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Georgia Chamber Legislative Update – March 20

Legislative Calendar
The General Assembly completed legislative day 33 on Friday, March 20.  They will be in session Monday through Friday March 23-27.  April 2 is scheduled to be Sine Die, or the final day of the 2015 legislative session.

Action on Key Business Legislation
The General Assembly took action on the following Georgia Chamber priorities from March 16-20.  You can stay updated on the status of Georgia Chamber scorecard legislation by visiting our scorecard tracker webpage and see where we stand on bills important to the business community on our bill finder webpage.

HB 170: Transportation Funding Act of 2015
Chamber Position: Support

HB 170, sponsored by Representative Jay Roberts (Ocilla), passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 25.  Funding Georgia’s transportation infrastructure is one of the most important steps we can take as a state to ensure the safety and economic prosperity of all Georgians.  We appreciate the incredible amount of time and effort that our elected leaders have spent on this critical issue this year and look forward to continuing to support their efforts in the days ahead.  As the legislative process moves forward, we remain hopeful that a bill will be agreed upon that provides the minimum $1 billion to $1.5 billion in dedicated funding needed to address both Georgia’s short term priorities and long term plans in a way that is both predictable and sustainable.  The Georgia Chamber commends the leadership of both the Senate and the House for their commitment to our state’s future.  Since HB 170 was amended in the Senate, it will now move to a conference committee to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate passed versions.  Find out more about HB 170 on the Georgia Chamber’s Transportation Funding Act of 2015 resource webpage.  Click here to view this bill.

HB 412: Workers’ Compensation Reform
Chamber Position: Support; Scorecard

HB 412, sponsored by Representative Mark Hamilton (Cumming), was favorably reported by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.  HB 412 is the annual workers’ compensation update bill that includes several important provisions developed and agreed upon by the State Board’s legislative advisory council.  The most critical provision provides protection of the exclusive remedy for workers’ comp and strengthens Georgia’s workers’ comp system for employers and employees alike. Additionally, the bill extends the Subsequent Injury Trust Fund sunset which will maintain important stability and help to facilitate the settling of cases. The Georgia Chamber supports policies that ensure a balanced and equitable system of handling claims for on the job injuries. An efficient worker’s compensation system should be fair to the employee and employer and designed to return the employee back to work as soon as medically appropriate.  Click here to view this bill.

HR 601: House Study Committee on Saltwater Intrusion into Coastal Aquifers.
Chamber Position: Support
HR 601, sponsored by Representative Lynn Smith (Newnan), was favorably reported by the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee.  HR 601 seeks to establish a House study committee on saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers.  This study committee would examine the issues of saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers, recognizing principles espoused in the state-wide water plan: population forecasts, economic development forecasts, and water quality and quantity needs.  The study committee’s deliberations will help determine the steps needed to ensure the security of Georgia’s coastal drinking water supply for the present and future.  Click here to view the resolution.

HR 613 & SR 449: To Encourage EPA to Withdraw the Proposed Clean Power Plan
Chamber Position: Support
The House Natural Resources & Environment Committee favorably reported HR 613, sponsored by Representative Chuck Martin (Alpharetta), and the Senate Natural Resources & the Environment Committee favorably reported SR 449, sponsored by Senator Steve Gooch (Dahlonega).  HR 614 and SR 449 are identical resolutions encouraging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw the proposed Clean Power Plan.   The resolutions also encourages EPA to provide Georgia with full credit for CO2 reductions achieved since 2005; supports the comments on the Clean Power Plan submitted to EPA by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the Georgia Public Service Commission, and the Georgia Attorney General; and urges Congress and the President to enact legislation to prohibit the Clean Power Plan from taking effect unless and until any and all legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan have been fully resolved and no appeals remain.  View SR 449 and HR 613.

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