Gold Dome Report - February 2019 #7

by Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
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After leaving the building on Tuesday without a to-do list for today, House members returned to the State Capitol today only to have their Rules Committee conjure up a few tasks for them. Among the bills added to a same-day Rules Calendar was SB 25, Sen. Bill Heath’s (R-Bremen) school bus bill that sailed through the State Senate last week. The bill received a unanimous vote in the House (171-0). Representatives also took up HB 25, Rep. Dave Belton’s (R-Buckhead) measure to provide relief from certain television, internet, and health spa contracts for military personnel called to active duty, which passed 173-1.

Legislators also had another full day of committee meetings, with senators considering the Amended FY 2019 Budget sent over from the House on Friday and representatives looking ahead to the FY 2020 spending proposal. The House Special Committee On Access to Quality Health Care also had its first hearing on HB 198, Rep. Matt Hatchett’s (R-Dublin) proposition essentially eliminating Georgia’s Certificate of Need health planning regime. There was more action under the Gold Dome than we could type for you by deadline, so enjoy today’s first course and look for more tomorrow in the #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • Committee Updates
  • New Legislation
  • Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 15

Committee Updates

House Appropriations Committee — Human Resources Subcommittee

The Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), met today to hear testimony on the FY 2020 Budget.

Robyn Crittenden of the Department of Human Services gave an overview of DHS then delved into the agency’s budget requests. The overall FY 2020 budget request for DHS is $825,323,969; which contains an increase of $28,382,749 from FY 2019. The requests include:

  • $1.8 million for PeachCare for kids;
  • $957,087 for increases in elder abuse investigation case workers;
  • $366,752 for five new public guardianship case workers;
  • $945,955 to reduce the waiting list for home delivered meals;
  • $1,898,000 for 1,000 additional slots for home and community services;
  • $338,802 for Aging and Disability Resource Connections;
  • Continuation of TRAILS funding; and
  • $69,331 for a compliance officer in Residential Child Care

Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain) asked if the elder abuse investigations receive federal matching funds to which Crittenden explained that the federal matching funds only to child abuse investigations.

Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) asked for the current number on the waiting list for the meals on wheels program which is 2,700.

Tom Rawlings from the Division of Family and Children Services also briefly touched on the mission and practice of his agency, along with a list of requests for FY 2020. These requests include:

  • $501,796 in adoption service increases to match the 4.2% growth;
  • $145,663 for FMAP increases;
  • $3,438,600 for SHINES IT to prepare for Family First implementation;
  • $438,600 for a project management team to coordinate Family First implementation;
  • $867,058 to replace federal money for childcare placement with priority families;
  • $427,550 for new quality assurance and monitoring of child service welfare support service providers;
  • $940,000 to implement a pilot program for closed foster care cases;
  • $849,951 for 50 additional Medicaid-aged Blind and Disabled Medicaid eligibility caseworkers;
  • $9.8 to match 7.1% in out-of-home funding; and
  • $116,435 for FMAP adjustments.

Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) inquired about the SHINES program’s cost to date. In the 10 years of the program’s existence, it has cost about $90 million. Rawlings also expects the modernization outlined in the budget request will be a four-year process totalling around $24 million but noted it is necessary because federal requirements change and require system maintenance for compliance.

Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) asked about the specifics of the priority families in the $867,058 line item. Rawlings explained that this money is used to assist foster families in paying childcare costs. Currently the families must wait for the funds to be submitted and approved by the Department of Early Care and Learning. These funds will be used to give money to parents while they are waiting on DECAL. 

Sean Casey from the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency gave a list of the agency’s requests which include:

  • Business Enterprise Program: $293,438
  • Administrative costs: $1,165,729
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program: $20,863,418

These requests reflect an overall increase in $885,225 from FY 2019.

Rep. Benton asked about the costs associated with a leadership conference the GVRA attended in Savannah. Specifically he asked if there were ways to reduce the costs of this event in the future, suggesting a more central location. He also asked if the GVRA pays for the out-of-state tuition costs for its clients that attend out-of-state schools through the agency’s scholarship program. Casey explained that the agency caps its assistance at the in-state rate, requiring the client’s family to pay the rest of the costs if they choose an out-of-state program.

Jennifer King of Georgia CASA expressed her gratitude for the legislature’s previous support and asked for an additional $500,000 to increase capacity for programs in new communities.

Melanie O’Neil, the state ombudsman, requested that the department’s addition in the AFY 2019 budget also be added to the FY 2020 budget.

A representative of Easterseals East Georgia explained that program is currently operating at only 40% capacity because of their difficulty in navigating the GVRA system and expressed that she hoped Georgia would pursue federal funding more aggressively in the future.

House Appropriations Committee — Education Subcommittee

The Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella), met today to hear testimony on the FY 2020 Budget.

Kristina Stroede of the Professional Standards Commission gave an overview of her agency and expressed appreciation for the Governor and legislature support. PSC has no changes in the Governor’s budget proposal other than the statewide changes. Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) inquired about the “troops to teachers” program and prolonged investigations, to which Ms. Stroud noted they could use more investigators (perhaps as many as 5 to supplement the existing 7). 

Jim Potvin of the Employers Retirement System also gave an overview of his agency, which administers a number of pension programs for state employees. Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) inquired about cost of living adjustments, to which Mr. Potvin noted that ERS is authorized to provide COLAs only when actuarially sound, and ERS has not paid them in the past ten years. He noted that, unlike TRS, ERS COLAs are not prefunded and instituting them would result in substantial costs to the state.

Buster Evans of the Teachers Retirement System introduced his retirement plan, the operations of which are mainly financed by securities lending. Dr. Evans noted state allocations mainly go toward employer contributions to TRS. He also stated that he expects employer contributions (i.e. state allocation necessary) to hold relatively steady and even decrease next year. Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park) asked about the impact of teacher raises on TRS, to which Dr. Evans noted that they will increase employee contributions for the system.

Joy Evans of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement presented her agency’s two requests in the FY 2020 Budget proposal: (1) transfer of AP exam funds from GOSA to the Department if Education, and (2) $250,000 to find 50 additional slots in the Governor’s School Leadership Academy.

Amy Jacobs of the Department of Early Care and Learning presented DECAL’s spending proposal, which includes salary increases that match the Department of Education.

Ted Beck of the Department of Education reviewed DOE’s request in Governor Kemp’s proposal, including $483M to adjust the state salary schedules for certified teachers. The proposal also provides for 2% salary increases for nutrition employees and transportation staff, additional funds for enrollment growth and equalization grants, increased funds for the sparsity program for small schools and districts, and a fund transfer from GOSA for AP exam management. The request also seeks permission to use $175,000 of existing funds for support of an innovative assessment pilot program.

Chairman Dickey asked whether the Governor’s calculation of the $3,000 salary increase for teachers includes counselors, psychologists, media specialist, and other certified positions, to which Mr. Beck said no. Chairman Dickey then asked if the salary increase includes administrators and central office staff, the answer to which Mr. Beck did not immediately know. Rep. Stovall asked about additional funding for Youth Apprenticeship, to which Mr. Beck noted there is no additional request this year, but DOE remains excited about the program.

Sam Ham of Fulton County Schools spoke about his district’s implementation of alternative fuel (propane) buses. Fulton originally purchased 90 propane buses with 3-point seat belts, and Mr. Ham noted the lower operating and maintenance costs of these buses (approx. $3,000/bus per year). Chairman Dickey asked the difference in cost-per-mile for diesel versus propane, and Mr. Ham noted that (after federal rebates), propane is cheaper per mile.

Mindy Benderman of GEARS spoke and expressed appreciation for DECAL. She also requested a $5M funding increase for the Children and Parent Services Program, which helps provide childcare services for low-income working families. The increase would allow CAPS to serve another 1,000 children.

Ed Veiga of the National Math and Science Initiative and proposed investment to deploy STEM instruction and resources around the state. He specifically recommended a pilot program in Liberty County that could serve local military installations and students in grades K-8.

Alison Evans of the Methodist Children’s Home and Together Georgia spoke in support of the Non-QBE Formula Grants and preserving extension of the proposed teacher raises for teachers in residential treatment facilities. Rep. Stovall inquired about the sources of funding for the Methodist Home and asked if it qualified for the state’s school scholarship program.

Tonja Hollis of Teach for America expressed appreciation for the legislature’s prior support.

Lynn Meadows and Melanie Bales of the Georgia Association of School Nurses asked the Subcommittee to reverse the proposed funding reduction in the Governor’s budget proposal. They noted that Georgia does not mandate a school nurse ratio or require that all schools have a nurse.

House Governmental Affairs Committee – State and Local Government Subcommittee

The State and Local Government Subcommittee of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), met today to consider four bills:

  • HB 15, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) requires housing authorities to develop and implement policies that give preference to homeless veterans. Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) asked about the inclusion of “campground” in the definition of homelessness, and Rep. Scott noted that some veterans are living in campgrounds as a home of last resort. Rep. Taylor also asked whether the bill would put such persons on housing lists ahead of persons with children, to which Rep. Scott answered affirmatively. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) asked whether the author has worked with housing authorities in drafting the bill, to which Rep. Scott noted she had talked to a couple. Chairman Powell and Rep. Fleming both expressed an interest in getting more input from housing authorities. A representative of Georgia Military Women spoke about the number of female veterans with children who are homeless and encouraged support for the bill. Chairman Powell asked Rep. Fleming to work with the author to get housing authority feedback and perfect the bill, and the Subcommittee HELD the bill for later consideration.
  • HB 73, authored by Rep. Marc Morris (R-Cumming), amends Title 45 to revise the prohibition on bail bondsmen from serving in public office. Under current law, such persons can only serve on local school boards and no other public office. This bill would allow those persons to serve in state elected office while still prohibiting service in a county or municipal office. Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) inquired about whether this legislation could result in persons with conflicts of interest being involved in decision making on their industry and in criminal justice reform, to which Rep. Morris noted the legislature has a framework for addressing conflicts. Rep. Fleming followed up that the nature of a citizen legislature is that some members of regulated industries will be elected even though the legislature regulates their industry. Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville) asked if any other class of individuals are excluded from elected office based on profession, to which Rep. Morris stated he was not aware of any.
  • HB 24, authored by Rep. Vernon Jones (D-Lithonia), amends Title 45 to require that all members of state and local boards, authorities, commissions, and similar entities be appointed by an elected official. According to Rep. Jones, the bill will codify what the Supreme Court has ruled twice: that private organizations cannot make appointments to public boards and bodies. This would purportedly address the issue that arose when the State Bar of Georgia was allowed to make appointments to the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Rep. Fleming inquired whether this would upset the way the MEAG board works, to which Rep. Jones responded that he did not intend for it to do so. Rep. Fleming recommended that the bill be amended as follows: Line 13 after the word “an”, add “appointed or elected by an”; and Line 13 after the word “state or”, add “by an elected official or officials of” to make the bill’s purpose more clear. The amendments were adopted, and the Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Governmental Affairs Committee.
  • HB 186, authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), amends Title XX to address a specific issue raised in the Savannah community. The bill will allow a hospital authority to use the proceeds from the sale of a hospital to finance indigent care in a community. It also allows more flexibility for the investment of such proceeds. Skin Edge, representing the Chatham County Hospital Authority, thanked Rep. Stephens for bringing the bill and voiced support. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Governmental Affairs Committee.

New Legislation

The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House today:

  • HB 258, authored by Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point), amends Title 17 to add crimes of sexual battery in which the victim is under 16 to the list of crimes for which there is no statute of limitations. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 260, authored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), amends Title 16 to revise definitions of home invasion in the first degree to include domestic family violence battery. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 261, authored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), amends Title 42 to rename the Sex Offender Registration Review Board the Sex Offender Risk Review Board. Additionally the bill transfers the investigators for the board back from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on July 1, 2019. The bill also sets new requirements for the review process of Level II sexual offenders along with revisions to the limit of individuals registered as sex offenders to work within 100 feet of certain childcare locations. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 262, authored by Rep. Sheila Nelson (D-Augusta), amends Title 45 to add death under compensated care to the list of deaths that require law enforcement to notify medical examiners and/or coroners. This bill was referred to the House Government Affairs Committee.
  • HB 263, authored by Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park), amends Title 20 to allow a student to be enrolled in a school using an address other than their parent or guardian’s if their parent or guardian can provide proof that an individual living in the school’s attendance zone has authorized the parent or guardian to use their address to establish residency. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HB 264, authored by Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), amends Title 21 to require that any person that is compensated specifically for undertaking to promote or oppose any matter before a local coordinating entity must register as a lobbyist. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
  • HB 267, authored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain), amends Title 17 to stipulate that the death penalty cannot be imposed if the only evidence of the defendant's guilt is the testimony of a single eyewitness. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 268, authored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain), amends Title 17 and Title 35 to allow for individuals to petition for their criminal record to be restricted five years after they completed the terms of their sentence. The bill further outlines the types of crimes that are exempted from this petition, including serious violent felonies and sexual offenses. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 270, authored by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick), amends Title 21 to prevent driver’s licenses or identification cards issued to non-citizens from being acceptable forms of identification for a voter. This bill was referred to the House Government Affairs Committee.
  • HB 276, authored by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), amends Title 48 to create a definition for ‘Marketplace Facilitator’ as a person that contracts with a marketplace seller to make available or facilitate retail sales that are taxable for a marketplace seller in exchange for any form of consideration, by directly, or indirectly from a related member or any agreement or arrangement of third parties. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 277, authored by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), amends Title 33 to allow good will from insurance acquisitions to be used as an asset. This bill was referred to the House Insurance Committee.
  • HR 196, authored by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain), creates the House Study Committee to Review the Education Equalization Grant. This resolution was referred to the House Special Rules Committee.

The following legislation of interest was introduced in the Senate today:

  • SB 91, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), amends Title 20 to exempt dental schools which are accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and any national or regional accreditation agency from application the Nonpublic Postsecondary Educational Institutions Act of 1990. This bill was referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
  • SB 92, authored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), amends multiple code sections to prohibit professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking a license of a person that is a borrower in default of an educational loan issued through the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation or through a federal agency. This bill was referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
  • SR 152, authored by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa), honors and recognizes the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Education and the career and technical educators who prepare many of Georgia’s students for the workforce.
  • SR 153, authored by Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta), creates the Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders. This bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 15

The House will consider the following measures tomorrow for Legislative Day 15:

  • HB 184 -- Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act; enact
    (Substitute)(ED&T-Harrell-106th)
  • HR 51 -- Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line
    Commission; create (IntC-Morris-26th)

The Senate will consider the following measures tomorrow for Legislative Day 15:

  • SB 6 -- Correctional Institutions of the State and Counties; use of unmanned aircraft systems to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to a place of incarceration; prohibit (Substitute) (PUB SAF-32nd)
  • SB 8 -- Specialty License Plate; benefit the Atlanta United Foundation; establish
    (PUB SAF-9th)
  • SB 52 -- Code Revision Commission; statutory portion of said Code; revise, modernize, correct errors or omissions in and reenact (JUDY-3rd)

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

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This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.