I’m sure many of you think that an exotic and glamorous advocacy career can’t but lend itself to intrigue and excitement. It must be fast-paced and dynamic; rife with clever discourse and witticisms, you imagine. Why, crafting and debating high ideals and far-sighted policy under The Gold Dome must be like Mr. Smith goes to Washington!

Well, not exactly.

I mean, sometimes it can be sort of like that, especially in the House or Senate chambers during debate of a contentious bill, or when there is something fancy going on, like this week’s visit by the Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton who delivered the State of the Judiciary to both bodies. But a lot of times it is just flat-out long hours and hard work.  In fact, sometimes, sitting in a particularly toasty and crowded committee room (which still smells like doughnuts from the morning’s Friends of [FILL-IN-THE-BLANK] Advocacy Day), waiting for “my” bill to come up (which, of course, is always the very last one of eight), I often wonder if the chairman would mind if I just caught a few Z’s while I wait. “He will hardly notice,” I tell myself. “And besides, do I really need to understand this part about amending an amendment to an amendment to an amendment?” And just as I decide I don’t, and figure out how to nonchalantly hold my head so I can doze and still keep my mouth shut (thereby preventing snoring and drooling), inevitably something happens. Either another lobbyist has to squeeze past, or the committee microphones squeal with feedback, or, worst of all, I am outed by my mom accidentally FaceTiming me from the grocery store. “Oops,” she says. “Are you at work?” If you haven’t ever felt the heat of pure, unadulterated embarrassment, try all of that at the same time and finish it off with kicking your metal water bottle under the chair in front of you as you spill your folder of outdated action alerts. Get the picture? Exciting? Yes. Glamorous? No.  Definitely not.

Anyway, this week was full of opportunities for “excitement,” as Crossover Day looms large on the horizon (March 12). That means lots of committee meetings to vet legislation and lots of testimony, amendments, and lots of waiting and wondering what will fall out of the sky (or the legislative counsel office) into your Little Legislative Universe (LLU for short). Next week promises to be more of the same, with the addition of likely passage by the Senate of their version of the Amended FY2020 budget. And because we are getting into that “anything can happen” part of the Session, I took the liberty of putting more bills in the update than usual so that you can have them at your fingertips in case your mom FaceTimes you from the grocery store and has a question about a piece of legislation (like the sandwich bill).

And with that – grab one of those disgusting energy drinks and read on.

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

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.

HB 950 (Kinnard-102nd) Revises the handling of arrest-only criminal history record information;allows the automatic restriction of an individual’s criminal history record information upon arrest and makes such criminal history record information ublicly available only upon the issuance of an indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 951 (Kinnard-102nd) Forbids the imposition of a probation periods that exceed 24 months. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 954 (Rich-97th) Defines the crime of porch piracy to be when a person takes, removes, or otherwise appropriates any envelope, bag, package, or other sealed article of another person without the permission of such other person from the porch, steps, or immediate vicinity of any entrance or exit of a dwelling. The bill also defines crime of theft by possession of stolen mail if a person possesses stolen mail addressed to three or more different mailboxes or addresses and possesses a minimum of ten separate pieces of stolen mail. Both newly defined crimes are deemed felonies and are punishable by imprisonment for 1-5 years. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 971 (Gravely-67th) Changes annual training for juvenile court intake officers from 8 hours per year to 8 hours initially and then 2 hours for each year following. The bill also allows the court to consider any evidence, including hearsay evidence, that the court finds to be relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the needs of a child adjudicated as a dependent child and the most appropriate case plan and permanency plan. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

HB 977 (Jones-91st) Authorizes counties and municipal corporations to adopt ordinances governing and punishing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The bill sets maximum punishment for the violation of any such ordinance to a maximum of $1,000.00 and stipulates that any fines and bond forfeitures arising from the prosecution of such cases shall be retained by the county and is paid into its treasury. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 984 (Burchette-176th) Changes provisions relating to sentencing to provide credit for time served and changes provisions relating to the commencement of a sentence when the case has been appealed. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 994 (Reeves-34th) A few highlights of the bill are as follows: Requires children who are alleged to participate in criminal gang activity to be automatically tried as adults when charged with any felony involving use or threat of physical force or violence against any person, aggravated assault, aggravated battery; human trafficking, drug trafficking, cruelty to children in the first degree, or any felony involving a weapon. Expands Definition of “Criminal Gang Activity” to include child molestation, aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes; and felony obstruction or hindering of a law enforcement officer. Adds murder committed by a person engaged in criminal gang activity to the list of aggravating factors to authorize the imposition of the death penalty. The bill also adds new offenses to the list of crimes that require registration on the state’s Sex Offender Registry, including (among others) burglary with the intent to commit a sexual offense, and any conduct involving criminal gang activity that involves an underlying sexual offense or intent to commit a sex offense. [Much thanks to Marissa Dobson for her help with this summary!] STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 1040 (Dunahoo-30th) Increases the total maximum fee when pay-only probation is imposed from 3 months to 6 months of ordinary probation supervision fees. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 1053 (Wilensky-79th) “The Promise Act” – Defines cyberbullying to be when such person engages in threatening conduct toward another person through the use of public media forums with the intent to convey such threatening conduct to the other person.  The bill goes on to increase penalties for a first offense and recurring offenses. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HR 1327 (Setzler-35th) Creates the House Study Committee on Claims of Wrongfully Convicted Persons. STATUS: House Hopper.

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 Registry as required by law. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil 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.

SB 393 (Strickland-17th) Expands the power of campus policemen and other security personnel of the university system to make arrests for felony offenses and allows the GBI provide personnel to serve as special assistant attorneys general, special assistant district attorneys, special assistant solicitors-general, or special assistant United States Attorneys when requested by the appropriate agency or as directed by the Governor. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote today (MONDAY).

SB 402 (Robertson-29th) Allows a judge to issue an unsecured judicial release if such unsecured judicial release is noted on the release order and the person is not charged with a bail restricted offense (such as murder, armed robbery, etc.). STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Public Safety Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 423 (Albers-56th) “Max Gruver Act” – Expands the definition of hazing to include forcing or subjecting a minor or student to participate in certain hazing activity which could hurt or endanger the person whether or not the person is willing to participate. The bill also stiffens penalties for hazing and requires GaDOE, TCSG and USG to develop hazing awareness education. It also requires the GaDOE to create a State Anti-Hazing Fund. The bill also requires reporting by schools of known incidents and it includes student organizations as parties responsible for hazing. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 435 Strickland-17th) 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee The bill will be on the Senate floor for a vote today (MONDAY).

HB 16 (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. The bill also excludes foster care assistance from consideration as income for purposes of calculating financial aid. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee. This 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: PASSED HOUSE.

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 will be on the House floor for a vote today (MONDAY).

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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 912 (Reeves-34th) Allows caregivers of children in foster care to arrange for short-term babysitting of those children by a person 18 or older. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Juvenile Justice Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 934 (Reeves-34th) Revises the tax credit for adoption of foster children from $2000/year to $6000/year for five years and then $2000/year for the following taxable years until the child turns 18. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 993 (Dempsey-13th) Facilitates the sharing of records pertaining to child abuse between the Division of Children and Family Services and the Department of Public Health. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

HB 1012 (Werkheiser-157th) Disallows and recaptures any tax credit earned, claimed, transferred, or sold by a production company or qualified interactive entertainment production company that violates state or federal child labor laws or rules. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 1034 (Werkheiser-157th) Establishes civil penalties for violations of provisions related to employment of minors and requires the Commissioner of Labor to appoint administrative adjudicators to hear and decide appeals for such violations. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.

HB 1068 (Efstration-104th) Updates the form and criteria for a person petitioning to be an equitable caregiver for a child by adding the condition that the child will suffer physical harm or long-term emotional harm to the list of reasons that prevent a person from permission to be an equitable caregiver. The bill also clarifies that a person convicted of domestic violence is not eligible. The bill also sets a time frame of five years preceding the filing for the petitioner to have complied with appropriate behavior to merit equitable caregiver status. STATUS: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

HB 1069 (Holcomb-81st) Eliminates the statute of limitations for rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 1074 (Efstration-104th) “Georgia Loves Our Adolescents Act of 2020” – Requires DHS to submit an annual report to the chairpersons of the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Senate Education and Youth Committee detailing the number of applications to serve as foster parents received by DFCS and the number of referrals of such applicants to private agencies for the preceding calendar year. STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 1076 (Holcomb-81st) “Sexual Assault Reform Act of 2020” – Improves systems and increases oversight regarding sexual assault, particularly by physicians and assistants to patients. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 1168 (Park-101st) Creates the House Study Committee on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to Improve the Health of Women and Children. STATUS: House Special Rules Committee.

SB 35 (Jackson-2nd) Prohibits sex offenders from residing near or loitering near their victims and the victims’ immediate family members. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 287 (Jones-22nd) Eliminates the statute of limitations for rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Urban Affairs Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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 in 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Juvenile Justice Committee.

SB 337 (Thompson-14th) Adds simulated (or photoshopped) images and videos to definitions of electronic, sexually explicit harassment. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Science and Technology Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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 Judiciary Committee.

SB 427 (Mullis-53rd) Requires DCH to engage an actuary to conduct an actuarial study of the fiscal impact of carving out pharmacy benefits from the state’s current Medicaid care management organizations and sets out actions for the state based on the results of the study. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 439 (Brass-28th) Requires enhanced notice to and improved participation of foster, pre-adoptive, and relative caregivers in certain hearings and the court’s consideration of issues relevant to a child’s placement, care, well-being, and permanency raised by such persons.  More specifically, the bill requires the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to allow such persons to electronically file an objection to the placement change and for the court to consider such objection when making a decision. The bill also makes it easier for such a caregiver to adopt the child in certain circumstances following termination of parental rights.   STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SR 769 (Stone-23rd) Creates the Senate Domestic Violence Courts Study Committee. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 521 (Gaines-117th) Authorizes temporary licenses for dentists licensed in other states to provide dental care to indigent populations in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED HOUSE. Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 544 (Efstration-104th) Revises procedures regarding emergency involuntary treatment, adding the affidavit from the witnesses to the patients record for review by the examining physician and also clarifies why a person can be involuntarily committed. Additionally, the court must notify the people who provided the affidavits when the patient is discharged and of that patient’s court-ordered treatment plan. The same notification would apply for court-ordered outpatient treatment. 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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) Clarifies that peace officers are not liable during the transportation of those for evaluation for involuntary commitment and that a person may be taken for evaluation by a peace officer without that person having to commit a penal offense first. 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 791 (Stephens-164th) Allows pharmacists to dispense up to 90-day supplies for maintenance medications. Exceptions include Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances. STATUS: House Health and Human Services 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: PASSED HOUSE.

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. This bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY.

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

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 Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 918 (Cooper-43rd) Amends the Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights to define the auditing process and timelines, loosens definitions of fraud to not include omission errors, and lengthens the time for pharmacies to correct these errors. The bill also adds sections to the Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights to lessen the cost burden on pharmacies in the case of fraud, overpayment, or misfiling prescriptions. The bill further defines the role of the Commissioner of Insurance in investigating complaints during these audits and regulation and licensure of PBMs. Section 3 of the bill expands definitions of “steering” to prevent more agreements/practices with affiliated pharmacies. The bill removes exceptions for using specialty retail pharmacies. Anti-steering rules would not apply to care management organizations such as Medicaid. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 946 (Knight-130th) Increases licensing fees for pharmacy benefits managers (PBM)and increases penalties for bad actors, and requires PBMs to contract with physicians who are active in the appropriate medical area. The bill also requires a PBM to report to the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the State Board of Pharmacy any adverse patient outcomes as a result of a PBM requiring a prior authorization which delayed an insured’s access to initially prescribed medication or that resulted in the utilization of a different medication than initially prescribed. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 947 (Knight-130th) Mandates Department of Community Health to hire an actuary to conduct a study on the fiscal impact of providing all pharmacy benefits for all Medicaid beneficiaries exclusively through a Medicaid fee-for-service program. If the study report shows a potential annual savings of over $20M, then Medicaid CMO plans should stop providing pharmacy benefits and all beneficiaries should start receiving pharmacy benefits through DCH. Payment to these Medicaid CMOs will decrease by 7.5% (based on the year before) to pay for pharmacy benefits being newly provided by DCH. If the savings calculated by the actuary are between $10M and $20M, DCH can choose to implement this plan, but are not required to. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 952 (Cooper-43rd) Prohibits pharmacies from restricting the quantity of controlled drugs that are dispensed or to restrict the prescriber, with the exception of pharmacists using their best judgement. Corporations that own multiple pharmacies cannot take action against individuals such exclusion practices. Pharmacists who do not practice based upon ethical standards may have their license suspended, revoked, or restricted. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 956 (Belton-112th) 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: House Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 961 (Park-101st) Requires the Department of Community Health, in collaboration with the State Board of Pharmacy, to annually identify up to 15 prescription drugs on which the state expends significant health care funds for which the wholesale acquisition cost has increased by 50 percent or more over the past five years or by 15 percent or more over the past 12 months. This list will then be provided to the AG for the AG to investigate manufacturers’ explanation for a rise in cost. The AG will collaborate with DCH to produce a report on the findings to the General Assembly and post it online. Information released to the public cannot compromise financial, competitive, or proprietary nature of the information. STATUS: House Insurance Committee.

HB 963 (Gilliard-162nd) Creates the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired to serve as the principal entity of the state to advocate on behalf of people who are blind or visually impaired so that they have access from cradle to grave to quality services to achieve the most positive outcomes. STATUS: House Health and Human Services Committee.

HB 981 (Mitchell-88th) bans use of electronic smoking devices and vaping in public places and defines these devices with exceptions for medical devices regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. The bill increases the age of purchase of tobacco and vaping products to 21 and adds vaping to definitions of retailers, smoking areas, and secondhand smoke. Smoking and vaping are banned from all enclosed places of employment and such ban should be communicated with all employees. The bill further removes international airports from the list of places exempted from indoor smoking/vaping, but adds manufacturers, retailers, and vapor product storage facilities to the list of exempted places. Public places should post signs either saying “No Smoking” or “No Vaping” in words, or with symbols in the case of international airports. STATUS: House Governmental Affairs Committee.

HB 989 (Park-101st) Creates an advisory working group to review tools and protocols for the screening of children for trauma within the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 991 (Hatchett-150th) “Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Act” – Creates the Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Oversight Committee which has authority to review the performance and conduct of all state healthcare plan contractors, their affiliate subcontractors, and their subcontractor pharmacy benefits managers. Requires that all contractors of DCH health plans or subcontracted Pharmacy Benefits Managers provide an Annual Prescription Drug Transparency Report that outlines: payments kept by PBMs; fees paid to pharmacies; discrepancies between payments to pharmacies and PBM affiliated pharmacies; number of prior authorizations required and resulting delays in care; and the top prescription drugs that were subject to prior authorizations and most frequently prescribed drugs. These rates shall be open records and are not considered confidential or trade secrets. This report is given to a Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Oversight Committee, made up of a physician, a pharmacist, a consumer insured by a state healthcare plan, and six legislators. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

HB 1007 (Douglas-78th) Requires volunteer coaches with youth athletic associations that serve children under 15 years old to undergo training to reduce the likelihood of injuries to youth athletes engaged in high risk athletics. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 1013 (Buckner-137th) Expands eligibility for adults to enroll in PeachCare who are below 133% the federal poverty level. The program shall include coverage of the essential health benefits outlined in the Affordable Care Act and extend maternal and newborn care benefits to a year after birth. Those with income less than 100% the FPL won’t pay premiums. The bill also bans work requirements. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

HB 1021 (Hitchens-161st) Doubles the additional fine for violation of traffic laws or ordinances under “Joshua’s Law” from 1.5% to 3% of the original fine. STATUS: House Motor Vehicles Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this TUESDAY.

HB 1024 (Newton-123rd) Allows for freestanding emergency departments that (1) operate under an affiliate hospital’s license that is within 35 miles, (2) complies with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, (3) operates 24/7, (4) provides care to Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and (5) is not located within 3 miles of another hospital-based emergency department. The bill also increases bed capacity specifically designated for use by patients in need of behavioral health or developmental disabilities services. STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

HB 1032 (Hatchett-150th) Exempts ambulatory surgical facilities that operate only in non-sterile environments from requiring the same certifications as in-patient surgical facilities. These ambulatory facilities are also not subject to prior review and certificate of need. Facilities that are exempt from obtaining a certificate of need cannot be denied licensure based on not meeting ‘operating room environment’ standards.   STATUS: House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

HB 1035 (Martin-49th) Repeals the sunset provision on sales and use taxes for non-profit health centers. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee this MONDAY.

HB 1053 (Cooper-43rd) Adds voluntary newborn screening of Krabbe Disease to those screenings available through the Department of Public Health. The bill also requires the department to submit a budget request to the General Assembly when any new disorder is approved by the department after recommendation by the Newborn Screening and Genetics Advisory Committee (also established by this bill). STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 1060 (Ehrhart-36th) Makes it a felony for any licensed medical professional to provide a minor with treatments including use of puberty suppressants, hormone therapy, and enumerated surgical procedures (e.g., mastectomy, vasectomy, hysterectomy). Violation would subject the licensed medical professional to a prison term of 1-10 years and revocation of their medical license. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 1063 (Park-101st) Prevents a Medicaid recipient who is a dual enrollee in Medicare from being terminated from enrollment in Medicaid unless a manual review verifies his/her status. The manual review must include an actual determination of whether or not an individual is eligible to receive services as a dual enrollee. The bill also states that a dual enrollee’s Medicaid coverage shall not be terminated based only on the enrollee’s inadvertent failure to renew or to complete an administrative requirement. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 1064 (Jackson-64th) Raises the age for tobacco or vaping product purchase to 21. STATUS: House Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 1079 (Schofield-60th) Expands Medicaid to cover adult individuals who live at or below 138% of the federal poverty level. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 1280 (Dempsey-13th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure. STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HR 1282 (Hutchinson-107th) Creates the House Study Committee on Evaluating, Simplifying, and Eliminating Duplication of Regulatory Requirements for Mental Health and Social Services Providers. STATUS: House Special Rules Committee.

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.

SB 226 (Robertson-29th) Requires all occupants of a passenger vehicle, whether in a front seat or back seat, be restrained by a seat safety belt. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.

SB 272 (Robertson-29th) Prohibits the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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: 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 nonemergency health care services. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

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 copays 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 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. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 340 (Beach-21st) Makes September 1 of each year ‘Childhood Cancer Awareness Day’ in Georgia. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House 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 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Insurance 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

SB 375 (Mullis-53rd) Prevents sale of tobacco or vaping products to anyone under 21 years of age, and allows law enforcement officer shall seize any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products that have been sold to and are in the possession of a person under 21 years of age. The bill also stiffens penalties for underage use of such products, including revocation of a driver’s license for a second violation within 12 weeks of the first violation. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

SB 376 (Jordan-6th) Limits cost sharing for those covered by health insurance to paying no more than $100 per 30-day supply of insulin. This $100 cap could be incurred through copays, deductibles, or coinsurance, but not insurance premiums. STATUS: Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

SB 383 (Davenport-44th) Creates the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired to serve as the principal entity of the state to advocate on behalf of people who are blind or visually impaired so that they have access from cradle to grave to quality services to achieve the most positive outcomes. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 387 (Jordan-6th) Requires the GaDOE to promulgate rules and regulations so that food that has been prepared in whole or in part by students as part of a course of instruction relating to the preparation of food and that is suitable for serving and consumption may be may distributed to students at the school, including those who may be dealing with hunger or food insecurity. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 391 (Kirkpatrick-32nd) Requires health insurers to provide coverage for early refills of a 30-day supply of certain prescription medications under certain emergency situations. STATUS: Senate Health and Human Services Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 408 (Strickland-17th) Repeals the sunset provision on allowing employees to use existing sick leave for the care of an immediate family member. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 458 (Tippins-37th) Expands the use of speed detection devices in school and college campus zones and requires the posting of signage that such devices are in use. STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.

SR 263 (Mullis-53rd) Creates the Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by Senate Rules Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SR 722 (Jordan-6th) Creates the Senate Comprehensive Approach to Family Leave Policies within State Government Study Committee. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.

 

HB 577 (Cannon-58th) The “Working for Two Act” – Requires accommodations in the workplace for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. The bill requires the Commissioner of Labor to promulgate rules and regulations regarding such and gives the department the power to assess a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00 for each act of misconduct, but limits the cumulative fine to $5,000.00 . STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 693 (Shannon-84th) Requires the Department of Community Health to allow mothers giving birth to newborns to retain Medicaid eligibility for one year following such birth. STATUS: House Appropriations 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 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 Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 958 (Setzler-35th) “The Maternity Supportive Housing 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: House Juvenile Justice Committee.

HR 1248 (Clark-108th) Creates the House Study Committee on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans.   STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

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.

HB 1 (Petrea-166th) Changes the name of the ‘Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act” to the “Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship Act”. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

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. This bill will be heard in subcommittee this TUESDAY.

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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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 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) Requires the Department of Education to update its model bullying policy to include a procedure for determining whether a bullying incident must be reported to law enforcement, for referring a victim of bullying for counseling, and for training teachers annually on bullying prevention. 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 Higher Education Committee.

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 Governmental Affairs Committee.

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 include all relevant dates and deadlines. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 920 (Clark-98th) Allows students who are undocumented for federal immigration purposes, to be eligible for waivers of out-of-state tuition and fees if he/she has attended a secondary school in this state for three consecutive years immediately before graduating from a georgia high school; applied for enrollment in a Georgia postsecondary educational institution within 24 months after high school graduation; and submitted an official transcript verifying his/her attendance record and graduation from a Georgia high school. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

HB 939 (Carson-46th) Removes the sunset clause on Georgia’s tax credit for private school voucher program. STATUS: House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 940 (Kinnard-102nd) Requires mandatory pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for all children prior to entering into first grade and lowers the age of compulsory school attendance from six years old to four years old. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 957 (Jones-47th) Changes charter school law to include charter school teachers in the health insurance fund for public school teachers; require proof of residency either at the time of application or enrollment; extend the terms of members appointed to the State Charter Schools Commission; provide for ownership and handling of student records by state charter schools; and revise the deadline for the virtual school performance audit. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Education Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 997 (Carpenter-4th) Requires students other than nonimmigrant aliens as defined in federal law to be classified as in-state for tuition purposes if the student has graduated from a Georgia High School or gotten a Georgia GED; has established and maintained domicile in the State of Georgia for four years immediately preceding the first day of classes for the term; has been physically present in the United States since on or before his or her twelfth birthday; and has not reached the age of 30 years at the time of enrollment application. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

HB 1001 (Stovall-74th) Requires the placement of video monitoring cameras and equipment in all self-contained classrooms where students receive special education and related services under the eligibility categories of significant speech and language impairment, particularly nonverbal; severe intellectual disability; or profound intellectual disability. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 1023 (Dreyer-59th) Waives fees for students who serve full time or part time as graduate teaching or research assistants at units of the University System of Georgia. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee.

HB 1026 (Dickey-140th) Revises the number of REACH scholars for participating school systems from 12 to 8 for systems with five or more high schools and from 7 to 5 for systems with less than five high schools. STATUS: House Education Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee this TUESDAY.

HB 1031 (Evans-83rd) Prevents utilities from recovering finance costs from public schools. STATUS: House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee.

HB 1041 (Mathiak-73rd) Increases the penalties for schools regarding distribution of harmful materials to minors. The bill requires oversight by the State Board of Education in prescribing preventive measures for distribution of harmful materials to minors and establishes a review committee, and minimum standards for filtering content of online materials that are harmful to minors. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 1055 (Jasperse-11th) Allows home study students to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities in the student’s resident public school system. STATUS: House Education Committee. This bill will be heard in subcommittee this TUESDAY.

HB 1056 (Smith-41st) Allows a teacher who has accepted a certain number of consecutive school year contracts and who receives certain annual performance ratings to request a new evaluator for the following school year. STATUS: House Education Committee.

HB 1059 (Ehrhart-36th) Revises eligibility for the Special Needs Scholarship by adding physical or mental impairment or a record of such an impairment to the list of qualifying conditions and allows students adopted or placed in a permanent guardianship from foster care to be considered for eligibility. The bill extends the prior school year attendance requirement to cover pre-school special education. STATUS: House Education Committee.

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.

HR 1249 (Kausche-50th) Creates the House Study Committee on Increasing Access to Pre-K and After-School Programs. STATUS: House Education Committee.

SB 102 (Jones-10th) Creates the “Unlocking the Promise (UP) Community Schools Program,” a grant program that would serve as comprehensive service delivery centers offering academic, health care, and community involvement programs in addition to existing classroom instruction. STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 276 (Jackson-2nd) Requires that the Technical College System of Georgia classify certain active duty service members as in-state for tuition purposes. STATUS: Senate Higher Education 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Education and Youth Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 386 (Unterman-45th) Expands the Special Needs Scholarship program eligibility to all students who have a Section 504 Plan as well as those who have been adopted or placed in permanent guardianship from foster care. The bill also eliminates the mandate that the State Board of Education report the number of students who seek a waiver from the public school attendance requirement to the General Assembly. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 398 (Harrell-40th) Prohibits the assignment of graded homework for students in grades kindergarten through two, with exceptions made, as deemed appropriate by the local school system. For students who do have graded homework, the bill states that if a student’s failure to complete or turn in a homework assignment will have any negative impact on the student’s overall grade in the course, result in disciplinary consequences, a reduced time for recess or other noninstructional activities, or reduced privileges, then the homework shall be deemed graded. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 400 (Parent-42nd) Requires the Office of Student Achievement to establish objectives and participation targets for the Move On When Ready program (also referred to as “Dual Enrollment”). STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.

SB 403 (Jones-25th) Allows for the lottery game of sports wagering in this state to be overseen by the Georgia Lottery Corporation and its board of directors, and creates the Georgia Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Commission. Proceeds of the game would be used for improvements and enhancements for educational purposes and programs that support school technology grants and pre-kindergarten funding. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

SB 404 (Dolezal-27th) Allows local boards of education in a high growth school system to impose, levy, and collect educational development impact fees within any area of its school system which has had enrollment growth of at least 15 percent over the preceding five-year period. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 416 (Mullis-53rd) Changes the name of the Office of College and Career Transitions to the Office of College and Career Academies, and directs the commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia to appoint a director of academies, and goes on to direct the office to work with TCSG, the State Workforce Development Board, and the Department of Economic Development to support efforts to recruit new industries and to expand existing industries by demonstrating the preparation of technically skilled high school graduates. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.

SB 421 (Jones-10th) Creates a certification program for sustainable whole child model schools and a grant for pilot programs to plan, implement, and improve sustainable whole child model schools. STATUS: Senate Hopper.

SB 430 (Ligon-3rd) Allows home study students and private school students to enroll in one or more courses at a college and career academy within the student’s resident school system, so long as space is available in such course or courses. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 431 (Wilkinson-50th) Defines ‘on-time graduation rate’ as the graduation rate of the four-year cohort of students that attend a school continuously from October 1 of the calendar year four years prior to the calendar year of the regular date of graduation of that cohort and graduate on or before that regular date of graduation. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SB 440 (Thompson-14th) Creates a statewide charter school for individuals between ages 21 and 35 who have not attained a high school diploma or a GED. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 447 (Martin-9th) Defines an array of terminology associated with work-based learning, internship and apprenticeship. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SB 456 (Harrell-40th) Requires tuition, fees, and other charges for part-time students of the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to be charged at a per credit hour rate. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.

SB 457 (Orrock-36th) Mandates fee waiver for students who serve full time or part time as graduate teaching or research assistants at units of the University System of Georgia. STATUS: Senate Higher Education Committee.

SB 465 (Harrell-40th) Establishes definition and criteria for temporary classrooms and requires a written plan for converting the temporary classroom into a permanent classroom within five years (for each temporary classroom that is in use at any public school of this state as of July 1 ,2020). STATUS: Senate Hopper.

SB 466 (Martin-9th) Removes the needs improvement rating from the group of performance evaluation ratings which may adversely impact an educator’s ability to obtain a renewable certificate from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.  The bill also establishes a pilot program of at least ten local school systems to try a personnel evaluation system as an alternative to the current evaluation system. STATUS: Senate Hopper.

SR 87 (Parent-42nd) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Digital Education and Screen Time in Georgia Public Schools. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by Senate Rules Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

SR 521 (Jackson-2nd) Creates the Senate Study Committee on Creating an Agricultural and Mechanical University System.   STATUS: Senate Rules Committee.

SR 776 (Dolezal-27th) Constitutional Amendment to accompany SB 404 regarding development impact fees for education. STATUS: Senate Education and Youth Committee.

SR 833 (Martin-9th) Creates the Joint Study Committee on Preparing Our Future Workforce. STATUS: Senate Rules Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

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). Recommitted to Senate Judiciary 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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 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: Recommended Do Pass by the House Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill will be on the House floor for a vote today (MONDAY).

HB 916 (Beasley-Teague-65th) Repeals the imposition of the death penalty. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 941 (Efstration-104th) Gives the Attorney General the authority to employ peace officers. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules Committee.

HB 960 (Hutchinson-107th) Changes general provisions regarding law enforcement officers and agencies, and jails, so as to revise terminology referring to persons who are noncitizens and present in the United States without official documentation from “illegal alien” to “undocumented person”. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

HB 983 (Williams-145th) Allows a sexual offender who is in a state or privately operated hospice facility, skilled nursing home, or residential health care facility, with the approval of the sheriff of the county where such sexual offender resides, to satisfy the annual registration requirements by registering at any time during the sexual offender’s month of birth and removes the requirement that a sexual offender who resides in a such, be fingerprinted. STATUS: House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

HB 995 (Bonner-72nd) “Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act” – Prevents the creation of “free speech zones” at public institutions of higher education, deeming unrestricted outdoor areas of campuses of public institutions of higher education to be public forums for the campus community. STATUS: House Higher Education Committee. This bill will be heard in committee this MONDAY.

HB 1010 (Schofield-60th) Prohibits discrimination in housing, education, and employment on the basis of hairstyle. STATUS: House Industry and Labor Committee.

HB 1017 (LaRiccia-169th) Revises when dependents qualify for a payment of indemnification for death suffered in the line of duty by a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, emergency management specialist, state highway employee, or prison guard under the Georgia State Indemnification Fund, by adding surviving children who are under the age of 19 or, if a student enrolled in an institution of postsecondary education at the time of such death, under the age of 24. The bill also states that in case of an organic brain damage suffered in the line of duty, such awards would go to the legal guardian of the organically brain damaged person. STATUS: House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

HB 1022 (Cooper-43rd) Provides a tenant a 7-day right to make amends before an eviction may be filed. STATUS: House Judiciary Committee.

HB 1083 (Petrea-166th) Requires the reporting by public safety officials regarding undocumented individuals in their custody to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. STATUS: House Hopper.

HR 1243 (Williams-37th) Recognizes February 25, 2020, as Afterschool Day at the state capitol. 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 144 (Anderson-24th) Allows a licensed tobacco dealer to apply for a special event tobacco permit for off-premise sales of cigars, cigarettes, or loose or smokeless tobacco for a special event or a temporary location offsite from the licensed location for a period of 1-10 days. STATUS: PASSED SENATE. Recommended Do Pass by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill now rests in House Rules 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: PASSED SENATE. Assigned to House Government Affairs 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: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now rests in Senate Rules 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.

SB 378 (Jackson-2nd) States that no person, other than a dealer, shall manufacture any firearm in this state unless he or she has registered with the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and received a license for such manufacture. The license issued under this Code is valid only for the firearm identified for manufacturing. The bill also requires the GBI to conduct a background check with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) prior to issuing a license. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 394 (Albers-56th) Gives the Attorney General the authority to employ peace officers. STATUS: Recommended Do Pass by the Senate Public Safety Committee.The bill now rests in Senate Rules Committee.

SB 449 (Wilkinson-50th) Allows Georgia residents to carry a weapon in Georgia if licensed to carry in any other state. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 455 (Beach-21st) Allows youth who turn 18 years old on or before the date of an election to vote in the preceding primary. STATUS: Senate Ethics Committee.

SR 816 (Albers-56th) Recognizes February 25, 2020, as Afterschool Day at the state capitol. STATUS: Senate Read and Adopted.

SR 821 (Burke-11th) Constitutional Amendment – Provides for sports betting in this state. STATUS: Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

SR 841 (Kennedy-18th) Constitutional Amendment – Provides that the people of this state may petition the judiciary for declaratory relief from certain acts of this state or certain local governments or officers or employees thereof that violate the laws or Constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United States. STATUS: Senate Judiciary Committee.

2 Minute Advocacy Ask

The “Ask”:

Contact members of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and ask them to Vote NO when House Bill 994 comes before them in committee.

The Message: 
Dear Representative _________, Please vote NO to House Bill 994 when it comes before you in committee.  We know from an abundance of scientific research about adolescent brain development that children 13-16 are exceptionally subject to peer pressure and unable to accurately assess consequences.  In addition, we know that children who have encountered adverse childhood experiences ranging from domestic violence to molestation often act out in ways which can be unnerving and confusing to adults.  Such behavior, however, CAN be addressed with developmentally appropriate therapies, family supports, education and employment skill-building – NONE of which are available to children forced into the adult criminal justice system, as HB 994 would do.  In fact, we know that children are more likely to become further traumatized when incarcerated without access to treatment, education or supportive family. Many children, because of their time in the adult jails and prisons, develop more serious mental health problems, attempt suicide, and upon release, re-offend. Remember: a traumatized child, without a marketable skillset, education or positive, coping skills is less likely to successfully re-integrate into his or her community, and is more likely to offend and offend in more dangerous ways.  In short, HB 994 would WORSEN public safety.  Please vote NO on HB 994. Thank you for your service and your thoughtful approach to children and their needs.

The How:
Click Here to contact members of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

The Details:

HB 994 requires children as young as 13 who are alleged to participate in criminal gang activity to be automatically tried as adults when charged with any one of a broad category of offenses that would include schoolyard fights and the use of threatening language.  That means that children who, by virtue of their adolescent brain development, are exceptionally subject to peer pressure and unable to accurately assess consequences, would be put into a criminal justice system designed to punish adults, and not to rehabilitate children.  Years of data show that not only does trying children as adults limit opportunity for redirecting youth towards positive outcomes, but it also endangers Public Safety because it denies young offenders age-appropriate educational or mental health services during a critical developmental period and labels and treats them as hardened criminals. Subsequently, we know that they are more likely to become further traumatized when incarcerated without treatment, have mental health problems, attempt suicide, and upon release, re-offend. Remember: traumatized people without a marketable skillset, education or positive, coping skills are less likely to reintegrate successfully into their communities.

Click here to learn more about Gangs and Youth Violence and how to solve the problem.

2 Minute BONUS Advocacy Ask

                                                        Raise The Age

The Ask
Contact members of the House Juvenile Justice Committee and ask them to Vote YES when House Bill 440, the “Raise the Age” bill, comes before them in committee.

The Message
Dear Representative _________, Please vote yes to House Bill 440 when it comes before you.  This bill raises the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to encompass non-violent 17-year-olds.  The juvenile justice system does a better job than the adult system of holding young people accountable when they commit minor offenses, by requiring youth to attend school, make restitution to victims and attend community-based rehabilitative programs that focus on the causes of the problem behavior.  In fact, youth charged with similar crimes and with similar criminal histories who are treated as adults are more likely to commit the same or a more serious offense in the future than those who remain in the juvenile system. By raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to cover non-violent 17 year old’s, Georgia can improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars and strengthen Georgia’s economy.  Please note that this bill does NOT affect serious offenders of all ages, who will remain in adult court. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.

The How
Click Here to contact members of the House Juvenile Justice Committee.

The Details
Georgia is one of only three states (along with Texas and Wisconsin) that processes all 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system, sending them to adult court rather than through the juvenile justice system.  HB 440 would raise the age (“RTA”) of youth served by juvenile court to include non-violent 17-year-old’s.  Click here for our groovy factsheet on RTA!

Studies about brain development support the idea of keeping young offenders in juvenile court until at least age 17.

  • Numerous health experts confirm that the brain’s frontal lobe — referred to as the “executive” part of the brain — is not fully developed until the mid-20s. This part of the brain regulates decision-making, planning, judgment, and impulse control.

Current law shuts out parents of 17-year-olds. These children — and their parents — deserve the right of parental support as they navigate the court system.

  • When a youth is arrested, police call parents, who generally become heavily involved as the child travels through the court system. The sound assumption is that parents will play a key role in supporting positive behavior change.

  • When a 17-year-old is arrested, police in Georgia need not call the parents because 17-year-olds are legally adults in this circumstance. Children who are susceptible to coercion may also agree to a plea bargain without any parental input. In many cases parents do not find out about their child’s arrest until it becomes a barrier in college applications.

  • Families are involved throughout the juvenile court process.

The juvenile justice system does a better job than the adult system of holding young people accountable when they commit minor offenses, and serious offenders of all ages will remain in adult court.

  • In juvenile court, more so than in adult court, a 17-year-old is much more likely to be mandated to attend school, make restitution to victims and attend community-based rehabilitative programs that focus on the causes of the problem behavior.

  • These rehabilitation efforts improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars and strengthen Georgia’s economy.

  • Raising the age of jurisdiction will not reduce or minimize appropriate punishment to deserving young offenders.

  • Youth charged with similar crimes and with similar criminal histories who are treated as adults are more likely to commit the same or a more serious offense in the future than those who remain in the juvenile system.