General Assembly 2022

Floyd County’s state Reps. Eddie Lumsden (from left) of Armuchee, Katie Dempsey of Rome and Mitchell Scoggins of Cartersville meet up on the House floor on Jan. 10, the first day of the 2022 session.

Legislation aimed at increasing the number of healthcare workers in Georgia is getting a second chance this year.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, saw her House Bill 291 tabled in the Senate at the end of the 2021 session. Last week it was recommitted to that chamber’s Higher Education Committee.

The measure expands eligibility for tuition equalization grants to some private nursing schools. Dempsey said the financial assistance would enable more students to earn their degrees.

“This will help address our serious shortage of nurses,” she said.

She’s also got a novel plan to reduce homelessness pending review in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. And with legislative leaders vowing a focus on mental health this session, it may have a shot.

HB 713 would require cities with large homeless populations to fund outreach teams to connect people living on the street with social services.

It also would let cities and counties set up “structured camping facilities” — with water, electricity and bathrooms — that homeless people could use for up to six months.

The bipartisan bill — crafted with the help of some homeless advocates — got a committee hearing last year, but no action was taken. Concerns were raised about redirecting limited funds from other homeless programs. However, more money is expected to be in the new state budget for such initiatives.

Another of Floyd County’s legislative delegates, Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, also saw movement in the Senate on a bill he sponsored last year.

HB 464 was recommitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which backed it in 2021 — but not in time for a full Senate vote.

The measure would allow probate courts to transfer the responsibility of appointing a temporary guardian for a minor to juvenile courts instead. Scoggins said juvenile court judges have the appropriate resources and experience to render better decisions.

A probate court judge himself, retired after 27 years, Scoggins also is sponsoring an update to the way some retirement benefits for probate judges are calculated. General Assembly rules require two years for legislation dealing with state retirement benefits to pass.

The Legislature will be in recess this week, although some committee meetings will be scheduled. The main order of business, however, will be a series of joint House and Senate budget hearings, with agency heads presenting their plans and funding requests.

Lawmakers will first revise the state budget for the rest of the 2022 fiscal year — through June 30 — in light of updated revenue projections. They’ll then tackle “the big budget,” which covers the period from July 1 through June 30, 2023.

Hearings, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, will be livestreamed online at Legis.ga.gov. The schedule is as follows:

♦ Tuesday: state economist overview; departments of revenue, economic development, labor and agriculture; secretary of state; Public Service Commission; departments of community affairs, transportation and driver services; Georgia Forestry Commission; and the Department of Natural Resources.

♦ Wednesday: Georgia Supreme Court; GBI; Public Defender Council; departments of community supervision, juvenile justice, defense, corrections, public safety, and education; the university system; the technical college system; Student Finance Commission; Georgia Lottery Corp.; department of administrative services; and the Georgia Technology Authority.

♦ Thursday (through 2:30 p.m.): departments of human services, public health, community health, behavioral health and developmental disabilities, insurance and safety fire; Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget; and federal block grants.

The assembly will resume Monday, Jan. 24, for the fifth day of the 40-day session.

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