Gold Dome Update 

Highlights from the House 

Week Eight

Last week was productive as we completed week eight under the Gold Dome. The days have grown significantly longer as we work to meet upcoming deadlines. Our House chamber successfully passed a number of measures, now under consideration in the Senate. 


Did you know that one in three Georgian’s suffers from a mental health issue? In recent years we have been working to ensure that every citizen has access to quality mental health care. Last session, we championed the Mental Health Parity Act to reform our delivery system and improve client outcomes. Having a solid foundation through this act allows us to expand our efforts and such is the case through the passage of House Bill 520. Details of the bill are as follows:

  • Develops a definition of “severe mental illness” so that data is consistent and accurate across law enforcement agencies
  • Requests a “bed study” to determine the amount of mental health beds available as well as how many are needed to meet the needs of a growing population
  • Requests a study to determine mental health workforce and identify recruitment and retainment challenges
  • Requests for a study to be conducted to examine licensing requirements of behavioral health experts in Georgia compared to surrounding states to identify any roadblocks to certifying metal health professionals
  • Expands student loan cancelation program for mental health professionals to address workforce shortage


Our heroic Veterans, suffering mental health issues, will find relief through House Bill 414, which significantly expands Veteran mental healthcare options. If passed into law, this bill would create the Veterans Mental Health Services Program. The program would serve as a competitive grant program to improve access to mental health services for service members, veterans and their family members. Administered by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities these grants are eligible to non-profit community behavioral health programs that demonstrate their ability to provide high-quality services to veterans and their families. The grant program would also prioritize healthcare applicants located within 50 miles of a military base and have already made capital investments into veteran services.

Public and private schools will be allowed to keep lifesaving medications on hand for students who have diabetes through House Bill 440. As severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment, this bill significantly lessens the chance of incident by allowing schools to stock and administer glucagon for students who have a diabetic emergency at school. Glucagon is a medication used to treat diabetics suffering severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Further details of the bill are as follows:

  • Allows prescribers, such as physicians and nurse practitioners, to provide standing orders or prescriptions for ready-to-use glucagon to schools so that this medication can be rapidly administered to students in an emergency.
  • Allows a school to work directly with glucagon manufacturers or third-party suppliers to obtain the products for free or at fair market or reduced prices.


Public Safety

Last week brought the historic passage of bipartisan legislation which aims to protect Georgia’s renters and landlords. This bill works to ensure that rental properties are kept in a safe and healthy condition. Stipulations of the bill are as follows:

  • Requires landlords to provide rental homes that are “fit for human habitation”
  • Forbids turning off air conditioning during eviction process
  • Increases protections for tenants facing eviction due to late rent payments by allowing a three-business day period for tenants to pay rent before eviction process begins
  • Caps security deposits on rentals

In hopes justice is served for Georgia families, we passed House Bill 88 to allow for reinvestigations of cold case murders. House Bill 88, or the Coleman-Baker Act, would require law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough review of cold case murder investigations upon written request. This review would examine the procedural methods used in the initial investigation. If warranted, agencies could open a new investigation and develop their own written application process for reinvestigation. Additionally, the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government would create a case tracking system and public website with information about these applications and investigations. We sincerely believe this action could solve murders that date back to 1970 and ultimately bring justice to families and victims of cold case murders in Georgia.

Last week saw the successful passage of House Bill 147, the Safe Schools Act, to address how Georgia schools prepare for acts of violence. This bill requires multiple agencies to create an endorsement for eligible certificated school professionals who complete a voluntary training program on school safety and anti-gang identification. Details of this bill are as follows:

  • Establishes a voluntary school safety and anti-gang endorsement
  • Requires intruder alert drills for students and staff
  • Ensures school safety plans are submitted to Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security 

Currently, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation only has nine full time medical examiners on staff to handle all forensic testing in our state. To remedy this shortage, we passed House Bill 163, which would provide financial support to those in this field with student loan debt. The legislation creates a student loan repayment program for full-time medical examiners who work for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's (GBI) Division of Forensic Sciences. The program will allow up to $120,000 to repay student loans if they work for GBI for five years. Nationwide, examiner shortages are common and this program will help incentivize prospective and current medical examiners in Georgia to join or remain in this crucial field.


Regulatory Reform

In watching Georgia driving trends, our House chamber took a proactive approach in the establishment of a regulatory framework for Georgia’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. House Bill 406 encourages more businesses, such as convenience stores, to offer EV charging stations across Georgia. Under this bill, the sale of electricity at EV charging stations would act similarly to the sale of gasoline. Like gasoline, the Georgia Department of Agriculture would retain regulatory authority and inspection over EV charging stations. Details of the bill are as follows:

  • Requires all EV charging stations to provide accurate readings of electricity charged to each vehicle on a per kilowatt-hour basis as a retail sale and include meters to record the total kilowatt-hours.
  • Establishes an excise tax set by the Georgia Department of Revenue to ensure Georgia collects revenue similar to that produced from gasoline sales.
  • Ensures that EV charging stations operate efficiently and fairly to support the growth and development of EVs in Georgia.



The Georgia House of Representatives also passed the following bills and resolution during week eight of the 2023 Legislative Session:

  • House Bill 31, which would dedicate hazardous waste management and substance reporting fees collected by the state to the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund;
  • House Bill 43, which would add a requirement to the membership of the Council on American Indian Concerns to include at least one member representing each of Georgia’s official American Indian tribes and would update the address list of these American Indian tribes; 
  • House Bill 51, which would allow local boards of education to utilize alternative means of transportation other than school buses to transport students to school and school-related activities;
  • House Bill 63, which would allow group policyholders with at least 20 covered employees to receive claims experience from the insurance company;
  • House Bill 73, which would require sellers of distributed energy generation systems, such as solar panel installers, that are not electric suppliers to obtain a certificate of authority from the Public Service Commission (PSC) by December 31, 2023; the certification application must ensure appropriate background checks of employees/contractors, verify adequate capital, provide contact information to the public and meet any requirements deemed necessary by the PSC; the PSC would be able to revoke or suspend these certificates for violations, and this bill includes guidelines for public hearings for these certificates; starting January 2024, sellers would be required to provide a written disclosure statement in customer contracts; failure to provide these disclosures would result in a civil penalty; the PSC’s website would publish a standard written disclosure statement form until 2024 and a solar awareness presentation;
  • House Bill 84, which would require providers of certain commercial financing transactions to disclose each transaction’s total amount of funds provided to the business, funds disbursed after fees, withholding or third-party payments, total amount to be paid under the transaction terms and total cost and statement of any associated prepayment costs or discounts; brokers would be prohibited from soliciting or collecting advance fees from a business for services and making false representations in offering his or her services, including in a publication, without disclosing necessary contact information; the bill contains civil penalties for violations of these provisions;
  • House Bill 122, which would determine the composition of the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan (GHESP) board of directors to include the governor as the chairperson, statewide educational leaders, disability experts and various state agency leaders; this bill would also remove the maximum GHESP account balance of $235,000, authorize the GHESP board to set a revised maximum amount and allow the board to govern the Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience Program Corporation; 
  • House Bill 130, which would establish a student loan repayment program for eligible full-time peace officers, such as law enforcement officers, and these officers would receive up to $20,000 to pay towards their student loan debt; the program would be contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the General Assembly; 
  • House Bill 144, which would update the rights of a ward in a guardianship by clarifying that they have the right to communicate freely and privately with people other than the guardian through various means; if a guardian violates this right, a ward or interested party could petition the court to impose a fine; after two violations, courts could suspend the guardianship and appoint another guardian until the violations are resolved; 
  • House Bill 155, which would require professional licensing boards to issue a license by endorsement to an individual seeking licensure except for firefighters, health care providers and law enforcement officers; to be eligible, individuals must establish residency in Georgia, hold a current license in another state, be in good standing in that state and pass required examinations; this bill would not apply to law practice licensing, override licensing compacts or permit issuance of a license without verification;
  • House Bill 185, which would establish Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) grants for eligible students with disabilities enrolled in college by July 1, 2028;
  • House Bill 204, which would create the Georgia Municipal Court Clerks’ Council as an institution designed to improve municipal courts by assisting and training municipal court staff; there are 396 municipal courts in the state, making it our largest court system; 
  • House Bill 220, which would provide for means of enforcement of condominium and property owners' association instruments, rules and regulations by allowing condominium associations to pursue injunctive relief without first pursuing other remedies after providing notice according to their rules or 10 days after providing a written notice to the homeowner; this notice would not be required if a violation presents a clear and imminent danger or when injunctive relief would become moot if not granted before expiration of a notice period; property owners in a subdivision with at least 15 plots would be required to comply with all lawful provisions of covenants, and lack of compliance would be grounds for recovery of sums due, damages, injunctive relief or other legal remedy; 
  • House Bill 227, which would update the law to include electronic means, such as a cyberattack, as a way to commit criminal damage to critical infrastructure or vital public services; this bill would increase the penalty for this crime to imprisonment between two to 20 years; HB 227 would also revise the misdemeanor crime of interfering with property of public utility companies by prohibiting any person from altering or interfering with critical infrastructure, including other vital public services; 
  • House Bill 230, which would allow for a qualified consolidated government to implement a special purpose local option sales tax for a coliseum capital outlay project; 
  • House Bill 237, which would designate the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby in Lyons as the official soap box derby of the state; 
  • House Bill 244, which would require licensed seafood dealers to report non-activity to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, revise the definition and stipulations of the term “cage” and grant this department authority to revoke a harvester’s permits; the bill would also eliminate the current cage fee and make it legal to hunt bobcat and fox using electronic calls or sounds; 
  • House Bill 254, which would allow certain court officials to designate a newspaper as an interim legal organ if there is not a qualified publication with at least 100 print subscribers in the county; the bill would also allow counties or municipalities to post the legal notice in a visible place on the county or municipality's website and a common statewide website to meet these requirements; this bill also includes other requirements for posting legal notices online and legal advertisement rates; 
  • House Bill 264, which would change certain deadlines for appeals of property tax assessments, including the deadlines for county boards of tax assessors to notify taxpayers of changes, county boards of equalization to hold hearings on appeals and county boards of tax assessors to review written appeals; the bill would also change the deadlines for taxpayers to accept or reject changes made by county tax assessors and forward appeals to the board of equalization; this bill includes certain timelines and consequences for appeal actions; 
  • House Bill 268, which would establish a grant program for the criminal justice coordinating council to fund local law enforcement agencies and multi-jurisdictional task forces for the prevention, reduction, investigation and prosecution of motor vehicle crimes; the bill would establish the Georgia Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Advisory Board to oversee grant applications and make award recommendations to the council;
  • House Bill 269, which would authorize specific local workforce development boards to hold meetings via teleconference;
  • House Bill 273, which would revise the effective date for rules and regulations for the board of the Georgia Department of National Resources to January 1, 2023, and would make specific changes to the composition of the Sapelo Island Heritage Authority; 
  • House Bill 291, which would authorize petitions for the appointment, modification or termination of a guardian, emergency guardian of an adult, conservator or emergency conservator to be supported by an affidavit of certain medical and behavioral health professionals; if the proposed ward is a patient in a federal medical facility and certain licensed parties are not available, affidavits of new licensees may be used for petitions for the appointment of a guardian or emergency guardian; if a petition is not dismissed, the court could appoint an evaluator who is a medical or behavioral health professional; 
  • House Bill 295, which relates to surprise billing and clarifies provisions relating to arbitration; the bill would require the designation of plans that are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the “Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974” and extend the time insurers have to submit data after an arbitration request is made; 
  • House Bill 298, which would excuse parents, including adoptive parents, with children six months or younger from jury duty; 
  • House Bill 301, which would set the penalty for improperly overtaking a school bus at $250 and would prohibit the addition of any other fees, fines or penalties; the bill would cap the maximum fee for electronic processing of a school zone penalty at $25 and create a $1,000 fine for local authorities that violate this law; these fines would be calculated for total speeding fine revenue; 
  • House Bill 302, which would allow courts to issue either temporary or permanent protective orders to protect against stalking; 
  • House Bill 306, which would update the definitions for “energy cost savings measure” and “energy conservation measure” for performance contracts to include facility alterations or specified equipment designed to generate revenue;
  • House Bill 308, which would change the tax credit structure for medical professionals who take on preceptor rotations; the bill would replace the previous structure with a flat $1,000 credit for up to 10 medical preceptor rotations per year for physicians and dentists, as well as a $750 credit for up to 10 annual preceptor rotations for advanced practice registered nurses or physician assistants; 
  • House Bill 309, which would require assisted living communities and personal care homes to provide a financial stability affidavit to the Georgia Department of Community Health upon initial application or change of ownership;
  • House Bill 311, which would create an optional temporary tax relief mechanism for buildings damaged by a natural disaster that may be utilized by local governments; an assessment of the damaged property would be required before being eligible for temporary tax relief; 
  • House Bill 318, which would reestablish the Office of Charter School Compliance, create the Office of District Flexibility and require administrative fees held back by the state or local school system for the administration of charter schools to be used solely for that purpose; 
  • House Bill 327, which would consider a step-grandparent and step-grandchild relationship as an act of incest under Georgia law; 
  • House Bill 332, which serves as the state’s annual narcotics and drug update by adding and removing various substances from the schedules and revise the “dangerous drugs” lists;
  • House Bill 336, which would designate that no provision within the state minimum standard codes could prohibit the use of refrigerant if it is approved for usage after July 1, 2023; this equipment containing the refrigerant must also be properly installed;
  • House Bill 338, or the Student Technology Protection Act, which would require each local board of education and charter school to adopt a policy to prevent and prohibit any computer or network from accessing obscene materials; schools would be required to implement their policies to filter grade-appropriate content on school-owned devices by October 2023; 
  • House Bill 348, which would require warning signs for traffic safety enforcement devices and school zone speed limit reduction to display flashing yellow lights while the speed limit is in effect, add guidelines for when and how long these school zones could be active each day and update requirements for paying school zone violation citations; 
  • House Bill 362, which would require benefit providers to offer a written account of payments and reimbursements for services to treating providers upon 30 days of a request being made; 
  • House Bill 373, which would designate September 11 as the annual “First Responders Appreciation Day;” 
  • House Bill 375, which would define “gross settlement” relating to conservatorships and guardians as the present value of all amounts paid or to be paid in the settlement, including cash, medical expenses, expenses of litigation, attorney’s fees and any amounts allotted to a structured settlement or other similar financial agreement; 
  • House Bill 384, which would require insurers to notify male customers about annual prostate-specific antigen tests if they are at least 45 years old or starting at 40 years old if recommended by a physician; 
  • House Bill 396, which would add the president of Georgia College and State University to the Oconee River Greenway Authority; 
  • House Bill 402, or the Edna Mae McGovern Act, which would require each public school to annually provide water safety information to parents and guardians of students under 18 years old and directly to students over 18 years old, including information on local water safety courses and swim lessons; 
  • House Bill 408, which would extend the sunset date for the tax exemption for property sold for competitive construction project of regional significance to December 31, 2026; 
  • House Bill 416, which would allow for qualified pharmacy technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccines and any vaccine on the adult immunization schedule to adults; 
  • House Bill 436, which would raise the maximum fine from $1,000 to $10,000 for violating requirements or for willfully misrepresenting information about surface mining; 
  • House Bill 444, which would provide that the official public notice that a property has a pending lawsuit or claim attached to it, known as “lis pendens,” must be issued by a court based on specific requirements; this means that just because someone files a legal claim involving property, that claim would not automatically trigger the public notice unless the court issues it first; clerks of superior courts would be required to keep a list of all notices of lis pendens filed with them;
  • House Bill 453, which would repeal the annual ambulance service license fee required for ambulance service providers; 
  • House Bill 460, which would establish the right to counsel for children who are the subject of legitimation petitions, involved in hearings to determine temporary guardianships and receive extended care youth services; custodians and guardians who are subject to a sworn complaint or affidavit would also have the right to counsel, as well as respondents who are involved in dependency proceedings; the child could use, waive or obtain a court-appointed or chosen attorney; affidavits or sworn complaints could only be used in certain situations when a child is taken into custody; 
  • House Bill 470, or the Georgia Candor Act, which would set guidelines to allow health care providers and health care entities to begin voluntary open discussions with patients following an adverse health care incident; this bill also includes sections to require the provider/entity to provide patients with a written notice to request a discussion 150 days following the incident, fully investigate and disclose findings to the patient, among other provisions; 
  • House Bill 475, which serves as the state’s annual code revision bill to modernize and correct errors or omissions in Georgia Code; 
  • House Bill 480, which would raise the maximum weekly amount of temporary total disability of workers' compensation to $800, raise the temporary partial disability to $533 and increase the maximum amount of compensation paid to a surviving spouse to $320,000, based on specified requirements; the compensation would be terminated if the surviving spouse remarries or is in a relationship similar to a marriage; the bill would apply to injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2023; 
  • House Bill 497, which would allow certified medication aides to work in a state correctional institution with the requirement that they keep records of all medications administered and any changes to an inmate’s condition; the bill would also require employers of these aides to conduct annual clinical skills competency reviews and provide ongoing medication training; 
  • House Bill 500, which would create the offense of arson of a law enforcement vehicle, and this crime would result in a fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment from five to 20 years; 
  • House Bill 505, which would make the offense of riot a felony offense with a prison sentence between one to 20 years; 
  • House Bill 508, which would require the clerk of a superior court to issue a summons and deliver it to the receiving party within 24 hours of the issuance of an ex parte order for temporary relief for a petitioner or minor from stalking; 
  • House Bill 509, which would expand burglary crimes in the first and second degrees to include when a person enters the house or other specific building of another person with the intent to commit an act of family violence; 
  • House Bill 518, which would reinstate administrative assessments for employers under the Georgia Department of Labor, which lapsed in 2022; the lapsed administrative assessment of 2.64 percent would be extended on wages through 2026, and this rate would increase to 2.7 percent starting in 2026; this bill would also revise the rate table that applies to variations of the contribution rate for certain businesses; 
  • House Bill 529, which would reduce the minimum uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for transportation network companies from $1 million to $300,000 for bodily injury and death per accident, $100,000 for bodily injury per person and $250,000 for property damage; 
  • House Bill 530, which would allow for protective orders to prohibit depositions of high-ranking officers of a private, public or government organization if the officer lacks unique personal knowledge of any relevant subject matter to the pending action; this bill also outlines how an individual can seek this protective order; 
  • House Bill 543, which would increase the dollar threshold from $25,000 to $100,000 that enables a party in a civil action in state court to demand a 12-member jury; 
  • House Bill 545, which would create the Agriculture Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits starting July 1, 2023, to support producers who own or operate at least five acres of citrus fruit-bearing trees; 
  • House Resolution 96, which would reduce the timber ad valorem tax rate to match the same rate of other real property beginning January 1, 2025; local governments that experience revenue reductions as a result of this change would receive annual state funding starting in 2026 to help mitigate a certain portion of that revenue loss. 

Be on the lookout for future updates from under the Gold Dome. As your voice within the General Assembly, it is extremely important to hear from you on issues of concern. As always, thank you for allowing us the honor of serving our home as we continue our efforts in bringing about simple, smart & effective government. God bless you and God bless the great state of Georgia. 


Shaw Blackmon

Representative of Georgia's 146th House District


Representative Shaw Blackmon

District 146


Phone: 404-463-7583

Address: 133 State Capitol

Atlanta, Georgia 30334