United Way at the Capital Update – BE THE CHANGE – GET INVOLVED!

United Way Worldwide urges visits with congressional delegation during recess

Both the U.S. House and Senate have recessed through April 5 to return to their districts for the religious holidays now upon us. Before leaving Washington, both chambers adopted a resolution (H.R. 933) continuing federal funding through the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30, thus averting a possible government shutdown. With a few exceptions, the 5.1 % across-the-board cuts remain in effect.
A small restoration was given to Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and WIC was fully restored. Other programs continue to be subject to sequester, but exactly how the cut will be administered remains uncertain. The measure also extends through September 30 the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program which had been separately scheduled for reauthorization.
Each chamber also adopted its version of a budget for the 2014 federal fiscal year beginning October 1. While there are issues to be concerned about or applauded in the respective House and Senate proposals, they are highly partisan plans that are unlikely to achieve bipartisan or bicameral consensus or adoption. For this reason United Way Worldwide has not taken a position on either version.
Instead, United Way Worldwide urges stakeholders to communicate our policy priorities with our congressional delegation; a one-pager can be downloaded here. The fate of the federal charitable tax deduction continues to be a particular focus of concern particularly with respect to the Senate’s budget plan. Take action now by clicking here.

State lawmakers to drink from fire hose of bills by midnight Thursday
The Georgia General Assembly will reconvene Monday for the Day 38 of the 2013 legislative session. Day 39 is to be on Tuesday; lawmakers will then recess on Wednesday ahead of the final Day 40 on Thursday when their work may continue up until midnight. The last days of every session favor those adept at chamber rules and parliamentary procedure as amendments, substitutes and conference committee reports are presented with little time for analysis.
Highlights of last week include unanimous adoption of HB 232 reforming the state’s juvenile justice code in the Senate; it returns to the House for agreement with Senate changes. Similarly, HB 349 restoring discretion to judges in sentencing for certain crimes and restricting certain criminal records passed the Senate and returns to the House for agreement with the Senate substitute. While this year’s session is notable for its brevity and relative lack of controversy, some big issues remain:
HB 106 or the state fiscal year 2014 budget rests in a conference committee where small differences between the House and Senate versions are hammered out. Appropriators have done the best that they could have, given the dearth of state revenues with which to fund services. See GBPI’s Alan Essig’s analysis posted Friday.
Dueling gun bills: SB 101 and HB 512 now more closely resemble one another but key differences remain with respect to where guns may be carried in controversial locations.
Immigration: SB 160 appears to have superseded HB 125 in tempering some of the excesses in Georgia’s immigration statute, but differences could be resolved in conference. Both bills seek to define pubic benefits and limit the number of times a person must prove that s/he is a citizen to be eligible to receive one. Last week, a federal judge ruled against a provision of the law that could have exposed nonprofit and faith-based agencies or their volunteers to criminal liability for unknowingly harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants.
Ethics: The Senate has returned a controversial substitute to Speaker Ralston’s HB 142. It will likely be resolved – or die – in conference.
Fulton County: A spate of bills aimed at the structure, size and revenue of Fulton County have drawn statewide attention and remain in play and could have lasting repercussions in state politics and policy.
This newsletter will not be published next Sunday. Expect two more: one with a wrap-up of adopted legislation of interest to United Way stakeholders sent to Governor Deal’s desk and a final one reflecting the governor’s vetoes. The governor has 40 days in which to veto entire bills or lines within the budget. Happy Spring –

To find your state representatives go to – http://votesmart.org/officials/GA/L/georgia-state-legislative
Advocates, remember to use your personal email account rather than your employer’s when contacting lawmakers!

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