Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 6 2022

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

There was a great deal of action under the Gold Dome on Tuesday, including the biennial “class” portrait in the House where they had their panoramic photo taken. Other notable news of the day included the Senate Republican Caucus unveiling its four priority issues for the 2022 Session and a joint Mental Health Caucus meeting to discuss the state’s challenges around mental health needs of its citizens. More on each of these issues is in this edition of the #GoldDomeReport.

Led by Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), the Senate Republican Caucus held a press conference around noon to unveil four legislative priority areas. These include our safety, our security, our students and our workers. Specifically, Senate Republicans want to protect internet security and regulation of social media as well as eliminating the sale of personal data. Further the Caucus is proposing to ban divisive concepts taught in schools. The Senate Republicans are also focused on keeping Georgia the number one place in the country to do business.

The Mental Health Caucus led by Representative Todd Jones (R-Cumming), Representative Gregg Kennard (D-Lawrenceville), Senator Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) and Senator Kim Jackson (D-Stone Mountain) took a few minutes to to discuss the Caucus goals and its structure as well as a “unified” vision to transform Georgia’s mental health and substance abuse care. This Caucus intends to meet again in early February.

In this Report:

  • General Assembly Approves Legislative Schedule through Sine Die
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • What’s Next

General Assembly Approves Legislative Schedule through Sine Die

Exercising exceptional foresight, the General Assembly agreed on an adjournment resolution on Tuesday for the remaining 34 legislative days in the 2022 Legislative Session. SR 382, authored by Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), sets Crossover Day for March 15 and Adjournment Sine Die on April 4. The complete schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, January 26

Legislative Day 7

Thursday, January 27

Legislative Day 8

Friday, January 28

In Adjournment

   

Monday, January 31

In Adjournment

Tuesday, February 1

Legislative Day 9

Wednesday, February 2

Legislative Day 10

Thursday, February 3

Legislative Day 11

Friday, February 4

In Adjournment

   

Monday, February 7

Legislative Day 12

Tuesday, February 8

Legislative Day 13

Wednesday, February 9

Committee Work Day

Thursday, February 10

Legislative Day 14

Friday, February 11

Legislative Day 15

   

Monday, February 14

Legislative Day 16

Tuesday, February 15

Legislative Day 17

Wednesday, February 16

Committee Work Day

Thursday, February 17

Legislative Day 18

Friday, February 18

In Adjournment

   

Monday, February 21

In Adjournment

Tuesday, February 22

Legislative Day 19

Wednesday, February 23

Committee Work Day

Thursday, February 24

Legislative Day 20

Friday, February 25

In Adjournment

   

Monday, February 28

Legislative Day 21

Tuesday, March 1

Legislative Day 22

Wednesday, March 2

Committee Work Day

Thursday, March 3

Legislative Day 23

Friday, March 4

Legislative Day 24

   

Monday, March 7

In Adjournment

Tuesday, March 8

Legislative Day 25

Wednesday, March 9

Legislative Day 26

Thursday, March 10

Committee Work Day

Friday, March 11

Legislative Day 27

   

Monday, March 14

Committee Work Day

Tuesday, March 15

Legislative Day 28 – Crossover Day

Wednesday, March 16

Legislative Day 29

Thursday, March 17

Legislative Day 30

Friday, March 18

Legislative Day 31

   

Monday, March 21

Legislative Day 32

Tuesday, March 22

Legislative Day 33

Wednesday, March 23

Legislative Day 34

Thursday, March 24

Committee Work Day

Friday, March 25

Legislative Day 35

   

Monday, March 28

Legislative Day 36

Tuesday, March 29

Legislative Day 37

Wednesday, March 30

Legislative Day 38

Thursday, March 31

Committee Work Day

Friday, April 1

Legislative Day 39

Saturday, April 2

Committee Work Day

Sunday, April 3

Committee Work Day

Monday, April 4

Legislative Day 40 – Sine Die

Committee Reports

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville), held its first meeting of the 2022 Legislative Session on Tuesday to announce its organizational plans and schedule for the spring. Chairman Dubnik explained that all subcommittee chairs remain the same for 2022. He also noted that, during bill hearings this session, his priority will be making sure all Member questions are answered. The Chairman also encouraged letters of support or opposition on legislation in lieu of lengthy public comments. The Committee then adjourned without taking action on any legislation.

House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee – Smith Subcommittee

The Smith Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, chaired by Representative Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen), met on Tuesday to consider the following propositions:

  • SB 226, authored by Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), amends Title 20 to require that each local board of education adopt a complaint resolution policy to address complaints by parents and guardians to address complaints submitted by parents or guardians alleging that material that is harmful to minors has been provided or is available to students. The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee recommended the bill DO PASS in 2021, but it failed to reach the House floor for action and was therefore recommitted.

Senator Anavitarte presented the bill to the Subcommittee, and Chairman Smith noted that the Subcommittee was working from a substitute (LC 48 0511S) that pushed the original dates in the bill back one year. Representatives Josh McLaurin (D-Atlanta), William Boddie (D-Atlanta), and Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) expressed concern about the legislation. Representatives James Burchett (R-Waycross), Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), and Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) spoke in support of the legislation.

Margaret Ciccarelli of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators thanked legislators for their work improving the bill last year and encouraged the Subcommittee to address the remaining copyright concerns that could get school districts “in legal trouble.” Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board spoke in support of the legislation. Terrence Wilson of the Intercultural Development Research Association spoke in opposition to the bill.

Representative Burchett (R-Waycross) suggested an amendment to lines 48-49 of the original bill to provide for more opportunity for parental comment, but the Subcommittee did not consider the amendment today. Chairman Smith noted that the Subcommittee will be working with Senator Anavitarte (R-Dallas) on language, and the bill will be considered by the Subcommittee at a later date.

  • HB 478, authored by Representative Bonnie Rich (R-Sugar Hill), amends Title 24 to include all types of proceedings in the state's expert witness requirements. Specifically, the bill requires that the current reliability standard for expert testimony in civil cases be extended to criminal cases.

Representative Rich presented the bill, and the Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full committee.

  • HB 566, authored by Representative James Burchett (R-Waycross), amends Title 40 to stipulate that it should be assumed that law enforcement officers have at least reasonable grounds to request chemical tests to detect alcohol of a driver if the driver causes an accident.

Representative Burchett presented the bill to the Subcommittee, which was motivated by an actual incident that occurred in his district. Jill Travis of the Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers and Robert Smith of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Counsel both expressed concern regarding the constitutionality of the legislation as introduced. The Subcommittee took no action on the bill.

House Small Business Development Committee

Chairman Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) and his Committee took up one piece of legislation, HR 579, a resolution authored by Representative Don Parsons (R-Marietta). The Resolution establishes the Georgia Commission on Sustainability and Economic Opportunity. The Resolution received a DO PASS recommendation and now proceeds to the House Rules Committee for consideration.

The Committee also heard presentations from:

  • Deluxe Corporation - The CEO Barry McCarthy provided an overview of his company’s work here in Georgia. Deluxe, a check printing entity historically, is also a payments processing business, processing $3 trillion annually. Last year, the company committed to 700 new jobs and opened a technical and customer support center in Sandy Springs. The business also services and supports 4 million small businesses, helping start 400,000 annually. It also has started a program on Hulu, the Small Business Revolution which provides businesses makeovers. Georgia is the fin tech capital of the world and 80 percent of the world’s payments get processed in our state. He also noted the University System’s efforts in creating the Fin Tech Academy.
  • Pull-A-Part - Derick Corbett of this entity talked about what goes into battery recycling - not just for electric vehicles. There are a number of environmental challenges.
  • Call2Recycle - Eric Frederickson, Managing Director for the company, provided an overview on recycling of batteries. His company started in 1994 for small recyclables and now has 300 entities which it works with along with 16,000 collection sites. He outlined the five eclectic vehicle battery types; hybrid electric; plug-in hybrid; and battery electric. There are a number of factors to consider for recycling: safety (fire and electrification); sustainability (keeping materials out of landfills); economic (the various components - nickel, cobalt and lithium); and national security (ongoing United States Supply).

House Health and Human Services Committee

Chairman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) and her Committee met in the afternoon. To open the first meeting of the House Health and Human Services Committee, Chairman Cooper (R-Marietta) introduced a delightful presentation by Georgia Radio Reading Service, a non-profit at Georgia Public Broadcasting that serves the community of vision impaired citizens. They described the history and extent of the news and event services read out loud and broadcast over the air and through internet services.

The Committee then turned its attention to HB 752 (LC 33 8933S), creating the availability of a psychiatric advance directive permitting a person to state his or her preferences for how to be treated in a mental health crisis and making that available to health care providers. Chairman Cooper invited former legislator Pat Gardner to address the Committee. Former Representative Gardner introduced the first version of HB 752 13 years ago. The State Bar of Georgia presented a new substitute to the bill with minor changes. Chairman Cooper indicated she was considering a recommendation from the Georgia Hospital Association that resolves which person has the lead decision making authority if there is a conflict between a living will and the psychiatric advance directive in a medical condition where its psychiatric or medical origin may be unclear. This amendment would be added on the Floor. The bill received a unanimous DO PASS recommendation and now moves to the House Rules Committee.

House Retirement Committee

Chairman John Carson (R-Marietta) and his Committee voted and unanimously passed out Rep. Shaw Blackmon's (R-Bonaire) substitute to HB 385. The legislation amends Article 7 of Chapter 3 of Title 47 to allow teachers who have retired after 30 years of credible service to return to teaching following a one-year waiting period. The Teacher Retirement System of Georgia's Executive Director, Buster Evans, commented HB 385 would have no impact on TRS and might result in a positive relationship from those who will pay in. While the legislation passed, it will require a statement from the State Auditor because of the small changes made in the substitute. However, the nominal modifications do not change the actuarial report. Chair Carson was confident it would likely be reported out by the end of the week and move on to the Rules Committee.

Senate Insurance Committee

Chairman Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) and the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee met for a lengthy meeting today to address two bills authored by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell). The bills were SB 330 (“Giving the Gift of Life Act”) and SB 331 (“Protecting Georgia Businesses and Workers Act.”

  • SB 330 was introduced in response to the Albers’ family personal story involving his son who needed a kidney transplant. Senator Albers donated one of his kidneys to his son, Will. The legislation encourages individuals to become “living donors” and Senator Albers contends it also saves lives and saves money. It prohibits, in Section 2 of the bill, at O.C.G.A. 33-6-5 a life insurance company from canceling or denying life insurance coverage to an individual who becomes a living donor. In Section 3 of the bill, it also gives a tax credit to individuals who donate an organ to an individual - incentivizing organ donation. Georgia has an “exemption” in the Tax Code and this creates a “credit” in the Tax Code of $25,000. Section 4 of the legislation addresses “paid donation leave” for donors so that employers may receive a tax credit when allowing a donor to take such leave (30 days per donor per year in an amount of $54,000 per tax year). Section 5 addresses the effective dates of the legislation and permits Sections 3 and 4 to become effective on January 1, 2023 - permitting a longer period of time for the Department of Revenue to make necessary adjustments. The fiscal note on this legislation is $1.7 million. There were a number of individuals who testified in support - including the National Kidney Foundation. Piedmont Health System and Emory physicians also testified in support of the legislation, noting that Georgia had 800 kidney transplants in the last year. Further, the physicians spoke to the fact that living donor transplant recipients keep their organs two times longer than those individuals who receive organs from a deceased donor. The Committee asked questions about Georgia’s environmental issues and whether those caused a higher incidence of kidney disease and need for donor kidneys - the physicians noted that much is dependent on genetics but also access to care. The legislation is broader than just for donations of kidneys and includes other organs (e.g. liver, pancreas, etc.). The Committee also inquired about the numbers of medications a donor recipient needed and the average is around 10 per recipient. Another donor testified about her own personal story, noting that she donated to a 14 year old girl who was now doing well. The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation and now moves to the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SB 331 prohibits the regulation of employee work hours, scheduling, and output by local government entities in Chapter 4 of Title 34. Senator Albers explained the legislation was an attempt to keep labor laws at the state and federal level and to prohibit cities and counties from imposing local labor laws. Senator Nikki Merrit (D-Grayson) raised questions about whether the Senate believed in local control or not and inquired why he would introduce a bill which appears to be counter to that. Senator Albers answered that there was a history of 200 years of laws in our state and constitution on the issues - and it was about local governments staying in their lanes. GMA supported the legislation but noted that it wished to make sure that there were no unintended consequences with local governments wishing to contract with local businesses. The American Hotel and Lodging Association also spoke in favor of the proposal as did the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and NFIB. NFIB also accented that it polls its members on legislation and 82 percent of its members were in favor of the bill. No vote was taken at today’s meeting on this bill.

New Legislation

The following legislation of interest has been introduced in the House:

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H.B.937 Medicaid; coverage for annual mammograms at no cost to recipient; provide GA Rep. Sharon Henderson (D-GA-113) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61198
H.B.939 Mental health; notice of admission and daily updates from facility to parent or legal guardian of an involuntary minor patient under 12; provide GA Rep. Mesha Mainor (D-GA-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61212
H.B.940 Wills, trusts and administration of estates; provide for electronic wills GA Rep. Sandra Scott (D-GA-076) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61214
H.B.960 Office of the Inspector General; establish GA Rep. Rob Leverett (R-GA-033) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61236
H.B.961 Torts; authorize apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits; provide for evidence of fault of nonparties GA Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-GA-104) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61237
H.B.963 Controlled substances; Schedule I and IV; change certain provisions GA Rep. Larry "Butch" Parrish (R-GA-158) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61239
H.B.965 Fair Business Practices Act; notices regarding crimes on premises; provisions GA Rep. Mesha Mainor (D-GA-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61241
H.B.969 Insurance; update regulation of company holding systems   https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61245
H.B.972 Professional counselors; licensing requirements; change certain definitions GA Rep. D.C. "Dave" Belton (R-GA-112) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61248
H.B.974 Property; deeds; require electronic filing GA Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-GA-019) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61250
H.R.603 Georgia Mental Health Policy Partnership and Substance Use Disorder Community Coalition; Mental Health Day at the state capitol; January 26, 2022; recognize GA Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-GA-080) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61266
H.R.605 Georgia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; commend GA Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-GA-080) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61268
H.R.606 Self-Care Awareness Month; February 2022; recognize GA Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-GA-043) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61269
H.R.607 Cervical Health Awareness Month; January 2022; acknowledging that cervical cancer is preventable through regular screening, and encouraging all women to schedule well-woman exams and Pap+HPV (co-testing) cervical cancer screening; recognize GA Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-GA-043) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61270
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The following legislation of interest has been introduced in the Senate:

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S.B.327 Ad Valorem Tax: homestead exemption; educational purposes in an amount equal to $100,000.00 of the assessed value of the homestead for residents; provide GA Sen. Butch Miller (R-GA-049) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61054
S.B.350 Elections; local legislation for nonpartisan elections for any county offices; authorize the General Assembly GA Sen. John Albers (R-GA-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61200
S.B.351 "Women's Health and Safety Act"; enact GA Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA-014) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61197
S.B.352 Professions; issuance of expedited licenses by endorsement for certain licenses to spouses of firefighters, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officers who relocate to the State of Georgia; provide GA Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA-014) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61205
S.B.353 Drivers' License; judicial discretion in suspension of a driver's license upon failure to appear for certain traffic violations; provide GA Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA-014) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61206
S.B.355 Identification Cards; issuance of identification cards to persons completing a term of incarceration; provide GA Sen. Michael "Doc" Rhett (D-GA-033) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61209
S.B.357 Military Student Transfers; military students with the discretion to select adjacent school districts for attendance; provide GA Sen. Kay "Kay" Kirkpatrick (R-GA-032) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61235
S.B.359 "Safe and Secure Georgia Act"; enact GA Sen. John Albers (R-GA-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61213
S.B.360 "Colton's Law"; enact GA Sen. Sheila McNeill (R-GA-003) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61286
S.B.361 "Law Enforcement Strategic Support Act" or "LESS Crime Act"; enact GA Sen. Larry Walker (R-GA-020) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61292
S.B.363 "Fair Business Practices Act of 1975,"; class action suits and for damages for violating the requirements for solicitations for corporate filings; provide GA Sen. Blake Tillery (R-GA-019) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61294
S.B.364 Telephone Service; class action suits and for damages against certain persons for violating provisions relating to telephone solicitations; provide GA Sen. Blake Tillery (R-GA-019) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61293
S.R.360 Ad Valorem Tax; resident of a school district shall be entitled to claim; amount prescribed by general law if the State Board of Education adopts a resolution; provide -CA GA Sen. Butch Miller (R-GA-049) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61055
S.R.376 Senate Occupational Licensing Study Committee; create GA Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA-014) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61201
S.R.377 Hemophilia of Georgia; recognize GA Sen. John Albers (R-GA-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61202
S.R.382 General Assembly; meetings and adjournments; relative GA Sen. Mike Dugan (R-GA-030) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61290
S.R.383 Senate Study Committee on the Restoration of Veterans Nursing Facilities; create GA Sen. Kay "Kay" Kirkpatrick (R-GA-032) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61211
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What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 7 on Wednesday, January 26, at 10AM.

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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