Gold Dome Report - March 2019 #1

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

With all under the Gold Dome ready to wrap up a busy week and get started on the weekend, legislators moved with particular speed and efficiency through committee meetings and floor action for Legislative Day 25 today. After a number of early morning committee meetings, including the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare, the House and Senate convened with limited pomp and circumstance and got directly to work, passing human trafficking and several health-related propositions. Then, after a post-adjournment flurry of other committee meetings, legislators left the State Capitol mostly a ghost town by mid-afternoon. But with Crossover Day looming on Thursday, the weekend is sure to be filled with legislative activity outside of the building and offer little rest for legislators and lobbyists. We’ll be here as action comes to head next week, but, for now, check out today’s action in the #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • Senate Passes Human Trafficking Act, Amended Insurance Cleanup
  • House Approves PreP Pilot, Physical Therapy Interstate Compact
  • Committee Updates
  • New Legislation
  • Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 26         

Senate Passes Human Trafficking Act, Amended Insurance Cleanup

Among seven bills considered in the Senate today were two of particular interest. SB 158, by Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough), creates the “Anti Human Trafficking Protective Response Act.”  This initiative is part of Governor Kemp’s legislative package and is First Lady Marty Kemp’s focus area to protect Georgia children against human trafficking. Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) spoke in favor of the legislation, noting the Senate’s work on sex trafficking issues over the years. Sen. Karinshak (D-Duluth) also spoke in favor of the legislation noting it addresses inconsistencies which exist now between federal and state law. In particular, Sen. Karinshak noted her experience as a federal prosecutor where she prosecuted these crimes - she proclaimed SB 158 a “great bill.”  SB 158 passed with a vote of 54-0.

The Senate also took up SB 133, by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone). The bill is a cleanup to the Insurance Code in Title 33 requested by the Department of Insurance.  Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) offered a floor amendment to prohibit a short-term benefit policy or certificate from containing a provision defining a pre-existing condition any more restrictive than:

  • Existence of symptoms which would cause an ordinary prudent person to seek diagnosis, care, or treatment, or
  • A condition for which medical advice or treatment was recommended by or received from a  provider of health care services, within six months preceding the effective date of coveraged of an insured person.  The condition at issue must be the ultimate condition for which medical advice or treatment was recommended by or received from a provider of health care services and excludes any preventive services.

Sen. Jordan’s amendment passed by a vote of 38-14, and the bill passed as amended by a 54-0 vote. It moves to the House for consideration.

House Approves PreP Pilot, Physical Therapy Interstate Compact

In a comparatively short session day, the House still managed to pass multiple measures. HB 290, presented by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), creates a pilot program to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance to persons at risk of being infected by HIV. Rep. Cooper explained that Georgia is approaching crisis level of HIV infection rates and this program would help curb the recent increase in transmissions. She also stated the cost of the pilot program will be no more than $300,000 for a three year program. Rep. David Dryer (D-Atlanta) explained that in states which implemented similar programs, HIV transmission rates have fallen to nearly zero. The bill passed the House 129-19.

The House also considered HB 39, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), which amends Title 43 to enter into the physical therapy interstate compact, which will allow eligible physical therapists to practice across state lines. Rep. Belton explained that Georgia has a shortage of physical therapists and this bill would allow physical therapists in other states to practice on Georgians. The bill received a quick vote and passed the House 154-1.

Committee Updates

House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare

Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) and his special committee looking at access and quality healthcare met in an early morning meeting today. The Committee heard the following proposals:

  • HB 409, by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), seeks to allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) the ability to order radiological tests in non-life-threatening situations.   Currently, in O.C.G.A. 43-34-25 these nurses are allowed to order these tests when a patient’s life or physical well-being will be harmed if that testing not performed immediately.  This change would broaden their ability to order tests such as MRIs and CT scans. Georgia is the only state not allowing these nurses, who argue that they are educated, trained and qualified to do so. There was a lot of testimony from the APRNs to support this legislation.  There are no studies according to the APRNs which indicate that over-ordering of these tests occur when an APRN is allowed to order such for patients.  APRNS do work under a physician protocol agreement with physician oversight.  Many of these nurses have not only master’s degrees but also doctorate degrees.  The Medical Association of Georgia and Management Services Network spoke against the legislation indicating that allowing these nurses would increase these radiological tests unnecessarily; they reminded the Committee that advanced diagnostic studies are not screening tools; and they had concerns around quality, safety and cost to patients.  Legislators asked for data from the other 49 states showing any problems.   No vote was taken at today’s meeting on this legislation.
  • HB 89, by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), brought a substitute to the Committee to address a concern brought to him by Legacy Sports in Alpharetta.  This legislation proposes changes in Chapter 6 of Title 31, addressing Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws so as to permit an “integrated ambulatory surgery center” which would be a single specialty neuromuscular orthopedic ambulatory surgical center.  This center would support a comprehensive sports medicine complex with an integrated training and medical educational facility with certain parameters.  It would include physical therapy and diagnostic imaging as well as medical research and physician training.  This center was originally approved for a “CON” in September 2015 but has been in litigation since that time.  The Committee gave a DO PASS recommendation to the Committee Substitute.
  • HB 198, by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), was back before the Committee after being recommitted by the House Rules Committee.  A new Substitute was before the Committee which addresses the following CON law amendments in Title 31:

    • Keeps CON in existence with changes and exemptions
    • Increases exemptions from CON for new construction under $10 million
    • Increases exemptions from CON for new equipment purchases for existing services under $4 million
    • Permits freestanding emergency departments which are hospital-owned
    • Permits cardiology ambulatory surgery centers
    • Allows Cancer Treatment Centers of America to convert to a regular acute care hospital with an indigent care commitment requirement
    • Addresses indigent care penalties, holding those from being assessed until July 1, 2021 but which become effective on June 30, 2019 so that a report of indigent care can be made (based on Medicare charges multiplied by 1.5)
    • Addresses the calculation of the inventory of beds and equipment should Cancer Treatment Centers of America convert to a regular hospital, protecting facilities in surrounding areas
    • Addresses objections to CON applications for parties within a 35 mile radius
    • Addresses continuing care retirement communities, allowing them to take patients at any time (now only when they are ambulatory)
    • Provides an exemption from the CON process for public and private mental health and substance abuse facilities
    • Includes an exemption relating to sports medicine complex
    • Includes transparency requirements for hospitals
    • Addresses the rural hospital tax credit program, leaving the cap at $60 million
    • Changes, if passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, take effect upon the Governor’s signature

An amendment was offered to the legislation by Rep. Mark Newton, MD (R-Evans) regarding changes around appeals of projects (line 313 of the new proposal) so as to require that it be a healthcare facility that is for the same type of healthcare facility proposed or which offers the same type of services proposed within a 35 mile radius of the project.  The Amendment was adopted; the Committee gave a DO PASS recommendation to HB 198 as a new Committee Substitute. The bill moves back to the House Rules Committee.

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), convened late Thursday to consider two bills:

  • HB 1, authored by Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), renames the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act as the Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship Act after the former state senator from Savannah who championed the cause. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • HB 12, authored by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), amends Title 20 to require all public schools to post a sign containing the toll-free number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse and/or neglect. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

House Education Committee -- Academic Achievement Subcommittee

The Academic Achievement Subcommittee of the House Education Committee, chaired today by Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park), met to consider several bills late Thursday:

  • HB 83, authored by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge), amends Title 20 to require elementary schools to schedule recess for children in grades K-5 and provides definitions for acceptable forms of recess. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB 86, authored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), amends Title 20 to provide that performance ratings for certain teachers, procedural deficiencies on the part of the local school system or charter school in conducting an evaluation under O.C.G.A. 20-2-210, and job performance shall be subject to complaint under the statutory complaints policy. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB 444, authored by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), amends Title 20 to rename the “Move on When Ready Act” to the “Dual Enrollment Act.”  It establishes new definitions and permits a ‘covered eligible high school student” the ability to take a maximum of 30 hours of covered dual credit courses (delivered on-site or on-line).  It also permits a student to take noncovered dual credit courses (those after 30 at their own expense or using lottery funds (but counting towards the 190 quarter hour or 127 semester hour caps). The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB 464, authored by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas), seeks to require that local boards of education have a public comment period during every meeting which would be included on the agenda.  Further, it does not require that the local board of education require notice by an individual prior to the date of a meeting as a condition of addressing the local board during that comment period. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee for consideration.

House Juvenile Justice Committee

The House Juvenile Justice Committee, chaired by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), met to consider one bill on Thursday. HB 478 was presented by Chairman Ballinger and is a group of changes to the Child Abuse Registry. She mentioned the work done by Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys, Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Barton Law Clinic on the bill.  Child abuse registry is a registry of substantiated case of abuse.  Pre-Ks can look and determine if someone is on the registry, for instance. This allows a notification period for a person with a substantiated case and an opportunity to appeal their case which led to their name on the registry. Juveniles will no longer be included on the Child Abuse Registry.  It does allow for a postponement of the hearing if there are pending criminal charges if requested by the person who may or may not be placed on the registry. There are provisions included as to how the hearing is to occur. There is a right to review by Superior Court if desired. There is language to address expungement and what is considered for a petition for expungement to remove a name from the registry. Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Atlanta) authored the legislation which was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court. Who has access to the information? It is kept within the Division of Family and Children Services. It is mandated by federal law that there be a check IF a State has a registry.  There will be access to whether a name is on the registry but not the facts.  DFCS attorney Chris Heffling spoke about outside access – DECAL has access but only if the person is on the registry.  DECAL does license public and private day care facilities.  Rep. Shelly Hutchinson (D-Lawrenceville) inquired if other employers checked the registry; no. A motion was made DO PASS and that motion carried.

House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee – Powell Subcommittee

The Powell Subcommittee of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), met late Thursday to consider several propositions:

  • HB 394, by Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), is the Public Safety Ambassadors Act.  They are sometimes referred to citizens on patrol with no authority to retain or arrest anyone or issue a citation. It is a “support” to law enforcement officers.  They do same training around directing of traffic.  It could help with instances involving large events or accidents.  The Ambassadors can report to law enforcement someone who does not follow direction.  Some police chiefs were present to support the legislation.  Rep. Mack Jackson inquired who these individuals are – non-sworn individuals without authority to retain, arrest or issue a citation. They will be uniformed personnel in an assistance role – typically the police departments will benefit. Is there an age requirement? 18 years of age but it is not stated in the legislation.  The minimum age for an officer is 21 years of age.  Chief Flynn spoke favorably to the bill – his agency has formed it already as a manpower multiplier for officers.  These individuals can write police reports; they can do patrols; they can check homes for folks who are on vacation. It was when they wanted to have them direct traffic, they learned there was no provision for non-sworn individuals to do that activity.  The individuals are paid employees; but it would also apply to volunteers.  This legislation received a DO PASS recommendation and moves to the full Committee.
  • This Subcommittee took up HB 459, by Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), which proposes to implement a driver’s license verification system for school bus drivers.  Director of Motor Carrier Compliance Division is in support of the legislation.  There are no periodic checks of these individuals’ licenses; this sets a requirement for such periodic review for validity.  The Department Driver Services would electronically verify the licenses.   The checks would be done in July and December of each year.  Suspensions of licenses are required to be reported to the school board.  The board would revoke the ability of the driver to drive; it would be up to the discretion of the school board to reinstate.  Some of the Subcommittee thought this was already being done.  There were no real questions. No one testified in support or opposition.  The bill received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • Rep. Marc Morris (R-Cumming) outlined HB 118 by Substitute, LC 41 1894S in OCGA 16-10-28.  There had been questions around “good Samaritan” used in the legislation.  Law enforcement supports the legislation.  The Prosecuting Attorneys Council’s Robert Smith addressed the bill addressing the transmission of a false alarm and a request for emergency services.  The bill does set up offenses and penalties. If someone makes a call and bodily harm or death occurs, and call was made to create havoc then that rises to a felony in the new legislation.   It is described as the “swatting bill.”  The bill received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 417, by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), which passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate on the last night of the session.  It is the same version of the legislation as was considered in 2018 and provides for the regulation of for-hire companies which do trauma scene clean up.  Registrations will be valid for three years and licenses cost $100.  There will be a posting of eligible entities which do this work.  There are criminal record checks for the practitioners.  Surety bonds of $25,000 are required as well as insurance.  If unregistered entities are selling themselves, there are penalties to impose against such. Les Schneider spoke in favor of an association of entities which do this work. A change was asked for line 105 (delete location and add “trauma scene” in its place) to clarify.  The Amendment was adopted and the bill received a DO PASS recommendation as amended, passing as a Committee Substitute.

House Regulated Industries Committee

The House Regulated Industries Committee, chaired by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), met early Friday morning to hear one measure. HB 324 addresses the production and sale of low THC oil for approved patients. Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), the bill’s sponsor, explained that previous House bills which authorized patients suffering from certain medical conditions to be treated with low THC oils did not provide any method through which to obtain the oil. Therefore, this bill would create a licensing system to authorize a limited number of production and distribution facilities for low THC oil. Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) offered an amendment to alter language regarding the employees of these facilities. The amendment would prevent only felons convicted of drug related offenses from working in these facilities instead of all convicted felons. The amendment passed and the bill then received a motion DO PASS which was passed unanimously.

Senate Education & Youth Committee

The Senate Education & Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville), met to consider three propositions today:

  • SB 108, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville), amends Title 20 to introduce computer science course requirements to the state curriculum for middle and high schools. The bill requires school districts to implement the courses on a 3-year timeline, which has been pushed back a year for all date requirements in a substitute presented by Chairman Martin. The author noted that he has heard concerns from the education community, and there will be focus on ensuring teachers have the professional development needed to offer the courses (including $1M in the upcoming budget for teacher training). Chairman Martin also noted that the implementation of the courses is dependent on appropriations and not an unfunded mandate. Tim Cairl of the Metro Atlanta Chamber spoke in “absolute support” of the legislation. Michael O’Sullivan of GeorgiaCAN, Ryan Mahoney of Excel in Ed, and the College Board also spoke in support of the bill. Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) proposed an amendment to expressly add “coding” to the definitions of computer science in the bill and allow local school districts to deliver professional development for teachers (in addition to the State). The amendment was adopted, and the Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • SB 210, authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), amends Title 20 to require elementary schools to schedule recess for children in grades K-5 and provides definitions for acceptable forms of recess. Wilda Jarrett, retired professor of education, spoke in favor of the bill but asked for it to be broadened and not waivable. Margaret Ciccarelli of PAGE also spoke in support of the bill. Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) asked if there was data on how many schools currently require recess, to which Dr. Garry McGiboney of the Department of Education reported that 900 schools participate in the Power Up for 30 program which requires recess. Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) offered an amendment to strike lines 38-39, which would have made the requirement waivable. The amendment was adopted, and the Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • SB 212, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville), amends Title 40 to revise the criteria by which the Department of Driver Services shall authorize certain licensed driver training schools to administer the on-the-road driving skills testing. Barry Schrenk, President of Taggart’s Driving School, spoke to the bill. He noted that the State previously authorized driving schools to administer on-the-road driving tests for DDS, but an issue arose in 2006 when driver education became required for young drivers. As Code currently provides, a student driver can take an on-the-road driving test with DDS after as few as 6 hours of on-the-road training, but a student driver can only take an on-the-road test with a driving school after 30 hours of on-the-road training. The bill aims to bring parity and allow driving school test administration after 6 hours of training. There was some concern about a provision that would restrict new driving schools from being authorized to administer driving tests for five years after opening and whether that would restrict individuals from opening new businesses. A representative of DDS had no opinion on that provision but supported the other changes in the bill. Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) offered an amendment changing the five year provision back to the two years currently in law, and changing the effective date to January 1, 2020. The amendment was adopted, and the Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • SB 219, authored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta), amends Title 20 to require high school students and students seeking a GED diploma to correctly answer 60 percent of the questions on the United States Citizenship Civics Test for purposes of being eligible to receive a high school diploma or a GED diploma. Sen. Jordan noted that approximately 16 other states have this requirement, and this would help ensure students have a foundational basis of knowledge. Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) asked whether Sen. Jordan would be amenable to requiring the test be administered to State Senate candidates, then more seriously, where the 60 percent requirement originates. Sen. Jordan noted that this was model legislation, but she is amenable to raising the passing score. Dr. Garry McGiboney of the Department of Education noted that this proposal has come up before and confirmed that the questions on the test are already embedded in social studies curriculum and there has been a state commitment to reduce testing in schools. Chairman Martin said the Committee would take the Department’s comments under advisement and hold the bill until Monday.
  • SR 266, authored by Sen. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), encourages the Georgia High School Association to perform a thorough assessment of its operations and practices. Chairman Martin noted that this resolution is intended to be a joint resolution, so it will need to be re-drafted and presented again at Monday’s meeting.

New Legislation

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

  • HB 505, authored by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas), amends Title 48 to add firearm production to the film production tax credit so long as the firearm is assembled in Georgia and has a symbol to signify this permanently engraved in the receiver of the firearm. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 507, authored by Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody), amends Title 48 to revise the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of real property. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 508, authored by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), amends Title 43 to provide that all fees collected pursuant to the title shall be deposited into the state treasury. This bill was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
  • HB 513, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), amends Title 20 to prohibit a local school system from leasing or selling a public school in such system to a private entity unless the public school has been in existence for at least 15 years. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HB 514, authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), amends Title 37 to create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
  • HB 515, authored by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), amends Title 20 to require certain state departments and agencies to provide recommended school construction designs and measures that advance school safety. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HB 516, authored by Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), amends Title 43 to provide for the profession of professional structural engineer. This bill was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
  • HB 518, authored by Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody), amends Title 31 to authorize adjacent municipalities that would qualify for seven or more ground ambulances to request that territory be established concurrent with the boundaries of adjacent municipalities. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
  • HB 519, authored by Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 20 to require the State Board of Education to retain an independent third party to evaluate the Quality Basic Education Formula and make recommendations to the Board and General Assembly. The bill also requires the review process to occur every five years. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HB 521, authored by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), amends Title 43 to authorize temporary licenses for dentists licensed in other states to provide dental care for indigent populations in Georgia. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
  • HB 524, authored by Rep. David Stover (R-Newnan), amends Title 37 to provide for a foundation to fund the Georgia Apex Program through the Office of Children, Young Adults, and Families. The foundation shall be known as the Public School Mental Health Services Foundation. The bill also provides for the tax credits associated with donations to the foundation by citizens. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 526, authored by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth), amends Title 20 to alter language that requires members of the governing board of charter schools to attend training. The bill would allow training approved by the state rather than explicitly conducted by the state as the code currently states. Additionally the bill allows the training to occur via virtual instruction. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
  • HB 527, authored by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella), amends Title 20 to change program weights for funding purposes in the QBE funding formula. The changes are as follows:

    • Kindergarten: Increase to 1.6724 from 1.6508.
    • Kindergarten early intervention: Increase to 2.0678 from 2.0348
    • Primary grades (1-3):Increase to 1.2948 from 1.2849
    • Primary grades early intervention (1-3): Increase to 1.8180 from 1.7931
    • Upper elementary (4-5): Increase to 1.0390 from 1.0355
    • Upper elementary early intervention (4-5): Increase to 1.8125 from 1.7867
    • Middle school (6-8): Increase to 1.1380 from 1.1310
    • High School General Education (9-12): No change
    • Career, Technical, and agriculture laboratory (9-12): Decrease to 1.1830 from 1.1916
    • Persons with disabilities Category I: Increase to 2.4118 from 2.3798
    • Persons with disabilities Category II: Increase to 2.8402 from 2.7883
    • Persons with disabilities Category III: Increase to 3.6188 from 3.5493
    • Persons with disabilities Category IV: Increase to 5.8710 from 5.7509
    • Persons with disabilities Category V: Increase to 2.4737 from  2.4511
    • Intellectually gifted students Category VI: Increase to 1.6794 from 1.6589 
    • Remedial education: Increase to 1.3576 from 1.3087
    • Alternative education: Increase to 1.4881 from 1.4711
    • ESOL: Increase to 2.5892 from 2.5049

            This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

  • HB 530, authored by Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), amends Title 20 to prohibit a parent or guardian from removing their child from public school for the purpose of avoiding mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibilities for the care and control of a child. This bill was referred to the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
  • HB 543, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), amends Title 19 to set forth the process by which a court by adjudicate an individual to be an equitable caregiver. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 544, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), amends Title 37 to change rules regarding the treatment of individuals suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse. The bill allows physicians treating individuals under 48 hour emergency to prevent the patients voluntary discharge based on information including mental and physical appearance, information in affidavits provided in subsection (b) of Code Section 37-7-41 or other documentation accompanying the patient. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 546, authored by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans), amends Title 16 to provide for the offense of criminal abortions. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
  • HR 380, authored by Rep. Craig Gordon (D-Savannah), proposes an amendment to the Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for sports betting.
  • HB 533, authored by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick), amends Title 48 to create a tax exemption for educators for certain education related expenses. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • HB 542, authored by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth), amends Title 31 to authorize health care facilities to purchase and sell charity care credits through an exchange to meet their indigent and charity care requirements. This bill was referred to the House Human Relations and Aging Committee.
  • HB 549, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), amends Title 35 to reduce the fees associated with filing for record restrictions or the inspection and correction of criminal records. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 551, authored by Rep. Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold), amends Title 16 to provide for a standard level of kratom alkoloids and establish recommended dosages. The bill also provides for the prohibition of access to kratom for individuals under the age of 18. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
  • HB 553, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), amends Titles 35 and 49 to alter the State Victim Services Commission membership provisions. This bill was referred to the House Code Revision Committee.

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

  • SB 214, by Sen. P. K. Martin, IV (R-Lawrenceville), amends Title 43 to reduce the number of apprenticeship hours by half of current requirements for cosmetologists, hair designers, nail technicians, estheticians, master barbers and barbers II. The bill also requires the “good moral character” requirement for these licenses. The bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
  • SB 215, authored by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), amends Title 34 to clarify the classification of employees versus independent contractors for purposes of the Employment Security Law. The bill also includes a penalty for employers that misclassify such individuals and includes anti-retaliation provisions for whistleblowers. The bill was referred to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
  • SB 216, authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), amends Title 48 to allow local governments to accept prepayments of ad valorem taxes. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • SB 218, by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), seeks to make changes to Georgia’s “Woman’s Right to Know Act” and create the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act “LIFE.”  It intends to allow any unborn child at any stage of development in the womb be counted in the state population based determinations. The bill would also prohibit abortions  if the unborn child is determined to have a heartbeat. It does permit two exceptions - to avert death of the pregnant woman or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of a pregnant woman or preserve life of the unborn child. It also outlines where procedures may be performed and by whom.
  • SB 219, authored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta), amends Title 20 to require high school students and students seeking a GED diploma to correctly answer 60 percent of the questions on the United States Citizenship Civics Test for purposes of being eligible to receive a high school diploma or a GED diploma. The bill was assigned to the Senate Education & Youth Committee.
  • SB 221, authored by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), is the "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act". The bill amends Title 50 to provide that the state government may only substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion if it is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and it is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest. The bill is essentially the federal version of the RFRA, but it also adds the ability for a person who successfully challenges a state infringement on religious freedom in court to recover costs and attorneys fees associated with the action. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 223, authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), amends Title 16 to prohibit access to kratom for persons under 18 years of age. It also provides for labeling requirements and criminalizes distribution of kratom to persons under 18. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
  • SB 225, authored by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry), amends Title 15 to bring its provisions in conformity with the federal Social Security Act and the Family First Prevention Services Act. The bill also exempts proceedings relating to termination of parental rights subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act from state law and requires that children being discharged from foster care at age 18 be discharged with proof that he or she was previously in foster care. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
  • SB 228, authored by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson), is the "Child Victim Act of 2019". The bill amends Title 9 to provide that, for a period of two years following July 1, 2019, plaintiffs of any age who were time barred from filing a civil action against any person or entity for injuries resulting from childhood sexual abuse due to the expiration of the statute of limitations in effect on June 30, 2019, shall be allowed to file such actions. Thus, the bill revives prior claims for which the statute of limitations has lapsed for two years. The bill bars revival of claims litigated to finality on the merits or settled. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • SB 229, authored by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Columbus), amends Title 15 to create parental accountability court divisions to provide alternative adjudication to the traditional judicial system. Such courts “shall combine judicial supervision, employment assistance, treatment of PAC participants, and risk of drug use and mental health assessments” and work with state, local, and not-for-profit mental health providers, educational entities, and other service providers. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 26

The House is expected to consider the following measures on Monday for Legislative Day 26:

  • HB 76 -- Alcoholic beverages; counties and municipalities may regulate alcohol licenses as to certain distances in a manner that is less but not more restrictive than those distances specified by the state; provisions (Substitute)(RegI-Stephens-164th)
  • HB 233 -- Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act; enact (Substitute) (H&HS-Knight-130th)
  • HB 234 -- Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act; enact (Substitute) (JuvJ-Efstration-104th)
  • HB 374 -- Health; administer medications to residents under hospice care pursuant to a physician's written orders; authorize certified medication aides (Substitute)(HumR-LaHood-175th)
  • HB 426 -- Criminal procedure; imposition of punishment for crimes involving bias or prejudice; revise criteria (Substitute)(JudyNC-Efstration-104th)

The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Monday for Legislative Day 26:

  • SB 31 -- Law Enforcement Officers and Agencies; performing any duty at the scene of an emergency; law enforcement officers shall not be liable; clarify (PUB SAF-33rd)
  • SB 60 -- "Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act" (Substitute) (ED&Y-9th)
  • SB 83 -- Quality Basic Education; elective courses in History and Literature of the Old and New Testament Eras; provisions; revise (Substitute) (ED&Y-53rd)
  • SB 100 --  Telephone System for the Physically Impaired; state-wide dual party relay service and audible universal information access service; provisions; change (RI&U-9th)
  • SB 117 -- Public Retirement Systems Standards Law; that does not require an individual to pay the full actuarial cost of obtaining such creditable service; prohibit passage of any law (RET-8th)
  • SB 119 -- "Georgia Measuring Success Act" (FIN-56th)
  • SB 140 -- World War I Centennial Commission; sunset provisions; extend (VM&HS-15th)
  • SB 142 -- Insurance; statement indicating that the subscriber's health policy is fully insured is included on a subscriber's health insurance identification card; require (I&L-20th)
  • SB 153 -- Trauma Scene Cleanup Services; comprehensive regulation; provide (Substitute) (RI&U-7th)
  • SB 157 -- Public Funds; when funds shall be considered to held by a depository; specify; State Depository Board certain policies and procedures related to deposit placement programs; establish (B&FI-18th)
  • SB 168 -- Nurses; certain definitions; revise (H&HS-13th)
  • SB 170 -- State and Other Flags; Honor and Remember flag as the state's emblem of the service and sacrifice of the members of the armed forces; designate (VM&HS-14th)
  • SB 191 -- Courts; law assistants as law clerks and staff attorneys; rename (JUDY-18th)

 

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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