Senate lawmakers took up changes to a tax credit program that provides scholarships for children to attend private schools. The changes, which passed unanimously, include a reporting requirement on the average household income of recipients and a requirement that eligible students must have attended public school for at least six weeks with a few exceptions.
Under the program created a few years ago, people can receive state tax credits by giving nonprofit scholarship providers donations of up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $2,500 for married couples.
The Southern Education Foundation had raised concerns that donors may have been allowed to earmark donations, although supporters had argued that was prohibited under the law. The Senate bill would add language specifically prohibiting that.
The bill would keep the current $50 million cap on the program, although the existing law allows for cost-of-living adjustments. A bill in the Georgia House that would increase the cap and provide for an expansion of the program has stalled.
Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, said he does not support the program but worked to make key changes to improve the existing law.
"It is an improvement, but it does not do everything we need it to do," Carter said.
The bill moves to the House for consideration.
In other bills, the Senate approved a proposal that would require nurses to report alleged professional violations by their colleagues. The bill also requires nursing agencies and health care entities that employ nurses to report to the state anytime a nurse is fired or resigns for disciplinary reasons.
The rules are intended to strengthen enforcement of nursing standards by the state's two primary nursing boards. They are the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses.
The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House.
The Senate also voted to ban Georgia law enforcement agencies from setting minimum waiting periods before they will act on a reported missing person case.
The bill clarifies the statewide alert system can be used for a person whose medical conditions could explain their disappearance. The measure passed without opposition and now goes to the House.
The new law would be named for Stacey Nicole English, an Atlanta woman who suffered from mental illness when she disappeared in December 2011. Her body was found weeks later, and an autopsy showed she died from exposure to the cold.
Associated Press writers Christina A. Cassidy and Bill Barrow contributed to this report.