The following update is provided by Scott Maxwell, Legislative Liaison for GPHA for the legislative week ending February 14, 2020:
While the General Assembly was technically in recess last week, committees were still meeting. By late afternoon Thursday, a House Appropriations Subcommittee had passed out recommendations that added back five food safety inspectors and two animal industry inspectors that were cut in the Governor’s current-year budget. The same subcommittee added $200,000 for the state’s hemp growing program of the $800,000 Ag Commissioner Gary Black said was needed to adequately carry out state law.
Another subcommittee added back nearly $1.5 million for the state schools for the deaf and blind, with Chairman Robert Dickey (R-Musella) arguing that it was not fair for those schools to be cut when other K-12 funding was spared. A total of $300,000 was restored to the Public Service Commission to prevent a five-day furlough without pay for employees over the last three months of the fiscal year. Other programs that got at least a portion of funding restored were the Forestry Commission for maintenance and emergency fire equipment and the Commission on the Holocaust.