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, LWVGA Member
                     Elizabeth Poythress, LWVGA Board   

  Know the Issues. Join the Conversation. Make a Difference.  
Week Five: House Redistricting Hearing 
The House has begun its work on the FY19 budget, the only bill that is required of the General Assembly to pass.   The amended budget is in the Senate, and it is anticipated that few changes will be made.   The adoption bill is on the governor's desk for signature, and the Mimosa Bill is getting lots of publicity.   All is looking good in GA.
This 1964 Congressional Districts Map shows election districts based upon population rather than geography. (On display inside a case at the State Capitol) 
On Tuesday, February 6th, the House Reapportionment Committee heard testimony in regards to HR 2, a constitutional amendment that creates operational standards for redistricting. Congressional, state and local districts must be re-drawn every 10 years to reflect population changes - and how those district maps are drawn can determine which political party has power.  According to the Atlanta Journal, 81 percent of incumbents for the Georgia General Assembly ran unopposed in the 2016 general election.   With a standing-room-only crowd and a room set aside for overflow, testimony was given by those leading and representing a number of advocacy organizations, such as Fair Districts Georgia, that have been closely following this issue.  
Elisabeth MacNamara with the League of Women Voters of Georgia spoke to the importance of establishing these standards early before the upcoming 2020 census and redistricting, while Sean Young from the ACLU outlined the potential to learn from redistricting standards in other states, highlighting the importance that this process be: nonpartisan, transparent, and enforceable. Ray Zoller, spoke about House Bill 515, tabled last year by the legislature, and the definition of contiguous territory.
Others who testified included State Representatives Pat Gardner, Mary Margaret Oliver, and David Dreyer; Helen Butler, Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda Executive Director; Sara Henderson, Common Cause Georgia Executive Director; and Ben Thorpe with the law firm of Bondurant, Mixon and Elmore, who emphasized the importance of the creation of nonpartisan operational standards.  The committee elected to hold off voting on the measure until May, citing concerns over the outcome of cases currently before the Supreme Court of the United States.  
League of Women Voters of Georgia
Legislative Day 
Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
8:30 a.m. - Noon
The program of speakers begins at 9:00 a.m. in
Room 307 of the Paul D. Coverdell Legislative Office Building 
18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30334.

2018 General Session Issue 5
February 12, 2018

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General Assembly 2018 Calendar  
The General Assembly met for four days this week, completing Day 18.  They will return Monday for another four-day week.
Day 19: February 12
Day 20: February 13 
Day 21: February 14 
Day 22: February 15
Check out the Session Schedule, set each year by resolution.  
Committee Meeting Schedules are set by each Chamber, and can be found below.
Quick Links 



LWVAF, Report from the Capitol, Week 5
Submitted by Sally Fitzgerald, Capitol Reporter

Session Cheat Sheet  
                       HB = House Bill                             SB = Senate Bill 
                       HR= House Resolution                  SR = Senate Resolution
                       NNS = Needs No Signature          CA = Constitutional Amendment                              
HB 217  Carson - 46     PASSED House     PASSED Senate     DV                      In Conference Committee
Income tax credits for expenses of attending a private school are increased to $68 million for 2018 and an additional 10% more for each year thereafter up to $100 million.  Any state credits not used can be carried forward.  The carried forward credits are allocated at 25% for C corporations, and the rest as first come first served.  Senate:  The state cap is $65 million with no escalator in future years.  The administrative fee is limited to 3%, not the 10% desired.
HB 655  Williams - 145     PASSED House     S.Education & Youth
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.  Sponsor wants students to know they can self-report sexual abuse.  Adults in the school, both employees and volunteers, are already mandatory reporters to a designated administrator in the school who passes on these reports to DFCS.
HB 728  Coleman - 97     PASSED House    
The Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation income tax credit is applicable beginning in the 2018 tax year with no sunset.  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 .  This bill removes the 3-year sunset.
SB 331  Henson - 41     PASSED  Senate     H.Higher Education
Lottery winners of more than $250,000 may choose to remain anonymous.  Four states currently allow total anonymity and several more offer partial confidentiality to winners.
HB 700  Belton - 112     PASSED House     S.Veterans, Military, & Homeland Security
The service cancelable 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.
SB 118  Unterman - 45     PASSED Senate      H.Insurance
Autism must be covered by insurance up to age 12, currently age 6.  Currently, GA has the lowest age for capping coverage in the nation.  Medicaid and the State Health Plan cover autism until age 21.
SB 328  Albers - 56     PASSED Senate     H.Ways & Means
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.
SR 711   Miller - 49     NNS     PASSED 
The Senate recognizes the handoff of the Super Bowl Host Committee from Minneapolis to Atlanta, the host of Super Bowl LIII in February 2019.
SB 362  Tippins - 37     DO PASS in S.Education & Youth
The State Board of Education shall establish an innovative assessment pilot program of 3 to 5 years to examine one or more alternative assessments (tests) and accountability systems aligned with state academic standards.  Up to 10 school districts may participate, selected by the SBOE.  Participating local school systems would be excused from using the state testing instruments.  SBOE will handle any necessary approvals or waivers needed from USED.  The SBOE and DOE will demonstrate comparability between innovative assessments chosen and state-wide assessments.  Effective 2018-19 school year.  DOE worked closely with author to develop this program as did some school districts.
HB 418  Benton - 31     DO PASS in H.Retirement
Educators who have taught overseas may purchase 2 years of creditable service in TRS as long as the educator pays all actuarial costs.
HB 722  Casas - 107     DO PASS in 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'.  Thirteen schools meet this criteria now.  While most of the schools are sectarian, the Student Finance Commission will only approve general education courses for payment through the dual enrollment program.   
HB 739  Williams - 168     DO PASS in H.Education
Renames the section that permits expedited teaching certification for spouses of military the Tracey Rainey Act.  She is the wife of a military general and has publicized far and wide the GA program for military spouses.
HB 740  Nix - 69     DO PASS in H.Education
Before K-3 students are to be given out of school suspension for the fifth or subsequent day in the school year, the student shall be enrolled in the Response to Intervention (RTI) a process to determine if there are any physical reasons for the misbehavior, such as vision, hearing, or speech-language issues.  RTI does not apply for possession of a weapon, drugs or other dangerous instruments or if the student's behavior endangered others. RTI will requires parental permission.  Special education students or those under Section 504 shall have a meeting convened to review appropriate supports for the student.  Statewide, 2600 students in this age group receive suspensions exceeding 4 days at a time when schools are trying to lay the foundations for literacy.  RTI is a process defined at the federal level for students who have disciplinary issues and a cause, if any, needs to be determined.
HB 759   Turner - 21     DO PASS in H.Education
The GA Special Needs Scholarship shall not require a prior year attendance at a public school if the parent is on active duty military or the student has previously qualified for the scholarship.  If the parent goes off active duty, the student does not have to change schools and the scholarship-voucher will continue to pay for any private school tuition.
HB 763  Nix - 69     DO PASS in H.Education
Improvement in school climate shall become a focus of the student attendance committee for each school system.  Student discipline data is to be included in the annual report to the state board of education.
HB 781  Tanner - 9     DO PASS in H.Education
The ESPLOST may be used for annual maintenance and operations up to 50% of the projected revenues.  The sales tax portion on motor fuel for education purposes shall not be imposed on amounts over $3 per gallon.   Enabling legislation for HR 992.  Currently, ESPLOST funds may be used only for capital projects.  Many school systems need additional funds for their annual budgets and the state QBE funding still has an austerity cut of $167 million/year.  This provides some flexibility to use the sales tax money to offset part of the annual budget for the duration of the ESPLOST, IF it is listed in the ballot referendum which enabled the collection of the sales tax.
HR 898  Coleman - 97     DO PASS in H.Education
Creates a 15 member Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process.  Members include 3 legislators from each chamber, the state school superintendent, the state board of education chair, the state Charter School Commission chair, the Office of Student Achievement director, the chancellor of the University System, and five appointees of the governor.  The Committee will structure new processes in evaluating charter schools. The group is to study the resources and structure needed, 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.  Called for in legislation passed last year.  Current accreditation looks at local school governance but not academics.
HR 992  Tanner - 9     DO PASS in H.Education
CA to allow ESPLOST funds to be used for school district annual operating budgets, known as maintenance and operations expenses, up to 50% as long as the use is listed on the referendum for the ESPLOST.  Enabling legislation is HB 781.  Currently, ESPLOST funds may be used only for capital projects or retirement of debt for capital expenditures.
SB 82  Jackson - 2     DO PASS in S.Higher Education
Creates a needs-based HOPE scholarship and grant for students in families with less than $75,000 annual income.  This is in addition to a HOPE scholarship or grant and would be enough to cover all of the tuition.
SB 354  Jackson-2     DO PASS in S.Higher Education
Active duty service members shall be classified as in-state for tuition purposes at the Technical College System of GA.
HB 713  Chandler - 102     DO PASS in H.Higher Education
Student eligibility for HOPE Zell Miller 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.
HB 302  Nix  - 69     DO PASS in H.Ways & Means
For entities that levy a property tax (ad valorem) and which keep the millage the same even as the tax assessments increase, will no longer have to advertise the millage rate as a tax increase.  The required notice wording is changed to state the amount of the tax levy and whether it will result in increased dollars to the entity.
HB 793  LaRiccia - 169     DO PASS in H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption for an aquarium is extended to 2022 and requires an annual report to the Department of Revenue who will share it with the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees.  The report is to include the total number of visitors admitted, average monthly number of full time employees, and total amount of exempt purchases made in the prior year.  GA Aquarium in Atlanta?
HB 654  Beskin - 54     DO PASS in H.Judiciary
Reintroduction of the recommendations of the Georgia Child Support Commission which were developed over three years.  A similar bill has passed in 2018 and is on the governor's desk for signature.  It has elements in it that were not in the recommendations.  This is a Plan B.
HB 668  Price - 48     DO PASS in H.Judiciary
Outlines 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.
HR 943  Morris - 2     DO PASS in H.Interstate Cooperation
Creates the 6 member Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission., 3 legislators from each chamber will be chosen for the Commission.  The boundary is to lie at the 35th parallel, north of the southernmost bank of the Tennessee River.  A flawed survey of 1818 erroneously marked the 35th parallel south of its actual location and the survey was never accepted by Georgia.  Several attempts have been made to adjust the borders to the true location of the 35th parallel but none have been successful.  Georgia wants the 35th parallel accurately defined so it can access water from the Tennessee River.
SB 315  Thompson - 14     DO PASS in S.Public Safety
Unauthorized computer access is defined as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
HB 657  Petrea - 166     DO PASS in H.Public Safety & Homeland Security    
Knowingly and intentionally providing a gun to a person on probation or a felony first offender is a felony.  Providers are not required to ask if the person receiving the gun is a felon.
HB 352  Martin - 49     DO PASS in H.Ways & Means
Annual motor vehicle license fees shall not be charged to low-speed vehicles or electric powered personal transportation vehicles (golf carts).  Currently, alternative fuel vehicles are exempt and would remain so.  They are powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, or liquefied petroleum gas.
HB 820  Beskin - 54     H.Ways & Means
Establishes the procedure to be used by a county when their tax digest is not approved.  All signers are from Fulton County which encountered little guidance when the 2017 tax digest was rejected by DOR.
HB 824  Mosby - 83     H.Ways & Means
Allows state income tax filers to used itemized deductions for state returns even if the federal return for those taxpayers used the standard deduction.  Currently, the methods used for offsets to income must be identical between federal and state tax returns.
SB 390  Jackson - 2     S.Judiciary
Public assemblies during a St. Patrick's Day holiday shall be unauthorized locations for carrying a weapon or long gun.  Author is from Savannah with one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the country.
SR 715  Jackson - 2     S.Transportation
HR 1054  Stephens - 164     H.Government Affairs
Honors Juliette Gordon Low , the founder of the Girl Scouts program, and directs the Department of Transportation to rename the bridge between Savannah and Hutchison Island the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge. 


League of Women Voters of Georgia