SB 262 - clarifies when a judge, judicial officer, grand juror; may be disqualified by being related to a party; and provides a judge, judicial officer, grand juror, and trial jurors, respectively, may be disqualified for being related to an interested party to the fourth degree as computed according to civil law. The bill also allows superior courts and state courts, by court rule, to accept electronic filings and submission of funds or other transfers of monies to the courts.
SB 302 - requires health insurance providers to maintain an accurate directory of service providers within their networks. It specifies the contents of directory listings, the frequency of updates and the forms of directories to be supplied.
SB 316 - removes the daily $1,500 maximum amount of cash and prizes for bingo play, but retains the $3,000 maximum cash and prize award cap for a calendar week. Additionally, the bill prohibits free standing electronic bingo machines from being used for bingo play and requires the individual operating the bingo game to be physically present at the venue where the game is being played.
SB 350 - is the enabling legislation for SR 558 (also passed this week), the constitutional amendment which will authorize this legislation if passed by the people in the election this year. SB 350 provides that the existing excise tax on fireworks shall be specifically dedicated to the provision of trauma care, fire services, and local public safety purposes.
SR 876 - creates the Joint High Speed Broadband Communications Study Committee to examine issues surrounding possible impediments to high speed broadband access throughout Georgia.
SB 206 - revises provisions relating to the prohibition of a water supplier's option to disconnect water service to premises because of the indebtedness of a prior owner, occupant, or lessee. The bill provides a procedure to obtain information regarding moneys owed for water supplied to certain real property under certain circumstances. SB 206 exempts any property from being refused water service because of the indebtedness of the prior occupant.
SB 269 - requires local governments to submit proof of compliance and a certification pursuant to the Annual Immigration Compliance Report before funding is received from state agencies. Furthermore, it makes certification of compliance a requirement of the annual 'Immigration Compliance Act'.
SB 364 - revises the annual performance evaluation for public school teachers and leaders. Student growth will now account for 30% of the evaluation, down from the original 50%. A professional growth component will account for 20%. The number of in-class observations are reduced for teachers with at least three years of teaching experience who have earned 'Proficient' or 'Exemplary' on the previous evaluation. The Bill also reduces the amount of state mandated testing required. Currently, there are 32 state mandated tests in grades K-12. This legislation reduces the number of state mandated test to 24 by removing social studies and science tests in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7. This bill also adds formative testing in grades 1 and 2 to assess reading and math development.
SB 208 - authorizes a referendum to create the city of Stonecrest in DeKalb County, Georgia.
SB 331 - allows the termination of a father's parental rights when, by clear and convincing evidence, the father caused his child to be conceived as a result of non-consensual sexual contact. For purposes of legitimation proceedings, there shall be a presumption against legitimation where the court finds that the father caused his child to be conceived in such a manner. Such fathers shall also be barred from inheriting from a child so conceived; however, a child conceived as a result on non-consensual sex may still inherit from the father.
SB 367 - provides a comprehensive update to Georgia's criminal justice reform legislation. SB 367 would expand Georgia's accountability courts to include "operating under the influence" court divisions as an alternative to the traditional justice system with the ultimate goal of reducing recidivism rates. Any court with jurisdiction over DUI or boating under the influence cases would be able to create a division of their courts to handle those cases. Similarly, any juvenile court would be able to create a "family treatment" court division to address issues within families through court intervention and the reduction of dependency. The goal of a family treatment court would be to reduce alcohol or drug abuse and addiction in child dependency proceedings; improve outcomes for families when dependency is based on alcohol or drug use and addiction; increase the personal, familial and societal accountability of defendants in child dependency proceedings; and promote effective intervention and use of resources among child welfare personnel, law enforcement, treatment providers, community agencies, and the courts.
SB 367 would also allow the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice to operate charter schools within state juvenile justice facilities under the control of the State Charter School Commission to allow children who are incarcerated to continue to receive an education. Furthermore, individuals who have a suspended license as a result of a criminal conviction would be able to receive their license sooner under SB 367 by allowing time spent in prison to count toward license suspension time. The bill would also add court-mandated activities such as attending programs, treatment, and accountability court to the list of limited driving exemptions for drivers with limited driving permits.
SB 367 would change the Georgia First Offender Statute to allow courts to set a date at when a defendant would be exonerated of guilt and have their criminal record restricted as long as the defendant successfully complies with the sentence and does not receive future convictions. The bill also updates probation stipulations if an individual fails to pay a fine or report to their probation officer and will now include a scheduled hearing in court. The legislation would also let inmates who have served sentences for certain drug-related offenses or repeat offenders of non-violent felonies be eligible for parole if they had no convictions for violent felonies; completed at least six years of their total sentence; were considered a low risk for recidivism; earned a high school diploma; and had no serious disciplinary violations in the past 12 months in jail. Those convicted of felony drug convictions would now be allowed to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits upon their release to help ease the transition to re-entry.
Finally, the bill would prohibit professional licensing boards from refusing to license an individual because of an arrest or conviction of a felony unless it directly related to the occupation they were attempting to be licensed. Legislative efforts over the past several years have made Georgia a national leader in criminal justice reform, and the modifications in SB 367 are a further example of how we can continue to be smart on crime, keep the citizens of Georgia safe, and help those who re-enter to become productive members of society.
Providing alternatives to incarceration in the form of education and treatment not only allow our non-violent offenders to have a second chance at life, but will decrease recidivism rates.
SB 369 -MARTA legislation carves Fulton County into two districts, thus allowing the city of Atlanta - but not the rest of Fulton - to levy a half-percent sales tax if voters approve the idea in a referendum. Fulton County, by contrast, could proceed with a referendum this year for up to a .75% sales tax for road improvements, and still preserve the option to pursue up to a .25% sales tax for transit in the future.