By Mike Klein
The General Assembly returns Monday for Day 22 with Crossover Day 30 scheduled for March 3 and adjournment scheduled Wednesday March 20. Below are some of the bills related to recent Foundation policy proposals:
Criminal Justice Reform: With fewer than half of the Legislature’s calendar remaining, criminal justice reform legislation has not yet made its appearance. The 2014 bill is expected to closely follow recommendations from the Council on Criminal Justice Reform. Elements would include public and private sector enhancements to help former felons find employment. The goal of this year’s legislation is program development to reduce recidivism, which is the rate at which former prisoners return to incarceration within three years because of a new offense.
Civil asset forfeiture: Legislation under consideration would rewrite the state’s confusing civil asset forfeiture laws into a more understandable code with some enhanced protection for citizens. It would ensure judicial review for any property or cash seized greater than $25,000, and judicial review whenever requested by a citizen for amounts less than $25,000. HB 1 has passed House Judiciary this week and could be called to the House floor next week.
Foster care: Legislation passed out of the Senate Health and Insurance Committee this week to reorganize foster care, adoption and other child care services. Under SB 350, the state Division of Family and Children Services would conduct investigations and community-based private providers would care for youth in state custody. About half of the state’s 7,000 foster care children are already in community based care.
When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!