House Bill 159- Adoption Modernization
House Bill 159, which would completely overhaul Georgia’s current adoption process, passed unanimously last week. During the first week of session, we received the Senate version of the bill, which made significant changes to the original legislation we passed in 2017. Upon receiving the newest version, we immediately began negotiations with the Senate and the governor’s office, eventually reaching a compromise.
Among the changes includes shortening the time in which a birth mother can revoke the adoption of her child. Currently, birth mothers have 10 days to revoke the surrender of their newborn. Under HB 159 this revocation period is shortened from 10 to 4 days.
Additionally, the House version of the adoption bill updates the following:
- Allows birth mothers to receive reasonable living expenses in both private and agency adoptions, thus leveling the field regardless of chosen adoption procedure.
- Safeguards several temporary powers of attorney.
The updated bill is now back in the Senate, where we hope they will agree to the current changes. If approved by the Senate, HB 159 will head to the Governor for his signature and final passage into law.
House Bill 661- Real Estate Tax Lien Reform
Passing unanimously in our chamber last week was House Bill 661, dealing with real estate tax liens. Essentially this bill works to simplify the process for filing and removing realty tax liens. If signed into law, this bill would increase transparency for taxpayers, moving the Department of Revenue’s process to electronic-based transactions, as opposed to the traditional paper transactions. HB 661 also updates legislation signed into law last year, removing a current provision regarding statewide liens, reverting to county specific liens. This bill also stipulates that every realty tax lien be filed with the superior court clerk in the county where the real estate is located.
House Bill 694- Tax Laws
House Bill 694, a measure intended to update the way motor fuel distributors and wholesalers submit their monthly motor fuel tax reports to the Department of Revenue, also passed. This measure would modernize and streamline the filing process for our state’s oil distributors by requiring all monthly reports be submitted electronically.
House Bill 135- State Retirement Reform
If signed into law, House Bill 135 would expand the term “law enforcement officer” to include Department of Driver Services (DDS) investigators. Under the bill, they would qualify to receive up to an additional five years of creditable service in the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) for prior law enforcement service.
Eligibility stipulations include:
- DDS investigators receiving retirement benefits from a local government for that same service are not eligible.
- The individual is not eligible unless they have been a member of the retirement system for at least ten years.
HB 135 corrects an oversight missed in 2016, when we passed a bill allowing all other law enforcement officers to obtain creditable service through the ERS. This bill simply corrects that oversight, making Georgia’s 16 DDS investigators eligible for this benefit.
House Bill 671- Honey Bee Bill
Did you know that more than 100 agricultural crops in the U. S. are pollinated by bees? Further, Georgia is the third largest producer of bees and the tenth largest producer of honey in the nation. Since our state’s largest and oldest industry is agriculture, it makes sense that the honey bee holds the honor of being named Georgia’s official insect!
Last week we passed House Bill 671, which would promote conservation and protection efforts of the honey bee, through the purchase of specialty license plates. All revenue collected would be given directly to the Georgia Beekeepers Association, who will use the funds to support numerous educational, training, research and non-profit grant programs, all intended to help raise honey bee awareness.