Georgia Lawmakers Wraps Up 2019 Legislative Session
Georgia’s 2019 legislative session is officially over and many of Governor Brian Kemp’s main priorities have been passed by the General Assembly, including teacher pay raises and a Medicaid waiver authorization. Lawmakers also approved the sales for medical marijuana in Georgia, which patients have legally been allowed to use but could not purchase in the state.
The Georgia House approved a $27.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2019) and will include salary raises for around 200,000 teachers and workers of the state.
Around $600 million dollars will be set aside for pay raises, with teachers expected to receive a $3,000 pay raise and state employees seeing a 2% increase. This salary increase will be the largest raise for teachers in Georgia’s history.
A bill Governor Kemp has been pursuing since the beginning of the campaign also passed during the session, which will give Georgia the “flexibility to a adopt a more conservative plan than full Medicaid expansion.”
In a nutshell, the bill gives Governor Kemp the ability to expand the number of poorer people in Georgia that are covered by Medicaid and will give him the authority to ask the federal government for changes to Georgia’s Medicaid and Affordable Act programs. The bill states that once he makes a decision on the healthcare programs, he will not have to bring it back to the Legislature for approval.
Another law that passed by lawmakers allows the purchase of medical marijuana in Georgia for sick patients who would benefit from the drug. In 2015, medical marijuana was legalized in Georgia for patients suffering from deadly cancers, severe seizures, and other serious illnesses. Even though the law passed, the patients have not been able to purchase medical marijuana in the state.
Governor Kemp stated that after spending time with children who are battling “chronic, debilitating diseases,” he understands the need of cannabis oil for those in need. “This compromise legislation is carefully crafted to provide access to medical cannabis oil to those in need,” Kemp commented during the discussion.
Several bills brought forward did not pass, including a penalty against hate crimes and the state takeover for the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which was tied together with a 20-year extension on a jet fuel tax exemption.
The legislation not passed during this year’s session can be brought back in January 2020.