Copywrite  2018. Not to be reproduced in whole or part without permission.  


Nonpartisan News from the Georgia Capitol

 Published by the Education Fund of 

League of Women Voters of Georgia 


Contributors: members, volunteers, and interns of LWVGA.  

Editor: Marla Bexley-Lovell, LWVGA  

Know the Issues. Join the Conversation. Make a Difference.  
From the Editor: 
Welcome & Welcome back! 

This publication, Under the Gold Dome, will be delivered into the inboxes of League members every week that the Georgia General Assembly is in session. It is a product of our Education Fund, meaning we report the facts and goings-on under the Capitol dome. For a peek at our advocacy work, including the 2018 legislative agenda, please visit our website.

The writing staff is comprised of LWVGA staff and interns who will be tracking and reporting on legislation and committee hearings. Sally FitzGerald, member of LWV of Atlanta-Fulton, and Capitol observer provides the comprehensive list of legislation every week. We couldn't do this without her! 
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Kicking-Off with a Cold Start

Amidst the excitement of the College Football Playoff
National Championship in Atlanta and winter weather advisory alerts shutting down schools and government offices, Georgia lawmakers gathered under the Gold Dome to kick-off the second session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly on January 8th.  

This is the second year of the legislative session. All bills that did not pass are eligible for consideration this year plus any new bills that are introduced.   This newsletter will address last year's legislation only if it is acted upon in this year's session.

As 2018 is an election year, officials will qualify for the ballot the first week of March.   Once qualified, incumbent legislators cannot raise funds while the session meets.   It is likely that the legislative session will be compacted to allow re-election activity to proceed unfettered.

Governor Deal delivered his annual State of the State address for the eighth and final time on Thursday, with the budget becoming a public document the same day.  The text from the State of the State can be found here and the Governor's  budget report here. Public budget hearings are being held this week on January 16th and 17th.   
Capital Both chambers have updated their websites for committee membership and chairmanship changes. .   Tracking documents for the amended 2018 budget and the full year 2019 can be found on the House Budget office web site.   These are far more compact that the full budget documents. 
Legislative Days   
The legislative session is limited to 40 Legislative Days by the Georgia constitution.  A Legislative Day is any day in which the House and Senate are called to floor session. This week there are no legislative days, but the budget committee will be fast at work.  

In general, committees may meet at any time once the session has officially begun.  As previously mentioned, Crossover Day will be on Legislative Day 28 and on Sine Die, adjourn without a day to return, on Legislative Day 40.

2018 General Session Issue 1
January 16, 2018

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General Assembly 2018 Calendar  
The Georgia General Assembly convened on Monday, January 8th for the first legislative day of the 2018 session. 
January 16th and 17th  are slated for budget hearings, and the next seven legislative days are as follows:
January 18
Day 5:  January 18
Day 6:  January 19
Day 7:  January 22
Day 8:  January 23 
Day 9:  January 24
Day 10: January 25 
Day 11: January 29 





Se ssion 
Cheat Sheet 
 and Quick Links!

The legislature may be in session for up to 40 legislative days.

Crossover Day is Legislative Day 28.  For a measure to be considered by the other chamber, the legislation must be approved by the originating chamber on or before that day.

CA = Constitutional Amendment 
HB = House Bill
HR= House Resolution
SB = Senate Bill
SR = Senate Resolution


SB 309  McKoon - 29     S.Ethics
Eliminates the provision that the City of Atlanta may hold polls open until 8 p.m. for municipal elections.  Requires the call for a special primary to be made within 45 days of the vacancy, previously 60 days.  A U.S. Senate vacancy with 12 or more months remaining in the term shall have a replacement filled with a special primary and election.  If less time left in the term, the governor will appoint a replacement.  Vacancies in the U.S. House of Representatives shall be filled with a special primary and election.  For General Assembly vacancies, if more than 12 months left in term, the replacement shall be by primary and election.  If less than 12 months, the issuance of a writ of election will be at the discretion of the governor.  If a General Assembly vacancy exists when a special session is called, and 12 months or less are in the term, the governor shall call for a special primary and election if the governor feels there is sufficient time to conduct such elections through a possible runoff prior to the conclusion of the special session.  Currently, these vacancies are filled by election and do not have a primary.  GOP and DEM candidates run on the same ballot and the top two vote getters go into a runoff if no one gets 50% + 1 votes.  The proposal requires a GOP and DEM primary, each with the possibility of a runoff, the winners to go to an election along with 3rd party candidates, and a possible runoff before a new representative is determined. The proposal thus eliminates the possibility of two persons of the same party going into a runoff, as happened in a 2017 senatorial election.
SB 320   Henson - 41      S.Ethics
Designates elementary and secondary schools as voter registration agencies.  Each school shall make available voter registration forms when registering their child for enrollment, but refusal to register to vote shall not affect such enrollment.  Currently only high schools and postsecondary institutions are required to offer voter registration materials.  School personnel are not designated deputy registrars and have no requirement to be so trained.

SB 306    Rhett - 33     S.Health & Human Services
Eligible individuals may obtain health care coverage from a program of premium assistance.  To be eligible, the individual must be between 19 and 65, earn less than 138% of poverty level, not eligible for Medicaid, and a U.S. citizen or legal resident.  The coverage must be obtained through an exchange and the individual must pay a premium not to exceed 5% of annual income.  Requires the state to apply for any federal waivers to implement.
SB 318   Rhett - 33     S.Health & Human Services
Adds 'emergency medical technician' and 'paramedic' to the law which gives immunity from both civil and criminal liability for an admission or discharge from a facility for mental evaluation.  Also permits a doctor to issue a certification for mental illness of a patient based on the reported observations of an EMT or paramedic but must personally evaluate the patient upon arrival at an emergency receiving facility to determine the status of the patient.
SB 321   Tillery - 19   S.Health & Human Services
Increases civil penalties for fraudulent Medicaid claims to the federally authorized maximum of $22,000, now $11,000.
SB 322   James - 35   S.Health & Human Services
Requires front and back reflectors on non-electric personal assistive mobility devices when operated on highways and sidewalks.  Devices sole in 2019 and beyond shall be so equipped.  Includes non-electric wheelchairs, walkers, canes.

HB 633   Belton - 112     H.Retirement
Those receiving benefits from the Teacher's Retirement System may continue to do so when returning to work but will not be required to contribute to the fund nor will creditable service be received for such employment.  The educational employer is also not required to contribute to the retirement fund for this employee.
HB 667   Bentley - 139     H.Education
Local boards of education and schools cannot participate in an athletic association that does not provide instant replays for high school football playoff and championship games.
HB 664  Teasley - 37   H.Ways & Means
Increases the amount deposited in a 529 account for postsecondary use by a student that may be deducted from income to $4000, from $2000.  If a joint return is filed, the deduction may be up to $8000.


HB 658   Ehrhart - 36    H.Ways & Means
Excise tax on rooms and lodging by counties and cities shall have no sunset date and can be collected in perpetuity.

SB 319  Albers - 56     S.Public Safety
Creates the Department of Public Safety with a commissioner of fire safety and a 17 member Fire Safety Board.  It assumes the responsibilities for much of the State Fire Marshall, the Georgia Fire Academy, GA Firefighter Standards and Training Council.  Effective 7-1-19. This 177 page bill reassigns responsibilities but doesn't change any requirements.  All current rules and regulations continue in effect until they expire or are explicitly revoked or amended.
SR 570   Thompson - 14      S.Science   & Technology              
Creates the 5-member Senate Study Committee on the Use and Sale of State Public Information.  Report due 12-1-18.  The committee will focus on private entities which house public information through outsourcing.  Author seems particularly concerned about information regarding police reported accidents and the inability of used car dealers and customers to get information about the history of any automobile as well as the lack of access through the Freedom of Information Act.
SB 315   Thompson - 14      S.Public Safety
Unauthorized computer access is defined as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
SB316   Jackson - 2      S.Judiciary
Adds hate crimes to the criminal code and specifies penalties therefore.
HB 663   Bennett - 54      H.Judiciary Non Civil
Establishes penalties for commission of sex crimes against persons or property of such persons.

HB 662   Kendrick - 93      H.Judiciary
Training is required for members of the General Assembly and department heads in 'sexual misconduct' and made available to state employees.

HB 159   Reeves - 34     
PASSED House      DO PASS in S.Judiciary
Enact the recommendations on child support by the GA Child Support Commission which developed them over 3 years.  
Bill was amended in the Senate in 2017 to include the religious liberty language which would have allowed adoption agencies to disallow adoptions for those whose religion was not on the 'approved' list, or for life styles that were against the religious tenets of the adoption agency.  It never got out of committee.  But in 2018, the religious language was removed but there is still protection for agencies that do not wish to have children placed with same sex couples.  The bill received a DO PASS recommendation.  The bill, if passed by the full Senate, returns to the House where the author and Speaker claim they want a 'clean' adoption bill.
HB 654  Beskin - 54     H.Judiciary
Reintroduction of the recommendations of the Georgia Child Support Commission which were developed over three years.  
A similar bill passed the House in 2017 but was amended in the Senate with the Religious Freedom bill and never got out of committee.


HB 666   Wilkerson - 38      H.Motor Vehicles
License plates of motor vehicles must have the annual decal in the lower right corner of the plate to be readily identifiable.
HR 866   Spencer - 180      H.Special Rules
Creates the 6 member Joint Study Commission on the Establishment of a State Space Commission to study such commissions in other states and develop recommendations for creating talent to serve the space industry, necessary infrastructure and other needs for the commercial space industry.  The Commission will have 3 members from each chamber.
League of Women Voters of Georgia