Home » legislative updates » Voices’ Legislative Update – 1/23/17

Voices’ Legislative Update – 1/23/17

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So what happens, you ask yourself, when 236 lawmakers (not to mention countless advocates and contract lobbyists) are unleashed on the capitol each January?  Are there extraordinary games of hide-and-seek or Dungeons and Dragons? How about yoga? Does everybody do yoga? (Yikes!) Do people gather in Room 341 to binge-watch House of Cards? And just how much time is spent voting on whether to order out for barbecue, Papa Johns, or Varsity dogs? What the heck goes on there?

Well, I am here to tell you that short of the hot dog vs. barbecue conversation, they don’t really do much of that other stuff. Most of the time, they spend their time talking and thinking about what could make the state a better place to live.  They pass some laws (only about 10 percent of those that are offered up, including the budgets), they argue about what would work better and they generally give Robert’s Rules of Order a pretty good run for its money.

This week, however, the gang was in recess to spend a few days hearing from commissioners about the budget and to attend various democracy-type events like inaugurations, marches, and dances. Actually, I’m not sure what dancing has to do with democracy exactly, but it can be really fun (remember, Ginger did it backward and in heels!).  All that to say, this week, I am simply going to provide you with a few very valuable links which are interesting to watch and know about as you enjoy the 40 Legislative Days (LD) of the session (By the way, this Monday is LD 5):

Nice note about new rules in the chambers regarding processes and procedures. Notice that Crossover Day (the last day a bill can pass from one chamber to another and still be viable for passage in the session) has moved from LD 30 to Day 28.

Links to videos of last week budget hearings where various agencies explained their budget requests to the joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

And for you history buffs, here is a link to a one pager on the history of the General Assembly.

Just so you know, this week (LD 5-8) will be busy as a dog with a spoonful of peanut butter, so enjoy this relaxed update.  Next week’s will be packed full of new bills and activity, I am sure!

vulnerable youth
HB 32 (Chandler-105th) Prohibits sexual contact between school employees or agents and students enrolled at the school employing the adult.  STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 52 (Oliver-82nd) Adds legal custodians to the list of caregivers eligible to accept Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) on behalf of the child in their custody. STATUS: House First Readers.

SB 4 (Unterman-45th) Establishes the Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force to study the effectiveness of the services and health care programs currently available to individuals with, or at risk for, serious mental illness; and to understand the feasibility of using a Medicaid waiver to improve treatment for those with serious mental illness and, if appropriate, enable the General Assembly to make an informed decision as to whether the state should seek a Section 1115 waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services or apply for Medicaid block grant funding for mental health treatment and services. STATUS: Hopper.

juvenile justice

HB 34 (Petrea-166th) Among other things, the bill makes open records of reports, files, records, and information of certain probationers, parolees, and offenders convicted of a serious offense; removes certain duties from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles pertaining to determining and taking action on violations of parole gives them to the superior court that imposed the sentence; removes the duty of supervision of parolees from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and gives it to the Department of Community Supervision; requires certain notices and a public hearing before an offender may be released on parole, be granted a pardon, or have a death sentence commuted; removes certain duties from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles pertaining to issuance of subpoenas and gives them to the district attorney. STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 53 (Oliver-82nd) Raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from children under 17 years of age to children under 18 years of age. STATUS: House First Readers.

HB 28 (Mitchell-88th) Requires testing for lead in drinking water in public and private schools and if found, for remediation plans or alternate sources of drinking water.Also requires the Department of Education to work with the department of Public Health to develop the riles and regulations regarding such. STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 65 (Peake-141st) Adds Tourette’s syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, intractable pain (and provides a definition), post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) to the list of conditions treatable with Low THC oil.  The bill also eliminates the one-year waiting period for new Georgia residents and physicians’ quarterly reporting requirements. STATUS: Hopper.

HR 36 (Peake-141st) A constitutional amendment allowing the production of cannabis and sale of medical cannabis for medical usage to certain individuals. The proceeds derived from fees and state taxes paid for the production and sale of cannabis would be dedicated to a fund to support drug treatment programs.  STATUS: Hopper.

SB 12 (Unterman-45th) Allows licensed dental hygienists in school settings to apply topical fluoride and perform the application of sealants and oral prophylaxis under general supervision, with written permission of the student’s parent or guardian. They may also, without prior written permission of the student’s parent or guardian, provide oral hygiene instruction and counseling. Licensed dental hygienists may also perform in other specified safety net setting such as nursing homes and hospitals. (FYI, ‘General supervision’ means that a licensed dentist has authorized appropriate duties of a licensed dental hygienist but does not require that a licensed dentist be present when such duties are performed.)  A licensed dentist may only authorize up to four licensed dental hygienists to provide dental hygiene services in such settings.  STATUS: Hopper.

SB 16 (Watson-1st) Changes the definition of “low THC oil” from 5% to 3% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Also adds autismSepctrum Disorder to the list of conditions which may be treated with low THCoil. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 29 (Fort-39th) Require testing of drinking water in child care learning centers and schools for lead contamination and for notice and reporting of test results and remediation plans. STATUS: Hopper.


HB 23 (Mitchell-88th) Requires charter schools to have the same accountability as public schools to students, educators, families, communities, and taxpayers for quality, equity, and transparency. The bill makes recommendations regarding student assessments and allows parents access to assessment responses and results for their own children. STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 24 (Mitchell-88th) Creates a program of incentive pay for quality teachers in schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 29 (Mitchell-88th) Prohibit local boards of education from seeking or maintaining accreditation by an accrediting entity which does not make its records relating to sanctions it imposes open for inspection and copying. STATUS: House Second Readers.

HB 37 (Ehrhart-36th) Prohibits private postsecondary institution in Georgia from enacting, adopting, implementing, or enforcing any sanctuary policy. Failure to obey results in the withholding of state funding or state-administered federal funding (other than funds to provide services specified in subsection (d) of Code Section 50-36-1). This includes funds provided to the private postsecondary institution directly as well as funding for scholarships, loans, and grants for students. STATUS: House First Readers.

HB 51 (Ehrhart-36th) Requires employees of post-secondary institutions to report felony crimes committed on campus by or to students to law enforcement or the local district attorney. STATUS: House First Readers.

SB 26 (McKoon-29th) Requires local boards of education to use a sealed competitive bidding to award contracts for professional services exceeding $50,000.00 over a 12 month period, unless the local board deems, by majority vote, that the professional services to be procured are unique and can only be obtained from a single source.  The bill also requires that the guaranteed maximum price submitted by a construction manager at risk to a local board of education not be changed after execution of a contract. STATUS: Hopper.

SB 3 (Tippins-37th) Enacts the “Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act” which would provide for industry credentialing for students grades 6 through 12 who complete certain focused programs of study in work-based learning programs such as internships, apprenticeships, cooperative education, service learning, or employability skill development..  The Georgia Department of Education would work with the Technical College System of Georgia and industry to develop such credentialing.  STATUS: Hopper.

SB 30 (Fort-39th) Creates the “Unlocking the Promise Community Schools Act.” If appropriations are available, the Department of Education shall make grants available to plan, implement, and improve sustainable community schools. Monies would be available for schools which struggle with such factors as poverty or low graduation rates.  STATUS: Hopper.


HB 9 (Blackmon-146th) Prohibits any individual to, knowingly and without the consent of the person (16 years or older) observed, use or install a device for the purpose of videotaping, filming, photographing, or video recording under or through such person’s clothing, for the purpose of viewing the body of or the undergarments worn by such person, under circumstances in which such person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Dissemination of such material is also unlawful.  STATUS: House Second Readers.


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