This past week the General Assembly met for three days, completing Days 5 through 7 of the 40 legislative days allowed. The Senate did not meet on 'Snow' day, and the House met only briefly but long enough to have it count. They take a long 5-day weekend for the Super Bowl and return on Tuesday for a four day week. There will be another schedule adopted by Friday for future legislative days.
Election bills are somewhat more visible this year, after our very close gubernatorial election last November. Some are very concerned about the candidate for governor being the chief election official (i.e. the Secretary of State) for that election. There is also an increasing resistance to purging the voter registration files. Expect lots of discussion on these issues.
Purging the voter registration files is allowed by both federal and state law. People who die, move out of state, are serving a sentence for a felony, or judged incompetent, are prohibited from casting a vote in GA. The objection to purging has been primarily for those who are purged for a defined period of inactivity at the polls. In GA, if a voter does not vote in any election for two consecutive general elections which are held every two years, the county voter registration office is required to try to contact that person to verify their address. If there is no response for three additional years, the voter's registration can be purged.
Each report of the Legislative Newsletter is posted at
, and most if not all of it is also part of the Under the Gold Dome legislative newsletter of the LWV of Georgia and posted at www.lwvga.org.
EDUCATION - PREK - 12
SB 25 Health - 31 DO PASS in S.Government Oversight
Clarifies when a motor vehicle must stop for a school bus approaching from the opposite direction.
GOVERNMENT - GENERAL
HB 23 Houston - 170 DO PASS in H.Economic Development & Tourism
Authorizes electric membership corporations to offer broadband services. Prohibits cross-subsidization between the corporation's broadband and natural gas services or electric services. An effort to bring broadband to rural GA.
HB 22 Houston - 170 DO PASS in H.Economic Development & Tourism
Authorizes telephone cooperatives and their broadband affiliates to provide broadband services. An effort to bring broadband to rural GA.
HB 79 Gilliard - 162 H.Juvenile Justice
Blind persons shall not be discriminated against by the courts, Department of Human Services, or a child-placing agency in matters relating to child custody, guardianship, foster care, visitation, placement, or adoption. The purpose is to prevent children being removed from blind parents or caregivers.
HB 80 Werkheiser - 157 H.Judiciary
To be eligible for food stamps, one must cooperate with child support enforcement in making child support payments.
EDUCATION - PREK - 12
HB 32 Tanner - 9 H.Education
Renames 'turnaround coach' to 'transformation specialist'. Changes thrust of training to school district level rather than individual schools. Adds 'creating prototypes of best practices' to the list of duties of Chief Turnaround Officer. Creates the GA Turnaround collaborative to advise the Chief Turnaround Officer, composed of several agency heads and a few legislators. Teachers in turnaround schools may get a $7500 stipend, 2/3 paid by the state and the rest by the local school system, if each agrees to work 3 years in the school and to teach curricula designated by the Chief Turnaround Officer. The stipend may be converted to a permanent salary step after the three years of the Turnaround Officer and State Board of Education approval.
HB 40 Scott = 76 H.Education
Requires local school systems to conduct dyslexia screenings every year in K-2 and as recommended by the teacher in grades 3-12. Requires the State School Superintendent to employ a dyslexia consultant. In recent years the legislature has refrained from 'requiring' and instead recommends, asks, or incentivizes the agency or school district to act.
SB 40 Jackson - 2 S.Judiciary
Bans all sexual contact between an employee or a volunteer in a school and an enrolled student.
HB 53 Carpenter - 4 H.Education
A local school system cannot discriminate against a student or parent based on religious views or expression. Requires the school district to allow students free expression of their religious viewpoint in homework, artwork, and other assignments. Students in public schools may pray or engage in religious activities during the school day, before and after. Religious groups are to be given same access to school facilities as other groups and may wear clothing and jewelry displaying religious symbols or messages. The local school district shall adopt a policy providing student speakers at all school events, especially graduation. The proposal includes a sample policy for adoption by school districts. Permits employees the same freedoms and may sponsor religious groups assisting them in planning meetings and activities, be present for student led religious expression. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on these very issues and their directions cannot be trumped by state law.
HB 59 Belton - 112 H.Education
Students in military families may enroll in a school based on military orders of the parent, rather than after establishment of residency.
HB 68 Carson - 46 H.Education
No organization which operates, owns, is affiliated with, or a subsidiary of an accrediting organization for K-12 schools can be a student scholarship organization.
HB 69 Turner - 21 H.Education
A student is eligible for a special needs scholarship if the student was previously qualified. This does not allow a student to be remedied from a special education.
HB 75 Ehrhart - 36 H.Public Safety & Homeland Security
Drivers have to stop for a school bus when the roadway is divided by a barrier or grass way, not with just a turn lane.
HB 78 Clark - 98 H.Education
High school students participating in interscholastic athletic activities are to be informed about sudden cardiac arrest. Coaches are to review such guidelines annually.
HB 83 Douglas - 78 H.Education
Students in grades K-5 shall be given 30 minutes average of recess daily preferably outdoors except on days when they receive physical education or structured activity time. Local boards of education shall adopt a policy to ensure that recess is safe and scheduled to provide a break in academic learning and shall not be withheld as punishment.
HB 86 Benton - 31 H.Education
Teachers may file a complaint regarding personnel performance evaluation ratings and any procedural deficiencies of the local board of education or charter school which does the evaluation.
HB 87 Clark - 98 H.Education
Home study students may participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities in the student's resident public school system. The student's academic progress shall be attested to by the parent. Bans athletic associations from prohibiting such students' participation. Fees may be charged on the same basis as for enrolled student. Currently, academic standing is attested to by faculty of the school. Athletic associations typically require
member schools to allow only full-time enrolled students to participate in an event or activity that represents that school. Home school parents feel their student is eliminated for consideration of sports scholarships because of inability to play on a team. The decision to home school was made by the parent, not the public school or school system.
EDUCATION - POSTSECONDARY
HB 16 Scott - 76 H.Higher Education
Excludes foster care assistance from income for financial aid for homeless and foster youth applicants and students in the university system and the technical colleges.
HB 36 Trammell - 132 H.Higher Education
Creates a HOPE tuition-free grant for students seeking certification or diplomas in a Technical College institution in a high demand field as determined by TCSG. If one already has a baccalaureate degree, one is not eligible. Any student is limited to 127 semester hours of HOPE of any type.
HB 42 Turner - 21 H.Higher Education
A borrower in default for an educational loan through the GA Higher Education Assistance Corporation or a federal agency cannot have a license suspended or be refused to have one issued or renewed.
HB 60 Belton - 112 H.Higher Education
Dependent children of active duty military stationed in GA or at time of enrollment shall be classified as in-state for tuition purposes by the University System of GA and the Technical College System of GA.
ELECTIONS & ETHICS
HR 8 Scott - 76 H.Government Affairs
CA for currently elected officials shall have their offices declared vacant when they qualify to run for another state or local office.
SB 11 Jones- 22 S.Judiciary
Convictions for offenses involving the purchase, possession, or control of certain controlled substances shall not prevent persons from registering, remaining registered, or voting. Such controlled substances are those on Schedule I or narcotics on Schedule II.
SB 30 Kirkpatrick - 32 S.Ethics
Uniformed and Overseas voters shall be empowered to return their absentee ballot by fax or email as well as regular mail. The State Election Board shall adopt rules or regulation by Jan 1, 2020.
SR 52 Parent - 42 S.Reapportionment & Redistricting
CA to require that legislative and congressional reapportionment be done by an independent non-partisan commission of 14 persons, five from each legislative chamber and four non-partisan persons. The Senate shall be between 30 and 56 members and the House between 120 and 180 members. The criteria for drawing districts are itemized and the definition of non-partisan member is defined. This language addition is very specific, eliminating much of the need for enabling legislation.
HB 57 Kendrick - 93 H.Government Affairs
Absentee ballots shall be mailed to each registered voter between the 45 and 49th day before an election or primary. Persons registering to vote after the first mailing will be sent a ballot upon approval of the registration. If a voter chooses to vote in person, the voter shall request cancellation of the absentee ballot. Voters wishing to vote in person during early voting or on election day can cancel their absentee vote if it has not yet been received by the county election department. Deletes the provision that a ballot can be delivered to a person in the hospital on election day. This is currently done in several states where the voters register by party, which GA does not do. For a general election, a referendum, or a special election where political party is not a factor, this could be done. For a primary, the county elections departments do not know which ballot to send. Applying for an absentee ballot is eliminated.
HB 71 Turner - 21 H.Judiciary
Within 30 days of an election, primary, or referendum, any provision of a homeowner association or local ordinance that bans 3 or fewer signs that each does not exceed 6 square feet shall be void and unenforceable.
GOVERNMENT - GENERAL
SB 6 Kirkpatrick - 32 S.Public Safety
Bans the use of drones to deliver or attempt to deliver contraband to any state or county correctional facility. Drones cannot be used to photograph any place of incarceration without permission. Violation is a felony.
HB 15 Scott - 76 H.Government Affairs
Housing providers must grant preference for homeless veterans who are former members of the US armed forces or GA's National Guard. Honorable discharge is not specified. Homelessness includes living out of a motor vehicle, in short term shelters, in a place not meant for human habitation, etc.
GOVERNMENT - COUNTIES AND CITIES
HB 34 Burnough - 77 H.Government Affairs
Membership on development authority boards shall be residents o
f licensed business owners who pay property taxes within the city or county of the authority. Directors may be removed for cause such as neglect of duties, incompetence, failure to meet residency requirements, unethical or dishonorable conduct likely to deceive, defrauding or harming the public, county or city. A hearing is required. Some reasons for removal are subjective and not defined in this proposal.
HB 76 Stephens - 164 H.Regulated Industries
Local counties and cities may regulate alcohol licenses as to distance that is less but not more restrictive than those in state law.
GOVERNMENT - COURTS AND CRIMES
SB 1 Parent - 42 S.Judiciary
The penalty for hit and run accidents without malice aforethought which result in serious injury shall be guilty of a felony and imprisonment for 1-10 years.
HB 17 Scott - 76 H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Smoking in a vehicle, whether moving or parked, with a child under age 13 shall be a misdemeanor.
SB 29 Jones - 22 S.Special Judiciary
A sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other person from the sheriff's office shall have the same sovereign immunity as other local government employees and agents for motor vehicle claims.
SB 31 Rhett - 33 S.Special Judiciary
Law enforcement officers will not be liable for any action done while performing any duty at the scene of an emergency while rescuing a person or pet out of a locked vehicle when same is in danger. Clarifies existing code.
SB 32 Kirkpatrick - 32 S.Special Judiciary
Anyone who in good faith rescues or attempts to rescue a person or an animal from a locked motor vehicle is not liable for civil damages.
SB 34 Jones - 10 S.Judiciary
A person diagnosed with a disability within the last 10 years, currently 5 years, must be evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist before being issued a license to carry. All transfers or purchase of firearms can only be made by those with no disability during the last 10 years unless evaluated.
SB 35 Jones - 10 S.Judiciary
Sex offenders cannot reside within 2000 feet of their victims or the immediate family members of the victim, and may not loiter near those residences. If the victim or an immediate family member moves within 2000 feet of where the sex offender lives, the sex offender is not guilty of this offense.
SB 39 Jackson - 2 S.Public Safety
Local law enforcement agencies shall have the option to destroy or sell firearms confiscated from guilty criminals. If sold, it shall be only to licensed dealers, collectors, importers, or manufacturers.
HB 43 Setzler - 35 H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Persons in authority over K-12 students, persons detained or on probation or parole, patients in hospitals, disabled, or persons in therapy, and who engage a person in sexual contact or sexually explicit conduct is guilty of sexual assault in the second degree and can be punished for 1-5 years and up to $25,000 for the first offense. A second offense will get 1-25 years imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine.
HB 77 Clark - 98 H.Judiciary Non-Civil
Fraud with regard to public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid of more than $1500 shall be a felony with imprisonment of 1-5 years.
HB 88 Thomas - 56 H.Judiciary Non-Civil
A hit and run when serious injury is incurred shall be a felony, guilty of serious injury by vehicle.
GOVERNMENT - CAPITOL AND GROUNDS
SB 4 Jordan - 6 S.State Institutions & Property
A private lactation room shall be provided in either the Capitol or Legislative Office Building for use by the public. The room must insure the privacy of the occupant and have an electrical outlet.
GOVERNMENT - EMPLOYMENT
SB 27 Jones - 10 S.Insurance & Labor
Federal workers, furloughed after Dec. 22, 2018, who provide services without pay shall be considered 'unemployed' and shall be eligible for unemployment compensation.
HB 33 Lumsden - 12 H.Public Safety & Homeland Security
Active duty service members located out of state shall have 6 months after discharge from active duty or from reassignment to this state to renew their gun carry license. Must carry military orders or written verification by commanding officer as to his/her service. One wonders why six months for this, when they must get their drivers license renewed within 30 days.
SB 33 Jones - 10 S.Public Safety
Weapons cannot be carried in any government building. Currently, licensed to carry persons can enter the building and if they immediately exit, they are not guilty of an infraction.
HB 55 Bruce - 61 H.Public Safety & Homeland Security
Bans printing, production, or possession of firearms produced on a 3-D printer.
HB 58 Burnough - 77 H.Public Safety & Homeland Security
Persons convicted of crimes of family violence, simple battery, or battery, may not receive, possess, or transport firearms.
HB 74 Turner - 21 H.Public Safety & Homeland Security
Ride share services (Uber, Lyft, etc.) cannot prohibit drivers from carrying weapons or have them in the vehicle if they are licensed to carry.
SB 28 Jackson - 2 S.Health & Human Services
Copayments, coinsurance, or office visit charges for physical therapists, occupational therapists, or chiropractors shall not exceed that for a doctor or osteopath.
SB 36 Henson - 41 S.Health & Human Services
Authorizes appropriations for Medicaid expansion and getting federal funds. The appropriation authorization is not required if the feds do not provide at least 90% of the funding.
HB 37 Trammell - 132 H.Appropriations
Authorizes state appropriations for Medicaid expansion. This doesn't appropriate money, but allows it to be so if agreed to.
HB 84 Smith - 134 H.Insurance
Health care providers shall provide information to patients of the health care plans with which it has contracts. If there is no contract with the health plan of a patient or potential patient, the provider shall provide the estimated cost of services prior to its delivery, the name of other providers who may be servicing that patient, and other information relating to that patients care that can help that patient decide if such care should be given.
HB 89 Martin - 49 H.Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care
Integrated ambulatory surgery centers shall be exempt from certificate of need requirements. A center is a single neuromuscular orthopedic sports medical complex operated with an integrated athletic training and medical educational facility for athletes, ancillary services such as physical therapy and diagnostic imaging, medical research activities and physician training and education for sports medicine with a campus of 400,000 square feet. The Falcons Sports Medical Center, perhaps?
REVENUE & TAXATION
HR 7 Scott - 76 H.Appropriations
CA to use the proceeds of one or more lottery games to benefit homeless military veterans. Enabling legislation is HB 14.
HB 14 Scott - 76 H.Appropriations
Lottery proceeds may be used for assistance to homeless veterans who have served on active duty or with the National Guard and have been honorably discharged. Would be administered like the lottery funds for education, with a separate accounting. Enabling legislation for HR 7.
HB 35 Watson - 172 H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption to any nonprofit which provides poultry diagnostic and disease monitoring services.
HB 41 Dickerson - 113 H.Ways & Means
An income tax credit for film, gaming, video, or digital production in GA to those employing veterans with two years of active duty and an honorable discharge. The credit is 5% of the salary up to $100,000.
HB 48 Gilliard - 162 H.Ways & Means
A tax exemption for state motor fuel and compressed natural gas in public mass transit vehicles owned by a public transportation system for which fares are routinely charged, for use in vehicles owned by a public campus transportation system that has free transfer of passengers to and from the public transportation system in the jurisdiction in which the campus is location, and for public school buses owned by local school systems for the transportation of students. Proposed enactment of a previously repealed provision.
HB 65 Lumsden - 12 H.Ways & Means
County SPLOST funds may be used for cloud-based software or software services to administer a government function of a county or city provided payments will end prior to the period the SPLOST collections end.
HB 85 Houston - 170 H.Ways & Means
A sales tax exemption to organ procurement organizations. An annual report to Department of Community Health must be submitted indicating the number of donors and transplants during the previous fiscal year.
TRANSPORTATION & DRIVING
SR 24 Beach - 21 NNS S.Transportation
The Senate asks that 10 cents of the 18.4 cents of federal motor fuel tax be kept in the state and not sent to Washington and be used for projects within the state. Claims the projects could be streamlined and constructed faster than currently done when money has to be asked for from the federal fund.
HB 56 Silcox - 52 H.Motor Vehicles
A distinctive logo or emblem shall be designated for the license plates of an alternative fueled vehicle owned by any manufacturer, distributor, or manufacturer headquarters. Vehicles with this license plate can use the HOV and other preferential use lanes.
It is not specified that drivers of such vehicles would still need two or more persons in the vehicle to use HOV lanes.
Sally FitzGerald, Capitol Observer
League of Women Voters - Atlanta/Fulton
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