Voices’ Legislative Update – 1/22/18

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Hello everybody!
It’s time for another episode of “I’m So Sick of Saying This,” the weekly child advocate/mother/sometimes lumberjack drama  (pronounced “draaaah’-muh”) brought to you by children everywhere.  This week’s necessary but tiresome tirades include:
“Wake up or you’ll be late for school.” (Often followed by “I shouldn’t have to ask you six times.”)
“Will you guys please pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program?!”
“Where the heck did I put my keys/glasses/phone charger?”
“Where the heck did you put your keys/glasses/phone charger?”
“What do you mean ‘school is cancelled again?’”
“Sixty percent of children are molested by people the family trusts.”
“Get that fork away from your brother’s eye.”
“Why didn’t you tell me five hours ago that I had a pound of lipstick on my teeth?”
“Don’t co-sleep with your baby because they can die that way.”
And finally,
“Can we quit with the Febreeze already? The dog smells like a cross between an explosion at the Macy’s perfume counter and a three day old hazelnut latte.”
And now, the news:  This week was sort of on the short side (#offforMLKday #snowandcoldagain) but not uneventful. The General Assembly managed to squeeze in some, but not all, of the joint budget hearings and the Senate passed their version of HB 159 , the adoption bill (the Governor put out a tweet saying that he was not totally thrilled with that, so we will see what happens). Then the House and Senate cancelled the rest of the joint budget hearings, choosing instead to jump ahead and let the House dive into the amended budget hearings starting this coming Monday. Once everyone finishes up with the amended which usually takes a few weeks, they will start on the FY 2019 budget in earnest.
Other useful information:  To compliment the recommendations released by the Governor’s Children’s Mental Health Commission, Voice’s for Georgia’s Children is – TODAY! – releasing a report analyzing Georgia’s child and adolescent behavioral health workforce. The report is the result of a collaborative partnership that included support from seven private Atlanta-based foundations, and we are hopeful that the information and recommendations within can help chart the path so our children and youth can access the services and help they need. (If you don’t have time to read the full report, you can get the basics from our super handy fact sheet about the report.)

vulnerable youth

HB 654 (Beskin-54th) Adjusts provisions involving calculations of child support payments, so that in certain circumstances the court may allow for the use of separate worksheets to show the final child support amount to be paid for all such children and the adjusted amount of support to be paid as each child becomes ineligible to receive support STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.

HB 668 (Price-48th) Allows a petition for guardianship to be filed for a proposed ward who is 17 years old if the petitioner has a good faith reason to believe that the child will still need a guardian upon turning 18 years old STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 655 (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: House Education Committee.
HB 159 (Reeves-34th) Substantially revises general provisions applicable to adoptions, including provisions regarding the following: allowing a nonresident to allow an adoption of his or her child, adoption of foreign-born children, waiver to revoke a surrender of parental rights, the age for individuals to access the Adoption Reunion Registry, and the annulment of an adoption under certain circumstances. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to include some language from a past version of HB 359, which was vetoed by the governor following the 2017 session STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Amended and PASSED SENATE. The bill now awaits House consideration again.
HB 344 (Dempsey-13th) Allows certain parties in a case concerning a child support order to request a genetic paternity test from the Department of Human Services. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this Monday.
SB 335 (Unterman-45th) Expands the offense of trafficking an individual for sexual servitude to include individuals who pay for such servitude and solicit and pay for it from people 16 years old or older STATUS: Senate Hopper.
SB 336 (Unterman-45th) Provides that when a subpoena is issued for production of electronic communication service records for computer or electronic devices that are used for certain offenses against minors, the provider of the service shall not provide notice of such subpoena to the subscriber or customer of such service STATUS: Senate Hopper.
SB 337 (Unterman-45th) Expands acceptable testimony of a child’s description of sexual contact or physical abuse to include any motion made or hearing or trial STATUS: Senate Hopper.
juvenile justice

HB 657 (Petrea-166th) Creates a felony charge and mandatory minimum of 1-5 years for anyone who knowingly and intentionally provides a firearm to someone who is on probation as a felony first offender or to any person who has been convicted of a felony in any state STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

HB 663 (Bennett- 94th) Creates added categories and penalties for the commission of hate crimes. These crimes target a victim or his or her property because of the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 670 (Powell-32nd) Adds one legislative representative to the Georgia State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision and clarifies that the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate each makes one such appointment STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.
HB 660 (Hanson-80th) Creates added categories and penalties for the commission of hate crimes. These crimes target a victim or his or her property because of the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability STATUS: House Hopper.
SB 316 (Jackson-2nd) Creates added categories and penalties for the commission of hate crimes. These crimes target a victim or his or her property because of the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 326 (James-35th) Provides that prior to posting bail for a juvenile or receiving a child from the custody of DJJ, a person, adult blood relative, or stepparent shall file a sworn and notarized affidavit with the court stating that he or she has legal custody of the alleged delinquent child or that he or she is an adult blood relative or stepparent. The bill also requires a criminal history records check of those arrested to determine if the person is classified as a wanted or missing person or is reasonably believed to be subjected to labor or sexual servitude.  The bill also requires personnel rendering patient care in a hospital or related institution to receive written material on industry best practices in recognizing signs typically displayed by persons who have been or are being subjected to labor or sexual servitude, and requires the GBI to collect information which would assist in the identification of any person believed to be subjected to labor or sexual servitude STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 653 (Spencer-180th) Provides that certain professional licensing boards are authorized but not required to suspend the license of a person upon notice of nonpayment or default on a federal educational loan or service conditional scholarship. This pertains particularly to those licenses issued by the authority of Georgia Composite Medical Board STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 673 (Carson-46th) Prohibits driving while: conducting wireless communication without using a hands-free accessory, using more than a single touch or swipe of a finger on a wireless device to initiate or terminate communication; reaching for a wireless telecommunications device in such a manner that requires the driver to maneuver in such a way that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position properly restrained by a safety belt, watching motion upon the screen of a wireless telecommunications device other than those related to the functioning or navigation of the vehicle. Violation will be considered a misdemeanor and shall be punishable with a fine of at least $150.00. Upon a second offense the driver shall be required to complete a defensive driving course STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 678 (Smith-134th) Requires healthcare providers to tell patients which health insurance plans they accept before non-emergency treatment.  If they do not have an agreement with a patient’s health insurance provider, they must disclose the estimated amount the health care provider, group practice, diagnostic and treatment center, or health center will bill the patient or prospective patient for health care services when the patient asks. Information about who ancillary providers will be in the process of treatment must also be provided when asked.  Likewise, insurance providers must make accessible information which could help clients assess out-of-network costs STATUS: House Insurance Committee.
HB 697 (Taylor-173rd) Extends an exemption from state sales and use tax for five additional years (up to June 30, 2023) regarding the sale or use of tangible personal property to certain nonprofit health centers, including some volunteer centers which serve indigent patients STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 669 (Trammel-132nd) Authorizes the state to allocate appropriations to expand Medicaid and get federal funds for payments to medical providers on behalf of Medicaid recipients STATUS: House Appropriations Committee.
SB 318 (Rhett-33rd) Allows for the execution of a physician’s certificate for emergency examination of a person for involuntary evaluation and treatment for mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse based on consultation with an emergency medical technician or paramedic who has personally observed the person STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 325 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Allows Georgia to join an Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which allows physicians to become licensed in multiple states. According to the bill, the Compact creates another pathway for licensure and does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Act. It also affirms that the practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located at the time of the physician-patient encounter, and therefore, requires the physician to be under the jurisdiction of the state medical board where the patient is located STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB  327 (Albers-56th) Eliminates the circumstance of death when unattended by a physician from the list of deaths that a coroner or county medical examiner can order a medical examiner’s inquiry of that death STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this Monday.

None yet!
HB 672 (Thomas-39th) Allows the use of speed detection devices by school security personnel, defined as a certified law enforcement officer employed by a local board of education, a county or a municipal law enforcement agency for patrol of a school STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee.
HB 702 (Clark-147th) Creates a service cancelable postsecondary education loan program for students in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics who work in federal civil service positions at defense installations in this state STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 700 (Belton-112th) Authorizes types of service cancelable educational loans financed by state funds and issued by the Georgia Student Finance Authority in exchange for two years of service in the Georgia National Guard STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 713 (Chandler-105th) Lowers eligibility requirements for homeschooled children  for the HOPE scholarship from scoring within the 93rd percentile on the ACT or SAT to having scored within the 91st percentile STATUS: House Hopper.
HB 524 (Teasley-37th) Creates a digital learning tax credit available for donations to eligible nonprofit organizations to be used to provide improved technology to county, municipal, and independent school districts, facilitating Internet access for student learning initiatives. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this Monday.
SB 330 (Wilkinson-50th) The agricultural education program provided in this state shall be based on the nationally recognized three-component model of school based agricultural education: daily instruction in an organized classroom and lab environment; hands-on, real-world learning opportunities through the supervised agriculture experience (SAE) program; and leadership and learning opportunities through participation in the Future Farmers of America. The curriculum for the agricultural education program shall include equal portions of each of the three components of such model and shall be established by the Department of Education with input from agricultural education teachers. GA DOE will conduct a pilot program, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, for agricultural education in six elementary schools in this state in order to determine whether and how to implement an elementary agricultural education program state wide. By July 1, 2018, the Professional Standards Commission shall extend in-field certification for agricultural education to include kindergarten through grade five STATUS: Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
SB 339 (Ligon-3rd) Requires the establishment of free speech policies for institutions of the Georgia university system, including some specific language and criteria to be used in such policies  STATUS: Senate Hopper.
HB 703 (Hitchens-161st) Creates the Governor’s Office of Public Safety Support (assigned to the Department of Public Safety for administrative purposes ). This office would provide counseling services or any other critical incident support services to all requesting public entities that employ public safety officers for incidents, including situations involving death or other tragedies. Counseling services would be for public safety officers or their immediate families. The Governor appoints the director STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 716 (Rakestraw-19th) “Georgia Pre-Arrest Diversion for Drug and Mental Health Treatment Act”- Persons desiring treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or dependence or mental health issues may contact a law enforcement agency for information and about and referral to treatment programs for abusers of drugs or alcohol or persons with mental health issues.  Any person who in good faith contacts a law enforcement agency for information as to available treatment programs, assisted delivery to a program, or a referral shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for a drug violation resulting solely from the seeking of such information or assisted delivery STATUS: House Hopper.
HR 913 (Rakestraw-19th) Creates the House Study Committee on Incorporating Law Enforcement in the Pathway to Treatment and Social Services for Persons Having Challenges with Drug Use and Mental Health STATUS: House Hopper.
SR 587 (McKoon-29th) Amends the Constitution so as to make English the official language of the State of Georgia, and requires official state actions be in English, prohibits any requirement that any language other than English be used in any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications, prohibits discrimination, penalties, or other limits on participation against persons who speak only English STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.