Copyright 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 
Legislation Reporting: Sally Fitzgerald, LWVAF member 
Editor: Marla Bexley-Lovell, LWVGA staff
Other Contributors:  Caleb Head, LWVGA intern
                             Tracy Adkison, LWVGA President
                               Edna Kopetz, LWVMC 
                     Elizabeth Poythress, LWVGA Board   

  Know the Issues. Join the Conversation. Make a Difference.  
Week Three: Holding the Flood Gates
As we have seen in previous sessions, so many legislative proposals have been introduced that the committees have not had sufficient time to process many of them.   Much of what has already passed is local legislation (law that affects only a specific area of the state) and resolutions, such as SB 607.  This bestows the honor of Distinguished Older Georgian for 2018 on Mrs. Eunice Mixon of Tifton, former league member who traveled to the Capitol for decades while serving the State in many capacities, including Senate Doorkeeper for 12 years.  
Southeast Quadrant of the Capitol
In prior sessions, the flood of bills introduced in the early part have only about a 10% chance of passage.  The subject matter of any bill may pass into law eventually by being attached to another bill.  This process usually takes place near the end of the session, in a process called 'code shopping.'  A mendments to any bill must affect the same code section as the original bill.  
Session Cheat Sheet and Quick Links! 
HB = House Bill                           SB = Senate Bill 
HR= House Resolution                 SR = Senate Resolution
CA = Constitutional Amendment 
NNS = Needs No Signature

      Legislation                    Watch the Session Live!

               Find your Senator and Representative

LWVGA Lobbying Day will be February 13th 
Stay Tuned for more details to come!!!
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2018 General Session Issue 3
January 29, 2018

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General Assembly 2018 Calendar  
This week the General Assembly met for four days, completing Day 10 of the 40 legislative days constitutionally allowed.  The calendar for the rest of the session has been adopted that sets February 28th as Cross-Over Day (Day 28) and sine die adjournment on March 29. 
 The legislators return  Monday for another four-day week.
Day 11: January 29 
Day 12: January 30 
Day 13: January 31 
Day 14: February 1

Check out the Session Schedule, set each year by resolution.  

Committee Meeting Schedules are set by each Chamber, and can be found below: 


House Committee Meetings


Senate Committee Meetings

SB 327   Albers - 56     PASSED Senate     
A medical examiner's inquiry will no longer be required if a death occurs "unattended by a physician" unless foul play is expected.   Either the coroner or medical examiner will determine if an inquiry is necessary. 
SR 588   Unterman - 45     NNS     PASSED Senate
The Senate lauds the Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit of the GBI in its mission to detect, investigate and assist in prosecution of those who exploit children via the Internet, and to conduct forensic analysis and processing related to criminal activity for the GBI and other law enforcement agencies.  Declares January as "Human Trafficking Month" at the Capitol.
SB 321  Tillery - 19     DO PASS in S.Judiciary
Increases civil penalties for fraudulent Medicaid claims to the federally authorized maximum of $22,363, now $11,181 plus 3 times the damages which the GA Medicaid program sustains because of the act of the claimant.
SB 330  Wilkinson - 50     S.Agriculture & Consumer Affairs
Green Agriculture Education Act.  Agriculture education will be based on a nationally recognized model with 3 parts, daily instruction, hands on real-world learning through supervised agriculture experience (SAE), with leadership and learning opportunities through Future Farmers of America participation.  DOE shall develop the curriculum with input from agriculture education teachers.  A pilot program will begin in 2019-2020 to provide agriculture education in 6 elementary schools, one in each Agriculture Education region which shall be evaluated at the end of the third year with a report to legislative Education committees.  Professional Standards Commission shall extend the agriculture education in-field certification to elementary school (K-5) teachers.
HB 655  Williams - 145     H.Education
Public schools must post a sign with a toll free phone number to DFCS, Department of Family and Children Services, to receive reports of child abuses and neglect.  The State Board of Education may adopt rules about the size and location of such a sign.
HB 718  Scott - 76     H.Education
Up to 5 excused absences each year for two years are to be allowed for students of active or former military on extended active duty for the student to attend individual or group therapy as recommended by a licensed physician or psychologist. 
HB 722  Casas - 107     H.Education
For Move On When Ready or dual credit courses, adds to the definition of eligible postsecondary institution as 'any non-profit, baccalaureate degree granting post secondary institution in existence for at least 10 years in Georgia and is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education'.  Sectarian schools?
HB 728  Coleman - 97     H.Ways & Means
The Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation income tax credit is applicable beginning in the 2018 tax year.  The tax credit is $1000 for single taxpayers and $2500 for joint taxpayers.  The proceeds are used for public schools that need financial help in increasing their student achievement.   The 3 year sunset is proposed for removal.
HB 740  Nix - 69     H.Education
K-3 students shall receive vision screening, hearing screening, and a speech-language assessment prior to any out of school suspension of 5 days or more excluding infractions of possession of a weapon, drugs or other dangerous instruments or if the student's behavior endangered others.  Requires parental permission.  Special education students or those under Section 504 shall have a meeting convened to review appropriate supports for the student.
HB 743  Clark - 98     H.Education
Students participating in interscholastic sports are to be informed about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest.  The Department of Education shall develop and post on its website guidelines and other materials to inform students about sudden cardiac arrest.  Students and parents will sign annually that such materials have been reviewed.
Does not seem to apply to intramural sports.
HR 898  Coleman - 97     H.Education
Creates the 15-member Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process.  Members include 3 legislators from each chamber, the State School Superintendent, State Board of Education Chair, State Charter School Commission Chair, the Office of Student Achievement Director, the Chancellor of the University System, and five appointees of the Governor to include a local board of education member, local school superintendent,  principal,  teacher, and a parent.  The group is to study the resources and structure needed and any impediments, the interaction with existing private accreditation agencies, aligning accreditation reviews with charter or contract renewals for charter systems and strategic waiver systems, establishment of a state process for annual review of system charters and contracts including student achievement, local board of education governance and financial management, possible consequences of losing state accreditation and the possibility of establishing a school board review commission.  Report due 12-1-18.
SB 331  Henson - 41     S.Higher Education
Lottery winners may remain anonymous for up to 4% of their winnings for costs of maintaining confidentiality.
SB 339  Ligon - 3     S.Higher Education
Requires University System of Georgia (USG) and its institutions to adopt policies to allow free speech on any subject and any speaker invited by students, student groups, or faculty to orate in public areas of the campus.  Restrictions of speech are allowed if it achieves a compelling government interest, is the least disruptive means of furthering such governmental interest, leaves open other opportunities to engage in expressive conduct, and provides for spontaneous assembly and distribution of literature.  Restrictions of student speech allowed only for activity not protected by the First Amendment, such as violations of state or federal law, defamation, harassment, threats, invasion of privacy, or action that unlawfully disrupts the function of the institution.
SB 348  Harper - 7     S.Public Safety
Gives arrest powers to POST certified Technical College System of GA campus police in the manner that USG campus police have it.
HB 471  Brockway - 102     H.Higher Education
Bans USG institutions from limiting or restricting a student's expression, or subjecting a student to disciplinary action because of the reaction or opposition to such expression by listeners or observers.  The institution cannot deny any student organization based on their beliefs.  Student activity fees will not be mandatory.  A student may sue the institution if student feels aggrieved.  If the group is white nationalist or neo-Nazi,  this bill would prevent any action by the institution to remove such a group.
HB 700  Belton - 112     H.Higher Education
The service cancellable loan available to GA National Guard members for undergraduate degrees is extended to post graduate degrees.  The Guard member must remain active in the Guard for two years following the last period of study for the degree to be eligible.
HB 702  Clark - 147     H.Higher Education
Students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields who agree to work as a civil service employee at a defense installation in GA for 1 year past their eligibility for loan repayments, up to five years, may become eligible for a service cancellable loan administered by Student Finance Commission.
HB 713  Chandler - 102     H.Higher Education
HOPE Scholarship (which pays 100% of tuition) for home schoolers or those graduating from an ineligible high school is changed to a score in the 91st percentile on ACT or SAT, currently the 93rd percentile.  Effective 7-1-18 for home schoolers and 7-1-20 for those graduating from an ineligible high school.
SB 334  Unterman - 45     S.Health & Human Services    
Transfers the Board of Nursing to the Department of Community Health from the Office of Secretary of State.
SB 344  Thompson - 5     S.Health & Human Services
The GA Retail Marijuana Code authorizes the parameters for cultivation, manufacture, distribution, or selling of retail marijuana.  Enabling legislation for SR 614.
SB 346  Thompson - 5     S.Health & Human Services
Removes state law penalties against medical use and cultivation of marijuana.  Possession limited to 2 ounces and 8 marijuana plants.  The Department of Revenue is authorized to register at least 3 in-state medical marijuana dispensaries and 14 distribution centers.  DOR shall be the oversight agency.  The bill is extensive in outlining procedures for use of medical marijuana.
SB 351  Unterman - 45     S.Health & Human Services    
Authorizes the Board of Nurses to promulgate rules for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to engage as a licensed independent practitioner in rural Georgia counties (under 50,000 excluding military personnel).
SR 593  Seay - 34     S.Rules
Asks Congress to require under the ADA act that public restrooms provide adult changing stations for the disabled and elderly for diaper changes. 
SR 614  Thompson - 5     S.Health & Human Services
CA to legalize and regulate marijuana.  Fees and tax proceeds from the sale of marijuana are to be divided equally between education and transportation infrastructure.  Enabling legislation is SB 344.
HB 715  Hugley - 136     S.Health & Human Services    
Women with dense breast tissue who get a mammogram are to be given a notice of such condition with information that cancer is harder to detect in such tissue and encouragement to discuss with a health care provider whether other tests may be appropriate.
HB 733  Alexander - 66     H.Health & Human Services     
Psychiatrists are eligible for service cancellable loans who serve in rural areas that lack mental health services.  Must be a U.S. citizen and GA resident at the time of the loan and have graduated from an accredited health care educational program.  Physicians, dentists, and advanced practice nurses already eligible for such loans.
HB 742  Gurtler - 8     H.Agriculture & Consumer Affairs
If a veterinarian  determines that a rabies inoculation would compromise an animal's health, the animal shall be exempt from vaccination.
HB 690  Ridley - 6     H.Ways & Means
Limits valuation of leased motor vehicles, in addition to new ones, to the value of the total of payments according to the lease agreement.
HB 694  Harrell - 106     H.Ways & Means
Electronic filing is now required for motor vehicle taxes submitted by distributors.
HB 696  Kelley - 16    H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption for computer equipment sold or leased for use in high-technology data centers if total value of the purchase exceeds $15 million.  Purchaser must have a tax exemption certificate from the Revenue commissioner.  A high-technology data enter means $250 million in aggregate costs for design, construction, and equipment over 10 years.
HB 697  Taylor - 173     H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption until 2023 for purchases by non-profit health centers and volunteer health clinics.  Current exemptions sunset on 6-30-18.
HB 723  Watson - 1     H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption for purchases by any non-profit organization which provides veterinary diagnostic and disease monitory services.
HB 729  Harrell - 106     H.Ways & Means
Repeals the code section regarding the manner and time of making the state ad valorem tax levy (OCGA 48-5-8).
HB 731  Buckner - 137     H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products.  Products would still be taxed for local sales tax purposes.
HB 735  Bentley - 139     H.Ways & Means
An income tax credit for expenditures on the maintenance of a railroad track owned or leased by a Class III railroad as of 1-1-18.  Credit is 50% of the total expenditures up to $3500 times the number of miles of track owned or leased by that railroad.  Effective 1-1-2019.
HB 741  Corbett - 174     H.Ways & Means
Fair market value for income-producing property shall consider actual income and expense data as one component of such fair market value.  Currently, the law requires such data to be 'utilized'.

SB 340  Orrock - 36     S.Natural Resources & Environment
Directs the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources to adopt rules and regulations to limit carbon emissions.
SB 310  Jones - 22     S.Regulated Industries & Utilities
Establishes the internet as an open platform for consumer use.  Requires any internet service provider to disclose accurate information regarding management practices, performance, and commercial terms of that service.  Prohibits blocking lawful content, application services and non-harmful devices.  Bans unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.  Public Service Commission will make the rules.  Fines not to exceed $500,000 for violations.
SB 312  McKoon - 29     S.Economic Development & Tourism
The Secretary of State may impose fees not to exceed $50 per filing for expedited processing and filing of corporate documents.
HB 689  Williams - 145     H.Insurance
Deceased depositors without a will will have up to $10,000 of the amount on deposit used for funeral expenses and expenses of the last illness paid in the order they are received.  Same criteria for insurance proceeds when no beneficiary is named.
HB 699  Belton - 112     H.Public Safety and Homeland Security
Documented military firefighting training may be accepted as basic firefighting training.
HB 719  Scott - 76     H.Defense & Veterans Affairs
Requires housing authorities to give preference to homeless veterans.
HR 899  Nix - 69   NNS     H.Special Rules
Establishes September 6 of each year as Marquis de LaFayette Day.  The Marquis toured Georgia and has several memorials here, one being the town of LaGrange, named for his home in France.  September 6 was his birthday.
SB 302  Parent - 42     S.Government Oversight           and
HB 650  Oliver - 82     H.Government Affairs
Local governments may relocate, remove, conceal, or obscure any public monument by a local adopted resolution.
SB 335  Unterman - 45     S.Judiciary               and
HB 732  Silcox - 52     H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Expands the offense of trafficking a person for sexual servitude to include patronizing such person in addition to solicitation of that person.
SB 345  Jordon - 6     S.Banking & Financial Institutions
Prohibits consumer credit reporting agencies from charging a fee for placing or removing a security freeze on the consumers account which is used to prevent identity theft.
SB 347  Kirk - 13     S.Judiciary
Criminal trespass on a grave of a military person is now a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and includes defiling a grave marker, monument or memorial.  Criminal trespass on any other grave is a misdemeanor.
HB 703  Hitchens - 161     H.Public Safety and Homeland Security
Creates the Governor's Office of Public Safety Support to provide counseling and support to those and their family members in law enforcement, firefighters, prison guards, first responders, state highway employees, GA National Guard.  The director is appointed by the governor and shall have experience as a public safety officer.  The office shall respond to requests to provide counseling services or any other critical incident support services for any incident including death or other tragedies.   The office shall develop and hold training courses in critical incident stress management.
HB 705  Kelley - 16     H.Judiciary
Magistrate courts may have jurisdiction when the value of damages for a property claimed does not exceed $25,000, currently $15,000.
HB 716  Rakestraw - 19     H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Those desiring treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues including dependence may contact their local law enforcement for information on available treatment programs.  Law enforcement may refer such person to the treatment program.  The person shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for the infraction for which the person sought information.
HB 737  Cox - 108     H.Public Safety and Homeland Security
Any police officer who is exposed to bodily fluids while making a lawful arrest may ask a court to require the arrestee to submit to a blood test for HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.  Test results cannot be used in any criminal proceeding of the arrestee.
SB 336  Unterman - 45     S.Judiciary
A provider of electronic communications or remote computing services shall not notify the subscriber or customer of any subpoena for computer or electronic devices used in certain offenses against a minor or violations involving trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude.
SB 333  Black - 8     S.Retirement          and
HB 692  Maxwell - 17     H.Retirement
A city may choose to pay the costs or fees associated with an employee's 401K type deferred compensation plan.  A public employer may choose to automatically enroll all employees in such a plan.
HB 701  Tanner - 9     H.Health & Human Services
Applicants for state employment are tested for illegal drugs which now include opioids.
HB 706  Taylor - 173     H.Retirement
Benefits from the Employees Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, Public School Employees Retirement System may be assigned by any beneficiary to a funeral home for funeral services of a member of the retirement system.
HB 720  Scott - 76     H.Industry & Labor
An employee cannot be discharged or discriminated against for asking about, discussing, or disclosing wage rate information.  Increases the fine on employers to $1000, currently $100.
SB 341  Anderson - 24     S.Public Safety    
Ignition interlock devices shall include a camera to photograph who is using it and the date, time, and test results.  Installation shall begin 7-1-18.
SB 342  Harbin - 15     S.Public Safety
An owner of a motor vehicle cited for not having a revalidation decal attached to the license plate is to be fined only $50 if the decal is displayed on the vehicle when appearing in court.
HB 691  Belton - 112     H.Defense & Veteran Affairs
A military identification card may serve as satisfactory documentation of a person's social security number.
HB 717  Kelley - 16     H.Motor Vehicles
Consumer protection laws for motor vehicles shall also apply to autonomous motor vehicles.
HB 721  Powell - 32     H.Motor Vehicles
DDS may approve additional drivers education courses which offer:
  • On-line 30 hours of instruction plus 6 hours of private in-car instruction provided by a drivers training school so licensed
  • On-line 30 hours of instruction plus 40 hours parent in-car curriculum provided by DDS
  • DDS provided 30 hours of instruction plus 6 hours on-the-road instruction provided by a licensed driver training school which will administer the driving skills test.

League of Women Voters of Georgia