Legislative Update 2.11.19

Download a PDF of the Update Here

It is the week of Valentine’s Day, which makes me think about love. Love of country, love of friends and family, and love of work. — Wait a minute. Let’s reflect on that last one. What, exactly, do I love about my job? Is it the lost weekends of neurotic bill reading? Is it the glamour of pushing 62 schoolkids out of the way to get to the capitol restroom? Or is it the blended aroma of seafood, Varsity dogs, and breath mints that occasionally greets one on the stairs to the third floor? Nope, surprisingly, none of those things is what I love most about my job (and some are not even on the love-meter!). What I love most is that pretty much every day, I come across things that are unusual yet thought-provoking.  

This week, for instance, I stumbled upon a duel in the rotunda.  Masked people in white were jabbing and parrying with sabers and swords right there on the glass bricks, overseen by portraits of our founding fathers! “Gosh,” I thought, “Will the House and Senate never get along?! What’s this world coming to?” But I was wrong. It was not members of the chambers fighting over a budget item or what the Adjournment Resolution would be. Rather, it was fencers from various high schools reminding us all that 1. Fencing is super cool; 2. Aren’t we glad that government has better, if more tedious, ways to resolve conflict; and 3. Maybe with a little more yoga and a little lower-heeled shoe, I could move like that.  

Anyway, state government, being at least as old as fighting with long pointy things, has been busy this week. It seems everyone has shaken off their Superbowl stupor and gotten down to the business of drafting bills and designing our futures. That said, there is lots of new legislation to eyeball below, committee hearings are in full-tilt-go, and a bill or two have even passed from one chamber to another already.  

One important bill passed by the House this week is the FY 2019 amended budget. Click here to see our easy-to-read chart of what they changed from the Governor’s original request. It is now being vetted and, no doubt, tweaked by the Senate. In the meantime, the House is poised to dive deep on the FY 2020 budget. Stay tuned!

Also, please act ASAP on the action alerts at the end of this update. Now’s your chance to affect change without having to say, “En-garde!”

See you next week!

Polly McKinney

Advocacy Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children

pmckinney@georgiavoices.org

PS – If you have not been checking out our “When I Was a Kid” videos about lawmakers’ childhoods, click here to see them! They are super fun.


Know Where You Want to Go?

Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline

Child Welfare/Vulnerable Youth

Child Health and Safety

Early Care and Learning

Higher Education

Miscellaneous

2 Minute Advocacy Ask


 JUVENILE JUSTICE/EFFECTIVE SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

HB 179 (Moore-1st) Removes discipline data from the criteria for evaluating school climate. STATUS: House Education Committee. 

SB 64 (Ligon-3rd) Makes a terroristic threat by a child 13 or older against an individual or a public or private school a class B felony. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.


CHILD WELFARE

HB 43 (Setzler-35th) Revises the crime of sexual assault when committed by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority over a student in a school setting. The degree of the crime and punishment vary based on a number of factors including age of the perpetrator and victim. The bill also better defines the term “dangerous sexual offense”. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday.

HB 80 (Werkheiser-157th) Require individuals to cooperate with the child support enforcement program as a condition of eligibility for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday.

HB 227 (Frye-118th) Expands the prohibitions on discrimination against victims of family violence to include victims of sexual assault. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 228 (Welch-110th) Raises the minimum marriage age to 17 and requires the other party to a marriage with a minor to be no more than 4 years older; requires the minor to have been emancipated (declared a legal adult) by a juvenile court after a hearing to determine that the minor is mature and self-sufficient; ensures that an attorney is appointed to advise the minor in the emancipation proceeding; requires the court to examine additional evidence about an intended marriage and spouse to assess what’s in the minor’s best interest; institutes a waiting period between an emancipation order and a marriage license; requires minors to have premarital education before applying for a marriage license; and requires minors to receive a factsheet on rights and resources available to victims of domestic violence. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 234 (Efstration-104th) Authorizes DFCS to provide care and supervision to children who are victims of human trafficking; allows a law enforcement officer or agency or DFCS to refer any child suspected of being a victim of commercial sexual exploitation or trafficking to a certified victim services organization which provides comprehensive trauma-informed services designed to alleviate the adverse effects of trafficking victimization; raises the age from 16 to 18 for purposes of determining the offense of prostitution; and makes it easier to prosecute owners of places where trafficking occurs. STATUS: House Hopper.



CHILD HEALTH AND SAFETY

HB 26 (Belton-112th) The “Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact” authorizes the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to allow psychologists who are licensed in other compact-participating states and who meet certain criteria to practice in Georgia via telepsychology and temporary practice (defined as 30 days per calendar year) STATUS: House Interstate Cooperation Committee. The bill now rests in the House Rules Committee. 

HB 75 (Ehrhart-36th) Clarifies which drivers must stop when meeting a school bus STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday. 

HB 78 (Clark-98th) Requires the GA Department of Education to develop and post on its website guidelines and other materials to inform students, parents, guardians and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. The bill also requires students participating in sports to review the information. Additionally, if a student passes out in a sport then they will be removed from the activity by the athletic coach and if a student exhibits symptoms of cardiac arrest then the athletic trainer can remove the student and may notify the parents. Once a student has been removed, they cannot return until they have been evaluated and cleared to return by a health care provider STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 112 (LaHood-175th) Prohibits the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan (a medication most often used as a cough suppressant in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines) STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee. 

HB 113 (Carson-46th) Specifies that anyone driving with a Class C learners permit, Class C license, or Motorcycle instruction permit is prohibited from using a stand-alone electronic device or wireless telecommunications device unless it is an emergency STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.”

HB 137 (Bazemore-63rd) Prevents persons convicted of certain first offender family violence offenses from possessing or carrying firearms. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

HB 158 (Silcox-52nd) Requires that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 168 (Taylor-173rd) Extends an exemption from sales and use tax for five additional years regarding the sale or use of tangible personal property to nonprofit health centers and nonprofit volunteer health centers. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.

HB 178 (Hogan-179th) Amends Title 37 Chapter 3 (Mental Health Examination, Treatment) to create a unit within the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to provide support to court-ordered, outpatient treatment programs. The bill creates an advisory council for these programs which would meet quarterly and evaluate aggregate data and review the contents of the training and education programs. This bill also provides for a pilot program to determine whether to expand the establishment of assisted outpatient treatment programs, and training and education for service providers.   STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 198 (Hatchett-150th) Lifts restrictions in private competition for hospitals by eliminating Certificate of Need requirements (CON) for hospital care facilities, with the except for long-term care facilities and services.  FYI, Certificate of Need is a state regulation which is used by the Georgia Department of Community health to evaluate proposals for new or expanded health care facilities. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.

SB 15 (Albers-56th) “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” – Requires schools to conduct threat assessments every two years on buildings, facilities, and campuses by a person or agency approved by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; makes private schools subject to the same requirements for safety plans as public schools; adds requirements to school safety plans to address security issues in school safety zones, at school functions, and while transporting students; creates a task force within the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center and authorizes the task force to “curate individual student profiles from school records and records of the Department of Human Services and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of evaluating potential threats to public and private schools”; creates school safety coaches and requirements for them STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill will be heard in committee THIS Monday.  SEE 2 MINUTE ADVOCACY ASK BELOW ON THIS BILL

SB 16 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act” – Allows Georgia to enter into an interstate compact to allow physicians, assistants, and certain other health professionals from other compacts states to practice in Georgia STATUS: Senate Health & Human Services Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote this Monday. 

SB 44 (James-35th) Requires pre-participation physical examinations for youth athletes (7-18 years old) participating in youth sports leagues STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee. 

SB 60 (Martin-9th) Requires the GA Department of Education to develop and post on its website guidelines and other materials to inform students, parents, guardians and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. The bill also requires students participating in sports to review the information. Additionally, if a student passes out in a sport then they will be removed from the activity by the athletic coach and if a student exhibits symptoms of cardiac arrest then the athletic trainer can remove the student and may notify the parents. Once a student has been removed, they cannot return until they have been evaluated and cleared to return by a health care provider. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee.

SB 74 (Brass-28th) Lifts restrictions in private competition for hospitals by eliminating Certificate of Need requirements (CON) for hospital care facilities, with the except for long-term care facilities and services.  FYI, Certificate of Need is a state regulation which is used by the Georgia Department of Community health to evaluate proposals for new or expanded health care facilities. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.


EARLY CARE AND LEARNING

HB 116 (McClain-100th) Raises the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $15.00/hour. The bill also raises base annual pay for people who work and live (without being charged board or lodging) in a nonprofit child-caring institution or long-term care facility for children or mentally disabled adults STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee. 

HB 188 (Shannon-84th) Repeals the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Program. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

SB 46 (James-35th) Raises the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $15.00/hour. The bill also raises base annual pay for people who work and live (without being charged board or lodging) in a nonprofit child-caring institution or long-term care facility for children or mentally disabled adults. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SR 102 (Martin-9th) Recognizes October 7-11, 2019, as Georgia Pre-K Week. STATUS: Senate Read and Adopted.


EDUCATION

HB 1 (Petrea-166th) Changes the name of the ‘Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act” to the “Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship Act”. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday.

HB 69 (Turner-21st) Changes the “prior school year requirement” for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship program STATUS: House Education Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday. 

HB 109 (Benton-31st) Modifies conditions of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia for people who first became members on or after July 1, 2019. Among other things, the bill changes from 2 years to 5 years the number of highest years of compensation used to determine retirement benefits; eliminates the ability to apply unused sick leave towards retirement credit; and changes age of retirement and benefits access. STATUS: House Retirement Committee. 

HB 123 (Werkheiser-157th) Moves administration of the Georgia Workforce Investment Board from the Technical College System of Georgia to the GA Department of Labor. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.

HB 126 (Nix-69th) Authorizes the Department of Labor to establish the ‘GeorgiaBest’ program (a business employability skills training program) to assist the state’s existing and emerging workforce in developing employer-identified skills needed to be successful in the workplace. Curriculum may include skills relating to punctuality, critical thinking, and the ability to work in a team. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.

HB 130 (Nix-69th) Authorizes the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to establish a nonprofit corporation to qualify as a public foundation. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday.

HB 133 (Clark-108th) Require that any public school course of study in sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention instruction is medically accurate. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 134 (Rich-97th) Repeals a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.

HB 169 (Hugley-136th) Mandates public schools to require an age-appropriate course of study in financial education for students in kindergarten through 12. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 170 (Taylor-173rd) Increases the state minimum aggregate allowance for tax credits for qualified education donations from $5 million to $15 million. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.

HB 181 (Mitchell-88th) Provides that the initial term or any renewal term of a charter school shall be for no more than three years. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 206 (Mitchell-88th) Requires the charter petitioner, local board of education, and State Board of Education to review the content of, design of, and time and money resources for standardized assessments used by charter schools. The bill also allows a student’s parent or guardian to inspect and review the student’s assessment. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 218 (Williams-145th) Changes HOPE eligibility criteria for homeschooled children from 93rd to 92nd percentile on the ACT, and expands the timeframe for eligibility from 7 to 10 years following high school graduation. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 232 (Clark-147th) Classifies dependent children of active duty military members as in-state for purposes of tuition and fees by the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 21 (James-35th) Requires each local board of education to prescribe mandatory instruction concerning cybersecurity in every year in every grade from kindergarten through grade 12. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee THIS Monday.

SB 25 (Heath-31st) Clarifies that a driver can pass a stopped school bus when a school bus is on a separate roadway that is separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier STATUS: PASSES SENATE. The bill now rests in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. 

SB 48 (Martin-9th) Requires all pre-kindergarten students to be screened for dyslexia. The bill also requires the department to make available a dyslexia informational handbook that includes guidance, technical assistance, and training to assist all local school systems in the implementation of evidence-based practices for instructing students identified with or displaying characteristics of dyslexia, and to collaborate with the Professional Standards Commission to improve and update professional development for teachers specifically relating to dyslexia. The bill also requires local boards of education to develop policies for assisting students in kindergarten through grade three with dyslexia and other learning disabilities; and creates a pilot of “dynamic laboratories of learning” in three local school systems STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee. 

SB 57 (Rahman-5th) “Pay Forward, Pay Back Student Grant Act” – Creates a grant program to pay tuition and fees of University System of Georgia students in exchange for an agreement for the student to pay a percentage of their annual adjusted gross income to the Georgia Student Finance Authority for up to a certain number of years once certain criteria are met. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.

SB 67 (Burke-11th) Allows drawdown of K-12 capital outlay funding to complete restoration of fire or disaster damaged school buildings. Educational facilities that are more than 20 years old and are extensively destroyed or damaged by a fire or natural disaster can supplement insurance to rebuild all of the building, even undamaged parts. Expands low wealth category to include systems consolidating schools but lacking sufficient ESPLOST capability. STATUS: Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 68 (Sims-12th) Strengthens provisions for school system financial management. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee.

SB 70 (Jackson-2nd) Raises the compulsory age of education from 16 to 17. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee.

SB 83 (Mullis-53rd) Requires public schools to offer elective courses in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to grades 9-12. STATUS: Senate Hopper.

HR 137 (Metze-55th) Creates the House Study Committee on the History of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

SR 87 (Parent-42nd) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Digital Education and Screen Time in Georgia Public Schools. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.


MISCELLANEOUS

HB 77 (Clark-98th) Creates penalties for aiding and abetting someone who commits public benefits fraud and adds Medicaid to the list of benefits that are encompassed by the repercussions for fraud STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee THIS Monday.

HB 122 (Trammel-132nd) Revokes the authorization for the carrying and possession of handguns by weapons carry license holders in certain buildings or on real property owned by or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college, or university, or other public institution of postsecondary education. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

HB 129 (Stephens-164th) Allows sale or furnishing of knuckles which are designed with rings to fit around no more than two fingers and sold or furnished for the purpose of defense. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 165 (Trammel-132nd) Allows for the filing and retention of fingerprints submitted for the purpose of obtaining and renewing a weapons carry license. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

HB 197 (Dempsey-13th) Establishes the establishment of the Strategic Integrated Data System (SIDS) under the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, which would facilitate interagency data sharing. STATUS: House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee.

HB 205 (Mitchell-88th) Requires the Department of Driver Services to include in its drivers’ manual instructions for best practices for facilitating the safety of all parties during a traffic stop by law enforcement. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

HB 209 (Gambill-15th) Establishes a specialty license plate to benefit the Georgia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Inc. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 226 (Lariccia-169th) Extends the sunset for penalties related to violation of Joshua’s Law to 2022. FYI, Joshua’s law is the part of Georgia law related to driver’s license requirements for teen drivers. STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 1 (Parent-42nd) “C.J.’s Law”- Creates a felony and 1-10 year sentence for a driver who causes an accident that results in bodily harm, and then leaves the scene of the accident. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 41 (Parent-42nd) Allows for a state refundable earned income tax credit (a refundable tax credit available to low-income, working taxpayers). STATUS: Senate Finance Committee.

SB 45 and SR 84 (Beach-21st) Establishes pari-mutuel horse racing in Georgia at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers and creates the Georgia Horse Racing Commission. State proceeds from the racing shall be in a designated account and used to fund education, health care, and rural development programs. STATUS: Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
SB 50 (Harrell-40th) Revokes the authorization for the carrying and possession of handguns by weapons carry license holders in certain buildings or on real property owned by or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college, or university, or other public institution of postsecondary education. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.

SB 54 and SR 85 (Harbison-15th) Requires the Georgia Lottery Corporation to offer one or more games to benefit veterans. STATUS: Senate Finance Committee.

SB 62 (Butler-55th) Increases the value of a tax credit based on the federal tax credit for certain child and dependent care expenses from 30% to 100% of the federal tax credit. STATUS: Senate Finance Committee.


 BE A VOICE FOR CHILDREN

2 Minute Advocacy Ask

 The “Ask”

Call members of the Senate Public Safety Committee and ask them to be certain that Senate Bill 15 requires school safety coaches to complete implicit bias/cultural awareness training and education regarding child and adolescent development and behavior.

The What

SB 15 (Albers-56th) “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” – Requires schools to conduct threat assessments every two years on buildings, facilities, and campuses by a person or agency approved by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; makes private schools subject to the same requirements for safety plans as public schools; adds requirements to school safety plans to address security issues in school safety zones, at school functions, and while transporting students; creates a task force within the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center and authorizes the task force to “curate individual student profiles from school records and records of the Department of Human Services and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of evaluating potential threats to public and private schools”; creates the role of school safety coaches.

 The Why:

In order to continue Georgia’s progress towards effective school discipline and the equitable, just, and fair implementation of the law, it is important for those engaging with children, parents and guardians to be aware of typical child or adolescent behavior, as well as one’s own unintentional personal biases.

The Message

Hello Senator _______. I appreciate your consideration of Senate Bill 15, but would request that you make sure that it requires school safety coaches to complete implicit bias/cultural awareness training as well as education regarding child and adolescent development and behavior. In order to continue Georgia’s progress towards effective school discipline and the equitable, just, and fair implementation of the law, it is important for those engaging with children, parents and guardians to be aware of typical child or adolescent behavior, as well as one’s own unintentional personal biases towards adults, children or youth. Thank you very much for your consideration and for your service on behalf of Georgia’s children and families.

The How

Click here to call or email members of the Senate Public Safety Committee to deliver the message below. 

 


**BONUS ASK**

Voices’ and Georgia Statewide After School Network Events

The Ask: Mark your calendars to attend the following totally awesome events

The When: 
TOMORROW! Feb. 12 – Voices Legislative Reception honoring the Georgia Department of Agriculture (Freight Depot)(for sponsorship opportunities, please email me and I’ll set you up!)

Feb 20 – Afterschool Day (State Capitol)

 

Feb. 26 – Justice Day (State Capitol)

March 22 – Children’s Day (State Capitol) (NOTE THE DATE CHANGE) 

Why: Because children are a big deal!