Legislative Update 3.25.19

One of the things I find most interesting about the Capitol is the variety of sounds one experiences in the course of a day. For those of you who have yet to grace the halls of Georgia’s finest sausage-making facility, it is a fascinating study in auditory encounters. Let me see if I can guide you through a few on a typical day:

  • 8:30 a.m. – Parking As one exits the safe space of one’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Georgia Freight Depot, one is accosted by the rantings of a loud and repetitive, yet undecipherable recording, which I think is saying something about getting towed. That voice haunts you until it is replaced by the next somewhat annoying recorded voice, telling you over and over again to “Wait” to cross the street. At least the second one is interested in your safety.
  • 8:50 a.m. – Entry Cue the welcoming hum of the metal detector conveyer belt, interspersed with the cheerful beep of the walk-through detector. Jiggling keys, the patting of pockets and the usually friendly “Come on through” sung by the state trooper at hand all add to the anticipation of what’s in store.
  • 9:00 a.m. – House Rules Committee This committee meets in the room that used to house the Georgia Supreme Court back in the day. I suspect the reverent quiet of that room, no matter who is in it (with the exception of a pile of touring third graders), is an unwitting homage to the meeting of the past, present and future in the work of government.
  • 9:55 a.m. – (somewhat) Real Life It is at this point of the day where the building interior is warmed up by a cacophony of conversations. While it is rare to be able to discern what is being discussed in conversations you are not a part of, it is easy to hear whomever is speaking to you. I love this sound. It is like a big blanket quilted with thinking, joking, advocating (lobbying) and attempted problem-solving, covering the whole space.
  • 10:00 a.m. – Chambers Convene Signaled by a ringing bell (also a sign that it is time to vote) and the sound of lawmakers running in for attendance, the rest of us begin to monitor the monitors in the hallway to keep an eye on things. Sometimes, we will ascend to the chamber galleries on the fourth floor to watch, where the doorkeepers don’t let you make much noise. But there, you can enjoy to ruckus of the elected-types as they banter about and debate the issues at hand. Noises in chambers are things like applause for certain recognitions and events, a constant spate of parliamentary (read “fancy”) terms and directions, and of course, the ever-present and filling-loosening banging of the gavel.
  • 12:15 p.m. – Lunch Walk to the Twin Towers cafeteria across from the Capitol. Brave the shock and sound of gale-force winds sweeping across the walkway from Piedmont Avenue. I imagine it is not unlike being tied to the bow of a schooner off the coast of Antarctica. (For the record, I have witnessed hats, scarves, and toupees blown off poor souls fighting their way from the crosswalk.)
  • April 2 – Sine Die Sine Die is the last day of the legislative session, and while all the other sounds are present that day as well, it nevertheless has a different auditory effect. I think that knowing that we are almost done brings with it a heightened sense where you can almost hear the zipping of the stripes on all of our seersucker outfits. Additionally, in the evening (it usually goes until midnight), people are exhausted but still there and still paying attention. Conversations are either hushed and anxious, or flat-out silly because we are all so bone-tired. The pervasive sound as the evening wears on is that of the chamber monitors in the halls and the booming voice of the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate. The aforementioned bell ringing becomes increasingly frequent as the lawmakers rush to get as many votes in as they can before the capitol turns into a pumpkin and the rest of us turn back into mice. The overall visceral experience can be likened to waiting in an emergency room on a Saturday night without an injury, but wondering if you might get one while you sit there.

And with that, now that creative writing is out of my system, here are a few highlights of the week:

The FY 2020 budget was recommended Do Pass by the Senate Appropriations Committee and is to be on the floor of the Senate today (Monday). Once voted on, it will go back to the House for agreement to the Senate’s changes. Immediate agreement rarely (if ever) happens with the big budget, so sooner or later there will be a conference committee appointed (3 members from each chamber) to hash out the details and then return the bill for votes in their respective chambers. The Senate added a few things that we are really excited about, chief among them are $1 million to implement the 2020 Census, $1 million for childcare subsidies, and $1 million for more high school counselors. If you have a minute and want to see what else is in there, click here to review our budget chart of the child relevant bits of the FY 2020 budget.

In other news, LOTS of bills got lots of amendments, as folks added bills that are thought not likely to pass to bills that are. I recommend checking out all the “accessorizing” in the bill summaries below and then acting on the action alerts to help get things you care about across the finish line.

See you next week!

 

 

 

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



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Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline

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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. SB 222 was amended to the bill. This amendment (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. The bill was amended additionally with language addressing procedure for arrests by citation for motor vehicle violations, issuance of warrants for arrest for failure of persons charged to appear in court, and bond. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 636 (Shannon-84th) Requires each state, county, and local law enforcement agency, including those employing campus policemen to require its law enforcement officers to report in writing every use of force against any subject. The information must be maintained in a centralized data base that is accessible to the public and updated monthly. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security 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.

HR 47 (Scott-76th) Creates the House Study Committee on the Decriminalization of Traffic Violations. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HR 585 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates the House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice 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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

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”. Language from this bill was amended to SB 9. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote THIS MONDAY. 

HB 70 (Efstration-104th) Revises provisions relating to guardians and conservators of minors and adults. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote THIS MONDAY. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill will be heard on the Senate floor for a vote 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

SB 9 (Jones-22nd) Prohibits sexual extortion or coercion of adults or minors. Language from HB 43 was amended to this bill. The amendment 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: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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. PASSED HOUSE. Because the bill was amended by the House after it passed the Senate, the bill awaits agreement to the changes by the Senate. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by House Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote THIS MONDAY.

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 88 (Thomas-56th) “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. The Senate version of this bill, SB 1, was passed by both chambers. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil 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: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

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. PASSED SENATE. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Finance Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote THIS MONDAY. 

HB 290 (Cooper-43rd) Establishes a pilot program to provide preexposure prophylaxis drug assistance or services to persons at risk of being infected with HIV. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. 
Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

HB 324 (Gravley-67th) Allows the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. 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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

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. PASSED SENATE. Because the bill was amended by the Senate after it passed the House, the bill awaits agreement to the changes by the House.

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 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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY. 

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

HB 666 (Dollar-45th) Provides for the licensing of surgical assistants by the Georgia Composite Medical Board. STATUS: House Hopper.

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. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY.

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 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. Recommended Do
Pass By the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

SB 104 (Payne-54th) Revises parental requirement for issuing orders related to whether or not to resuscitate a child. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HR 261 (Newton-123rd) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. The Senate Joint resolution for the same study committee is SR 202.

HR 448 (Cooper-43rd) Creates the Joint Study Committee on the Safe Staffing of Nurses in Georgia. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HR 586 (Gordon-163rd) Creates the House Study Committee on Urban Farming. STATUS: House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

HR 590 (Bennett-94th) Creates the House Study Committee on Georgia’s Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare. 

HR 592 (Hawkins-27th) Creates the House Study Committee on Health Care Reimbursement. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.

HR 644 (Hawkins-27th) Creates the House Study Committee on Health Care Reimbursement. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.

HR 647 (Schofield-60th) Creates the House Study Committee on Addressing Period (or Menstruation) Poverty in Girls in Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in Need in Georgia. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 648 (Setzler-35th) A resolution to bring awareness to vaccine injury in the State of Georgia. STATUS: House Hopper.

SR 193 (Kirk-13th) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Transferring Oversight of Developmental Disabilities to the Department of Community Health. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.

SR 194 (Kirk-13th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Transferring Oversight of Developmental Disabilities to the Department of Community Health. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee. The bill did not cross over.

SR 195 (Harbin-16th) Urges Georgia’s school districts to have an emergency medical technician (EMT) present during all full-contact sporting events. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SR 202 (Hufstetler-52nd) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by Senate Rules Committee. The House version of this study committee bill is HR 261.

SR 217 (Ligon-3rd) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Prescribing Patterns for Antidepressants and Other Psychotropic Medications. STATUS: Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

SR 263 (Mullis-53rd) Creates the Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.

SR 264 (Mullis-53rd) Creates the Joint Emergency Medical Services Study Committee. STATUS: Senate Read and Adopted.

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

SR 431 (James-35th) Creates the Senate Reducing Waste in Health Care Study Committee. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.

SR 435 (Robertson-29th) Urges the State of Georgia to increase its cigarette excise tax to offset indigent health care costs. 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 State Properties Committee. 

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.

SB 258 (Jones-10th) Requires the Department of Community Health to allow mothers giving birth to newborns to retain Medicaid eligibility for one year following such birth. STATUS: Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

HR 421 (Dempsey-13th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill did not cross over.

HR 588 (Newton-123rd) Urges the Georgia Department of Public Health to review maternal deaths in this state and to develop strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths in this state. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HR 589 (Newton-123rd) Creates the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.


EDUCATION

HB 32 (Tanner-9th) Revises school turnaround legislation by moving the Chief Turnaround Officer to the School Improvement Division of the Department of Education (as opposed to having oversight from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement). The bill also creates a pilot program to be conducted by the State School Superintendent. The purpose of the pilot is to attract and retain effective teachers. The five-year pilot will provide stipends ($5,000 in state and $2,500 in local funds) for turnaround instructional innovation specialists who agree to teach for a minimum of three years. After three years, the specialists will be eligible for a permanent salary increase. Language from this bill was amended to SB 68. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in the House Rules Committee.

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

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). The bill was amended with language from SB 173, which establishes educational scholarship accounts, which are consumer directed accounts composed of state funds deposited on behalf of a participating student and which may be used for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, textbooks, therapies, computers, transportation, etc. The scholarship accounts are not needs based but prioritize the following categories of applicants: Children with special needs, in foster care, of parents on active duty in the military, in public school and in a family with income below 150% of the federal poverty level, or documented victims of bullying. All students must have been in public school the prior year for the two FTE counts. Enrollment is frozen in any year that there is an austerity cut to QBE. After graduation, funds rolled over cannot be used for postsecondary purposes and must be returned to the state general fund. The program cap is 2.5% statewide and a 2.5% cap per district. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

HB 86 (Benton-31st) Introduces an appeals process for the teacher’s evaluation system by allowing performance ratings contained in personnel evaluations to be subject to complaint for teachers who accepted a school year contract for the fourth or subsequent consecutive school year. Language from this bill was amended to SB 68. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in the House Rules Committee.

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. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 134 (Rich-97th) Repeals a population provision regarding the disposition of law library funds in certain counties. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Special Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Finance Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 558 (Jones-25th) A state charter school with an attendance zone that includes all local school systems in this state shall be considered to have state-wide jurisdiction. Language from this bill was amended to HB 59. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 562 (Dickey-140th) Establishes the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Scholarship Program, and sets its criteria. The bill also stipulates that the scholarship, which is subject to available funding, will provide $10,000.00 for each REACH scholar for the first year of the REACH participating school system’s participation, and then each year after, the participating school system will be responsible for providing a proportionate share of the scholarship based on the school system’s designated tier in the Department of Community Affairs’ job tax credit designation. Language from this bill was amended to SB 83. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

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 2020-2021 school year and be established by the State School Superintendent. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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: PASSED SENATE. PASSED HOUSE. 

SB 68 (Sims-12th) Strengthens provisions for school system financial management. The bill was amended to include language from 2 more bills: The first, HB 32, which revises school turnaround legislation by moving the Chief Turnaround Officer to the School Improvement Division of the Department of Education (as opposed to having oversight from teh Governor’s Office of Student Achievement). The bill also creates a pilot program to be conducted by the State School Superintendent. The purpose of the pilot is to attract and retain effective teachers. The five-year pilot will provide stipends ($5,000 in state and $2,500 in local funds) for turnaround instructional innovation specialists who agree to teach for a minimum of three years. After three years, the specialists will be eligible for a permanent salary increase. The second bill amended to SB 68 is HB 86 which introduces an appeals process for the teacher’s evaluation system by allowing performance ratings contained in personnel evaluations to be subject to complaint for teachers who accepted a school year contract for the fourth or subsequent consecutive school year. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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. HB 562 was amended to this bill. The amendment establishes the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Scholarship Program, and sets its criteria. The bill also stipulates that the scholarship, which is subject to available funding, will provide $10,000.00 for each REACH scholar for the first year of the REACH participating school system’s participation, and then each year after, the participating school system will be responsible for providing a proportionate share of the scholarship based on the school system’s designated tier in the Department of Community Affairs’ job tax credit designation. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

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. The bill now rests in House Rules 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. Recommended Do Pass by the House Higher Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

SB 163 (Thompson-14th) “Tim Tebow Act” 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 173 (Dolezal-27th) Establishes educational scholarship accounts, which are consumer directed accounts composed of state funds deposited on behalf of a participating student and which may be used for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, textbooks, therapies, computers, transportation, etc. The scholarship accounts are not needs based but prioritize the following categories of applicants: Children with special needs, in foster care, of parents on active duty in the military, in public school and in a family with income below 200% of the federal poverty level, or documented victims of bullying. Enrollment is limited to one-half of 1 percent of the state-wide total public school enrollment in the 2017-2018 school year. Language from this bill was modified and amended to HB 68. STATUS: FAILED SENATE.

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. 

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.

HR 38 (Kendrick-93rd) Creates the House Study Committee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields. STATUS: House Special Rules Committee.

HR 52 (Corbett-174th) Encourages all schools, local educational agencies, and the state educational agency to recognize that dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

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

HR 196 (Mitchell-88th) Creates the House Study Committee to Review the Education Equalization Grant. STATUS: House Special Rules Committee.

HR 291 (Park-101st) Creates the House Study Committee on Increasing Access to Afterschool Programs. STATUS: House Special Rules Committee.

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

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. PASSED SENATE.  

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. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee. 

HB 459 (Ehrhart-36th) Creates a verification process for driver’s licenses of school bus drivers. The bill was amended to include language from HB 394, which allows non-certified personnel (“public safety ambassadors”) employed by or volunteering for law enforcement agencies or fire departments, to assist in traffic control. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

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. PASSED SENATE. Because the bill was amended by the Senate after it passed the House, the bill awaits agreement to the changes by the House. 

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. PASSED HOUSE. 

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. Recommended Do Pass by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee. 

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

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

HR 561 (Howard-124th) Recognizes March 22, 2019, as Children’s Day at the Capitol. STATUS: House Read and Adopted.

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

Yikes! Only 5 more legislative days (ending April 2) to get bills passed! So put your seatbelt on, warm up your phone and get ready to advocate with a capital A! 

2 Minute Advocacy Ask

Home Stretch Bills – SENATE RULES
 

The “Ask”: 
Contact Senate Rules Committee Members and ask them to put the following bills (Pick your favorites) on the Senate floor for a vote AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. (Remember to say thank you!) 

The What:

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.

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. 

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; requires the court to examine additional evidence about an intended marriage and spouse to assess what’s in the minor’s best interest.

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.

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.

The How:

Click here to contact Senate Rules Committee Members


** 2 Minute Advocacy Ask **
Home Stretch Bills – HOUSE RULES

The Ask 

Contact House Rules Committee Members and ask them to put the following bills (Pick your favorites) on the House floor for a vote AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. (Remember to say thank you!) 

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 and creates a pilot in three local school systems which would begin in the 2020-2021 school year and be established by the State School Superintendent. The bill also requires the department to create a handbook to assist all local school systems on the subject and to collaborate with the Professional Standards Commission to improve professional development for teachers specifically relating to dyslexia.

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.

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 insured individuals to use telemedicine, and sets policy for pay equity for health care providers using telemedicine.

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 under 17 to under 18 years old 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.

SB 225 (Walker-20th) Brings Georgia law into conformity with the federal Social Security Act and the Family First Prevention Services Act. The bill creates the category of foster-care placement known as a Qualified Residential Treatment Program 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. The bill also 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.

The How
Click here to contact House Rules Committee Members