Let me be the first to say that lobbying is not the sort of thing that just anybody would enjoy.

  • First, one has to be pre-disposed to talking to people you have never met as if they are one part royalty, one part IRS, one part speed date, and one part the aunt or uncle you never met but know all the stories your mom told you about them.
  • Second, one has to be comfortable without a real office for the duration of the most important part of your work (i.e.during the legislative session). You see, many of us are really traveling salesmen (and women) at heart. Each day, we pack up our stuff, shuffle down to the capitol, hide our things in hallways, under stairs and in other people’s offices, and then proceed to pitch our wares – everything from bills on wandering livestock to foster careheat stroke to sandwichesdogs in divorce to creepy dolls. And on occasion, we are rewarded with the desired “Yay” or “Nay” vote, a shout-out from the committee chair, or hearing one of your talking points used (appropriately) in the floor debate.
  • Third, and on almost a daily basis, one has to make like Frozen and “Let it Go.” Why? Isn’t making words into LAW one of the most important things humans do that animals can’t Well, yes, it is (next to playing the electric guitar in a kitchen or surfing the Krog Street Tunnel) but in the push-and-pull of three branches of government, 236 legislators, one Governor and one Lieutenant Governor, plus all those other humans who have something to say, it can get emotionally exhausting (as if the relentless concern about lipstick on one’s teeth weren’t enough!!!). Therefore, in order to keep your sense of humor (however goofy), your composure (read: “poker face”), and your desire to return (‘cuz it ain’t over ‘til it’s over), it is best to briefly channel Scarlett O’Hara as you stumble upon your car in the Hackney parking deck (after a 30 minute search), declaring to yourself and the other grizzled lobbyist (who is still looking for his vehicle), “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

And now to quickly catch you up on the tidbits I know about this moment in legislative time: There were a number of hearings on bills, but not tons of votes (you can see the outcomes below), but the best part of last week was Wednesday when Voices, the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) and Junior League of Atlanta had our Pre-K Week Launch, which reminded legislators that they should participate in Pre-K Week October 5-9, 2020.  We gave each one the book, Where the Wild Things Are (which is not about the state capitol!) and received special remarks from the Education Committee chairmen, Sen. P.K. Martin (starting at 47:38) and Rep. Rick Jasperse In addition, CALi the Dog and a bunch of folks gave out really yummy cookies (my favorite part).

This Wednesday, Voices is hosting our legislative reception honoring the Georgia Department of Education for their “Whole Child” approach to helping kids succeed. Click here for more details. Please come!  We are hosting the event despite the fact that there are NO legislative days this week (click here to see the schedule of LDs through March 12) because the House and Senate are taking a few days to work on the amended FY2020 and the FY 2021 budgets. They return for regular legislative days on February 18 (which also happens to be “Talk Justice Tuesday – Raise the Age Day” at the Capitol).

And with that, please read on and advocate (FYI, we are still in budget advocacy mode, so please make use of the action alert below). Until next time…

Surf’s up Dude!

Polly McKinney
Advocacy Director
Voices for Georgia’s Children


Know Where You Want to Go?

Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline

Child Welfare/Vulnerable Youth

Child Health and Safety

Early Care and Learning

Higher Education


2 Minute Advocacy Ask


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.

HB 440 (Ballinger-23rd) Raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17 year-olds. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

HB 878 (Frye-118th) States that counties and municipalities are not limited by current law in adopting ordinances or resolutions regarding the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 883 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates the Georgia Gang Prevention and Intervention Task Force to develop and maintain a comprehensive state plan for strategic, coordinated, and collaborative efforts between educational institutions and community and social services organizations for programs and initiatives designed to prevent and intervene in criminal gang participation by youth. The body would essentially provide direction, technical assistance and, when funds are available, grants to advance the work. STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security 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 Judiciary Committee.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the 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.


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 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Motor Vehicles Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

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.

HB 885 (Petrea-166th) Allows certain information within inmate files of the Department of Corrections (with the exception of medical records) shall not be classified as confidential state secrets when requested by the district attorney for purposes of responding to proposed actions of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles regarding inmates sentenced for a serious violent felony or a felony of a sexual nature against a person less than 18 years of age. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 911 (Setzler-35th) Defines the offenses of improper sexual contact by a foster parent in the first degree when he or she engages in sexually explicit conduct with his or her foster child; and in the second degree when a foster parent and engages in sexual contact, excluding sexually explicit conduct, with his or her foster child. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 912 (Reeves-34th) FC babysitting. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 913 (Reeves-34th) Among other tweaks to the adoption code, the lowers the age that a person is allowed to petition for adoption from 25 to 21 years old; restores previous law that was unintentionally omitted through the Adoption Code rewrite (in 2018) to allow the required search of the putative father registry to be performed as of the date the adoption petition is filed, and allow the results to be attached as an amendment to the petition; creates an exception to the required fingerprint criminal history reports for petitioners in proceedings to domesticate foreign adoptions and adult adoptions and provides that an affidavit from DFCS can satisfy the requirements of the subsection to prevent the petitioner from incurring the cost of an additional criminal records check; clarifies the court’s authority to determine it is in the best interests of the child to grant an adoption in the case of a child born in another country than the United States; and adds a new subsection to address recent scams wherein individuals are intentionally misrepresenting a pregnancy or intention to place child for adoption when the individual is either not pregnant or has no intention of placing child for adoption, and no money is being obtained by the individual as a result but the potential adoptive parents are expending money in reliance on the misrepresentations and are emotionally exploited. (Much thanks to Melissa Carter of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School for her assistance with this summary!). STATUS: House Hopper.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the 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.

SB 368 (Harbin-16th) Prohibits child-placing agencies from being required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the placement violates certain religious or moral convictions of the child-placing agency. The bill also prohibits discrimination of such child-placing agencies by entities of state and local government; and states that certain actions shall not form the basis of a civil action. STATUS: Senate Hopper.


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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

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.

HB 882 (Houston-170th) Eliminates the sunset period for state and some local tax exemptions for the sale of food and food ingredients to qualified food banks and for the use of food and food ingredients donated to qualified nonprofit agencies., The bill also expands the exemption for the use of food and food ingredients donated to qualified nonprofit agencies to include disaster relief. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 888 (Hawkins-27th) “Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act” – Develops mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between private plan insurers and out-of-network providers regarding the provision of healthcare services; requires the department to maintain an all-payer health claims data base; provides for in-network cost-sharing amounts in healthcare plan contracts; establishes an arbitration process; and requires the Commissioner of Insurance to contract with one or more resolution organizations. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

HB 909 (Cooper-43rd) Increases the age from 18 to 21 years old for the purchase of cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco related objects, vapor products, and marijuana flavored products. STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 101 (Beach-21st) Requires volunteer coaches with youth athletic associations to undergo training to reduce the likelihood of injuries to youth athletes engaged in high risk athletics (e.g.  any organized sport in which there is a significant possibility for a youth athlete to sustain a serious physical injury, including, but not limited to, the sports of football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, ice or field hockey, cheerleading, and lacrosse. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 303 (Watson-1st) Requires insurers to be more transparent about prices for non-emergency health care services. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

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. The bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

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.

SB 345 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Establishes criteria for nonprofit organizations to prepare and provide food in accordance with Department of Public Health requirements. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 348 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Sets standards for the number of providers that a health insurer contracts with, coverage standards, and how members can find provider lists. Provider adequacy is to be assessed by the Insurance Commissioner based on a variety of measures. Plans will be judged as either ‘adequate’ or ‘unsatisfactory,’ which comes with recommendations for revising the plan to receive a satisfactory judgement by the Commissioner. A designation of ‘unsatisfactory’ does not appear to impede the insurer from offering the plan. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SB 349 (James-35th) Requires schools with students in grades 6-12 to provide free feminine hygiene products in all female-designated student restrooms. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 350 (James-35th) Requires that female-designated restrooms in state properties provide free feminine hygiene products. STATUS: Senate State Institutions and Property Committee.

SB 352 (Burke-11th) States that when an insurer’s provider directory includes a provider as a participating provider for a network plan at such time as a prospective covered person selects his or her health benefit plan, such insurer shall cover the provider charges at in-network rates for the duration of the contract year for such covered person, regardless of whether such provider remains in the insurer’s network plan, and shall ensure that the covered person shall not be responsible for more than the amount for which he or she would have been responsible had the services been delivered by an in-network provider. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SB 359 (Hufstetler-52nd) “Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act” – Develops mechanisms to resolve payment disputes between private plan insurers and out-of-network providers regarding the provision of healthcare services; requires the department to maintain an all-payer health claims data base; provides for in-network cost-sharing amounts in healthcare plan contracts; establishes an arbitration process; and requires the Commissioner of Insurance to contract with one or more resolution organizations. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.


HB 717 (Mathiak-73rd) “Georgia Licensed Midwife Act” – Allows for the licensure and regulation of midwives. People 18 years and older apply for licensure. Before performing midwifery services to a client, a licensed midwife shall provide (in a language that is understandable to the client)  a written disclosure containing information regarding the midwife’s professional standing and other such practical information (e.g. regarding licensure and training, fees and method of billing, and whether the midwife has liability insurance). Licensed midwives may seek consultation with a licensed physician or certified nurse midwife.  The midwife is permitted to order prenatal, postpartum, and well-woman laboratory analyses, obstetric ultrasounds; administer prescription drugs prescribed by a licensed physician or other authorized health care professional; and precept apprentices and student midwives and supervise midwifery assistants. The bill also creates the Advisory Board for Licensed Midwives, which would have six members, all appointed by the governor. The bill also states that any health insurance policy, including Medicaid, that covers maternity care shall not deny coverage provided by a licensed midwife in any setting and shall reimburse at the same rate as for other providers. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 745 (Thomas-56th) “Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act” – Requires perinatal facilities to implement evidence based implicit bias programs for its health care professionals and the compilation and tracking of data on severe maternal morbidity and pregnancy-related deaths. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 746 (Kendrick-93rd) Allows individuals who plan to receive an abortion to opt out of receiving informational materials regarding the fetus, including fetal images or the sound of a heartbeat. The physician or the office who is to perform the abortion shall document this decision in the patient’s medical record for at least three years. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 800 (Scott-76th) Allows any licensed out-of-state obstetrical/gynecological provider within 50 miles of the Georgia border to be considered an in-state provider so long as the health care provider is licensed in good standing in the bordering state. These providers would receive the same Medicaid rates as others like Georgia providers. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 881 (Cooper-43rd) Authorizes the leaving of a newborn child (no more than 30 days old) with an ambulance service or in a newborn safety incubator and sets standards for newborn safety incubators. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 910 (Mathiak-73rd) Establishes licensure for midwives within the Secretary of State’s office and creates the Advisory Group for Licensed Midwives, which will advise the Secretary regarding rules and regulations pertaining to licensure, oversight and practice of midwives. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 1072 (Jasperse-11th) A resolution recognizing October 5-9, 2020, as Georgia Pre-K Week. STATUS: House read and adopted.

SB 306 (Seay-34th) Allows Georgia to enter into an interstate compact known as the “Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact” for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, allowing such professionals from other states to practice in Georgia, and vice-versa. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 307 (Unterman-45th) “The Living Hope Home Act”- Creates a mechanism in the Department of Human Services to oversee residential homes each of which could house up to six pregnant women aged 18 years or older at any one time during the woman’s pregnancy and up to 18 months after childbirth, with the condition that no other services besides housing could be provided. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 327 (Karinshak-48th) Requires employers to provide reasonable break time to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child, and not to reduce her pay as a result of that time taken. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 354 (Parent-42nd) Includes participation in a four-year degree program as a state approved activity for purposes of the Georgia Childcare and Parent Services program (CAPS). STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.

SR 695 (Martin-9th) A resolution recognizing October 5-9, 2020, as Georgia Pre-K Week. STATUS: Senate Read and Adopted.


HB 263 (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 approved such use. The bill prohibits the parent or guardian from paying or providing any other valuable consideration to the individual for the use of the individual’s address, with the exception that a parent or guardian may reimburse for expenses incurred by the resident in the care of the student. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 444 (Reeves-34th) Changes the name of the “Move on When Ready Act” to the “Dual Enrollment Act” and limits the eligibility for dual enrollment for high schoolers in Georgia based on courses, credit hours, and grades in which students can participate. Under the bill, only courses such as English, math, science, social studies, a foreign language, or CTAE (career, technical, and agricultural education) are eligible for dual enrollment credit. The bill limits (with exceptions) funding to up to 30 credit hours per student and limits dual enrollment to entering or enrolled 11th or 12th grade students. Students are also limited to retaking two courses, in the case of withdrawal or failure, except in the case of extenuating circumstances. Participating high schools are also subject to increased oversight by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. Schools must enter into the participation agreement that outlines the school’s financial obligation to cover tuition, fees, and books for students and provide enrollment data to the Office of Planning and Budget. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. PASSED SENATE, but in a different form, so must now get agreement from the House to proceed.

HB 476 (Stovall-74th) Mandates that child entertainer students performing during one or more school days shall not be counted absent from school. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 736 (Belton-112th) Establishes a loan forgiveness program for teachers who agree to teach in a turnaround school in a high demand subject area (primarily STEM). Teacher must agree to teach for at least five years and loan forgiveness only applies to cost of tuition and does not include loans attributable to books, fees, or cost of living. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

HB 741 (Belton-112th) Requires in each turnaround school to retain or designate a master teacher to provide support and mentoring for teachers therein in order for the school to sustain its teacher development efforts and ensure teachers continue to improve in their practices. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 755 (Belton-112th) Requires school districts to provide an allotment sheet itemizing the state, federal, and local allocations to any local charters by July 1st each year.  If the allocation has to be adjusted, the local board must give the charter 30 days’ notice before making the adjustment. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 764 (Jones-25th) Permits unused state facilities to be made available for use by local charter schools and state charter schools. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 783 (Thomas-39th) Raises the age of mandatory education for children from 16 to 17. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 784 (Lumsden-12th) Excludes meetings of a local board of education to discuss, vote upon, review, or assess school safety plans from open meetings laws. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by House Government Affairs Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 840 (Wiedower-119th) Requires biennial review of nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions rather than programs. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

HB 845 (Glanton-75th) Increases compensation for certified elementary and secondary special education teachers. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 880 (Glanton-75th) Creates a pilot program to plan, implement, and improve sustainable community schools, including but not limited to schools with whole child model school plans (e.g. school plans which  have been appropriately developed to promote and implement effective coordination of wraparound services and supports for the school and provide for processes to actively engage community partners. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 892 (Moore-95th) Bullying. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 896 (Trammell-132nd) Grants in-state tuition to all students who attended Georgia high schools for at least three years. Students without lawful immigration status have to file an affidavit with the institution that they have submitted an application to legalize their immigration status. This information cannot be shared with law enforcement agencies. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 898 (Wilensky-79th) Allows counties and municipalities to consider the effect of a proposed zoning action on local school systems and the potential overcrowding of schools within such local school systems. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 908 (Smith-41st) Each local school system shall post in a prominent location on its website the information relating to enrollment of students in school to which they are not originally assigned. The posting must including all relevant dates and deadlines. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 893 (Scott-76th) Constitutional Amendment – Allows 16-year-olds to vote in school district elections and elections affecting school funding. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee.

SB 282 (Beach-21st) Requires University System of Georgia 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 318 (Ligon-3rd) Prevents the creation of “free speech zones” at public institutions of higher education and requires such institutions to develop materials, programs, and procedures related to expressive activity. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 343 (Jackson-2nd) Raises the age of mandatory education for children from 16 to 17. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 367 (Martin-9th) Reduces number of end of course (tests) which must be given in high school from 8 tests to 4 tests.  The bill also moves the writing assessment from grade 11 to 12; the testing window for elementary schools to within 25 school days of the last day of school in a term; and requires the GaDOE to set the high school testing window. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth 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.

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 749 (McLaurin-51st) Creates protections to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing and naturally occurring workforce housing in certain designated areas. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee.

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.

HB 890 (Watson-172nd) Allows driver license revocation notices to be sent via regular mail (as opposed to certified mail). STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee.

HB 914 (Clark-147th) Allows military spouses licensed in other states to practice certain professions and occupations to obtain a license by endorsement to practice in Georgia. STATUS: House Hopper.

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.

HR 1044 (Dempsey-13th) A resolution honoring the life and memory of Dawn Alford. STATUS: House read and adopted.

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. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

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.

SB 357 (Heath-31st) Allows places of worship to allow the carrying of weapons or long guns by individuals with a valid license in places of worship or in schools or school buses operated by the places of worship. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 365 (Karinshak-48th) Establishes state regulations which are consistent with the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act by requiring a state background check of criminal history and involuntary hospitalization of a potential firearms buyer or transferee. These records would be reviewed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 366 (Karinshak-48th) Imposes background check requirements for transferring firearms. Exceptions include antiques, transferring firearms between family members, in cases of preventing imminent death or bodily harm, and hunting/target shooting. Violations result in misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony and time served for repeat offenses. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.



2 Minute Advocacy Ask

The “Ask”:

Call members of the House Appropriations Committee and ask them to preserve funding for child-serving agencies.

The Why: 

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:

Governor’s Amended FY2020 Recommendations

Governor’s FY2021 Recommendations

The Message:

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.

The How:

Click here for contact information for the House Appropriations Committee.

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. 12 (Wednesday) – Voices Legislative Reception honoring the Georgia Department of Education (Freight Depot) (for sponsorship opportunities, please email me and I’ll set you up!)

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!

Useful links: