The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of Georgians through public policies that enhance economic opportunity and freedom. At the end of the 2016 legislative session the Foundation’s President/CEO, Kelly McCutchen, painted a fairly bleak picture of the session’s results with these two words- Missed Opportunities!
McCutchen’s overall assessment included the following:
The General Assembly is often, and appropriately, chided for passing last-minute bills with little debate or study. This year, several study committees put in work prior to the session to craft comprehensive reforms in education, tax and welfare reform. The work was for naught; none of the proposals passed.
Tempering that dour evaluation with some positive legislation included these observations:
Georgia remains in the national spotlight after legislators passed this year’s recommendations from the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform; joined 21 states in allowing terminally ill patients the “right to try” experimental drugs in the last stages of federal trials; and took a practical step toward authorizing transit funding for the City of Atlanta and parts of Fulton County.
In the final two days of the session, legislators made progress in health care, approving funding to expand charity clinics serving the indigent and uninsured, a tax credit for individuals donating to rural hospitals and a Senate study committee to examine an insurance premium assistance program for low-income Georgians ineligible for Medicaid.
Special interest groups singled out for thwarting progress included beer distributors, hospitals, trial lawyers, dentists, public education lobbyists and insurance companies. McCutchen’s complete assessment is worth a few minutes of your time and when you’re done check out their position papers on transit, healthcare, tax reform and other issues facing our state.