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Politics & Local Govts.

Feb. 2 – State Sen. Bill Ligon’s ‘Week 4 Under the Gold Dome’

By State Sen. William “Bill” Ligon

February 2, 2018 – During the last week of January, we heard and passed six bills on the Senate floor. These bills covered a wide range of topics, from retirement to Medicaid fraud to animal cruelty charges. Over the next few weeks, we will hold Appropriations subcommittee meetings to ensure our budget is conservatively and responsibly allocated.

I sponsored the first bill that came to the floor, Senate Bill 101, which will allow Georgians who participate in the Georgia Defined Contribution Plan to buy into the Employee Retirement System (ERS) if they meet certain criteria. For example, the bill applies only to former temporary full-time employees, and they must pay full actuarial cost for the benefit. I mentioned this bill in my column last week and was glad to see it pass unanimously in the Senate. I look forward to favorable consideration of this bill in the House.

Senate Bill 129 also deals with retirement, but allows former military servicemen to receive retirement credit through the ERS if they served on or after January 1, 1990.  In order to qualify, veterans must show proof of service, have had membership in the ERS for two years and pay equal to the cost of creditable service. It passed the Senate as well.   

On Tuesday, we vetted and passed Senate Bill 321, which will bring some revisions to the current Medicaid fraud reimbursement process. Currently in Georgia, only 35 percent of Medicaid fraud reimbursements stay within Georgia, meaning the other 65 percent goes back to the Federal government. By passing SB 321, 45 percent of those reimbursements will stay here in Georgia. As a result, the minimum Medicaid fraud penalty fee will increase from $5,500 to $11,181.

In addition to this legislation being passed on the floor, I introduced Senate Bill 375 this week to help protect the First Amendment rights of faith-based adoption agencies. The “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act” would protect faith-based adoption agencies from having to perform any service that would cause conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. This bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where I’m hopeful that it will receive favorable consideration before being sent to the Rules Committee and Senate floor.

I’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress of this bill, as well as HB 159, the Adoption Bill, which we will likely take up next week.

Editor’s Note:  This report reflects the opinion of Sen. Ligon. CEN publishes reports from all members of the local delegation as a service to readers. 

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