules established by the board.  The Chairman decided to hold the bill until the 2012 Legislative Session so that the bill’s sponsor can work on the language during the interim with the Department of Early Care and Learning and other interested parties.

Death of Child in Child Care Program: This week the Senate Education and Youth Committee gave a Do Pass recommendation to SB 185 (Rep. Freddie Powell Sims, 4th Dist.).  This bill would require that after the death of any child at any early care program, the commissioner issue an immediate order closing the program for a period of not more than 30 days from the date of the order.  This bill would also require that the commissioner close an early care program when a child’s safety or welfare is in imminent danger.

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