The Senate began week eight under the Gold Dome on Monday, Feb. 26, and was the busiest week of the 2018 legislative session so far. On Wednesday, Feb. 28, we reached legislative Day 28, better known as “Cross Over Day.” Cross Over Day is a critical deadline in the General Assembly, as it is the last day a piece of legislation can pass out of its original chamber and still remain eligible for consideration by the opposite legislative chamber.

My Senate colleagues and I worked well past midnight on Cross Over Day and passed many significant bills for the state of Georgia. All measures that passed the Senate this session are now being considered by our House counterparts, and conversely, the Senate will begin to review legislation passed by the House.

The Georgia Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 5, for legislative day 30.

I hope you will take the opportunity to review my weekly updates to stay informed on legislative matters that affect our district and state.

I am always eager to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,
Steve Henson


Week in Review

Expanding HOPE Scholarships to National Guardsmen
Senate Bill 82 which would expand the eligibility for the HOPE scholarship to members of the Georgia National Guard and reservists in Georgia who meet certain residency criteria. SB 82 passed with a vote of 52-0.

Updating the Teachers Retirement System
Senate Bill 293 would require certain employers, who employ non-contributing beneficiaries of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), to pay both the employer and employee contributions on behalf of certain beneficiaries. SB 293 passed with a vote of 50-0.

Ending Fees on Credit Freezes
Senate Bill 376 would prevent credit reporting agencies from having the ability to charge for credit freezes. SB 376 passed with a vote of 51-0.

New Background Check Standards for Long-Term Care Employees
Senate Bill 406 would enact the Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program and create the Central Caregiver Registry. The bill repeals the existing background check requirements for owners, operators, employees and potential employees at long-term care facilities by creating a new background check process, which includes a criminal background check done by the Department of Community Affairs. SB 406 passed with a vote of 52-1.

Criminal Justice Reforms
Senate Bill 407 would implement comprehensive criminal justice reforms recommended by the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. The bill would establish the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board, reform probation practices, increase medical care for inmates and further define the use of accountability courts and first-time offender sentencing guidelines. SB 407 passed with a vote of 53-0.

Facilitating Internet Broadband Expansion (FIBRE) Act
Senate Bill 232 would expand access to public rights of way and set regulations for Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) wishing to deploy broadband services, VoIP or wireless services. SB 232 passed with a vote of 55-0.

Treatment for Mental Illness and Drug Abuse
Senate Bill 318 would establish a one-year pilot program through the Department of Community Health to allow for evaluation and treatment by a certified physician in emergency situations for involuntary people suffering from mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse after the patient has been directly observed by a paramedic or medical technician. SB 318 passed with a vote of 54-1.

Surprise Billing
Senate Bill 359 would increase transparency in medical billing by requiring hospitals and physicians to clearly post notices and standard charges on their respective websites. The bill would require insurers to provide enrollees with criteria for in-network and out-of-network coverage. The legislation would also allow for the mediation of a bill greater than $1,000 for an elective medical procedure. Senate Bill 359 passed with a vote of 52-0.

Creating the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Commission
Senate Bill 386 proposes the creation of the Atlanta-Region Transit Link “ATL” Commission. The ATL Commission would be responsible for planning, funding and implementing transit projects throughout the 13 counties currently serviced by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority. These counties also have the ability to offer a T-SPLOST referendum which, if approved by voters, would allow the ATL Commission to fund transit projects in that county. SB 386 passed with a vote of 51-4.

Georgia Commission on African American History and Culture
Senate Bill 411 would create the Georgia Commission on African American History and Culture. The Commission would be composed of 20 members and would be charged with discovering, preserving and cataloging historic materials relating to African-American culture and history in Georgia. SB 411 passed with a vote of 49-0.

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