- Child Welfare/Vulnerable Youth
- Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline
- Child Health and Safety
- Early Care & Learning
It’s Saturday, the sun is out and it has been hard to ramp up the nerd-factor to read a few more bills. Coffee, tea and a big fat dose of “it’s either read bills or clean the bathroom” ought to help me kick it into high gear. In the meantime, I can tell you about the week…
This week brought yet another happening in the ongoing mini-series called “A Stitch in Time Could Save 159,” the continuing drama about a little bill, House Bill 159 – a charming 108-page read which waxes prosaic on private adoptions, power-of-attorney and sausage–making.
In this week’s episode, various parties hashed out a compromise on the power of attorney piece, adding provisions to better ensure child safety and oversight. In addition, the House moved a little closer to a few Senate positions, though not all. The House then passed their version and sent it over to the Senate for what is called an “Agree, “ which means that the Senate has to vote for it or not. Let’s hope the Senate Agrees!
In other news, the House Appropriations Committee recommended Do Pass on the Amended FY 2018 budget, which is still waiting a vote by the full House. Also, lots of committees started to vet legislation. In addition, it finally felt like the 2018 legislative session had begun in full because:
- There were no snow days;
- The chambers actually started to vote on a few bills;
- I wheezed for only 5 minutes (as opposed to 20) when I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor of the capitol on Thursday; and
- It seemed like everybody and their brother, mother, father, sister and great Aunt Imogene dropped new legislation in the hopper for the General Assembly to consider.
So what is on the books for this week? More of the adoption bill (but you already knew that!), plus more committee meetings, more bills, and more stairs. Oh – and a press conference on child and youth suicide prevention hosted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and a hunk of partners (DBHDD, DFCS, DOE, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), including Voices for Georgia’s Children. As you will learn if you come to the press conference, Georgia has seen a huge rise in suicides and suicide attempts by our children and youth over the last couple of years. It is truly worrisome and we are all trying to do something about it. The Press conference is February 8th on the second floor of the Capitol at noon. I’ll be there for sure, so please introduce yourself if you read this stuff and are feeling particularly gregarious.
That is about it for now. I’ll see you in the funny papers.
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, revocation of a surrender of parental rights, the age for individuals to access the Adoption Reunion Registry, living expenses paid to a birth mother, and the annulment of an adoption under certain circumstances. The bill now includes power of attorney provisions with some safeguards to help ensure the child safety. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Amended and PASSED SENATE. The bill returned to the House, was amended and PASSED HOUSE (again). The bill now rests in the Senate for consideration by the full body.
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. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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 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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
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. The bill will be heard in the full committee this TUESDAY.
HB 732 (Silcox-52nd) 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: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in the Reeves subcommittee this MONDAY.
HB 745 (Holcomb-81st) Allows a tenant to terminate his/her rental or lease agreement effective 30 days after providing the landlord with a written notice of termination when a civil family violence order or criminal family violence order has been issued. The notice must be accompanied by a copy of the applicable civil or criminal family violence order. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 762 (Cantrell-22nd) Requires annual age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in kindergarten through grade 9 and that professional learning and in-service training may include programs on sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. STATUS: House Education Committee.
SB 131 (Tillery-19th) Requires adoption proceedings be stayed while an appeal of an order to terminate parental rights is pending until such order becomes final by the conclusion of appellate proceedings or the time limit for seeking such a review expires. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee.
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 Judiciary Committee.
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 Judiciary Committee.
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 in the past. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 370 (Wilkinson-50th) Requires the commissioner of the Department of Human Services waives the first $25,000.00 of any estate. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 375 (Ligon-3rd) “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act.”-Allows a child-placing agency to decline to accept a referral from the Department of Human Services (Division of Family and Children Services) and to decline to perform services under a contract with the department based on the child-placing agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill also prevents department from discriminating against or causing any adverse action against a child-placing agency based on those religious beliefs. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
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 740 (Nix-69th) Requires local school systems to conduct a vision screening, hearing screening, and a speech-language assessment (unless the student possessed a weapon, drugs, or other dangerous instrument or his/her behavior endangers the physical safety of students or school personnel) a student in kindergarten through third grade prior to expelling or suspending for five or more consecutive days. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 763 (Nix-69th) Expands the student attendance protocol committees to assess school climate as well. Also requires local boards of education to report aggregated student discipline data (in addition to student attendance rates) to the committee and the State Board of Education at the end of each school year. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 765 (Thomas-56th) “C.J.’s Law”- Increases the mandatory minimum for hit and run accidents that result in death or serious injury to three years. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 802 (Willard-51st) Prevents the court from imposing a sentence of death or life without parole in any case in which the death penalty is sought, if the defendant was under 18 years of age when the crime was committed. The bill also provide for retroactive parole consideration of inmates serving prison sentences for a crime committed when the inmate was less than 18 years of age. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
SB 217 (Stone-23rd) Any person employed or appointed as a municipal probation officer on or after July 1, 2017, shall not be authorized to exercise the power of arrest as a municipal probation officer unless that person is certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards Training Council. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Content was amended to SB 149 and passed on that bill.
SB 348 (Harper-7th) Allows campus policemen and other security personnel who are regular employees of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to have the power to make arrests for offenses committed upon any property under the jurisdiction of the TCSG and for offenses committed upon any public or private property within 500 yards of TCSG property. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by Senate Public Safety Committee.
SB 368 (Kirk-13th) Allows the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide technical support and assistance, including equipment, grant funding, operations, training, or official local agency needs, to any local law enforcement agency when the council finds that the local law enforcement agency would otherwise lack access to adequate technical support and assistance. STATUS: Senate Public Safety 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. The bill will be heard in the Reeves subcommittee this MONDAY.
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 733 (Alexander-66th) Expands the service cancelable loan program for psychiatrists serving in underserved rural areas. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 743 (Clark-98th) “Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act”-Requires the GA DOE to develop and post on its publicly accessible website guidelines and relevant materials to inform and educate student, parents, guardians and coaches participating in or desiring to participate in an interscholastic athletic activity about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Public and private schools must also hold informational meetings in the subject and parents/guardians must sign a form acknowledging that they have reviewed the information. Protocols are also established for removing students who faint, pass out or exhibit any other symptoms possibly related to cardiac issues from participation. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 747 (Cooper-43rd) Provides that Medicaid recipients receive unrestricted access to medications prescribed for the treatment of hemophilia. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 764 (Clark-98th) Adds post traumatic stress disorder to the conditions authorized for the use of low THC oil. THe bill also provides for licensing for cultivation of cannabis for the purpose of producing, processing, and dispensing low THC oil in this state, establishes criteria for certain cultivation and production licenses and allows state postsecondary educational institutions to have the option to bid on production facility licenses. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 769 (Jasperse-11th) Creates the Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability within the Department of Community Health’s (DCH) State Office of Rural Health, to be housed at a postsecondary institution within the state. It will serve as a central health data repository for collection and dissemination of health data from state health agencies, including but not limited to DCH, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, to conduct health data analytics to determine rural health care needs for planning purposes, including determining current and future health care work force needs. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 827 (Kelley-16th) Increases the value of the rural hospital organization tax credit to 100 percent. STATUS: House Hopper.
SB 118 (Unterman-45th) Changes the age limit for coverage for autism spectrum disorders for an individual covered under a policy or contract from six years old or under to 21 years old or under. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor 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 351 (Unterman-45th) Allows advanced practice registered nurses to be eligible to engage as a licensed independent practitioner if primarily employed in a rural county in this state The bill also expands the authority for any such licensed independent practitioner to order computed tomography (CT) scans and to prescribe, procure, administer, dispense, and furnish pharmacological agents, including over-the-counter and controlled substances. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 352 (Unterman-45th) Prohibits patient brokering and creates a director of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Related Disorders (to be appointed by the governor), and establishes the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery. The bill also provides for a fraudulent insurance act for the excessive, high-tech, or fraudulent drug testing in the treatment of the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or any related disorder. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 357 (Burke-11th) Establishes the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia (to be assigned to the Office of Planning and Budget for administrative purposes), with a director of health care policy and strategic planning who reports directly to the Governor. 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 494 (Dempsey-13th) Authorizes the use of hearsay in preliminary hearings regarding emergency closure of an early care and learning program or the emergency placement of a monitor or monitors and adds certain misdemeanors to the definition of “crime” for purposes of background checks. The bill also provides that background checks are not valid if an individual has been separated from employment from an early care and education program for more than 180 consecutive days. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 432 (Dubnik-29th) Allows an institution that lacks accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to be approved for tuition equalization purposes, if previously deemed an approved school. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 667 (Bentley-139th) Prevents local boards of education from participating in an athletic association which does not provide for instant replays to review rulings on the field for high school football playoff and championship games. STATUS: House Education Committee.
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. The bill will be heard in the DMVS subcommittee this MONDAY.
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: Recommended Do Pass by House Higher Education 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 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 Higher Education Committee.
HB 718 (Scott-76th) Excuses a maximum of five school day absences per school year, for no more than two school years, of students with parents in service of the armed forces of the United States, the Reserves, or the National Guard or veterans to attend therapy sessions as recommended by a licensed physician or psychologist. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 722 (Casas-107th) Adds any nonprofit, baccalaureate degree granting postsecondary institution which has been in existence ten or more years with a physical location in this state and which holds institutional accreditation by a national or regional accrediting agency that is recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education t the list of eligible institutions for “Move on When Ready”. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 728 (Coleman-97th) Repeals the sunset provision on the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation (which passed last year and is designed to receive private donations to be used for grants to public schools and provide for a related income tax credit for qualified education donations). The tax credits became available January 1st this year but are scheduled to sunset December 31, 2020. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by House Ways & Means Committee.
HB 739 (Williams-168th) Names the act requiring the Professional Standards Commission to adopt and implement a process for military spouses to qualify for temporary certificates or expedited certificates upon moving to the state as the “Tracy Rainey Act”. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 759 (Turner-21st) Revises eligibility for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program to state that the student is not eligible if the student previously qualified for the scholarship. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 778 (England-116th) Transfers the career, technical, and agricultural education program from the State Board of Education to the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 781 (Tanner-9th) Allows school districts to use part of SPLOST funds for maintenance and operations. It also creates a process to amend existing SPLOST to include these costs. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 787 (Hilton-95th) Allows state charter schools may receive services from regional educational service agencies (RESAs); includes the use of flexible and student centered accountability systems in the principles and standards for charter school authorizers; develops individualized measures for virtual students beyond the sole reliance on standardized tests; changes the state charter supplement so it is based on the statewide average local revenue rather than the average of the lowest five school systems; adjusts the statewide average total capital revenue; and requires the capital revenue calculation be made for virtual charters if they provide computer hardware, software and the like. STATUS: House Education Committee.”
HB 788 (Stovall-74th) Allows a parent or guardian to enroll a student in a school using the address of an individual residing in the school’s attendance zone who has authorized such use. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 801 (Hilton-95th) Revise the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program, changing the name to the Individualized Education Account Act. The bill also adds students who have been adopted from foster care to the list of eligible recipients and expands the scope of use for the program dollars. It establishes a program review committee to determine whether certain expenses meet the requirements to be considered an authorized expense. STATUS: House Education Committee.
SB 215 (Williams-27th) Freezes college tuition for students at the amount established for freshman year. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.
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 Higher Education Committee.
SB 361 (Williams-27th) Provides for freedom of religious speech for students and faculty members in public schools; for student protections in student expression, class assignments, organization of religious groups and activities, and limited public forums; for model policies by each local school system on student expression; for freedom of religious expression by faculty and employees of public schools while fulfilling the duties of their jobs. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.
SB 362 (Tippins-37th) Establishes an innovative assessment pilot program, including exemptions from certain state-wide assessment requirements. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.
SB 377 (Strickland-17th) Transfers the State Workforce Development Board from the Department of Economic Development to the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.
HR 992 (Tanner-9th) Constitutional Amendment to allow the current local sales tax for educational purposes to be used for construction, building maintenance, and instructional enhancements of a school system so long as the amount does not exceed 50% of the maximum amount of net proceeds to be raised by the tax. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HR 898 (Coleman-97th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process for public schools and school systems. STATUS: House Education Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 121 (Efstration-104th) Changes provisions relating to minor or unborn beneficiaries of trusts, among other things. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in the full committee this TUESDAY.
HB 605 (Spencer-180th) Changes provisions relating to the revival of certain claims involving childhood sexual abuse and provides for civil actions by the Attorney General under certain circumstances related to such. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in the Reeves subcommittee this MONDAY.
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 Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 721 (Powell-32nd) Revises the criteria by which the Department of Driver Services authorizes licensed driver training schools to administer the on-the-road driving skills testing. STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee. The bill will be heard in the DMVS subcommittee this MONDAY.
HB 786 (Frye-118th) Expands prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against victims of family violence to include victims of sexual assault (which is defined as rape, sodomy, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, and aggravated sexual battery). STATUS: House Insurance Committee.
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 Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
SR 681 (Harbin-16th) A resolution urging the United States Congress to propose the Parental Rights Amendment to the states for ratification. The resolution lays out the following rights: The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children; that the parental right to direct education includes the right to choose public, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child; that neither the United States nor any State shall infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served; that parental rights guaranteed by this article shall not be denied or abridged on account of disability; this resolution shall not be construed to apply to a parental action or decision that would end life. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.