Gold Dome Report — Legislative Day 2

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Tuesday marked the second day of the new legislative session and the opening day for first reading of legislation and assignment to committee. Among the ten bills and resolutions read and referred, the first of the thousands over the next two years, were propositions to establish year-round daylight savings time, provide for rank-choice voting for overseas absentee electors, condemn the breach of the U.S. Capitol last week, and create an Educational Savings Account program to allow Georgia students to take public school funding to private schools. Like the many bills and resolutions that will follow, these propositions either begin a long slog toward final passage and adoption or a slow descent to death.

It was also class schedule committee assignment day in the State Senate, where new and returning legislators learned where they would be spending their afternoons for the next two years. All the details on the assignments (as the wait for House committee assignments continues) in today’s #GoldDomeReport.

In today’s Report:

  • State Senate Appoints Committee Chairmen, Members
  • New Legislation

State Senate Appoints Committee Chairmen, Members

Each new biennium, one of the first tasks for legislative leaders is the assignment of new legislators to committees — and deciding which legislators will (or will not) chair those committees. The Senate was first to complete this task, with its Committee on Assignments releasing its selections earlier today.

While shuffling among committee memberships is always expected, there were also a number of changes to chairmanships following the retirement of a number of senators. Notable committees with new chairs include:

  • Agriculture — Senator Larry Walker III (R-Perry)
  • Banking & Finance — Senator Matt Brass (R-Newnan)
  • Economic Development & Tourism — Senator Bruce Thompson (R-White)
  • Education & Youth — Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton)
  • Insurance & Labor — Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge)
  • Judiciary — Senator Brian Strickland (R-McDonough)
  • Reapportionment — Senator John Kennedy (R-Macon)
  • Retirement — Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula)
  • Science & Technology — Senator Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming)
  • Transportation — Senator Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville)
  • Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta)

Also of note are the three freshman Senators earning committee leadership positions. Senator Max Burns (R-Sylvania) will chair the Ethics Committee, while Senators Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) and Sheila McNeil (R-Brunswick) will vice-chair the Education & Youth and Natural Resources committees, respectively.

A full list of the Senate committee assignments can be found here.

New Legislation

The House read and assigned the following legislation to committee today:

  • HB 43, authored by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), amends O.C.G.A. § 40-2-26 to require motor vehicle registration forms to include optional information that the individual has a physical, mental, or neurological condition which impedes their ability to communicate with law enforcement. This information will be relayed to law enforcement on any search of the vehicle registration. The bill was assigned to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.
  • HB 44, authored by Representative Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), amends Title 50 to provide that the state observe daylight savings time year round. The bill was assigned to the State Planning & Community Affairs Committee.
  • HB 59, authored by Representative. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), amends O.C.G.A. § 21-2-284 and 21-2-286 to provide for ranked choice voting to create instant runoff elections for active duty military and overseas voters. The bill authorizes the Secretary of State to issue runoff voting absentee ballots to be enclosed with regular absentee ballots for these voters. This bill was referred to the House Special Committee on Election Integrity.
  • HB 60, authored by Representative Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), is the "Georgia Educational Scholarship Act." The bill amends Title 20 to allow for certain public school students to receive public education funds to pay for private "qualified educational expenses." Specifically, the legislation allows any student whose family income is below 200% of the federal poverty level, adopted foster children, active duty military children, students with one of several disabilities and IEPs, those with a documented case of bullying, and students who “spent the previous school year enrolled in a public school which is part of a local school system not currently offering an option for students to receive 100 percent of instruction in person" to seek an allocation equal to the state-wide average per student allocation of state funds for public education. Students may use this allocation to pay for expenses including tuition and fees for private and postsecondary schools, nonpublic online learning courses, therapy services, transportation, and educational technology and materials. Unused funds may also be applied to tuition at a Georgia postsecondary institution after a student graduates high school. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HR 4, authored by Representative. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), proposes a constitutional amendment increasing the length of House member terms to four years and instituting a term limit of six consecutive terms. The resolution also provides for a three-term limit for Senators and a two-term limit for the Lt. Governor. This resolution was referred to the House Government Affairs Committee.
  • HR 11, authored by Representative Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), proposes the creation of the House Study Committee on Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent. If established, the study committee would review best practices for maximizing global talent, with a focus on education, training, occupational licensing, and small business development; assess the greatest areas of need for Georgia business and identify solutions to improve access to global talent; solicit input from governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders across the state, including members of Georgia's business community and its foreign-born communities; and develop specific recommendations to strengthen Georgia's economy by enabling Georgia's foreign-born communities to contribute to the economy to the fullest extent possible. This resolution was referred to the House Small Business Development Committee.

The Senate read and assigned the following legislation to committee today:

  • SB 1, authored by Senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge), amends Title 31 to require that entities that receive state income tax credits and provide self-funded, employer sponsored health insurance that is not subject to the regulatory authority of the Commissioner of Insurance report insurance claims information to the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database. The legislation requires compliance with the reporting requirement beginning January 1, 2022, as a condition to continued receipt of any such tax credits. The bill was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • SR 5, authored by Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain), condemns "the disgraceful actions of right wing violence and sedition that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021." Specifically, the resolution urges the body to "condemn the insurgents who broke into the United States Capitol; President Trump; Republican leaders, including members of this body, who have continued to spread false information about the election; and Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies who completely and possibly willfully failed to prepare for this attack and allowed it to succeed." The resolution was assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.

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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