Last week the Georgia General Assembly reconvened for the 11th week of the 2018 legislative session and completed Legislative Day 38. We have just two days remaining in the legislative session.
On Saturday, people throughout our country marched to end gun violence. More than 30,000 gathered right here in Atlanta. I was proud to march next to friends and colleagues, not only to remember those lost to gun violence but to hopefully bring about change.
On a sad note, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of former Governor of Georgia and U.S. Senator Zell Miller who died on Friday, March 23. 2018.
I was elected in 1990 and in 1993 I was one of his Floor Leaders when we implemented the Hope Scholarship that has allowed so many of Georgia’s young people to attend college. Another one of our greatest achievements during his term was increasing teachers wages. Governor Miller never failed to support education and his passion for learning leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary leadership. I will miss my friend.
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.
Week in Review
Expanding Sex Trafficking Offenses
House Bill 732 would expand the offense of sex trafficking to include knowingly patronizing a person in sexual servitude. Under HB 732, an individual convicted of patronizing a person 16 years or older would serve between five and 10 years in prison and an individual convicted of patronizing a person 16 years old or younger would serve between 10 and 20 years in prison.
Continuing School Enrollment After Moving
House Bill 852 would allow a student who has been enrolled in and attended a public school for more than half of an academic year and moves to another attendance zone within the same school system to continue enrollment at his or her initial public school for the remainder of the school year.
Single Parent Day in Georgia
House Resolution 279 would designate March 21 of every year as Single Parent Day in Georgia.
Commending the 94th Airlift Wing
Senate Resolution 903 recognized the 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The 94th Airlift Wing contributes to global mobility through cargo lifting, tactical airdropping capabilities, and critical patient care through aeromedical evacuation.
Honoring the Green Beret Special Forces Soldiers
Senate Resolution 1024 honored the 12 man Green Beret team sent to Afghanistan immediately following the 9/11 attacks. The soldiers fought alongside Afghan Northern Alliance against the Taliban regime on horseback. Their story is chronicled in the new movie 12 Strong.
Outlining Firework Uses
House Bill 419 would allow local governments to regulate firework usage through their local noise ordinance with the exception of certain dates. HB 419 would require licensed firework retailers to post signage with safety tips and state laws regarding firework usage within local ordinances. In addition, the bill would grant the governor authority to suspend local firework use whenever the Keetch-Byram Drought Index reaches a level of 700 or above at any point in the county.
Preliminary Hearings for Early Learning Facility Closures
House Bill 494 would allow for hearsay in preliminary hearings when the Commissioner of Early Learning and Caring issues an emergency closure order of an early care and educational program when the safety or welfare of a child is in imminent danger. HB 494 would also invalidate background checks of early care providers who have been separated from a program for more than 180 days.
Honey Bee Conservation Specialty License Plates
House Bill 671 would create a specialty license plate to benefit the Georgia Beekeepers Association and its conservation efforts. In addition, HB 671 would allow a vehicle manufactured in 1989 or earlier to use historical license plates.
Student Loans for Georgia National Guardsmen
House Bill 700 would add graduate level classes to those covered by service cancelable educational loans for Georgia National Guardsmen.
State Employee Drug Testing
House Bill 701 which would expand the list of drugs tested during state employee drug tests to include all forms of opioids, including analgesics and derivatives.
School Absences for Children of Military Parents
House Bill 718 would grant a maximum of five excused school day absences per year for children whose parents or legal guardians serve in the United States Military or National Guard. Under HB 718, school absences would only be excused if children are attending military affairs sponsored events.
Early Intervention for Students
House Bill 740 would direct local school systems to implement and utilize a multi-tiered system of support for students between preschool and third grade. Under HB 730, no student would be suspended for more than five days or expelled without his or her case first being reviewed using the multi-tiered system.
Enacting CJ’s Law
House Bill 765 would add a hit and run accident that results in the serious bodily harm of an individual to the list of motor vehicle crimes punishable as a felony.
Creating the Emergency Operations Command and Board of Homeland Security
House Bill 779 creates the Emergency Operations Command and the Board of Homeland Security to manage Georgia’s public safety emergencies. The new agencies would be responsible for coordinating the public, and operational authority would remain under participating agencies.
Business Tax Credits in Less Developed Areas
House Bill 843 would expand ‘less developed’ areas eligible for certain tax credits to include census tracts in counties containing a federal military installation of at least 5,000 personnel and a government-operated industrial park.
DFCS Information Access
House Bill 920 would allow the Department of Family and Children Services to use any information concerning an adopted child in legal proceedings in the case of a death, suffering a near fatality or an alleged victim of abuse and neglect.
Congratulating Chipper Jones
Senate Resolution 656 congratulating Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones, Jr. for his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Jones played for the Atlanta Braves for all 19 seasons of his professional career and was a member of the 1995 World Series Championship team. Jones was awarded the 1999 National League Most Valuable Player Award and is an eight-time National League All-Star.
Joint Study Commission on THC Medical Oil Access
House Bill 65 would create the Joint Study Commission on THC Medical Oil Access. HB 65 would task the commission with using professional medical research to recommend dosages for conditions and determine low THC oil interactions with other drugs and would gather patient responses to treatment. The commission would present its recommendations on December 1 of each year.
Economic Analysis and Taxpayer Refunds
House Bill 93 would repay taxpayers with interest for any state and local sales and use overpayments with a direct pay permit. In addition, the bill would require any tax bills passed by the General Assembly to undergo a thorough economic analysis by the state auditor within 30 days of the bill’s passage and would be audited on a rotating schedule.
Modernizing Georgia’s Trust Laws
House Bill 121 makes several updates to Georgia law regarding trusts including who can act as a beneficiary, the protocol for the transfer of property and when a trustee can modify or terminate a trust. The bill also addresses the rule against perpetuities by increasing the years allowed for a trust to vest from 90 years to 360 years.
House Bill 314 would require 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 mediation of a bill greater than $1,000 for an elective medical procedure.
Ad Valorem Taxes on Property
House Bill 374 would lower the fair market value required o appeal non-homestead exemptions from $750,000 to $500,000. HB 374 would allow for an extension of at least 30 days to no more than 180 days for an appeal.
Statement of Account Fees
House Bill 410 would require property owners’ associations to provide a statement of account within 10 days of a request made by a designated party. The fee for the preparation of this statement by property owners’ associations would be limited to $100, however additional fees may be charged for other services or requested documents.
Magistrate Retirement Fund Benefits
House Bill 571 would suspend members of the Magistrate Retirement Fund who have failed to pay dues for 90 days. During suspension, members would not build service credit and would only be reinstated upon application to the Fund during a 30 day period after their next full term in office begins.
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
House Bill 684 proposes the Fiscal Year 2019 General Budget. The proposed 2019 budget would include a state fund revenue estimate of $26 billion allocated to a variety of areas including education, criminal justice, public health, cybersecurity, and transportation.
Regulations for Driver Education Schools
House Bill 721 would set the minimum regulations for approved on-the-road instruction for online driving courses.
The Choice to Reduce Insurance Coverage
House Bill 760 would allow insurance policyholders to renew a policy with a reduction in coverage. Under HB 760, an insurance reduction request would have to be placed in writing at least 30 days prior to the requested reduced coverage taking effect for auto, motorcycle or homeowner’s insurance. HB 760 would require the same notice must be sent for other types of coverage and be requested 45 days prior to the effective date of the request.
PDMP Program Updates and Addressing the Opioid Crisis
House Bill 782 would remove licensure requirements set by the Department of Public Health for the State Board of Pharmacy for up to two prescribers who access the prescription drug monitoring program database. Under HB 782, the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery and an Executive Director of Substance Abuse, Addiction and Related Disorders would be created. Additionally, the bill would create a partnership with providers and communities across Georgia to prohibit patient brokering.
Court Reform Council Changes
House Bill 790 would change hearing requirements for cases in the Office of State Administrative Hearings by clarifying that administrative law judges have ultimate authority in contested cases which are not referred to the court by an executive agency. The bill would also clarify that the Board of Regents has the ability to determine contested cases.
Creating the Atlanta-Region Transit Authority
House Bill 930 would create the Atlanta-region Transit Link (ATL) Commission which would be responsible for planning, funding and implementing projects within its jurisdiction. HB 930 would allow for an optional T-SPLOST for transit projects to be offered in counties serviced by the ATL Commission if approved by a referendum.