Legislative Update 3.18.19

One of the most challenging things to do towards the end of the legislative session is to convince oneself that wearing bedroom slippers to the capitol is still a bad idea. In the throes of an event that simultaneously resembles a public policy pop-quiz, a camping expedition and a rehearsal dinner held on Halloween, deciding what to wear can get confusing. Purple capes (for Lupus Day) are okay, as are Iron Man costumes (film day). Lab coats (doctor or nurse days), firefighter uniforms (firefighter day), and an impressive array of themed scarves are all legit. Badges, buttons, roses and stickers appear regularly, as do fur-covered, big-headed mascots, beauty queens and motorcycle clubs. I’ve seen Betsy Rosses, human peanuts, statues of liberty, handmaids, and Smokey the Bear. All of that is considered “normal” capitol attire. Pajamas, however, – even ones with peaches or flags on them – are not. Alas, as a lobbying child advocate, I must instead prioritize wardrobe choices which suit my actual profession and not my desire to address sleep deprivation on the job. What does this look like, you ask? It looks like this:

  • Any article of clothing with pockets that can carry a pen, gum, lipstick, hand sanitizer, phone, phone charger, and spare reading glasses, yet not look like a fanny pack, fly fishing vest or cargo pants;
  • A lapel, collar, belt, or other grabbable surface for the lobbyist badge to cling to (maybe some year, we will be allowed to tattoo our badge to our wrist to speed up things at the metal detectors);
  • Moderately fashionable shoes (anything past 1982 will do) that are wearable for at least long enough to get to the committee rooms on the fourth floor and can accommodate calluses, toe bandages or inclement weather;
  • Magical upper body-wear that does not belie the unfortunate yet inevitable perspiratory response when questioned by a chairman;
  • And most of all, a well-rehearsed poker face, complete with smile, so that one can process one’s thoughts before inadvertently upsetting, confusing or frightening an onlooker with one’s conclusions.

As you can perhaps tell from the above monologue, it was a sort of slow week at the Capitol. Lots of hearings but few votes either in committees or on the chamber floors. The Senate is still pondering the 2020 budget and many representatives and senators are exploring the possibility of attaching language from bills that did not cross over on day 28 to bills that did, thereby turning some lemons into lemonade. This process is called “finding a “vehicle” (for your bill), and keeps the end of the legislative session interesting. On occasion the whole game reminds me of those Word Search puzzles where you find and circle words hidden in amongst random letters. (Click here if you would like to see the Voices Legislative Session Word Search!) This velcro/glue gun approach to policymaking happens each year. It sometimes happens in committee, but often occurs at the bitter end of Sine Die when bills are moving so fast between chambers for votes and agreements that language can get attached and passed before anyone notices. It’s wild!

Anyway, with that, scroll down to have a look at the bills that are currently active. (Note, as things heat up, we will include bills that may have a chance of getting attached to others.) And please act on the simple action alerts we have below. This is a crucial time to help get some things across the finish line for our children and families!

 

See you next week!

 

 

 

Polly McKinney
Advocacy Director
Voices for Georgia’s Children 
pmckinney@georgiavoices.org 



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 426 (Efstration-104th) Revises the criteria for imposition of punishment for crimes involving bias or prejudice to specify that bias or prejudice mean the individual’s belief or perception regarding the race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability, and then revises the sanctions for such crimes. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 470 (Sainz-180th) Requires analysis and collection of DNA for individuals charged with a felony offense but sentenced as a first offender or under conditional discharge. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 472 (Reeves-34th) Requires the court to consider alternatives to foster care and specifically authorizes the court to impose interim measures that would keep the child out of care pending a preliminary protective hearing. The bill also adds criteria concerning juvenile court intake officers and their training. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

SB 222 (Stone-23rd) (Re-)Creates the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform for the purpose of conducting periodic comprehensive reviews of criminal laws, criminal procedure, sentencing laws, adult correctional issues, juvenile justice issues, enhancement of probation and parole supervision, better management of the prison population and of the population in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and other issues related to criminal and accountability courts. The Council is effective through June 30, 2022. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.


CHILD WELFARE/VULNERABLE YOUTH
HB 12 (Williams-145th) Requires every public school to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee. 

HB 64 (Prince-127th) Requires the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to make efforts to determine whether a parent or guardian of a child who is the subject of abuse allegations is on active duty in the military and if so, to notify military installation family advocacy programs. The bill also grants immunity for reporting child abuse to military law enforcement. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 70 (Efstration-104th) Revises provisions relating to guardians and conservators of minors and adults. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 79 (Gilliard-162nd) Prohibits discriminated against blind persons by the courts, Department of Human Services, or a child-placing agency in matters relating to child custody, guardianship, foster care, visitation, placement, or adoption. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 227 (Frye-118th) Expands the prohibitions on discrimination against victims of family violence to include victims of sexual assault. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

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: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.

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 statewide victim services agency 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 codifies the process for identifying sex trafficking victims; and makes it easier to prosecute knowing owners of places where trafficking occurs. This bill would align Georgia law with federal trafficking laws such as the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Families Act and the Trafficking Victims Protections Act. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 281  (Anulewicz-42nd) Increases the penalty provisions relating to pimping and pandering. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 381 (Efstration-104th) Cleans up terminology, grammar, and punctuation in statute related to child support provisions. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 424 (Silcox-52nd) Expands the definition of Criminal Gang Activity to include trafficking persons for labor servitude or sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, and pandering. The bill also revises rules pertaining to the admissibility of a complainant’s past sexual behavior in prosecutions for certain sexual offenses. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 478 (Ballinger-23rd) Removes children under 18 from the state child abuse registry; reforms parameters of due process for alleged offenders; and establishes a process for expungement of those on the registry. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.  

HB 543 (Efstration-104th) Allows an individual to be adjudicated an equitable caregiver of a child provided that the relationship between such individual and the child is in the best interest of the child and providing that there is no open child welfare and youth services case involving such child or his or her parent. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

HB 553 (Dempsey-13th) Eliminates the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children from the membership of the State Victim Services Commission and the bill of rights for foster parents, as the agency reference is now obsolete. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

HB 555 (Carpenter-4th) Adds public child welfare case manager to the list of people for whom arrest warrants may be issued by a superior court judge, a state court judge, or a probate court judge for any offense alleged to have been committed while in the performance of the case manager’s duties. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

SB 9 (Jones-22nd) Prohibits sexual extortion or coercion of adults or minors. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 

SB 158 (Strickland-17th) This bill is in response to the Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act and represents the shift away from criminalization and towards providing victims with services. It 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 statewide victim services agency which provides comprehensive trauma-informed services designed to alleviate the adverse effects of trafficking victimization; raises the age from 16 to 17 for purposes of determining the offense of prostitution and codify the process for identifying sex trafficking victims; and makes it easier to prosecute owners of places where trafficking occurs. This bill would align Georgia law with federal trafficking laws such as the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Families Act and the Trafficking Victims Protections Act. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee. 

SB 167 (Brass-28th) Allows a foster placement for a child to be deemed as the child’s fictive kin in determining such child’s permanency plan, if after 6 months and reasonable diligent search efforts conducted by DFCS, no relatives or fictive kin have been located. In all cases in which the child has reached the age of 11, the judge shall consider the desires of the child. Additionally, if a child has been in a stable foster placement for 12 months or more, a presumption shall exist that remaining in that placement is in the child’s best interests. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

SB 190 (Kennedy-18th) Allows a party to bring a counterclaim for contempt or enforcement of a child custody order or for modification of legal or physical custody in response to a complaint seeking a change of legal or physical custody. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee. 

SB 225 (Walker-20th) Brings Georgia law into conformity with the federal Social Security Act and the Family First Prevention Services Act. It increases the standard of evidence in proving maltreatment in cases involving children who are members of federally recognized Indian tribes. The bill also creates the category of foster-care placement known as a Qualified Residential Treatment Program, including definition and lays out the qualifications for clinicians offering the treatment, procedures for assessing children for this placement, judicial oversight and the mechanism for the child’s family to work through a case plan overseen by the court and the Division of Family and Children Services. The bill also requires DFCS, to provide a youth in foster care for more than six months any official documentation necessary to prove the child was previously in foster care before aging out of foster care. And finally, the bill brings Georgia in compliance with the Social Security Act’s title IV-E by requiring that the final decision for hearings on benefits be made by the state agency distributing those benefits. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

SR 371 (Kirk-13th) Creates the Senate Protections From Sexual Predators Study Committee. STATUS: Senate 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: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 39 (Belton-112th) Creates the “Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Act” which allows physical therapists licensed in other compact states to practice in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 63 (Cooper-43rd) Requires health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols. (Step therapy is a type of prior authorization. In most cases, the patient must first try a less expensive drug on the drug list that has been proven effective for most people with the same condition before you can move up a “step” to a more expensive drug.). STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

HB 83 (Douglas-78th) Requires schools to provide 30 minutes of recess daily for grades K-5. Recess would not be required on any day on which a student has had physical education or structured activity time. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 158 (Silcox-52nd) Requires that Medicaid recipients have the same access to anti-retroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and 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: PASSED HOUSE. The bill will be on the House floor for a vote this MONDAY. 

HB 287 (Dubnik-29th) Deletes an income tax deduction for certain physicians serving as community-based faculty physicians and creates a new income tax credit for licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants who provide uncompensated preceptorship training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician assistant students. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned Senate Finance Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY. 

HB 290 (Cooper-43rd) Establishes a pilot program to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance or services to persons at risk of being infected with HIV. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 

HB 310 (Morris-156th) Moves the annual due date that the Department of Insurance must submit an autism coverage report to the General Assembly from January 15 to June 15. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 324 (Gravley-67th) Allows the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. 

HB 345 (Cooper-43rd) Prohibits pregnant, in labor or postpartum inmates from being required to squat or cough during a strip search conducted by a custodian during the second or third trimester of pregnancy or being required to undergo any vaginal examination unless prescribed and performed by a licensed health care professional. The bill also prevents such inmates from being restrained with handcuffs, waist shackles, leg irons, or other restraints unless she appears to be an immediate and serious threat of harm to herself or others or a substantial flight risk and cannot be reasonably contained by other means. In those cases, the rationale by the official must be documented within three days. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 

HB 514 (Tanner-9th) Creates the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission and initial subcommittees (Children and Adolescent Mental Health; Involuntary Commitment; Hospital and Short-Term Care Facilities; Mental Health Courts and Corrections; and Workforce and System Development). STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 515 (Jasperse-11th) Requires certain state departments and agencies to provide recommended school construction designs and measures that advance school safety and requires new school safety plans to be based upon the operational guide for preventing targeted school violence issued by the United States Secret Service. The bill also requires the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) to visit schools to inspect the school safety plan every 3 years. The bill requires schools to conduct drills every year, but leaves it to the discretion of the school as to whether students participate in the drill. The bill also creates a state-wide threat management team to coordinate school safety efforts. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill did not cross over. 

HB 544 (Efstration-104th) Revises procedures regarding emergency involuntary treatment, and requires the affidavits of the persons upon which an emergency involuntary treatment order is based to be made part of the patient evaluation and among the documents that influence treatment decisions. The bill also revises provisions around curt ordered outpatient treatment, including accountability and informative measures. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.

HB 551 (Hill-3rd) Requires the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shall work with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency to identify a standard level of kratom alkoloids and to determine a recommended dosage. The bill also makes it a misdemeanor to sell Kratom to anyone under 18 years old, and illegal to be used by anyone under 18 years old. It also stipulates labeling details. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 

HB 615 (Anulewicz-42nd) Authorizes 16 and 17 year olds to receive vaccinations without parental consent. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

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 school safety coaches and requirements for them. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee.

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: PASSED SENATE. PASSED HOUSE. 

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY. 

SB 104 (Payne-54th) Revises parental requirement for issuing orders related to whether or not to resuscitate a child. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Judiciary Committee. 

SB 106 (Tillery-19th) Authorizes the Department of Community Health to submit a Section 1115 waiver request to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and authorizes the Governor to submit a Section 1332 innovation waiver proposal to the United States Secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury in order to expand Medicaid and shore up the private insurance marketplace. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare. 

SB 115 (Unterman-45th) “Medical Practice Act of the State of Georgia” – Provides for telemedicine licenses for physicians licensed in other states to engage in the practice of telemedicine with patients in this state. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 118 (Unterman-45th) Renames the “Telemedicine Act” the “Telehealth Act,” and revises various definitions regarding telemedicine and telehealth. The bill also prohibits insurers from requiring insureds to use telemedicine, and sets policy for pay equity for health care providers using telemedicine. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Insurance Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

SB 207 (Burke-11th) Changes the name of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce to the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce and changes the composition of the board’s membership. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Health and Human Services Committee. 

SR 366 (Anderson-43rd) Creates the Senate Passenger Vehicle Seat Safety Belt Study Committee. STATUS: Senate Hopper.


EARLY CARE AND LEARNING

HB 627 (Schofield-60th) Requires a private lactation room open to the public in either the Capitol Building or the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 4 (Jordan-6th) Requires a private lactation room open to the public in either the Capitol Building or the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate State Institutions and Property Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.


EDUCATION

HB 59 (Belton-112th) Allows military students to enroll in a public school based on official military orders prior to physically establishing residency. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 68 (Carson-46th) Prohibits any entity that operates, owns, is affiliated with, or is a subsidiary of an association, organization, or other entity that provides accreditation of elementary or secondary schools from becoming a student scholarship organization (SSO). STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Retirement Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.

HB 130 (Nix-69th) Authorizes the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to establish a nonprofit corporation to qualify as a public foundation. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee.

HB 134 (Rich-97th) Repeals a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Special Judiciary Committee. 

HB 218 (Williams-145th) Extends the window to access the HOPE scholarship from 7 to 10 years and states that active military duty shall not count against that window. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Higher Education Committee.

HB 444 (Reeves-34th) Revises criteria for Dual Enrollment. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Higher Education Committee.

HB 527 (Dickey-140th) Changes program weights in the Quality Basic Education Formula for funding purposes. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned Senate Finance Committee.

HB 530 (Hitchens-161st) Requires the Georgia Department of Education provide a copy of a parent or guardian’s declaration of intent to utilize a home study program for their student to the local school systems in which the home study programs are located, and should a child stop attending public school for 45 days without submitting such a declaration to GADOE, the school shall refer the matter to the Division of Family and Children Services to conduct an assessment to determine whether the withdrawal was to avoid educating the child. If a parent/guardian can present a copy of a filed declaration, the Division shall immediately terminate the assessment. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

SB 48 (Martin-9th) Requires all -kindergarten students to be screened for dyslexia and refer students in grades 1st-3rd for screening to have been identified as having characteristics of dyslexia. The bill would require a dyslexia screening tool to be delivered by a professional and ensure that parents provide informed consent before the screening tool is used and that parents are notified with the results of the screening. 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. This bill also creates a pilot in three local school systems which would begin in the 2019-2020 school year and be established by the State School Superintendent. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY. 

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 E-SPLOST capability. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Appropriations Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

SB 68 (Sims-12th) Strengthens provisions for school system financial management. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this TUESDAY. 

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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY. 

SB 92 (Beach-21st) Prohibits professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking the license of a person who is in default with a student loan. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Appropriations Committee.

SB 108 (Martin-9th) Requires courses in computer science in middle school and high school (phase-in) and for grants for professional development programs for computer science teachers. The bill also requires annual reporting to select General Assembly members regarding outcomes related to this legislation. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee.

SB 161 (Tippins-37th) Provides for weighted scores for certain coursework for purposes of determining HOPE scholarship and Zell Miller scholarship eligibility. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Higher Education Committee.

SB 163 (Thompson-14th) Allows home study students to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities in the student’s resident public school system. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this TUESDAY. 

SB 175 (Black-8th) Requires certain public employers to make employer and employee contributions to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia for employed beneficiaries. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Retirement Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY. 

SB 219 (Jordan-6th) Requires high school students and students seeking a general educational development (GED) diploma to correctly answer 60 percent of the questions on the United States Citizenship Civics Test in order to receive a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) diploma. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Education Committee.

SR 353 (Jones-10th) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Community Schools. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.


MISCELLANEOUS

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: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Science and Technology Committee.

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 drivers license requirements for teen drivers. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 346 (Cooper-43rd) Protects tenants from retaliation by landlords for certain actions, and protects landlords from such tenant actions when the tenants intent is vindictive. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 459 (Ehrhart-36th) Creates a verification process for driver’s licenses of school bus drivers. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 481 (Setzler-35th) The “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act” – Among other things, the bill requires that unborn children at any stage of development be included in state population-based determinations and states that life begins at the moment a human heartbeat is present in the womb. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Science and Technology Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

HB 546 (Lott-122nd) Pending reversal of Roe v. Wade or an amendment to the United States Constitution that, in whole or in part, restores the authority to prohibit abortion to the State of Georgia, this bill defines and provides penalties for the offense of criminal abortion. The bill also lays out exceptions to the definition. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

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: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

SB 144 (Anderson-24th) Allows a licensed tobacco dealer to apply for a special event tobacco permit for off-premise sales of cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco for a special event or a temporary location offsite from the licensed location for a period of 1-10 days. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee. 

SB 243 (Mullis-53rd) Establishes a specialty license plate to benefit the Autism Alliance of Georgia. STATUS: Senate Hopper.

HR 553 (Wilensky-79th) Creates the House Study Committee on Cyberbullying. STATUS: House Hopper.

SR 354 (Jones-10th) Recognizes March 22, 2019, as Children’s Day at the state capitol. STATUS: Senate Read and Adopted. 


 BE A VOICE FOR CHILDREN

2 Minute Advocacy Ask

Recess Bill
 

The “Ask”: 
Call members of the Senate Education and Youth Committee TODAY and ask them to vote YES on House Bill 83 (“the Recess Bill”) when it comes before them in committee. 

The What:

HB 83 (Douglas, 78th) This bill would require a daily 30-minute recess for all students in grades K-5 unless they have already had a physical education class or structured activity time in the day. 

Research overwhelmingly shows that recess and physical activity have a positive impact on children. We know that kids learn best when they are engaged. Recess improves academic performance. In fact, studies show that schools that implement physical activity components into lessons perform at least 6% better on standardized tests. Click below to check out our factsheets about why this is important! 

Benefits of Recess Factsheet
Benefits of Physical Education Factsheet 

 

 

 

 

The Message:

Dear Senator _______. Please vote YES on House Bill 83, when it comes before you in the Senate Education and Youth Committee today. Research shows that children perform the best academically, behaviorally, socially, and have higher levels of classroom engagement when schools adopt physical activity policies. Thank you for your consideration as well as for your service on behalf of Georgia’s children and families.

The How:

Click Here to call or email members of the Senate Education and Youth Committee to deliver the message. (Remember, calling works best!) 


** BONUS ASK **
Safe Housing Bill

The Ask 

Call members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to schedule a hearing and a vote for House Bill 346 as soon as possible. 

The What 
HB 346 (Cooper-43rd) Protects tenants from retaliation by landlords for certain actions, and protects landlords from such tenant actions when the tenants intent is vindictive. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The Why 
This bill creates reasonable protections for both tenants and landlords when conflicts arise regarding eviction, retaliatory rent increases, or utility cut-offs. This bill would also protect landlords by prohibiting frivolous or vindictive complaints by a tenant. Families who rent their homes need protections when they ask landlords for improvements in housing conditions. Currently, raising concerns about code violations, mold, disrepair or other unsafe and unhealthy conditions can result in retaliatory responses by landlords, including things such as eviction and rent increases. 

Children fare best when they, and their parents or caregivers, are in safe and stable housing. Unreliable housing can cause stress, and even exacerbate other challenges families face such as precarious mental health conditions and access to consistency of services and schools. Of course, it can also lead to homelessness, a problem which we already suffer from in Georgia. In fact, last year alone, an estimated 45,500 children and youth experienced homelessness. (source: GA Alliance to End Homelessness)

Additionally, when viewing this issue through the lens of children’s health, these following three statistics are incredibly important and should be considered when voting on this bill:

1.  According to the GA Department of Public Health, in 2014, more than 10 percent of Georgia children suffered from Asthma.  Asthma is often exacerbated by environmental factors, including housing conditions.

2.  Asthma prevalence was higher among children whose family annual household income was less than $25,000 than among children from families making $75,000 or more per year.

3.  Asthma is the leading cause of chronic disease-related school absenteeism.

Children require healthy homes in order to reach their fullest potential. HB 346 is modeled on Texas law, and would allow Georgia to join 41 other states that ban retaliation against tenants for seeking housing code enforcement, including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, NC, SC, Mississippi, and Virginia. 

The Message
Dear Senator __________, Please schedule a hearing and a vote for House Bill 346 as soon as possible. I believe it is important to provide protections for low income families with children who seek to improve unhealthy and unsafe housing conditions by holding landlords accountable. Children fare best when they, and their parents or caregivers, are in safe and stable housing. Unreliable housing can cause stress, and even exacerbate other challenges families face such as precarious mental health conditions and access to consistency of services and schools.  Thank you for your service and your thoughtful work on behalf of our children and youth.

The How
Click here to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Remember, calling is most efficient!) 


** BONUS BONUS ASK **
Dyslexia Bill

The Ask
Call members of the House Education Committee ASAP and ask them to vote YES on Senate Bill 48, addressing Dyslexia and other disorders when it comes before them.

The What 
SB 48 (Martin-9th) Requires all -kindergarten students to be screened for dyslexia and refer students in grades 1st-3rd for screening to have been identified as having characteristics of dyslexia. The bill would require a dyslexia screening tool to be delivered by a professional and ensure that parents provide informed consent before the screening tool is used and that parents are notified with the results of the screening. 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.   This bill also creates a pilot in three local school systems which would begin in the 2019-2020 school year and be established by the State School Superintendent. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Education & Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

The Why
This handy little factsheet will tell you why! 

The How
Click Here to call or email members of the House Education Committee to deliver the message below. 

The Message
Dear Representative _______, Please vote YES on Senate Bill 48 when it comes before you in committee. Research shows when children’s learning disabilities are identified early and when teachers are trained in early dyslexia identification and intervention, 90% of children with dyslexia or other certain reading challenges can be educated in a regular classroom and the lifelong effects of the challenge are mitigated or eliminated overall. Thank you very much for your consideration and for your service on behalf of Georgia’s children and families.