Legislative Update 5.21.19

Welcome to Summer.  For some, summer is signified by the opening of the pool, the thrill of the first toe-stubbing in flip-flops, or the centering of the sun over the Tropic of Cancer (around June 21) – but for me, summer starts with my final 2019 (state) Legislative Update following the end of the Governor’s bill review period (this year it ended May 12) where he has signed, vetoed or let sit all the bills that passed both chambers up to Sine Die.  So today, as you receive this email, you can imagine me slathering myself with sunscreen, revealing my pasty white legs and arms in some exceptionally floral summer frock, and grilling/dropping dogs and burgers over/into glowing red coals, all the while sucking on one of those skinny Kool-aid kind of popsicles that you buy by the thousand at Costco.

Actually, at this moment, I am doing none of that. Instead, I am finishing up the dishes, laundry, car repair and dust eradication chores to address the household disarray that nearly consumed my two teenagers, two dogs and one cat while I was MIA at the state House January through March.  (To be honest, I probably wouldn’t miss the cat.) And while I drudge on with such mind-numbing activities, I often think about how grateful I am to the folks who worked so hard to do good things for kids (a number of whom are listed in the Action Alerts at the bottom of this Update).  Lawmakers, advocates, lobbyists, and agency personnel (not to mention legislative staffers, volunteers and real-live regular people) are the relentless champions of decent policy development and honest conversations about what it is going to take to help kids become happy, healthy, and productive adults. 

Let me be clear: it is not that we always agree on everything.  In fact, sometimes it is downright confusing (and annoying) to figure out how someone who heartily agreed with you on an issue just three sentences ago now seems to think that you are speaking in some ancient incomprehensible caveman dialect about the next issue. But in the end, when you add it all up, people tend to agree on way more than they disagree on, so little by little we move forward.  As some old guy in an elevator once told me, “Our government here in the U.S. is the worst government in the whole world – except for all the rest.”

To see how things finally landed for kids, read on.  And if you still have a little advocacy juice left in you, please take a minute to act on the Action Alerts at the end.

Happy summer!

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


Key:

Pink = Signed by Governor

Yellow = Passed both Chambers, waiting to be considered by Governor

Blue = Confirmed Study Committee

 JUVENILE JUSTICE/EFFECTIVE SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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.  STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HR 585 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates the House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention.  STATUS: PASSED HOUSE.


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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.
 
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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 70 (Efstration-104th) Revises provisions relating to guardians and conservators of minors and adults. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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

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; 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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 281 (Anulewicz-42nd) Increases the penalty provisions relating to pimping and pandering.  STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 381 (Efstration-104th) Cleans up terminology, grammar, and punctuation in statute related to child support provisions. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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. The bill was also amended to include language from HB 247 regarding elder abuse. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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. The bill also cleans up various other code sections by eliminating references to other obsolete entities. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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. 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. This bill absorbed HB 234, which was nearly the same. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

SR 371 (Kirk-13th) Creates the Senate Protections From Sexual Predators Study Committee. STATUS: PASSED SENATE



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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: GOVERNOR VETOED

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 186 (Stephens-164th) Revises Georgia’s Certificate of Need system for hospital regulation. Among other things, this bill allows Cancer Treatment Centers of America to expand its bed capacity and accept more Georgia patients, limits the entities that can object to a health care provider’s CON application to those within a 35-mile radius of the proposed project. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 290 (Cooper-43rd) Establishes a 3-year pilot program to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance or services to persons at risk of being infected with HIV. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 324 (Gravley-67th) “Georgia’s Hope Act” – Allows for the legitimate use of medical cannabis for health care, and creates a means for the production, growing, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil to patients on the Low THC Oil Patient Registry via pharmacies in Georgia. The bill also provides regulations on the production of marijuana used to create low THC oil and requires growers and processors to obtain a license. It creates the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, which will oversee the manufacturing of low THC oil in Georgia. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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 two days. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 551 (Hill-3rd) 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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

SB 15 (Albers-56th) “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” – Requires every public school to perform a site threat assessment every five years beginning January 2021 or before opening a new school. The assessment must be conducted by trained individuals or entities that are certified by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Act or must be conducted by a government agency. Each public school must review and update the safety plan annually if needed and submit to the Department of Education. The bill also requires public schools to conduct safety drills annually on reacting to mass casualty incidents. It is left up to each school’s discretion on whether to include students in the drills. Further, the bill requires each school’s principal to serve as or to designate a school safety coordinator that submits a report annually to the local board of education, coordinates with government agencies regarding distribution of school security practices, is required to report suspected violent criminal activity and may report other suspected criminal activity to local law enforcement, and works with mental health and social services providers when needed based on student behavior. The bill also requires the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center to share homeland security information to specified entities and maintain a smartphone or other digital place where people may report suspicious activity. The number for the smartphone or reporting site must be displayed prominently in each public school. Finally, the bill provides that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will act as the primary state law enforcement agency for identifying and investigating threats and activity involving homeland security. STATUS: GOVERNOR VETOED.

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. SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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 (grades 6-12), parents, guardians and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. The bill also requires such 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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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

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

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

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


EARLY CARE AND LEARNING

HR 421 (Dempsey-13th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE.

HR 589 (Newton-123rd) Creates the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE.


EDUCATION

 

HB 59(Belton-112th) Allows military students to enroll in a public school based on official military orders prior to physically establishing residency. The bill was amended to add HB 558, which states that 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. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 130 (Nix-69th) Authorizes the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to establish a nonprofit corporation to qualify as a public foundation. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

HB 527 (Dickey-140th) Changes program weights in the Quality Basic Education Formula for funding purposes. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

SB 48 (Martin-9th) Creates a pilot in three local school systems (starting in the 2020-2021 school year and established by the State School Superintendent) to screen those kindergarten students for dyslexia and a handful of other learning disabilities, 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. The goal of the bill is to ultimately replicate the pilots statewide. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: PASSED HOUSE.

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

SR 464 (Martin-9th) Creates the Senate Higher Education Outcomes Study Committee. STATUS: PASSED SENATE.

SR 468 (Davenport-44th) Creates the Senate Study Committee on the Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED SENATE.



MISCELLANEOUS

HB 197 (Dempsey-13th) Establishes the establishment of the Georgia Data Analytic Center (GDAC) under the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, which would facilitate interagency data sharing. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

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: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.

SB 227 (Martin-9th) Establishes a specialty license plate to benefit the Georgia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Inc. STATUS: SIGNED BY GOVERNOR.


 BE A VOICE FOR CHILDREN

2 Minute Advocacy Ask

Legislator Thanks!


The “Ask”:
 

Choose any or all of the bills below and contact the legislative heroes who worked so hard on these issues (whether they passed or not) to say thank you for working so hard on behalf of Georgia’s children.


The Why: 

Making good policy for kids takes the hard work and time of an array of stakeholders, but it is the elected officials who often take an important issue under their wing and champion it for as long as it takes to make a difference.  Many are the first signers on a bill, and many work diligently in tandem with the sponsor to get the bill through.  They all deserve thanks for their persistent and often, Herculean, efforts to make Georgia a good place for children to thrive.


The Message:

Dear ___________, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and diligent work on HB___________/ SB ___________.  It is reassuring to me that we have elected officials, such as yourself, who put children first in their work and policy-making.  Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.


The How:

Choose from the following bills (There was a lot of good for kids going on, so feel free to choose a bunch!):

Rep. Mandi Ballinger  404.656.7153
HB 478 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Andy Welch 404.656.5912
HB 228 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Sharon Cooper 404.656.5069
HB 346 Protects tenants from retaliation by landlords for certain actions, and protects landlords from such tenant actions when the tenants intent is vindictive.   – PASSED – YAY!
-AND-
HB 345  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. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Demetrius Douglas 404.656.7859 and
Sen. Jeff Mullis 404.656.0057
HB 83 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.  – VETOED, but GOOD TRY!

Sen. P.K. Martin 404.463.6598
SB 48 Creates a pilot in three local school systems (starting in the 2020-2021 school year and established by the State School Superintendent) to screen those kindergarten students for dyslexia and a handful of other learning disabilities, 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. The goal of the bill is to ultimately replicate the pilots statewide. – PASSED – YAY!
-AND-
SB 60 Requires the GA Department of Education to develop and post on its website guidelines to inform students (grades 6-12), parents, guardians and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. 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 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. – PASSED – YAY

Rep. Teri Anulewicz 404.656.0116
HB 281 Increases the penalty provisions relating to pimping and pandering. – PASSED – YAY!

Sen. Brian Strickland 404.656.7454 and
Rep. Chuck Efstration 404.656.5105
SB 158 This bill 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 makes it easier to prosecute owners of places where trafficking occurs. This bill absorbed HB 234 (by Rep. Efstration), which was nearly the same. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Bill Hitchens 404.656.7855 and
Sen. Jack Hill 404.656.5038 and
Rep. Jon Burns 404.656.5052
HB 530 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Sen. Matt Brass 404.463.1376
SB 167 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Sen. Larry Walker 404.656.0095
SB 225 Among other provisions, this bill 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Kevin Tanner 404.656.9210
HB 514 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). 

Sen. Renee Unterman 404.463.1368
SB 115 “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. – PASSED – YAY!
-AND-
SB 118 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. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Katie Dempsey 404.463.2248
HR 421 Creates the Joint Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health. – PASSED – YAY!

Rep. Mark Newton 404.656.0254
HR 589 Creates the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality. – PASSED – YAY!
 

BONUS ASK!

Governor Thanks!

The Ask:
Choose any or all of the SIGNED bills in the Action Alert section above and call or send a short note to Governor Kemp to say thank you for his signature.
 
The Why:
It is important to let our new governor know that we notice and appreciate it when he signs a bill that will make a great difference for children and youth.
 
The Message:
Dear Governor Kemp, Thank you so much for your signing HB ____ / SB ____.  Your continued commitment to the children and youth in our state is much appreciated. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.
 
The How:
Choose from the bills in the Action Alert section above (There was a lot of good for kids going on, so feel free to choose a bunch!) and call the Governor’s Office at 404-656-1776 or send a note on his webpage at https://gov.georgia.gov/webform/constituent-services.


Useful links: