Week Eleven: Practices, Tactics, and the End in Sight
Last week was the last days of session behind before Sine Die.
The final days of voting are upon us and although the majority of the bills being voted on are Senate Bills coming over to the House, there’s also a long list of House bills coming back over from Senate.
These bills come back up for a vote after having been amended, changed, or edited in some way in Senate committees, in hopes of making the bill better overall or the language clearer for us in the House to then vote on again.
Sometimes bills are gutted and replaced with something completely different, a practice limited government conservatives should be particularly cautious about as it is often a tactic to sneak something by that failed on the floor.
One House bill that returned to the floor after being edited in a Senate Subcommittee was HB 321, the “Hospital Bed Tax” bill. This bill received a large amount of debate on the House floor, as it did the first time it came to a vote back in February. I previously voted NO on this bill because this is a huge tax increase. This extends the hospital Medicaid financing program for an additional 5-year period.
I cannot in good conscious support a bill that simply renews a tax that is unneeded and only takes money from your pockets and puts millions of dollars into Medicaid programs. Because this bill made no significant changes after passing through the Senate Subcommittee, I again chose to vote NO on the bill.
After much debate on the House floor, this bill originally failed to pass with an 81 (YES) to 89 (NO) vote. Unfortunately, the bill was tabled however and the Amended Senate Substitute was voted on and passed with a 107 (YES) to 51 (NO). The fact that the same bill can fail once and pass shortly thereafter illustrates how legislation is used as a bargaining chip, another practice that I find problematic. Voting should be about the merits of the bill, regardless of party or personality, and should certainly not be used to trade votes.
Another bill heavily debated on the House floor was SB 128. This bill is very similar to HB 276, which I also voted NO for in this past. Here we see yet another bill being introduced that would create an added tax, on services such as Uber, Lyft and potentially AirBnB. After introducing two separate House bills similar to this one, and those bills stalling in the Senate, they came back in the form of SB 128, and it just barely passed in the House with a 94 (YES) to 74 (NO) vote.
At the end of last week, HB 481 came back to the floor for a vote after it too was amended by the Senate. Although there was not much debate on the bill and the changes that have been made this go around, this was still a vey important vote on the House floor as it only passed by 3 votes previously. As all of you know by now, I take a very hard stance supporting any pro-life legislation and protecting ALL lives. I again voted YES on this bill when it came back to a vote and it passed once again with a 92 (YES) to 78 (NO) vote.
Along with being at the Capitol each day, my weeks are also filled with opportunities to meet and speak with Georgians from across the State. This past week I met with a Turning Point USA chapter at Georgia Tech University. I enjoyed meeting with these bright young adults whose group advocate for free market principles as well as limited government. Taking the time to meet and speak with these groups is an important part of being a Representative and I love getting to hear some of the ideas and minds behind the future leaders of our great state. It is part of my goal of getting more individuals, especially the younger generation, involved in politics.
Although session is coming to a close and things will slow down for me in the next week or so, I plan to continue to keep you all as updated as possible with what is going on in our State.
Just because session has concluded, does not mean my service to all of you who voted for me stops. Please be sure you’re staying up to date by liking or following my Facebook page, signing up for emails on my website, and reading my weekly columns in the newspaper, which will go back to once monthly after session.
I hope to see many of you at one of the four Town Halls I will be hosting in the months to come:
Rabun County Town Hall: Saturday, April 6 at 9:00 A.M. at Mountain Lakes Medical Center
Towns County Town Hall: Thursday, June 20 at 6:00 P.M. at Towns County Civic Center
White County Town Hall: Saturday, June 15 – Time and Place TBD
Union County Town: Date, Time and Place TBD
I hope you all will take the time to come out if you can. Just as much as I enjoy speaking to all of you, I enjoy hearing your feedback as well.
Without all of you, none of this would be possible and I hope you all will continue to reach out to me with any comments, questions, or concerns you may have, even once session has ended.
As always it is an honor to serve,
Matt Gurtler (706) 490-2285