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In Atlanta, William Ligon will be
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(ATLANTA) February 14, 2020 - This week, members of the Senate returned to the Capitol for budget hearings, as well as multiple committee meetings. We are working to pass a balanced and fiscally responsible budget. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I met with various subcommittees and department heads regarding their proposals for the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 (AFY20) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budgets.
Week Five - Senate Report
On Tuesday, I chaired the Senate Appropriations Judicial Subcommittee as we reviewed the budget for our judicial system. Cyber security has been a top priority of ours, and we will be allocating more funds into cybersecurity insurance and a Cyber Security Operations Center.
As the Governor considers another pay raise for teachers, I encouraged him to also consider the State's retirees. These faithful State employees have not been receiving their cost of living adjustments (COLA). It has been hit or miss at best. As cost of living goes up, these retirees are being left behind. The State should fulfill its obligation to our retired workers.
My sponsored resolution, Senate Resolution 690, was passed in the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee on Tuesday. SR 690 encourages the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to support the building of the Coastal Georgia Greenway, which runs from St. Marys to Savannah and would tie into the East Coast Greenway, which would run from South Florida to Maine. Bicycle greenways provide a lot of recreation as well as enhance property values. They also enhance tourism by allowing easier access to see different parts of coastal Georgia.
Additionally, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the hearing of Senate Bill 359, the Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act. More than half of Americans have experienced receiving a bill in the mail from a procedure they believed was covered by their insurance, only to find out the procedure was out of their network. Many worry about how they are going to pay for such surprise medical bills.
In Georgia, medical bills are the number one reason for bankruptcy. SB 359 would hold insured consumers harmless while providing mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. This bill would also require the State of Georgia to maintain an all-payer health claims database. It would also provide for an in-network cost-sharing amount in a healthcare plan contract and would provide an arbitration process for disputes that could not be settled. Our number one goal for this legislation is to protect consumers, while establishing fair and prompt payments for services.
We will be back in session on Tuesday, February 18th and will keep a full legislative calendar throughout the rest of this month. Also, I want to be sure that people are aware that my Facebook account is nearing the maximum number of 5000 friends. If you want to be part of my email list, please go to my website at www.senatorligon.com and click on the “Contact” tab to sign up for updates. You can also make comments there or send your questions or ideas directly to my email at William@senatorligon.com. Of course, my door and phone lines are always open, and I am more than happy to listen to your concerns.