The legislature worked two days this week in name only. Monday was a regular day with a full slate of committee hearings. On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee met to pass the FY 2015 budget. The legislature met briefly and then headed home. With the expected Winter Jam Pax coming, only essential work was done like the budget. Non-essential issues were left pending. Numerous committee hearings were put off until next week. Last week, we said the first snowstorm was in the rear view mirror. Well that was so true
, as the news of the pending storm came, the state leaders were determined not to repeat the jammed highways of two weeks ago. Many state workers were sent home and schools canceled well in advance of any frozen rain or snow, but no road problems occurred. Today is the first day of state government being fully operational, and the legislature will return on Monday. The legislative session is past the halfway mark and the pace of bill consideration will quicken. We will stay fully engaged and keep you updated. Please let us know if you have questions. (Please note: there is an American Chemistry Council update below the Georgia Legislative section.)
SB 333 – Our bill in the Senate to restore appeal rights under HSRA is currently waiting to be considered by the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment committee. The bill should have gone before the committee on Tuesday, but the ice storm put much of the legislative agenda this week on hold. Hopefully, the bill will be considered before the committee at its next meeting.
HB 904 – The House version of our bill to restore appeal rights under HSRA passed favorably from House Resource Management Subcommittee of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee on Monday. We will continue to push the legislation to ensure Georgia businesses have the appeal rights they deserve.
HR 1158 & HR 1159 – These two resolutions, whose progress was also derailed by the inclement weather this week, encourage the EPA to consult the states in determining emissions standards for coal-fueled electric generating units. The House Interstate Cooperation committee favorably reported on both resolutions Thursday, Feb 6 and they should move to the full House shortly.
HB 741 – On Feb 10, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of this legislation intended to provide local control and input when the EPD is reviewing an application for a sludge land application permit. The bill has since been introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment committee for further review. GCC initially had some concerns with the bill, but now, we do not think it will have any negative impact on facility operated water treatment plants.
HB 900 – This piece of tax code legislation would include items deemed “consumable supplies” under the sales tax exemption for manufacturing. The bill is pending in the Ways & Means Sales Tax Subcommittee on Monday and is waiting for a canceled hearing to be rescheduled. We continue to support this bill and are actively engaging on its passage.
SB 299 – Introduced on Jan 21, 2014, SB 299 allows local governments flexibility in watershed protection standards. It is currently in the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee. GCC is reviewing the bill to determine any impacts on our plants.
HB 809 – This legislation outlines new restrictions and standards on patent holders attempting to remand individuals who are perceived to be violating the patent holder’s intellectual property rights. The bill passed the House on Feb 6, was introduced in the Senate the following day and was referred to the Senate Banks & Banking Committee.
News from the American Chemistry Council:
- State of the Union
- In a sound affirmation of the effectiveness of ACC’s energy advocacy and messaging, President Obama’s January 28th State of the Union address acknowledged the profound opportunities available to our industry enabled by shale gas development.
- The President spoke about the role that natural gas is playing by putting people back to work, driving capital investment – including more than $100 billion by our industry – and restoring our country’s global manufacturing competitiveness.
- He also committed to cutting red-tape to ease the permitting of new manufacturing plants while enhancing the nation’s energy infrastructure. Capitalizing on these commitments will be a key part of our strategy throughout 2014.
- SAFETY Act Designation
- In a late-breaking and significant victory for ACC and our members, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on January 29th renewed the SAFETY Act designation for the Responsible Care® Security Code. The designation recognizes the Code as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology and provides ACC members and Responsible Care Partners that have implemented the Code and the Responsible Care Management System® with certain liability protections for damages that occur as a result of a terrorist attack.
- The Security Code predates federal security regulations and has served as a model for subsequent regulatory action under the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. The designation was first granted in January 2009 in the final days of the Bush Administration for a five-year period. By showcasing the effectiveness of the Code’s thirteen rigorous management practices and DHS’s own reliance on other elements of Responsible Care, ACC demonstrated how the Code continues to satisfy the criteria set forth in the SAFETY Act . The five year renewal is effective through January 2019.
Buzz Around the Dome:
- Online Voter Registration Coming Soon – On Friday Feb. 7, HB 942 was introduced, which would bring 2012 online voter registration legislation into force.
- The HOPE Scholarship may extend to older, nontraditional students if legislation proposed by Rep. Howard Mosbypasses.
- Medical marijuana has become the surprise issue of the 2013-14 legislative session, having garnered a fair degree of bipartisan support.
- AJC – Medical Marijuana bill to receive first hearing
- HB 885 will allow for continued research into the use of medical marijuana for certain diseases such as cancer and glaucoma.
- AJC – Experts vouch for medical marijuana bill’s benefits
- An ice storm of historic proportions hit the state of Georgia and much of the southeast this week leaving the city at a standstill for the second time in three weeks.
- Georgia Senate race heats up with David Perdue’s first slew of ads framing his main adversaries as Washington insiders and himself as the outsider with a true vision for change
- The Common Core debate rages on in Georgia with advocates of local control over education urging politicians to pull Georgia out while others believe the Common Core benchmarks to be valuable for strong public education.