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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  

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Week Two
Week two began by honoring the life and legacy of Georgia's own Martin Luther King, Jr..  The MLK statue was unveiled on August 28, 2017, and is the result of a  project initiated in April of 2014 with HB 1080, legislation authorizing the placement of a statue honoring Dr. King at the State Capitol. To learn more, see    
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in the northeast quadrant of the state capitol grounds, facing east and looking out at MLK, Jr. Drive.  
Last week, the General Assembly heard from Commissioners and other leaders regarding their budget requests for Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) . The  primary focus in the House is the budget.   First they will examine the amended budget.   After it is passed, the Senate will begin its review.   The House will move on to the FY19 budget, which is dependent upon what the federal government does with its spending.   Both bills are likely to end up in conference committees and may not be passed until we near the end of the session.   The budget for the following year is the only constitutional requirement for the legislature to pass.   The amended budget exists primarily to fund educational institutions for enrollments over the numbers estimated in the full year's budget passed the previous year. The House Budget Office produces budget tracking sheets for all stages of the budget, and can be found at

New legislators have been seated in both chambers, and all have been assigned to committees and offices.  This information may be found on the legislative web site, .  The House still has one seat to be filled to replace Amy Carter from Valdosta, who resigned to take a position with the Technical College System. 
The adoption bill (HB159) has cleared the Senate and was immediately sent back to the House.  This is an extensive bill, but now includes only Department of Family and Children Services adoptions.  Private adoption agency provisions were removed and will be taken up in a separate bill, as yet not introduced. 
The House did not act on the one bill on its calendar on Thursday so that the budget hearings which were cancelled on Wednesday due to the weather could take place.  Additionally, t here is a constitutional amendment in the new bills for this week - more on SR 587  below.

2018 General Session Issue 2
January 23, 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. 
While budget hearings dominated a short second week that included one holiday and two snow days, The chambers will likely set a faster pace this week as they complete the 10th day of session this week.  Here is a look at weeks three and four:
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!

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


HB 159  Reeves - 34     PASSED House     PASSED Senate      DV

Enact the recommendations on child support by the GA Child Support Commission which developed them over 3 years.
  Has added the provision for a parent to give a power of attorney to someone other than the grandparent to make parental decisions, particularly on health and school issues, for a period of a year, a provision that was vetoed last year.   Single parents called to military duty, with health issues or other situations where the parent may not be a home to care for the child can use such a document.  
A revision of adoption law that has not been updated in over 30 years.  Includes foreign adoptions and exceptions for the 10 day waiting period for birth mother to change her mind about putting the child up for adoption.  Covers only state adoptions.  Private adoptions will be covered in another bill.  The religious language has been removed. The bill returns to the House where the author and Speaker claim they want a 'clean' adoption bill.



HB 683  Ralston - 7     H.Appropriations
F2018A Budget.   The current year budget amended to reflect the increase in revenues of $300 million.   The top items in the governor's recommendations are:  

$10 million in Community Affairs for beach nourishment projects, after Hurricane Irma.
  27 million in Community Health to reflect increased need in Medicaid
  23 million in Community Health to provide a state match for hospital federal funds
102 million in DO Education for QBE student increases not part of projected enrollment in       original budget
  15 million in DO Education to buy 194 local school buses @ $77,000 each with cash, 
      not  bonds as in the past
    3 million in Forestry Commission to combat wildfires.
  15 million in Dept of Human Services for Out-of-Home Care utilization
    5 million in GBI for implementation of the statewide criminal justice e-filing system
   2.7 million in Natural Resources to provide additional public access and land   
        management activities
   5.2 million in Public Health for GA Trauma Care from Super Speeder fines and  
   4 million in Public Safety to purchase 93 law enforcement pursuit vehicles
  10 million in University System for Augusta University Graduate Medical School to cover
      an operating deficit
  17 million in Revenue for Forestland Protection grant reimbursements
  10.7 million in Student Finance Commission for additional students in dual enrollment
         programs, Lottery funds
  18 million in Student Finance Commission for public school students for the Zell Miller
       scholarship, Lottery funds
  25.2 million in DOT to expand 11 runway lengths to handle larger aircraft.
HB 684  Ralston - 8     H.Appropriations
FY2019 Budget for the year beginning July 1, 2018.   The top items in the governor's recommendation to spend the $1 billion in additional revenue expected are:
$316 million to shore up Teacher Retirement funds spread through budgets of DO  
        Education, University System, and the Technical College System of GA
    15 million in Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities for children's mental
         health, 3 items
     3.5 million in Economic Development, OneGeorgia Authority, for economic
          development projects
 142.4 million in Community Health, net, for Medicaid-Aged Blind and Disabled
   83  million in Community Health for Medicaid-Low Income, 3 items
  (96  million) reduction in DOE to reflect QBE reduction because of increased property
         values in local school districts.
    30 million in DOE in Equalization Funds to low wealth school districts
  120 million in DOE to local school systems for additional students enrolled
    10 million in DOE for State Commission Charter School supplemental funds
    29.1 million in Human Services for Out-Of-Home Care, 6 items
    34.3 million in Student Finance Commission to fund additional students in dual
           enrollment programs, Lottery funds
    35.7 million in Student Finance Commission for increased funds for public school
           students HOPE scholarships, Lottery
    30 million in Student Finance Commission to fund HOPE Zell Miller scholarships,
         Lottery funds
    12.2 million in DOT for capital construction projects
 108 million in existing and new bonds for increased debt service costs.

HB 652   Trammell - 132      H.Government Affairs
The requirement to remove electors from the voting rolls of those who did not vote and for which there has been no contact for 3 years is rescinded.   'No contact' means not having filed an updated voter registration, or change of address, having not signed a petition or not confirming an address during three calendar years.  
The National Voter Registration Act outlines how and when voters may be dropped from the voter rolls.   GA currently complies with the federal requirements.  If this bill passes, the state voter rolls could contain people who have died, moved out of state, or are unable to cast a ballot because of mental infirmities.  These voters are clearly not eligible to vote.  Removal from the voter rolls does not prevent a citizen from reregistering to vote in the future.
HB 680  Turner - 21     H.Government Affairs
Disallows digital electronic voting (DRE) machines as of 1-1-19.   Allows all manner of paper ballots and ballot marking devices.   Requires audits to determine if the electronic tabulating is correct.     Replacing the DREs statewide is estimated to cost $100 million, plus costs to local counties who purchased more than their state allotment.  The money would have to be included in the FY19 budget, which it is not.  Audits done manually to check tabulation errors is backwards.  Far more errors are made with manual tabulation than with machine tabulation.

SB 325  Kirkpatrick - 32     S.Health & Human Services
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act is to be administered by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.   The compact allows expedited licensure of doctors licensed by other state within the compact.   Outlines the authority of the compact board on the member states.
HB 669  Trammell - 132     H.Appropriations
Authorizes appropriations to expand Medicaid up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
HB 678  Smith - 134     H.Insurance
Sets parameters for information to patients and prospective patients as to the insurances each will accept, costs of services to such to patients for both in network and out of network and the providers that be asked to help with a patients and whether each is in network or not (anesthetists, radiologists, pathologists, etc.).   Patient has 90 days to pay and collection efforts by providers can only start thereafter.   Arbitration is allowed.
HR 888  Spencer - 180     H.Defense & Veterans Affairs
Creates a Joint Committee on Converting Closed Hospitals to Veterans Homes.
HB 672  Thomas - 39     H.Motor Vehicles
Permits speed detection devices and traffic-control equipment to be placed in elementary and secondary school zones as they are around college and university campuses.   Adds school security personnel to those who may use such devices.

SB 328  Albers - 56     S.Finance
Repeals as of 12-31-18 these income tax exemptions:
  • Federal qualified transportation fringe benefits
  • Private drivers education courses
  • Diesel particulate emission reduction technology equipment.
Bills raising revenue must start in the House, but bills decreasing revenue may start in either chamber.
HB 675  Cox - 108     H.Ways & Means
An income tax credit for employees for up to 3 years for an employer of a Medicaid eligible employee who participates in an employer's health plan   and is not a Medicaid recipient.   Credit is $5000 per employee in year 1 and $2500 in the other two years.   Credit is repealed on 12-31-28.
HB 676  Rakestraw - 19     H.Ways & Means
Active military service members shall be granted a homestead exemption for the number of days on active duty in the previous year if over 90 days.   State referendum required.
SB 587  McKoon - 29     S.Rules
CA to declare English as the official language of GA and ban government use of any other language.  
There is already a state law to such effect.  Federal law requires the use of other languages if population has reached a threshold of numbers using such language.  State law cannot overrule federal law.
HB 676  Rakestraw - 19     H.Banks & Banking
Active service members with a mortgage or debt on real or personal property may be protected by a court order from foreclosure or repossession during the period of active duty and 30 days thereafter.
HB 681  Raffensburger - 50     H.Defense & Veterans Affairs
Authorizes a 3 year waiver of annual registration fees if at least one officer living in GA who served on active military duty and was honorable discharged for business corporations, non profits corporations limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and foreign limited liability partnerships.

SB 326   James - 35      S.Judiciary
Child Sheltering Adolescent for Destructive Environment Law.  Defines further the processes needed to place a child in legal custody or to whom such child can be released.  Seems to focus on child being subjected to labor or sexual servitude and by whom.  Release of such child will be to one having legal custody unless such person has subjected the child to such servitude.
HB 668   Price - 48      H.Judiciary
Outlihes how an adult guardian can be appointed for a ward who is 17 and still a minor.  Guardianship will not be effective until the ward has turned 18.


SB 324  Albers - 56     S.Transportation
Cities may contract with any abutting county for the construction and maintenance of bridges within the boundaries of both the city and county.  Currently, cities may contract only with the county in which part of the city lies.
HB 679  Beskin - 54     H.Government Affairs
Annexation and deannexation cannot take place between a municipal election and 90 days prior to the election.  
Eliminates confusion on the part of voters and election officials on who is eligible to vote in the municipal election.
SB 327  Albers - 56     S.Public Safety
A medical examiner's inquiry will now longer be required for patient deaths while unintended by a physician.
HB 674  Willard - 51     H.Judiciary
Itemizes when sovereign immunity can be waived.   

SB 323  Jackson - 2     S.Public Safety
Allows guns to be sold to licensed entities or destroyed at the option of the state or local government.  Unsafe guns must be destroyed.  Currently, all guns must be destroyed.
HB 657   Petrea - 166      H.Public Safety & Homeland Security     
Knowingly and intentionally providing a gun to a person on probation or as a felony first offender is a felony.  But such provider is not required to inquire if the person receiving the gun is a felon.
HB 673  Carson - 46     H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Use of wireless telecommunication devices while driving must be with a hands-free accessory.   Bans any actions which distract the driver while operating a motor vehicle.   Wireless telecommunication device use while driving will lose 3 points on the driver's license, 4 points for a second or subsequent violation.   Exceptions for use are when the motor vehicle is lawfully parked, reporting on some type of emergency, when used by a public safety employee within the scope of employment, or by a public utility employee or contractor within the scope of employment while responding to a public utility emergency.   Fines collected are to deposited in the state general fund and used for trauma care.   Violation of this law which results in a death is punishable by imprisonment of at least 3 - 15 years.
League of Women Voters of Georgia