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Posted: April 23, 2011 7:11 p.m.

Holt: Legislative session a wrap

This year's legislative session is at last over.

We saw the usual surge of bills and resolutions in the last week, as well as many reconciliation reports between House and Senate versions of some of those.
Overall, we voted on 99 measures.

SB 33 is the Senate's version of zero-based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting requires that an agency justify its budget request from the ground up, rather than simply requesting a continuance each year and merely justifying new programs.

This bill would require that every agency undergo a zero-based reviews at least once every six years.

While we have essentially been employing zero-based review during recent years due to the severity of the recession, that discipline could evaporate once the economy improves. I think it is quite appropriate that we make sure that thorough reviews continue, so I supported the bill. It passed by 135 to 38.
SB 178 seeks to create a category of long-term care to be called "assisted living". This would be a step between the current categories of personal care homes and nursing homes.

Such communities would be restricted to ambulatory patients (those able to walk), but could provide or arrange for limited assistance with personal services, most importantly with administering medication.

There have been efforts for more than a decade to create this category, and this is the first time a bill has made it to the House floor during my tenure. I agree with the effort, and voted in favor. The bill passed 172 to 1.

SB 223 would create a Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee of the General Assembly. This committee would be tasked with periodically reviewing all arms of the state government that receive money from state appropriations, be they agencies, departments, boards, authorities, etc. The committee is to consider the mission of each body it reviews, and whether that mission is being met. Recommendations to the General Assembly will be made concerning whether each body should be continued, reorganized or abolished.

Georgia state government has more than 500 different entities and, even after six years as a legislator, I'm still learning of arms of the state that I didn't know existed. The intent of this bill is to make sure that any of those arms serving no purpose be eliminated, and those that are not accomplishing their mission get restructured.

I think it is high time that we start cleaning house where necessary. I voted "yes", and the bill passed by 120 to 56.

Another item of interest from our final week was the disposition of the tax reform proposal.

The bill was intended as a package of tax code changes that would make Georgia more friendly for job creation and to move us more towards a 21st century consumption tax environment - changes meant to enhance our competitive position in an ever more ferocious international economy.

While I agree with those goals, I have not been deaf to concerns of folks at home about the particulars of the bill. During the session the bill went through several different versions, each attempting to deal with various concerns that have been raised.

When we reached the final version, I and other legislators felt the numbers were still not right. There were also questions about the quality of the data sources from which those numbers were calculated. Speaker David Ralston has been very attentive during this entire process and concluded that more time was needed to get the bill right. He halted further action on the bill for this session. I appreciate the Speaker's thoughtful consideration of the matter and look forward to future efforts to create a bill that works.

Since Jan. 10 I've read nearly 400 bills, resolutions, etc., and cast about 280 floor votes. I received 5,708 contacts (phone calls, visits, mail and email), of which more than 28 percent were from the district. Email made up about 90 percent of all contacts.

Contact Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) at (404) 656-0152, or email to doug@DougHolt.org.

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