Ga. political notebook: Constitutional amendment doesn’t pass state House

ATLANTA – The state House on Monday failed to move forward a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed residents to opt out of federal health care mandates.

The House voted 111-61 in favor of the HR 1086, but it didn’t garner the 2/3 majority needed for constitutional amendments to proceed. Had the measure passed both the House and the Senate, voters would have decided the measure in November.

“The federal government is overstepping its authority and putting mandates on the state of Georgia and its citizens,” state Rep. Calvin Hill, R-Canton, said in a news release. “This resolution would preserve the freedom of our citizens and render unconstitutional any state or federal attempt to impose a mandate to prohibit direct payment of health care.”

The state Senate has also failed to push forward a similar amendment (SR 794), but did approve by simple majority similar legislation (SB 317).

Nationally, President Obama is expected today to sign the health care reform bill the House passed on Sunday.

Heath proposes eliminating ad valorem tax

State Sen. Bill Heath wants to eliminate the state’s quarter mil – or 25 cents per $1,000 assessed value – ad valorem tax. If approved, the law would kick in after state reserve funds reach $500 million.

“We must get the state out of the ad valorem tax collection business,” Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, said in a news release. “Local governments should have the ability to manage their taxes at the local level.”

Since SR 1287 is a proposed constitutional amendment, it requires a 2/3 majority.

House passes time served bill

The state House last week voted in favor of a bill that would give jailed juveniles credit for time served before trial, similar to what adults receive when incarcerated.

“We have a responsibility to make this procedure more fair and efficient. Juveniles should get credit for the time they have already served in detention, just like adult offenders do,” state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said in a news release. “This bill also saves the state money in a time when we are looking for every available dime.”

HB 1144 now heads to the state Senate.

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