This morning, shivering in the Trader Joe’s parking lot at 8 a.m., I was wondering how on earth the temperature was going to scoot from 40 degrees to 63 degrees in the matter of a few short hours. Then I started to think about global warming. Then I started to think about my kids and what else can I do to leave them a good future. Then I decided not to put my fruits and vegetables in plastic bags ever again. Then I decided to take MARTA more. Then I forgot about all of it for a minute while I was in the chocolate aisle. Then I checked out and wondered if other people also thought about heavy world issue stuff while they bought chips for the Super Bowl. Then I started thinking about all I have heard this week about Avocado Hand, and immediately decided never to try to take the pit out with a knife anymore. Then I started to think about the role of media in my survival, and that I needed to write my update intro (seen here). Then I turned on the car radio, only to hear a 3-year-old singing the sweetest and saddest song about dinosaurs in love. And I was right back to global warming again.
Anyway, now I am here with you- and about to impart what is hopefully more useful information than what’s above (although the Avocado Hand thing is actually quite useful!). The week was busy and full of House budget hearings, more bills emerging (see below), and a lot more people wondering if they made the right choice leaving the safe (and lucrative) comfort of underwater Alaskan oil rig repair to go into advocacy. The jury is still out on that last one.
Other stuff going on that is not strictly of legislative interest, but certainly important from a government-for-kids perspective is the release of the draft Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention State Plan. Guys – this is a HUGE deal! Our friends at Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services spent many months and much drive time going across the state to survey all kinds of folks about what the plan should say. In fact, they are still asking for input by putting out this draft and asking anyone who knows how to read for feedback! (FYI, the deadline for feedback is Friday, February 14 at 5 pm. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Mathew George at firstname.lastname@example.org.) I encourage you all to check it out. It is only 22 pages with good pictures and a lot of white space, so it is very pleasant to read (there is your first feedback, Mathew!). Plus, it is really encouraging. The last time we had a state plan for child abuse and neglect prevention was in 1993! At that time, I was living the life – eating stuff wrapped in puff pastry and wishing I was Murphy Brown, but actually coming across more like George Costanza. So anyway, let’s bring the plan up to date and then implement it!
In other news, I just want to remind those of you who are childcare or afterschool providers that in order to continue to receive Child and Parent Services (CAPS) funding, eligible providers must be Quality Rated by December 31, 2020. That is only 11 months away! This is the note from DECAL about next steps: “If you are a CAPS provider or intend to be a CAPS provider and have not started the Quality Rated process, please consider doing so now by calling the Quality Rated help desk at 855-800-7747 or by visiting QualityRated.decal.ga.gov.”
And with that, I am going to bid you adieu, but not before I direct you to the action alerts at the end of this update and all the bills in between. Please do the Action Alerts and please read the bills. There. Done.
Voices for Georgia’s Children
Know Where You Want to Go?
HB 364 (Bodie-62nd) Allows some defendants to have a second conviction cleared if they were 17-25 years old the first time they were sentenced and at least five years have passed. (Currently, certain first-time offenders can have their criminal convictions cleared after completing their sentence, but they can only take advantage of that opportunity once). STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this Wednesday.
HB 440 (Ballinger-23rd) Raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17 year-olds. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.
SB 288 (Anderson-43rd) Restricts access to criminal records where arrests did not result in a conviction, or where certain conditions have since been met (e.g., ten years have elapsed since the conviction, or drug court treatment program or mental health treatment program have been completed). STATUS: Senate Hopper.
SB 320 (Payne-54th) Creates a penalty for persons who are classified as sexually dangerous predators who fail to verify or update registration information on the Sexual Offender Registratry as required by law. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.
SB 326 (Karinshak-48th) Allows a defendant convicted of a nonviolent offense and sentence to petition the court to vacate the conviction and sentence if the offense was committed as a direct result of the defendant being the victim of a trafficking offense. At that time, the courts must also restrict access to the criminal history record information for the offense that was vacated. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 555 (Carpenter-4th) Adds public child welfare case manager to the list of people for whom arrest warrants may be issued by a superior court judge, a state court judge, or a probate court judge for any offense alleged to have been committed while in the performance of the case manager’s duties. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.
HB 726 (Taylor-173rd) Requires law enforcement agencies to enter the report of missing persons into the data base of missing persons maintained by the National Institute of Justice of the United States Department of Justice. The term “missing persons” is defined as a person whose whereabouts are unknown and who is believed to be in danger because of age, physical or mental health, or physical or mental disability as well as environmental or weather conditions. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 750 (McLaurin-51st) Repeals a statute providing for the right to sue someone who has seduced one’s unmarried daughter. (FYI, the law was found unconstitutional by the GA Supreme Court in 1994 so it has already been invalidated). STATUS: House Prefiled.
HB 823 (Gaines-117th) Creates a lifetime disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle by persons convicted of trafficking other persons for labor or sexual servitude while using a commercial motor vehicle. STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.
HB 855 (Wiedower-119th) Allows children in foster care to be placed in special education classes or related services if it’s found that trauma impacts their education or classroom behavior. The Department of Education is to provide guidance on how evaluation will be initiated and determining eligibility. All children in foster care entering a new school system shall be immediately evaluated for eligibility for special education or related services. STATUS: House Education Committee.
SB 35 (Jackson-2nd) Prohibits sex offenders from residing near or loitering near their victims and the victims’ immediate family members. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
SB 287 (Jones-22nd) Eliminates the statute of limitations for rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 325 (Karinshak-48th) Changes the statute of limitations for when a corporation may be prosecuted for trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude to ten years within commission of the crime or within ten years after the victim turns 18 if the crime was committed before the age of 18. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
SB 331 (Robertson-29th) Makes it illegal for any person to knowingly possess or control or produce any material or medium which contains images that depict a naked or nearly naked, suggestively posed, and inappropriately sexualized child or children with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of such person or the person viewing such images. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
SB 332 (Jackson-2nd) Prohibits the possession, sale, loan, give away, distribution, transmission, exhibition, showing, or manufacture of childlike sex dolls. This does not include anatomically correct dolls or mannequins that are designed for educational purposes or for use in law enforcement or treatment and evaluation of sexual abuse or sex crimes. The first offense is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, and the second offense is a felony to be punished by imprisonment for 1-5 years, or a fine not to exceed$10,000.00, or both. Selling or distributing such a doll is punishable by 1-10 years, a fine not to exceed $25,000.00, or both. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
SB 333 (Jackson-2nd) Creates a prevention program within the Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children Services relating to reducing crime and further engaging fathers to be better parents. STATUS: Senate Urban Affairs Committee.
SB 334 (Jackson-2nd) Provides licensure standards and regulation of certified community midwives. The bill outlines duties for practice, need for written consent from clients, and state and national licensure requirements. The bill also creates the Certified Community Midwife Board, and outlines the structure, to serve as the governing and licensing body. Licenses are valid for three years. Violations may result in a fine up to $500 and a misdemeanor. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 335 (Brass-28th) Impacts foster youth and families is four ways. First, it allows free admission to state parks by foster children and their foster families, relative caregiver, or fictive kin. Second, the bill establishes that dependency cases that are time limited and cases of TPR take priority over all other civil and criminal hearings. Third, the bill allows DFCS to contract with child-placing agencies to assist in dependency/delinquency and voluntary custody cases. Finally, the bill allows DFCS to require varying levels of training for foster parents based on experience, the age and needs of the child, and level of care being provided by the foster parent. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 337 (Thompson-14th) Adds simulated (or photoshopped) images and videos to definitions of electronic, sexually explicit harassment. STATUS: Senate Science and Technology Committee.
HB 113 (Carson-46th) Prohibits minors driving with a permit to use cell phones or other communication device while driving. Violation results in a misdemeanor and a fine of $150 (or $300 if the individual was using a cell phone at the time of an accident). The bill also allows individuals younger than 17 to apply for a GA license or permit if they have received a license or permit from another state based on their previous driving record and if they have completed a driver’s education requirements in Georgia. The bill restricts Class D license holders from operating Class C vehicles while using cell phones or during the first six months of obtaining their license. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 544 (Efstration-104th) Revises procedures regarding emergency involuntary treatment, and requires the affidavits of the persons upon which an emergency involuntary treatment order is based to be made part of the patient evaluation and among the documents that influence treatment decisions. The bill also revises provisions around curt ordered outpatient treatment, including accountability and informative measures. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 719 (Silcox-52nd) Modernizes HIV-related laws to align with science and support best public health practices for preventing and treating HIV. The bill also permits syringe and needle exchange services without criminal penalties. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 725 (Taylor-173rd) Allows the state to add two or more dental service organization administrators (chosen by DCH via competitive bid) for dental services for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids and allows for an amendment to the state plan if necessary. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 731 (Stephens-164th) Increases state excise taxes on cigarettes by $1.50/pack; and on little cigars and loose and smokeless tobacco by 42%. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 760 (Cooper-43rd) Authorizes of peace officers to take a person to a physician or emergency receiving facility for emergency examination if the officer has probable cause for believing that the person presents a substantial risk of imminent harm to himself or herself or others or is so unable to care for his or her own physical health and safety as to create an imminently life-endangering crisis. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HB 789 (Newton-123rd) Creates a surprise bill rating system based upon the number of physician specialty groups (meaning an in-network medical group of anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists, or emergency medicine physicians) contracted with a hospital within a health insurer’s network and requires insurers to include hospital surprise bill ratings online and in print provider directories, and advertise such ratings elsewhere. The bill also states that if a hospital’s surprise bill rating is less than four, each insurer advertising such hospital as in-network must describe which qualified hospital-based specialty group types are not contracted with such hospital. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
HB 801 (Scott-76th) Limits the number of patients assigned to a registered professional nurse in a hospital as follows: One patient per nurse in each setting: Postanesthesia care patients under the age of 18, patients in operating rooms (provided that one other person serves as a scrub assistant per patient), critical trauma patients in emergency units, patients in active labor and during birth (one for the mother and one for each baby born), and immediate postpartum (the two hours immediately after birth). Two patients per nurse in each setting: Critical care patients, postanesthesia care patients 18 or older, critical care emergency patients and antepartum patients requiring continuous fetal monitoring. Three patients per nurse in each setting: Step down or immediate care patients, basic or comprehensive emergency medical services patients, postpartum couplets (or 6 total patients), telemetry, and acute rehabilitation. Four patients per nurse in each setting: All pediatric units, psychiatric, medical and surgical, observational, specialty care, and any unit not otherwise listed. Hospitals may face penalties up to $25K/day or sanctions such as revocation of the hospital’s license during which violations continue. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 809 (Kausche-50th) Increases the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. The bill also updates language to define ‘electronic smoking product’, clarifies rules for in-person sales of tobacco products, and updates retailer signage requirements. The bill effectively bans online sale of tobacco products by banning sales of tobacco products or tobacco-related objects that are not person-to-person transactions (with the exception of vending machines. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee.
HB 813 (McLeod-105th) Expands Medicaid to persons who live up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and provides health insurance subsidies for people living at 150%-500% of FPL up to 5% of the individual’s income. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.
HB 832 (Carpenter-4th) Requires local governments that operates parks or recreation used by a youth (under 18 years old) athletic organization for games, practices, or training is equipped with at least one vessel (with a capacity of at least 150 gallons) that can be used in the event of a heat related injury or emergency. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee.
HB 842 (Williams-145th) Prohibit providers and health insurers from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due solely to the physical or mental disability of the potential recipient. STATUS: House Insurance Committee.
HB 843 (Douglas-78th) Requires schools to provide recess for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade except for days when there is physical education, structured activities or when other reasonable activities conflict. The bill specifies that local boards of education must establish written policies to ensure that recess is a safe experience, is scheduled so that it provides a break during academic learning and is not withheld for disciplinary or academic reasons. STATUS: House Education Committee.
HB 864 (Rich-97th) Establishes a 7% excise tax on all vapor products. Vapor products must be sold face-to-face. The bill also establishes new licensures for selling any vapor products, including devices used for consumption of combustible vapor products. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.
SB 298 (Unterman-45th) Prohibits sale or distribution of cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco related objects, and vapor products (including those that do not contain nicotine) to individuals under the age of 21. The bill also prohibits the use of labeling or packaging made to be attractive to minors. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
SB 303 (Watson-1st) Requires insurers to be more transparent about prices for non-emergency health care services. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.
SB 313 (Burke-11th) Establishes stricter regulations and licensure for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) such as audits by the Insurance Commissioner, fines for violations of drug pricing guidelines, and establishing annual licensure requirements for all PBMs. The bill prohibits ‘steering’ by PBMs (e.g. requiring the use of a specific affiliated pharmacy or advertising or promoting its affiliated pharmacy). The bill requires PBMs utilize the national average drug acquisition cost as the benchmark (defined by Medicaid’s average acquisition cost) for pharmacy’s reimbursement rates for drugs. PBMs cannot reimburse at lower rates at pharmacies that they are not affiliated with. The bill also defines appeals processes in instances where specialty pharmacies are reimbursed at a lower rate than other pharmacies. All payments collected by PBMs are to be paid directly to the pharmacies for products or to health plans to offset costs or co-pays for the insured. The bill prohibits withholding coverage or requiring prior authorization for lower cost, therapeutically equivalent drugs. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
SB 321 (Hufstetler-52nd) Increases the number of physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) a physician can authorize and supervise at any one time from 4 to 6, and allows APRNs to practice in places in addition to the supervising physician’s office. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 323 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Makes it a crime to administer conscious sedation in a dental facility or during the practice of dentistry in a medispa, without a license to practice dentistry from the board. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
SB 330 (Harrell-40th) “PeachCare Public Option Program”-Expands Medicaid with premiums on a sliding scale. The program would exclude dental and non-emergency transportation. STATUS: Senate Withdrawn.
SB 339 (Harrell-40th) Creates the ‘Georgia Reliable Insurance Network (GRIN)’ or ‘network’ within DCH. It is a Medicaid public option network created to provide health care coverage to persons not otherwise eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or PeachCare for Kids and funded by premiums assessed on enrollees. STATUS: Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 340 (Beach-21st) Makes September 1 of each year ‘Childhood Cancer Awareness Day’ in Georgia. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 230 (Holcomb-81st) Allows the creation of benefit corporations in Georgia. (FYI, For regular corporations have a primary legal obligation to make money for their shareholders, meaning that they could land in legal trouble for too much charitable giving.) Benefit corporations are able to have a wholistic mission that includes both making money for shareholders and giving back to the community (think Tom’s shoes or Bomba’s socks). This is a relatively new form of business, so HB 230 is allowing them to be created in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE (2019). Recommended Do Pass by Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.
HB 488 (Momtahan-17th) Increases vendor reporting requirements and penalties for theft regarding the sale and purchase of store valued cards (e.g. gift cards). The bill creates the definition of “organized retail theft”. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill will be heard in subcommittee this Wednesday.
HB 720 (Sainz-180th) Clarifies that a term of probation shall follow the mandatory term of imprisonment for persons convicted of a sexual offense and establishes some criteria for risk assessment of those convicted. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 724 (Wilson-80th) Authorizes counties to adopt ordinances governing and punishing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in the unincorporated areas of a county. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 727 (Anulewicz-42nd) Requires domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness training to be available through continuing education for barbers and cosmetologists. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee.
HB 743 (Mitchell-88th) Allows student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletics at postsecondary educational institutions to receive compensation for the use of his/her name, image, or likeness and allows for professional representation of such student athletes (though they must disclose representation to the university). This bill prevents universities from enforcing rules that keep student athletes from receiving certain compensation, including student athletes’ eligibility to participate in sports or receive scholarships or other financial aid. This bill is set to become effective January 1, 2023. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.
HB 747 (Singleton-71st) Prohibits public and governmental facilities from being used for athletic competitions in which a person who is not a biological male is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for males or a person who is not a biological female is allowed to participate in athletic events conducted exclusively for females. STATUS: House Prefiled.
HB 749 (McLaurin-51st) Creates protections to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing and naturally occurring workforce housing in certain designated areas. STATUS: House Hopper.
HB 751 (Pullin-131st) Prohibits the enforcement of federal and other extreme risk protection orders in Georgia. (“extreme risk protection order” means an executive order or written order or warrant issued by a federal or state court or signed by a judge or comparable officer, to prohibit a named individual from owning, possessing, or receiving a firearm). This bill preemptively states that no laws, judges, or law enforcement officials may pursue action to remove firearms from individuals without due process. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
HB 787 (Ballinger-23rd) Allows Georgia residents to carry a weapon in Georgia if licensed to carry in any other state. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.
HB 804 (Gilliard-162nd) Prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities by paying less than the required minimum wage. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.
HB 805 (Gilliard-162nd) Changes the amount of the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.
HB 862 (Kendrick-93rd) Establishes a one-time Cybersecurity Task Force, consisting of 11 members (six appointed by the Speaker of the House and five appointed by the Lt. Governor) as well as lawmakers, cybersecurity experts, manufacturers, ethicists, privacy experts, and a representative of GBI. The task force will make recommendations on a variety of topics including privacy protection for all data collected or shared, actions for the General Assembly, and strategies for encouraging investment in better security measures. The task force will deliver a final report by January 2022. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
HR 874 (Trammell-132nd) Constitutional Amendment – Mandates that public officials who are indicted on felony charges, shall be suspended and shall not receive compensation. Such officials include the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, and any member of the General Assembly. If the official is reinstated, he/she shall be entitled to receive compensation. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.
SB 84 (Kirk-13th) Removes the fee for the issuance of a renewal and temporary renewal for a weapons carry license. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.
SB 286 (Anderson-43rd) Prohibits discrimination on the basis of such protective hairstyle in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance, or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid. It also prohibits discrimination in employment so long as the hairstyle does not impede performance of duties. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
SB 316 (Thompson-14th) Allows military spouses licensed in other states to practice certain professions in Georgia. STATUS: Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.
2 Minute Advocacy Ask
Call members of the House Appropriations Committee and ask them to preserve funding for child-serving agencies.
The governor’s amended FY2020 budget (AFY20) and the FY2021 (FY21) budget recommendations, while attempting toaddress concerns about Georgia’s lower-than-expected revenues,nevertheless, if accepted by the legislature, would result in significant limitations to many of the services, initiatives and supports that help children and families thrive. A few examples of areas recommended for cuts: childcare subsidies, child and adolescent therapeutic services and homes, DFCS supervisors and child protective and benefit eligibility caseworkers, libraries, GBI forensic scientists, Family Connection Partnership, county public health departments, grants for evidence-based therapies for children in the juvenile justice system, and hiring freezes and contract re-negotiations for countless child-serving state workers.
Click below to see some of the cuts affecting children and families:
Dear Chair _________, I am concerned that cuts recommended to the amended FY 2020 and FY 2021 budgets will drastically impact many of the data-driven child and youth improvements Georgia has made over the last decade. Services provided to our children by Family Connection, child protective services, public libraries, county public health departments, community service boards, nurse home visiting, grants for restorative justice, and many other programs and agencies have pulled families out of poverty, protected tens of thousands of kids, and guided our youth towards bright futures. –And a bright future for our children means a bright future for our state! Please restore funds so that we can ensure ongoing success. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.
2 Minute Shameless Self-Promotion Ask
Voices’ and Georgia Statewide After School Network Events
The “Ask”: Mark your calendars to attend the following totally awesome events:
Feb. 18 (Tuesday) – Talk Justice Tuesday featuring speakers on Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction (State Capitol)
Feb. 25 (Tuesday) – Afterschool Day (State Capitol)
March 17 (Tuesday) – Children’s Day (State Capitol)
Why: Because children are a big deal!