Monday, March 1, 2010

Rep. Kidd's Mid-Session legislative update

The following is a legislative update from state Representative Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville.

Mid Year Update

The Georgia Legislature of 40 working days is ALMOST half over but Senator Grant and I have been at the capital some 30 plus days so far this session with weekend appropriation meetings to begin this month.

As you read daily the main topic is the budget and the lack of State funds to continue State programs. We here in Baldwin County are very knowledgeable about budget shortfalls for we have seen over 2200 State jobs lost and another 1700 regular jobs lost just over the past 2 years with possibly a few more before the bleeding stops.

At Central State the real culprit is the buildings are old and cost too much to retrofit or to build a new facility. Hence the Federal Justice Department and the State Department of Behavioral Health have closed and are closing some of the older buildings moving the clients to other facilities within the region.

Senator Grant and or I have met with the Governor 4 times, the director of Behavioral Health 5 times and the Federal Judge once trying to find ways to better utilize what we have left and how Baldwin County can continue to have a “significant” mental health presence, maintaining current jobs and hopefully creating more jobs.

One good announcement hopefully will breed more positive results.

Yes Baldwin County was selected as the site for a new 1000-2500 bed privatized prison. Construction should start around July 1, 2010.

With our growing prison population there is a new interest on the part of Oconee Regional Hospital to take over management and re-open the Kidd Medical Surgical Hospital at CSH. If all works out it would be available for inpatient and outpatient treatment of prisoners in and around Baldwin County. It would also treat those who are housed at the War Veterans Home, Craig Nursing Home and CSH patients. It would also be available, via its emergency room, to treat the general public for those in need on the Southside.

We are looking now for a privatized provider to begin talks about a nursing home on the Southside to house only the elderly prison population. This the state needs and will contract with or build in the near future.

Already we have people looking at the Ireland YDC property to reopen as a traditional YDC or as a State compound to begin transferring some of the 22,000 county jail inmates who have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Relieving the responsibility of these prisoners with mental illness from our county jails and county budgets.

July 1, 2010 the State will issue an RFP for another 200 bed forensic facility. Hope we will get that also.

As you see we are constantly working trying to find ways to replace the unemployed with good jobs in Baldwin County. Bring us your ideas, for we want and need them.

Some of the main issues being discussed now are obviously the budget. Roughly 88% of the state budget goes toward Education, Medicaid and Prisons. That leaves only 10 – 12% for all other state programs and services.

Half of Georgia’s budget goes to Pre-K through 12th grade schools and education. Some of the approved budget is 29 million going to school nurses. Teachers a bonus of 7.2 million. The University system budget is cut by 236 million which will probably result in higher tuition.

Funds were restored to fund Liberal Arts at Georgia College.

23 new State Troopers are funded and 1.7 million for a center of Health Science at our Tech School.

$1.38 million is appropriated to design and construct diverting the Baldwin Building at CSH to a Mental Health Building. $2,245 million to replace natural gas lines at CSH. $505,000 for improvements to Georgia War Veteran Home. $315,000 for improvements to the Vinson Building at CSH.

Some of the issues I have received calls or emails about are:

HR 1177 Pari-mutuel Horse Racing
HR 1090 One term for Governor for 6 years
HB 669 Boating under the influence
HB 307 1.6% hospital bed tax
HB 919 2% sales tax increase to be repealed when revenue equals 2006 level
HB 1141 Voters Petition
SB 99 Lake Sinclair
HB 919 Ethics
HB 1030 Merging Department Pardons and Parole with Department of Corrections
HB 788 Animal euthanasia
HB 180 Tattooing
HB 1073 Absentee ballots for those in Military
HR 1401 Coroner education
HB 819 Handgun License
HB 39 Increase tobacco tax by $1 per pack
SB 425 Community Health Boards – members shall have no conflicts of interest
SB 5 Seatbelts – Mandatory to all drivers wear seatbelts, to levy a Gov. Proposal 1% sales tax for transportation
HR 912, HB 912 & HB 920 Ethics legislation and lobbyist disclosures
Georgia Trauma Centers – Several bills
Beer Alcohol Tax increase

To contact Representative Rusty Kidd:
Atlanta (404) 655-0334
M’vill (478) 452-1354
Cell (478) 451-7029

To contact Senator Johnny Grant:
Atlanta (404) 656-0082

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I think Rusty's update is interesting as it includes the list of things constituents are calling him about.

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