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Bill to attract more doctors to rural areas
Mon, 04/05/2010 - 8:02am
In an effort to entice physicians to rural areas of Georgia, the Georgia House passed HB 866, the Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Act. This will allow rural hospitals, other health care entities, local governments, and civic organizations to receive matching grants from the State Medical Education Board for the purpose of attracting physicians to rural areas throughout the state. Teachers are an essential asset within all of our communities and schools. We passed HB 1307 which relates to teacher certification and will temporarily suspend the professional learning requirements for a certification renewal for teachers and paraprofessionals for five years, beginning July 1st 2010. This bill will also not require that a course be completed in computer skill competency, as is currently required. While HB 233 passed during the 2009 session, increased predictability in taxation for property owners, we felt that more reform was still needed for Georgia’s property owners. With that in mind, I supported the passage of HB 1139. This legislation requires local governments to notify property owners of their annual property tax assessment, even if there is no assessed value change. It also requires that these notifications include an option to appeal the assessment of the listed property. This legislation will streamline the property tax appeals process and ensure property owner rights. In addition to taxation reform, we took steps this week to increase flexibility for public programs to receive private donations and federal grant funding through the passage of House Bills 1200, 1310, and 1199. Each of these bills helps state programs give high level services without relying on Georgia tax dollars. The first bill, House Bill 1200, would allow school boards to solicit and accept donations for field trips and other school-related purposes. This legislation will help schools dealing with budget cuts to find new ways to fund field trips and other hands-on learning opportunities. Next is House Bill 1310, which allows the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Commission to solicit monetary donations, such as federal grants. And finally, House Bill 1199 allows the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a public not-for-profit foundation. This new foundation will allow DNR to accept financial donations for educational programs. While the House has been hard at work passing legislation to help Georgians, some measures have proven controversial. I was upset by our federal counterparts’ decision to pass the unwanted and unaffordable federal healthcare bill. I understand that many families are concerned with the future of healthcare, and I support some measures toward healthcare reform. However, I strongly oppose the federal healthcare plan and believe that Congress crossed a line. Requiring citizens to purchase a product is unconstitutional and unacceptable. This is why I was happy to vote for House Resolution 1086 this week. House Resolution 1086 is an alternative option that would give Georgians the opportunity to decide in the upcoming general election if individuals and companies should be allowed to opt out of the federal health care system. The resolution would have also protected Georgia citizens from prosecution if they choose to purchase health care services outside of the new federal healthcare system. Although HR 1086 did receive a majority vote, it failed to meet the constitutionally required two-thirds House majority. Rather than force Americans to accept an overpriced program that we do not want, Congress should follow our lead and pass legislation that uses incentives and common sense to strengthen our nation. Each of these bills was passed during the first half of the week. Friday, March 26th marked the 30th legislative day of the session, known as “Crossover Day.” I will explain the importance of this day in a special article dedicated solely to crossover day. As your representative, I want to know how you and your family feel about these bills as well as other issues regarding our state. I am always eager to hear your thoughts and concerns. Please feel free to call me with any questions or comments. You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-5116 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time.