Volume 6, Legislative Week Eight | March 2020
The Capitol Express
Legislative Week Eight March 2 - 6, 2020

Forgive this delay, as explanation, and as will be noted in the next statement, Week Nine is " Crossover Week " and my duties representing you in committee and on the House Floor were many causing a delay publishing update.

On Monday, March 2nd, the Georgia Georgia Assembly convened for Week Eight of the Legislative Session -- we conducted Floor Session on four days and moved about 40 legislative measures, bills and resolutions, forward to the Senate. There are three days remaining next week before Crossover Day , on Thursday, March 12th. If a measure doesn't pass the House or the Senate by Crossover Day it cannot pass as a standalone measure, and would only have a chance if "amended" on to another bill.

Applying to Continue to Work for you in
House District 49
Monday I qualified to once again represent my neighbors in House District 49 in the State House. Representing my hometown is a great honor and I respectfully ask for your support to so I can continue to serve and to represent you to make a positive impact on our community’s quality of life !

Please contact me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation that may impact our community. When you visit your Capitol please consider stopping by our office at Capitol 417. You can also reach me by phone at my Capitol office at 404-656-5064 or by email at chuck.martin@house.ga.gov .  

To join our mailing list and get The Capitol Express directly to your inbox, text MARTIN4GA to 22828 .
Yours in Service ,
Foster Care Reform - HB855
On Thursday, the House also took up legislation to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens who are in our state’s foster system. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Marcus Wiedower and would require the Department of Education (DOE) to provide guidance to local school systems in order to assess whether a newly enrolled foster care child has been exposed to trauma which adversely impacted the student’s educational performance or behavior. The Department of Education would develop a protocol for schools to immediately assess foster children who are removed from their homes and are subsequently placed in a new schooling environment. These assessments would determine whether these children meet the criteria to receive special education and other services, such as individual education plans (IEPs) . Foster care students are particularly vulnerable to traumatic situations, and the exposure to such trauma can be exacerbated by changing schools. These events can negatively impact a student both academically and behaviorally, and we want to ensure that Georgia’s foster children have the proper educational resources that they need to succeed.  
The Fight Against Human Trafficking - HB 823
We kicked off last week by unanimously passing legislation to aid in the fight against human trafficking in Georgia. House Bill 823 would allow the Georgia Department of Driver Services to revoke a person’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) and impose a lifetime CDL ban in Georgia for those who are convicted and knowingly used a commercial vehicle in the commission of a human trafficking crime, which includes trafficking an individual for labor servitude or sexual servitude. HB 823 is one of three legislative measures that were announced by Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp this session that seek to end human trafficking in Georgia, and this legislation would work in accordance with a federal regulation that was created by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2019 . Over 3,600 children are sold into sex trafficking in Georgia every year, and our largest city, Atlanta, was listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of 14 U.S. cities with the most sex trafficking activity. Our state and federal leaders are committed to bringing this terrible industry to an end, and HB 823 would prevent commercial trucking from being used as a gateway for perpetrators to commit this horrific crime.
Addressing Surprise Billing
Two important measures to protect Georgians from incurring unexpected medical costs. One of the leading causes of bankruptcy is surprise medical bills, which is a bill that results when an insured patient receives treatment from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility .

To address this, we passed House Bill 888, or the “ Surprise Billing Consumer Act ,” which would require insurance providers to pay for emergency medical services without need for any prior authorization and without any retrospective payment denial for medically necessary services, regardless of whether a health care provider giving emergency medical services is a participating provider or not. In both emergency and non-emergency care, the medical provider would only bill a patient based on their deductible, co-insurance, co-payment or other cost-sharing amount.  Finally, HB 888 would establish a process for dealing with disputed bills by allowing for arbitration between the insurer and the provider and would set various rules for arbitration proceedings. 
In addition to HB 888, we also passed the Surprise Bill Transparency Act ” to increase awareness and provide a resource regarding insurance coverage for hospital-based specialty groups. House Bill 789 would create a health benefit plan surprise bill rating system to determine if a patient’s benefit plan would apply to certain hospital-based specialty groups, including anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists and emergency medicine physicians. This straightforward system would be comprised of four red and green marks, and the number of marks, or lack thereof, would be determined by the number of qualified hospital-based specialty group types that the health benefit plan is contracted for the provision of health care services. This bill would also require insurers to make this information available for patients to view online for each network plan.
House Bill 842 - Gracie's Law
We also passed House Bill 842, or Gracie’s law, to prohibit discrimination of individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities from receiving an organ transplant. Through this legislation, individuals who are candidates for an organ transplant would not be deemed ineligible or denied insurance coverage solely based on the individual’s physical or mental disability. HB 842 would also prohibit this type of discrimination for the following care regarding transplants: diagnostic or referral services, evaluation, surgery, counseling and postoperative treatment and services. Additionally, if an individual has an adequate support system to assist with post-operative requirements, the individual would not be deemed ineligible for the transplant. Federal law currently prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, but many Georgians still experience discrimination when they need a life-saving transplant. Inspired by a Georgia child with Down syndrome who almost needed a transplant, Gracie’s Law would prevent organ transplant discrimination for children and adults with disabilities, allowing Georgians to receive the live-saving surgeries they need.
House Bill 987 - Caring for Georgia's Seniors 
The House also passed vital legislation this week to reform senior care in Georgia to better protect elderly individuals living in personal care homes and assisted living facilities in our state. Under HB 987, direct care staff would be required to have initial and annual training and facilities would have to maintain one direct care staff person for every 15 residents during waking hours and one for every 20 residents during non-waking hours. Additionally, assisted living facilities would need to maintain at least two direct care staff at all times and a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) between eight and 40 hours each week. HB 987 would also require these facilities to provide timely notice to the Department of Community Health (DCH) and residents if patient care will be impacted by bankruptcy, property eviction or change in ownership. Moreover, owners of these facilities would have to provide documentation to the DCH upon submission of application for license to prove that they can operate responsibly for at least two years . Furthermore, HB 987 would require memory care units to provide the following staff: one dementia trained staff person for every 12 residents; one licensed social worker or professional counselor for eight hours per month; one RN, LPN or certified medication aide at all times; at least two direct care staff at all times; at least one RN or LPN between eight and 40 hours on-site; and initial and annual dementia specific training. Finally, HB 987 would impose and increase mandatory fines for any violation that causes the death or serious physical injury of a resident. This legislation would make necessary updates to our laws to make sure that there is better oversight of these facilities in order to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Welcoming Blessed Trinity and Coach McFarlin
Great to be with Governor Brian Kemp, Representative Jan Jones and Senator John Albers to welcome Blessed Trinity Football, 2019 Class 4A GHSA State Champions , to Capitol along with 2019 National Catholic High School of the Year, Coach Tim McFarlin !
I had a "shadow"!
Enjoyed having Isabel visit State Capitol this past week to “ shadow ” me for the day. She was a trooper pre-session meetings, session, and then committees all afternoon! This was taken between bills while on the House Floor. Thanks for coming down!
Committee Assignments
I remain honored to serve my neighbors in House District 49 and Georgians on the following committees:

You can find the schedules of these committees and the online streaming links of each by clicking on the links above or by clicking here .
Team Higher Education
For the next few months during this Legislative Session, you'll most likely find me at the Capitol in my office. It is my absolute honor to serve you all and my hometown community; look forward to hearing from and seeing you.

417 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334 

Executive Assistant: Sarah Galyean Sarah.Galyean@house.ga.gov

Intern: Matthew Couper Matthew.Couper@house.ga.gov