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 Six: Rules and Reconsideration 
As it gets closer to Crossover Day, (Day 28) on Feb. 28, the floor calendars are getting longer as bills are being pushed to get a vote.  By Day 26, there will be no time left in the day for committee work.  Most of the bills that will eventually cross over to the other chamber have already been heard in committee and are in the Rules Committee to get that precious debate opportunity.
LWVGA Legislative Day at the Capitol on February 13th was informative for league members and the many legislators that we shared our concerns with.  
A few bills have failed.  Usually, the author will ask for Reconsideration, which is basically another vote to determine if the bill should be voted on again.  That scenario happened this week for a half dozen nearly identical bills for Fulton County to limit the increase in assessed valuation for five cities and the county school district to either 3% or the rate of CPI increase, whichever is lower.  To make the motion to reconsider, one must have voted on the affirmative side of the issue. If Reconsideration passes, the bill goes back to the Rules Committee for another slot on the floor calendar.

Committee Meeting Briefs...
Committee Meetings are where much of the work of the legislature is done before a bill becomes law.  Learn more about this part of the process and the different types of committees at  Committee Meetings are available for live viewing.  Thank you to our legislative intern for providing reports of some of the committee meetings he has attended.  

Submitted by Caleb Head, LWVGA Legislative Intern 

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Sen. Mackoon 29th presented SB 31 to the committee. SB 31 sets certain requirements for membership on the Department of Community Health board. The committee passed SB 31 unanimously. The committee then heard the Georgia Trauma Commission Report by Chairman, Dr. Dennis Ashley. The report highlighted the launch of the Commission's statewide "Stop the Bleed" campaign. The Commission presented other relevant data.
Senate Higher Education Committee
The committee heard HB 432 a carryover bill that passed unanimously. The committee then heard SB 331 which will allow state lottery winners to remain anonymous. SB 331 passed through committee. Finally the committee heard SB 215 that seeks to "freeze" tuition for college freshman.
2018 General Session
Issue 6
February 20, 2018

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General Assembly 2018 Calendar  
This week the General Assembly met for four days, completing Day 22.   It will return Tuesday after the holiday to meet again for four days.
Day 23: February 20
Day 24: February 21 
Day 25: February 22 
Day 26: February 23
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 6
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                      TGFS = To Governor for Signature
DV = Differing Versions                             BOLD Bill Number = final passage
CA = Constitutional Amendment*
* Requires a 2/3s vote in each chamber and a majority      
HB 683  Ralston - 7     PASSED House     PASSED Senate     DV
F2018A Budget.  The current year budget being 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 recent hurricanes.
  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 DOEducation for QBE student increases not part of projected enrollment in        original budget
  15 million in DOEducation to buy 194 local school buses @ $77,000 each with cash, not        bonds as in the past.  House: I ncreases to $15.5 million for 200 buses. S enate:  Adds         $500,000 more for buses.  Bus life is about 12 years - 1300+ school  buses in    
        the state are older than this.
    3 million in Forestry Commission to combat wildfires.
  15 million in 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.
SB 107  Millar - 40     PASSED Senate
Additional campaign disclosure reports are to be filed on May 10, but are no longer required on December 31.
SB 31  McKoon - 29     PASSED Senate     H.Health & Human Services    
The Department of Community Health board shall have two active members of the state health benefit plan, one a member of Employees Retirement System and one from Teachers Retirement System.  Of those two, one shall be active and one shall be a retired member.  Creates the 12 member State Health Benefit Plan Customer Advisory Council to advise the Commissioner of Community Health.  Each must be a member of the state health benefit plan, either active or retired.
SB 370  Wilkinson - 50     PASSED Senate     H.Health & Human Services    
Medicaid recipients who die shall have the first $25,000 of their estate waived from recapture by Medicaid.  Currently, if the estate is valued under $25,000, there is no recapture, but if it is above $25,000, Medicaid takes the first $25,000.  Generally, this is the home, as eligibility for Medicaid limits other assets to $2000.
HB 678  Smith - 134     PASSED House     S.Health & Human Services     
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 158  Powell - 171     PASSED House     
CA to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate for 10 years or less revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed.  Such funds would not lapse and would not be available for any other purpose except in case of a financial emergency.  Such emergency would require a 2/3 vote of each chamber to divert the funds for up to two years, and could only be done twice in 10 years.
HB 749  Blackman - 146     PASSED House      S.Finance
Excludable from income taxable net income is any income received by a surviving family member, regardless of age, of a deceased veteran when such income is based on the veteran's service record.  GA is just one of 9 states that don't exclude military retirement pay.  It's treated much like the Social Security exemption, must be 62 if disabled or 65 to get the exemption.
SB 362  Tippins - 37     PASSED Senate    
The State Board of Education (SBE) 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, and each would be excused from using the state testing instruments.  SBE will handle any necessary approvals or waivers needed from the US Department of Education .   SBE and the US Department of Education 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 739  Williams - 168     PASSED House     S.Education & Youth
Renames the law section that permits expedited certification for military spouses 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     PASSED House     S.Education & Youth
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 RTI, Response to Intervention, process to determine if there are any physical reasons for the misbehavior, such as vision, hearing, or speech-language issues.  Does not apply for 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.  Statewide, 2600 students in this age group receive suspensions exceeding 4 days at a time when the 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 763  Nix - 69     PASSED House     S.Education & Youth
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.
HR 898  Coleman - 97     PASSED House     S.Education & Youth
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, 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 to include a local board of education member, a local school superintendent, a principal, a teacher, and a parent.  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.
SB 348  Harper - 7     PASSED Senate     H.Higher Education
Gives arrest powers to POST certified Technical College System of GA campus police in the manner that USG campus police have it.
HB 654  Beskin - 54     PASSED House     S.Judiciary
Reintroduction of the recommendations of the Georgia Child Support Commission which were developed over three years.  A similar bill  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     PASSED House     S.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.
SB 315  Thompson - 14     PASSED Senate      H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Unauthorized computer access is defined as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.  GA is one of three states which has no violation for unauthorized access.  A hack of Kennesaw University data was the genesis of this bill.
HB 657  Petrea - 166     PASSED House    
Knowingly and intentionally providing a gun to a person on probation or as a felony first offender is a felony.  Sellers are not required to check if the person receiving the gun is a felon.
SB 378  Albers - 56     PASSED Senate     H.Ways & Means
Legislative proposals and amendments thereto having a fiscal impact shall require an economic analysis issued by the state auditor prior to consideration and shall state the fiscal impact for 10 years.  This has been needed for a very long time.
SB 17  Unterman - 45     PASSED Senate      H.Regulated Industries
The Brunch or Mimosa Bill.  Sunday alcohol sales may begin at 11 a.m. in private establishments and wineries if the local governing authority adopts a resolution or ordinance.  Government owned facilities such as GA World Congress Center already have this privilege.  Currently, private establishments may not serve alcohol until 12:30 on Sunday.  There are about 4000 such establishments in the state.
HB 190  Hanson - 80     PASSED House     S.Judiciary
Updates and clarifies ante nuptial agreements, prenups.  Must be signed by both parties with two witnesses, one of which is a notary.  Currently, GA doesn't require that these contracts be written and witnessed.
SR 717   Seay - 34     NNS     PASSED
The Senate recognized Senator Nan Orrock for her induction into the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum Walk of Fame.  Nan Orrock represents part of Atlanta and the Tri Cities area south of Atlanta.
HR 943  Morris - 2     PASSED House     S.Rules
Creates the 6 member Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission, 3 legislators from each chamber.  The boundary is to lie at the 35th parallel, north of the southernmost bank of the Tennessee River.  A flawed survey of 1818 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 366  Gooch - 51     PASSED Senate
Wage and compensation studies are to be done by every county and city for employees of the sheriff and law enforcement agencies.  The studies are to be repeated every 5 years and submitted to the Department of Community Affairs.  A grant program is created to provide to local governments funds, if appropriated, to increase the wages of such law enforcement employees. 
HB 381  Corbett - 174     PASSED House    
Vacant mobile homes can be classified as derelict or intact for purposes of disposal or creation of liens by the local authority governing the land on which it is located.  The owner of the land can have the vacant mobile home removed if derelict, or the owner of the mobile home will have a lien imposed for costs to make the home habitable.
HB 757  Powell - 32     PASSED House      S.Regulated Industries & Utilities
County and city governments may continue to require a certificate of public necessity and convenience for taxi cabs.  Any Department of Public Safety regulation or requirement shall be additional.  If a certificate or medallion is required by local government to operate, it is also a requirement of state law.  Operators must display their ID card for customers to see.  It must be no older than 1 year.  A metering device may be an app on a smart phone and a local government cannot ban such 'soft' taximeters.  Age of vehicles shall be 8 years or less and local governments cannot require any newer vehicles.
HB 79  Pezold - 133     PASSED House    S.Public Safety
Data captured by an automated license plate recognition system or any other source must be destroyed after 30 months and can only be accessed for law enforcement and judicial purposes.  Data is not available for freedom of information.
HB 161  Price - 48     DO PASS in H.Health & Human Services
Exempts persons employed by or are agents of a harm reduction organization from laws prohibiting distribution of hypodermic syringes or needles.  A harm reduction organization works to reduce the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases among intravenous drug users.  Pharmacists and their interns and externs are already exempted. There are 38 states that have some sort of needle exchange service.  It slows down the transmission of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, both of which can be costly to treat.
HR 888  Spencer - 180     DO PASS in H.Defense & Veterans Affairs
Creates a Joint Committee on Converting Closed Hospitals to Veterans Homes.
SB 235  James - 35     DO PASS in S.Education & Youth
Youth football players are urged to wear a helmet with at least a four star rating on the Virginia Tech Helmet Rating scale.
HB 273  Douglas - 78     PASSED House    DO PASS in S.Education & Youth     DV
There shall be an average of 30 minutes daily of physical activity for students in K-5, both structured and unstructured.  Physical Education will be counted in this time.  Senate: Removes mandate.  Adds:  Not on inclement or special programming days.
HR 354  Kendrick - 93     DO PASS in H.Education
Urges Department of Education and Department of Behavioral Health and mental health experts to develop and provide to local school systems a list of training materials for awareness of mental health issues and behavioral and learning disabilities.  One in ten children has serious mental health issues, and 44% of those drop out of school.

HB 743  Clark - 98     DO PASS in H.Education
Students participating in interscholastic sports in grades 9-12 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.
HB 762  Cantrell - 22     DO PASS in H.Education
Adds age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education for K-9 students to the existing sex education requirement.  Thirty-one states have implemented this curriculum.  There is a curriculum for sex education available with federal funding.
HB 787  Hilton - 95     DO PASS in H.Education
State charter schools may be members of RESAs, Regional Education Service Agencies, and utilize any services provided to membership.  Changes the state charter school funding formula to be based on a state-wide average, currently an average of the 5 lowest wealthy school systems.  A fiscal note indicates the cost of changing the funding basis will cost $17 million in the first year.  State charter schools will get forward funding for expected enrollment, but traditional schools must wait until the midterm budget to get paid for the number of students who have enrolled over the previous year.  There are 90,000 students enrolled in state charter schools; traditional schools have 1.7 million.
HB 852  Smith - 41     DO PASS in H.Education
Allows school systems to permit a student to finish a school year at the school enrolled if more than half the school year has elapsed even if the student's residence changes, as long as student is still living within the school system.  Parent will be responsible for transportation of the student.  Students with chronic disciplinary problems are excluded from this privilege.  Currently, many school systems allow similar options, such as being allowed to finish the semester.
HB 853  Dempsey - 13     DO PASS in H.Education
No student placed in a psychiatric residential treatment facility by the parent pursuant to a physician's order can be charged tuition.
HR 1017  Corbett - 104     NNS     DO PASS in H.Education
Encourages all schools and local and state education agencies to recognize that dyslexia must be addressed because it has a profound effect on education of the person who has it.
HB 664  Teasley - 37   DO PASS in 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.
SB 319  Albers - 56     DO PASS in 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.
HB 719  Scott - 76     DO PASS in H.Defense & Veterans Affairs
Requires housing authorities to give preference to homeless veterans.
HB 767  Werkheiser - 157     PASSED House     DO PASS in S.Industry & Labor
An applicant for unemployment insurance benefits filing electronically must prove that each is a citizen of the U.S.  Those filing in person already have to prove citizenship.
HB 419  Silcox - 52     PASSED House     DO PASS in S.Public Safety     DV
Counties and cities can further regulate fireworks between 10 a.m. and midnight for noise.  Currently, local governments may not subject anyone to noise ordinances until 9 p.m.
HB 717  Kelley - 16     DO PASS in H.Transportation
Consumer protection laws for motor vehicles shall also apply to autonomous motor vehicles.
HB 903  Maxwell - 17      H.Retirement
TRS members who became members after July 1, 1993 will receive no post-retirement COLA benefit unless the employer contribution for the previous fiscal year was under $150 million and the employee contribution rate is 6%.  Currently, the employer rate is about 20% and has grown annually in recent years.  The smallest school systems which are most likely to have lower teacher salaries may fall beneath the $150 million exception.  All teachers currently contribute 6%.  Sponsor states that the cost to the state, which pays the employer portion, is growing continuously, and it is necessary to slow down this growth.  Post- retirement COLA benefits are almost unheard of in non- governmental pensions, when pensions exist.

League of Women Voters of Georgia