Being an advocate for kids is usually pretty darned busy. Days are spent watching simultaneous hearings on laptop and iPhone, reading car insurance legislation as you listen to your great aunt Iris in Toledo tell you about the peanut butter shortage there, smiling through 4-hour Zoom meetings only to find out later that your camera was off the whole time, and having “COVID-dreams” about testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee – in person – about the Toledo peanut butter shortage while wearing an especially large clown nose, a pair of chartreuse fairy wings and an extremely disturbing pink unitard. It can really wear a person out. Therefore, just to clear my head, I sometimes wander out to the mailbox to see if there are any more election fliers. While standing in the street I think about other life choices I could have made. Would anything be different for me now?

What If I had….
Married my third-grade crush?
I probably would…
Be really good at burping the Pledge of Allegiance.

What If I had….
Stayed awake through 7 a.m. Analytical Chemistry II?
I probably would…
Have still flunked the course, but without the narcolepsy
excuse.

What if I had…
Actually never washed my hand (as I swore I wouldn’t)
after shaking Chipper Jones’ hand?
I probably would…
Never have become a lobbyist until COVID came and
made it not cool to shake hands (and you probably would
have been spared years of weekly ramblings of an
untethered imagination).

Anyway – and fortunately – I somehow lucked into making the right choices (mostly) and am with you here, now, trying not to question why I choose to write these updates on Saturday night when I could be re-watching another episode of Schitt’s CreekThe Mandalorian, or that episode of Gilligan’s Island where they are trying to escape from the island (which ironically, appears to have the same name as one of the main characters!). All that to say, this week was super full. Case in point: The Amended FY21 budget was vetted and tweaked by the House and is currently being considered by the Senate (who had budget hearings starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning, giving Analytical Chemistry II a run for its money!) Highlights of changes the House made to the Governor’s recommendations follow this rambling.

In addition, a LOT of legislation emerged, fresh with numbers and potential for good or evil, depending on where you stand on things. HB 163 (the Express Lane Eligibility bill) is one of our current favorites and if your interest is piqued, you can pop below to advocate on its behalf. Other bills have emerged dealing with child sexual abuse, human trafficking, school vouchers, adoption, foster care, public safety, family leave and more. (And believe me, the lawmakers are just getting warmed up!). So read on and make good choices, and whatever you do, wash your hands!

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

DBHDD = Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

DCS = Department of Community Supervision

DECAL = Department of Early Care and Learning

GDEcD = Department of Economic Development

DHS = Department of Human Services (houses DFCS = Department of Family and Children Services, as well as DCSS = Division of Child Support Services)

DJJ = Department of Juvenile Justice

DOE = Department of Education

DOL = Department of Labor

DOR = Department of Revenue

DPH = Department of Public Health

GBI = Georgia Bureau of Investigation

CJCC = Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (attached to GBI)

CJCJ = Council of Juvenile Court Judges (attached to Juvenile Courts)

GDC = Georgia Department of Corrections

GOSA = Governor’s Office of Student Achievement

GSFC = Georgia Student Finance Commission

GPDC = Georgia Public Defenders Council

PAC = Prosecuting Attorneys Council

TCSG = Technical College System of Georgia

USG = University System of Georgia

HOUSE CHANGES TO THE GOVERNOR’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE AMENDED FY2021 BUDGET

Note: The pink text indicate the changes that the House made to the Governor’s budget recommendations. Anything without a highlight is the Governor’s recommendation and agreed to by the House.

The Amended FY21 Budget is now with the Senate. Following likely changes from the Senate, the House and Senate will need to agree to any Senate changes or ultimately reach compromise before the bill can be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

  • House directs to Repurpose $1.75 Million for the creation of (as opposed to a study of) a behavioral health crisis center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (The Governor had recommended $500,000 repurposed for a study on implementation of a behavioral health crisis center.) (Adult Developmental Disabilities Services)

Dept. of Community Affairs

  • $20 Million Added (to $23.7 million existing funds) to establish a broadband infrastructure grant program to enable rural communities to leverage existing federal, local, and private resources to quickly target high-need broadband expansion within their areas (Payments to OneGeorgia Authority)

Dept. of Community Health

  • Budget Direction: Review optional Medicaid services to improve access to care and improve outcomes for children and adolescents involved with Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) (Departmental Administration)
  • $750,000 Added for an All-Payer Claims Database to enable analysis and public reporting of health care costs and utilization for medical, dental, and pharmaceutical services (Departmental Administration)

Patients First Act (2019 Session)

  • $6.6 Million Added for implementation of the Patients First Act, which includes flexibilities affecting Medicaid and the health insurance marketplace ($1,803,847 from DCH; $707,702 plus $4,080,449 from DHS)

Dept. of Public Health

  • $286,000 Added for a chief medical officer, a deputy commissioner of public health, and a chief data officer to support the agency with COVID-19 pandemic response as well as provide ongoing public health leadership (Departmental Administration)
  • $18 Million Added to replace and modernize the public health surveillance system to improve current COVID-19 pandemic response as well as future epidemiologic surveillance capacity (i.e. the GRITS system) (Epidemiology)
  • $15.44 Million Added for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to support the increased utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic (Infectious Disease Control)
  • $289,000 Transferred for the continued coordination of emergency room use (money moved from the Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services program to the Grady Regional Coordinating Center)
  • $379,200 Repurposed for comprehensive health services to infants and children (Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services)
  • $289,000 Transferred for the continued coordination of emergency room use (money moved from the Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services program to the Grady Regional Coordinating Center)
  • $379,200 Repurposed for comprehensive health services to infants and children (Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services)

Dept. of Human Services (includes the Division of Family and Children Services)

  • $412,900 Transferred to cover a projected deficit in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) contract due to an increase in SNAP cases related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (from Out-of-Home Care to Departmental Administration)
  • $300,000 Added to the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission 
  • $3.48 Million Repurposed for adoptions caseload growth (Adoptions Services)
  • $208,350 Subtracted to reflect savings from vacant child support services agent positions (Child Support Services)
  • $226,670 Subtracted to reflect the delayed start dates of 12 supervisor-mentor and foster care support services positions. (Child Welfare Services)
  • $176,500 Added for contracts for educational services with the Multi-Agency Alliance for Children (Child Welfare Services)

Dept. of Juvenile Justice

  • Budget Direction: Use existing funds for a 10% pay raise for juvenile correctional officers in secure facilities effective April 1, 2021 (Youth Detention Centers and Regional Youth Detention Centers)

GA Bureau of Investigation

  • $223,600 Added for the second phase of the criminal gang database (one-time funding) (Regional Investigative Services)
  • $427,400 Added for the recruitment and retention of medical examiners (Forensic Science Services)

Dept. of Early Care and Learning

  • $61,873 Subtracted to reflect the actual start date for the State Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health coordinator (Child Care Services)

Dept. of Education

  • $589,272 Added for the Area Teacher Program, Extended Day/Year, Young Farmers, and Youth Camps (Governor originally added $505,727 and the House increased that amount by $83,545) (Agricultural Education)
  • $38.61 Million Added to purchase 500 school buses (Pupil Transportation)
  • $420,000 Added for feminine hygiene grants (Non Quality Basic Education Formula Grants)
  • $2.52 Million Added for Preschool Disabilities Services grants
  • $829,200 Subtracted for Equalization grants to reflect corrected data for Cartersville City schools (Quality Basic Education Equalization)
  • $79.53 Million Subtracted to adjust Local Five Mill Share for QBE (Quality Basic Education Local Five Mill Share)
  • $1.93 Million Subtracted to adjust Local Five Mill Share for new State Commission charter schools and to correct data for Cartersville City schools (Quality Basic Education Local Five Mill Share)
  • $41.1 Million Added for enrollment growth (House adjusted slightly by subtracting $43,728) (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $25 Million Added for the State Commission Charter School supplement (Governor originally recommended 26.4 Million and the House reduced that by $406,000) (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $3.3 Million Added for the State Commission Charter School supplement training and experience (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $4.95 Million Subtracted to reflect corrected data for Coastal Plains Charter School (for training and experience) (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $480,152 Added to the charter system grant (Governor originally recommended adding $419,658 and the House increased that amount by $60,494) (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $567.55 Million Added for K-12 education (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $2.6 Million Added for growth in the Special Needs Scholarship (4700 more students) (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $600,000 Added to hold harmless Harriet Tubman School of Science and Technology, Delta STEAM Academy, Atlanta Unbound Academy, and Yi Hwang Academy of Language Excellence for a decline in elementary school enrollment (Quality Basic Education Program)
  • $2.75 Million Added for increased enrollment in State Charter Schools (State Charter School Commission Administration)
  • $889,500 Added for grants to RESAs (Regional Education Service Agencies)
  • $300,000 Added for State Schools (for children who are blind and/or deaf).
  • $840,924 Added for Extended Day/Year, Vocational Supervisors, Industry Certification, and Youth Apprenticeship programs (Governor originally recommended $674,030 and the House increased that by $166,894) (Technology/Career Education)
  • $5.37 Million Added to administer Georgia Milestones in accordance with Federal requirements (Testing)
  • $1.16 Million Added to revise testing standards to align with curriculum changes for Math and English in accordance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Testing)
  • $362,600 Added for the PSAT and AP exams (Testing)
  • $93,100 Added for Tuition for Multiple Disability Students
  • $85,700 Added for Communities in Schools
  • $3.7 Million Added for Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) 

Governor’s Office of Student Achievement

GA Student Finance Commission

  • $192,200 Added for the Engineer Scholarship

Dept. of Revenue

  • $25 Million Added for Forestland Protection Act grants (these grants provide reimbursement for forestland conservation use property and qualified timberland property to counties, municipalities, and school districts
  • $86,175 Added for contractors to provide regulations of the distribution and sale of vaping products (HB 375, 2020 Session) (Industry Regulation)

Dept. of Corrections

  • Budget Direction: Use existing funds for a 10% pay raise for state prison correctional officers effective April 1, 2021
  • Budget Direction: Prioritize offender bed use at existing facilities statewide (Detention Centers, State Prisons, and Transitions Centers) due to a reduced offender population to mitigate the need for future facility expansion

Governor’s Office

  • $118,649 Added for Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to account for increased workload due to the pandemic

HB 12 (Scott-76th) Raises the legal limit of marijuana possession from one ounce to two ounces and reduces the penalty from $1,000 to $300. The bill also eliminates the requirement for obtaining fingerprints and other identifying data on persons arrested or taken into custody for misdemeanor marijuana possession. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 13 (Scott-76th) Changes provisions regarding criminal record restrictions such that criminal history record information for convictions shall be eligible for restriction after a conviction-free period of time following the completion of a sentence, based upon the original offense, to two years if the offense is a misdemeanor or four years if the offense is a felony. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 15 (Scott-76th) Requires training on de-escalation techniques for peace officers, including nonlethal and communication tactics, the use of the lowest level of force first and re-evaluation as threat progresses, mental health and substance abuse awareness, and crisis intervention strategies. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 16 (Scott-76th) Disallows law enforcement agencies from accepting and possessing certain combat equipment from the US Department of Defense, such as controlled firearms, grenades, explosives, controlled vehicles, unmanned aircraft that are armored or weaponized, controlled aircraft that are combat configured, silencers, or long-range acoustic devices. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 21 (Scott-76th) Revises the offense of unlawful conduct during 9-1-1 call to include bias motivations in calling or otherwise contacting 9-1-1. The bill also provides for a cause of action against persons who knowingly causes a peace officer to arrive at a location, owing to false reporting or bias purposes. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 47 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates the Legislative Gang Prevention and Intervention Commission. The commission would submit an annual report recommending a gang prevention plan for strategic, coordinated, and collaborative efforts between educational institutions and community and social services organizations provide informational resources, strategic guidance, research, and best practices to social services and community organizations in the implementation of programs and initiatives designed to prevent and intervene in criminal gang participation by youth. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 69 (Kendrick-93rd) Provides that certain state officers or employees shall be liable when causing the deprivation of certain rights. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee

HB 127 (Williams-145th) Requires wireless service suppliers to make location information of subscribers available to law enforcement agencies upon request. STATUS: House Energy Utilities and Telecommunications Committee

HB 133 (Mainor-56th) Amends the Victims’ Bill of Rights to ensure that a judge conducting a judicial proceeding in which a notification to the victim is required asks the prosecuting attorney at the start of the proceeding whether the victim has been notified of the proceeding. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 145 (Boddie-62nd) Changes the law regarding law enforcement officers’ use of deadly force. Requires that an officer use nondeadly force before resorting to lethal force. Specifies certain instances in which deadly force is allowed (such as to make an arrest, only when all other means of apprehension are unreasonable and other certain circumstances apply). Orders officers to give a clear verbal warning prior to use of deadly force. Prohibits the use of chokeholds by officers. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 168 (Petrea-166th) Declassifies confidential information in inmate Department of Correction files pertaining to sentencing for a serious violent felony or a dangerous sexual offense against a person less than 18 years of age when requested by the district attorney for purposes of responding to proposed actions of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 175 (Boddie-62nd) Creates the crime of aggravated strangulation by a peace officer. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 190 (Holcomb-81st) Prevents any private corporation from operating a detention facility. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

SB 10 (Jones-10th) Makes various aspects of participating in drag racing or laying drag an offense and lays out fines and other punishments. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 28 (Hatchett-50th) Basically expands the resources available to juvenile courts to respond to the safety needs of children and ensures all reliable information is made available to the court in order to make decisions in a child’s best interests, including requiring an annual minimum 2 hours of training for juvenile court intake officers; to provide for the consideration of evidence, including hearsay evidence, in certain juvenile proceedings; to revising provisions pertaining to the reporting of child abuse. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 42 (Mullis-53rd) Excludes discipline data from any school climate rating. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY

HB 91 (Jackson-64th) Defines “cash assistance” for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), basing it on a standard of need that is equal to 50% of the federal poverty level for the applicable family size and which equates to a maximum monthly amount equal to 75% of such amount for each such family size. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 96 (Clark-108th) States that in all cases in which the custody of any child is at issue between the parents, there shall be a presumption, rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, that a child’s interests are best served by equal or approximately equal parenting time with each parent. Alternative forms of custody may be considered by the judge at either a temporary or permanent hearing in the event that there is a finding that clear and convincing evidence exists that either parent is not fit, willing, or able to participate in such an arrangement. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee

HB 109 (Clark-147th) Extends the statute of limitations to bring a civil suit for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse and provides for retroactive claims for childhood sexual abuse under certain circumstances. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee

HB 114 (Reeves-34th) Changes the adoption tax credit from $2,000.00 to $6,000.00 per qualified foster child per taxable year (commencing with the year in which the adoption becomes final) for five taxable years and $2,000.00 per taxable year thereafter until the child turns 18. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 125 (Williams-145th) Directs the GBI to create and maintain a missing persons DNA database so law enforcement officers have the ability to identify or to link unidentified human remains or missing person cases. The bill also requires every law enforcement agency to notify the GBI of any missing person case and requires the GBI director to establish rules and regulations to ask the missing person’s family member(s) to submit personal articles belonging to the missing person or to submit the DNA of one or more family members for use in determining a DNA profile of the missing person. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 126 (Williams-145th) Establishes a timeframe and criteria for collecting DNA specimens for the missing persons DNA database outlined in HB 125. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 131 (Mainor-56th) Clarifies that stalking and aggravated stalking can be committed both directly and indirectly, provides that each violation of stalking and aggravated stalking constitutes a separate offense and shall not merge with any other offense; and requires more detail and oversight of police reporting of incidents of family violence. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 154 (Reeves-34th) Lowers the age at which an individual may petition the court to adopt a child from age 25 to 21 (making it easier for close relatives to adopt children out of foster care). The bill also streamlines procedures to improve efficiency with changes to venue, authorization for virtual appearances in uncontested hearings, clarification of service and notice requirements, and imposition of timelines on court-appointed investigators and increases protections for prospective adoptive parents and biological parents by prohibiting conduct that intentionally misrepresents or exploits parties to an adoption. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee

HB 177 (Bonner-72nd) Creates a civil cause of action to recover damages (and attorney’s fees as a way to help finance the cases) for victims of human trafficking against their traffickers and those who profited from their trafficking. It also gives the Attorney General the ability to pursue a cause of action on behalf of the state. If a victim was trafficked as a minor, that person is permitted 10 years from their 18th birthday to bring a case. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee

HB 178 (Bonner-72nd) Allows victims of human trafficking to petition for name change under seal. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee

HB 192 (Sainz-180th) Changes the name of the of the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board to the Sexual Offender Risk Review Board and revises electronic monitoring conditions. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 194 (Sainz-180th) States that a minimum of a one-year term of probation shall follow imprisonment for persons convicted of a sexual offense; that for certain felonies probation shall be for life; that probation for sexual offenses requires such persons to wear a location tracking device; that a person who is on probation for life can submit a petition to terminate probation after ten years of meeting certain requirements and that the court shall take whatever action is in the best interest of “justice and the welfare of society”.. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee

HB 200 (Powell-32nd) Requires the issuance of a Class C driver’s license to operators of three-wheeled motor vehicles with seatbelts and a frame to partially or fully enclose the operator and exempts operators of such vehicles from headgear and eye-protective device requirements. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 202 (Hitchens-161st) Increases the penalty for violation of traffic laws or ordinances under “Joshua’s Law” from 1.5% of the original fine to 5% and removes the sunset provision. STATUS: House Hopper

SB 20 (Payne-54th) Adds one current or former foster parent (appointed by the Governor), one former foster child who turned 18 or graduated from high school while still in the Georgia foster care system (appointed by the Lieutenant Governor), and one individual who has served for at least three years as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) (appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives) to the Child Advocate Advisory Committee in the Office of the Child Advocate. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY

SB 33 (Dixon-45th) Provides a cause of action against perpetrators for victims of human trafficking and a cause of action against certain perpetrators of human trafficking by the Attorney General on behalf of the state. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 34 (Dixon-45th) Allows victims of human trafficking to petition for name change under seal. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 54 (Harbison-15th) Allows judicial discretion in determining the right of a surviving parent to custody of a child when the surviving parent is criminally charged with the murder or voluntary manslaughter of the other parent. STATUS: Senate Hopper

SB 55 (Butler-55th) Creates the Family Medical Leave Fund program to compensate in part for the wage loss sustained by any individual who is unable to work due to such individual’s own sickness or injury, the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child. STATUS: Senate Hopper

SR 42 (Butler-55th) Constitutional Amendment – authorizes the Family Medical Leave Fund program (SB 55 is the enabling legislation for this CA). STATUS: Senate Hopper

HB 115 (Wilensky-79th) Prohibits health insurers and insurers of life or long-term care insurance from using information derived from genetic testing for any nontherapeutic purpose in the absence of a diagnosis of a condition related to such information. STATUS: House Insurance Committee

HB 128 (Williams-145th) Prohibits providers from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due solely to the physical or mental disability of the potential recipient. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 163 (Cooper-43rd) Requires the state to request a state plan amendment from the federal government to allow the state to implement Express Lane Eligibility (ELE), which enables Georgia to use data from other federal or state programs (e.g., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 164 (Douglas-78th) require all health insurers to pass along no less than 80 percent of all prescription drug rebates to enrollees that such insurer receives from third parties with regard to such enrollee’s prescription drugs. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to the Quality Health Care

HB 209 (McLeod-105th) Expands Medicaid coverage for eligible persons up to 150% FPL and to those eligible to buy coverage on the individual/small group marketplace. Provides subsidies to eligible persons who make 151-500% FPL to obtain coverage through Medicaid or via the individual/small group marketplace. STATUS: House Hopper

HR 52 (Dempsey-13th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

SB 1 (Burke-11th) Requires entities that receive certain tax credits and that provide self-funded, employer sponsored health insurance plans to submit data to the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database. STATUS: Senate Finance Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY

SB 4 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Prohibits patient brokering by drug abuse treatment and education programs and also considers excessive, fraudulent, or high-tech drug testing of certain individuals (the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or any related disorder, to or by an insurer, broker, or any agent thereof, or directly or indirectly to an insured or uninsured patient) a fraudulent insurance act. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee

SB 5 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Provides patient protection measures Among other things, the bill authorizes emergency medical technicians (and EMT trainees) and certified cardiac technicians (and CCT trainees) to administer vaccines during public health emergencies under certain conditions. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee

SB 50 (Rhett-33rd) Creates a premium assistance program for eligible individuals with incomes up to 138% FPL, requiring that the individual pay a “personal responsibility premium” of no more than 5% of their annual income. Creates a “compliance pool” wherein the DCH withholds 0.25% of payments to health plan providers and distributes the pool funds according to plan providers’ success collecting personal responsibility premiums. Requires that DCH develop a pilot model to test medical/health savings accounts. Creates a Legislative Oversight Committee for Health Care Premium Assistance to oversee the program. STATUS: Senate Hopper

HB 11 (Scott-76th) Limits the number of patients that may be assigned to a registered professional nurse in specified situations in hospitals and states, though nothing shall preclude a hospital from assigning fewer patients to a registered professional nurse than the established limits (i.e., a limit of 1 patient in an operating room; 2 patients in critical care units and postanasthesia care; 1-3 in emergency department, pending circumstances; etc.) The bill also requires the adoption of written policies and procedures for the training and orientation of nursing staff by hospitals and imposes a penalty for not complying with the above. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 49 (Hutchinson-107th) Requires that insurer treatment of claims concerning mental and substance use disorders are treated in parity with other health insurance claims. STATUS: House Insurance Committee

HB 9 (Scott-76th) Requires the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and others, to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools to provide mental health and behavioral health services to students at school or during any school related function. The bill also defines the term “telehealth”. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 34 (Belton-112th) Allows Georgia to enter into the “Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact”, which would allow qualified audiologists and speech-language pathologists to practice across state lines with other compact members. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee

HB 54 (Bazemore-63rd) Provides for instruction on the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons in sex education and AIDS prevention instruction. The bill also encourages physicians and nurses providing a tampon for use by any female patient under his or her care to recite and provide certain written information regarding the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 57 (Scott-76th)  Requires the Georgia Department of Public Health and penal institutions to provide (free of charge) access to, breast pumps such that lactating women can express breast milk postpartum. Requires that women who are incarcerated receive prenatal and postpartum medical care. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 72 (Hugley-136th) Allows the state to request from the federal government permission to extend Pregnant Woman’s Medicaid from six months postpartum to twelve months postpartum. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 73 (Hugley-136th) Limits the total cost-sharing amount that an insured (public or private) person is required to pay for covered prescription insulin to $50.00 per 30-day supply of insulin, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill the covered person’s prescription. STATUS: House Insurance Committee

HB 146 (Gaines-117th) Provides for paid parental leave for eligible state employees and eligible local board of education employees for qualifying life events after six continuous months of employment with the employing entity. The maximum amount of paid parental leave during any rolling 365-day period is 120 hours, regardless of the number of qualifying life events that occur within such period. Such leave may be used as needed. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee

HB 170 (Park-101st) Establishes a graduated tax credit based on taxpayer income for qualified child and dependent care expenses. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 1 (Bonner-72nd) Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act – Prevents the creation of “free speech zones” at public institutions of higher education. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 4 (Scott-76th) Prohibits a local school system from leasing or selling a public school to a private entity unless the public school has been in existence for at least 15 years. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 7 (Scott-76th) Provides for in-state tuition at units of the University System of Georgia and branches of the Technical College System of Georgia for youth who are from foster care or homeless situations and excludes foster care assistance from consideration as income for purposes of calculating financial aid. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 23 (Oliver-82nd) Allows affected local schools systems to participate in the annexation dispute resolution process. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee

HB 26 (Kendrick-93rd) Revises an income tax credit to include historically Black colleges and universities in the list of qualified businesses in which an investment is eligible for a credit of 35 percent of the amount invested against the tax imposed. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 27 (Kendrick-93rd) Revises an income tax credit so that only investments in historically Black colleges and universities are eligible for the credit, which is 35 percent of the amount invested against the tax imposed. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 32 (Belton)-112th Establishes a teacher recruitment and retention program for a refundable income tax credit for teachers who agree to teach in certain rural schools or certain low-performing schools. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 60 (Cantrell-22nd) Creates a voucher program for public school students to attend private schools. Eligible students wouldzsss be those whose local public schools did not offer face-to-face instruction in the prior school year, live in low-income households, have been adopted from foster care, have been bullied, or have certain special education needs. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 66 (Oliver-82nd) Allows local school systems to become parties to bond validation hearings. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee

HB 67 (Martin-49th) Extends from June 30, 2021 to July 1, 2026 automatic repeals of certain provisions regarding nonlapsing revenue of institutions in the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 71 (McLeod-105th) Creates a pilot program to implement the funding recommendations of the 2015 Education Reform Commission and to mandate pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for all children prior to entering first grade and to include pre-kindergarten programs in the student based allocation of state funds. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 87 (Evans-57th) Makes students at the Technical College System of Georgia who are taking remedial and developmental courses for a degree eligible to receive HOPE grants. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 88 (Evans-57th) Requires HOPE grants to equal the student’s undergraduate tuition amount for the current academic standard year. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 89 (Evans-57th) Allows students who do not qualify as freshmen but who meet other certain grade point average criteria to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 100 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates a tax exemption on motor fuel and compressed natural gas for public mass transit vehicles owned by public transportation systems, certain vehicles owned by public campus transportation systems, and school buses operated by public school systems. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 118 (Burnough-77th) Changes the name of the QBE sparsity grant to “FAIR Georgia Grant”. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 120 (Carpenter-4th) Allows students who are considered DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to qualify for in-state tuition for the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 152 (Wiedower-119th) Adjusts criteria for oversight of private postsecondary educational institutions. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee

HB 155 (Thomas-39th) Raises the age of mandatory education for children from 16 to 17. STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 195 (Clark-108th) Requires the public education course of study in sex education and HIV/AIDS prevention instruction is medically accurate. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 198 (Singleton-71st) Provides that deductions previously taken by a taxpayer for contributions to the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan shall not be recaptured if a withdrawal from the savings trust account is made by an account owner in connection with the beneficiary successfully enlisting for active duty in any branch of the armed forces. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 201 (Evans-57th) Creates a certification program for whole child model schools. STATUS: House Hopper

SB 3 (Jackson-2nd) Raises the age of mandatory education from 16 to 17. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee

SB 7 (Beach-21st) Requires designated research universities to ensure that at least 90% of early action admissions are offered to Georgia resident students. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee

SB 15 (Anderson-43rd) Creates a new category of coursework dealing with the history of Black people and their contributions to American society. This course may be taken by students between ninth and twelfth grade and may be required by the local education authority for high school graduation. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee

SB 17 (Jones-10th) Creates a certification program for whole child model schools. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee

SB 47 (Gooch-51st) Expands the Special Need Scholarship to include students with a 504 plan and a specific, qualifying diagnosis, as well as students who received preschool special education services under IDEA, and students who have been adopted or placed into permanent guardianship from foster care. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee

SB 51 Thompson-51st Authorizes home study students in grades 6-12 to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities in the student’s resident public school system; to provide that home study students shall complete one qualifying course during any semester the student participates in an extracurricular or interscholastic activity in the student’s resident public school system. STATUS: Senate Hopper

SB 17 Jones-10th Creates a certification program for whole child model schools. STATUS: Senate Hopper

HB 5 Scott-76th Requires the Georgia Lottery Corporation to offer one or more games to benefit homeless military veterans. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 70 (Kendrick-93rd) Requires the composition of each statutorily created board and commission reflect the general population. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee

HB 79 (Allen-40th) Gives regulation of the dates and times for the lawful use or ignition of consumer fireworks exclusively to counties and municipal corporations. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee

HB 95 (Lim-99th) Creates a refundable earned income tax credit equal to 10% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that such taxpayer is allowed. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 110 (Clark-147th) Allows anyone who is eligible for a weapons carry license to lawfully carry a weapon without such a license. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee

HB 112 (Kelley-16th) Extends certain immunities from liability claims regarding COVID-19 by one year to July 14, 2022. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System

HB 116 (McClain-100th) Increases the state minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $15.00 per hour. (Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.). STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee

HB 142 (Carpenter-4th) Allows qualified education tax credits to be used by certain insurance companies against certain tax liability. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee

HB 180 (Lim-99th) Requires the state to maintain databases of sources of funding available to members of the public. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee

HB 197 (Lewis-Ward-109th) Lowers the employee threshold applying to the flexible use of existing sick leave from businesses employing 25 or more to 18 or more and extends the sunset of this Act (Family Care Act) from 2023 to 2025. STATUS: House Hopper

HB 204 (Scott-76th) Creates a comprehensive civil rights law that protects individuals from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment on the basis of race, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. Amends existing laws to include certain missing protections (e.g., fair housing law amended to include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and age). STATUS: House Hopper

HR 1 (Scott-76th) Constitutional Amendment – Requires the Georgia Lottery Corporation to offer one or more games to benefit homeless military veterans. (HB 5 is the enabling legislation for this constitutional amendment). STATUS: House Hopper

HR 4 (Cantrell-22nd) Constitutional Amendment which, starting in 2024, limits House members of six consecutive terms; increases the Senate term to four years with a limit of three consecutive terms and limits the Lt. Governor to two consecutive terms. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee

HR 30 (Stephens-164th) Constitutional Amendment – Permits the operation and regulation of limited casino gaming in this state at licensed destination resort facilities with proceeds supporting the HOPE Scholarship and others. STATUS: House Economic Development and Tourism Committee

SB 16 (Anderson-43rd) Creates the Georgia Commission on Black Women and Girls. The commission would be administratively attached to the Georgia Department of Public Health. STATUS: Senate Government Oversight Committee

SB 18 (Jones II-22nd) Eliminates the statute of limitations on the offenses of rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery; to provide that a prosecution for the offenses of rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY

SB 24 (Butler-55th) Raises the state minimum wage to $15 per hour from $5.15 per hour. (Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.) Orders the Georgia Department of Labor to calculate the cost of living annually (starting in 2022) and to reevaluate the minimum wage accordingly on an annual basis (starting in 2023). STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee

SB 25 (Butler-55th) Increases the value of the state tax credit for child and dependent care expenses (based on the federal tax credit) to 100 percent of the federal tax credit. STATUS: Senate Finance Committee

SB 30 (Beach-21st) Allows pari-mutuel horse racing in this state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers; to create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission. Some proceeds would be used to fund education, health care needs, and rural development in this state, as well as the treatment of problem pari-mutuel wagering issues. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee

SB 58 (Parent-42nd) Establishes a state-level, refundable earned income tax credit for individuals earning below a certain income threshold. STATUS: Senate Hopper

2 Minute Advocacy Asks

The “Ask”:

Call House Health and Human Services Committee chair, Rep. Sharon Cooper, and thank her for sponsoring House Bill 163 (the Express Lane Eligibility bill) and request that it be heard in committee as soon as possible.

The Details: 

Approximately 197,000 children in Georgia lacked health insurance coverage in 2019 – the fourth-highest uninsured child population in the country. The majority of these children are eligible, but not enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, known in Georgia as PeachCare for Kids®).

Express Lane Eligibility (ELE) would allow Georgia to use data from other federal or state programs (e.g., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) to identify and enroll eligible children in Medicaid/CHIP. Implementing ELE with SNAP would:

  • Facilitate insuring an estimated 85,000 currently uninsured children!
  • Prevent gaps in children’s Medicaid coverage by facilitating automatic renewals
  • Enable administrative efficiencies for the state

The Message:

Dear Chairwoman Cooper, Thank you for sponsoring House Bill 163. I am fully supportive of efforts to efficiently and effectively reduce the number of uninsured children in our state. HB 163 is an excellent way to do that, by streamlining enrollment, and could result in coverage for about 85,000 children who currently are receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits but who have no health insurance. Your leadership and thoughtful approach to helping Georgia’s children succeed is greatly appreciated.

The How:

Contact Chairwoman Sharon Cooper by email or at her Capitol office phone at (404) 656-5069.