Gold Dome Update  
Highlights from the House  
Week Seven

On Tuesday, February 21, we reconvened for the seventh week of the 2017 legislative session. We completed day 24 on Friday, and we are now all working against the Crossover Day deadline which takes place this Friday. It was a productive week under the Gold Dome as we drafted, discussed and passed legislation to address a number of critical issues for the betterment of education, our foster care system, as well as our military and veteran population.

In an effort to further support Georgia’s foster parents and children, we passed House Bill 250which will pave an easier road for foster care applicants who are early care and education employees. Currently, background checks and fingerprint checks must be completed through the Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS) and the department will not accept background checks completed through other state agencies, despite how thorough they may be. This regulation causes an unnecessary backlog within the foster care system. This bill would help fix that problem, ensuring that kids are placed in a loving, stable environment in a more timely manner. 

As we continue efforts to streamline our foster care process, we also worked to update Georgia’s adoption laws with the passage of House Bill 159. This bill includes many improvements to our current adoption code and would align our process with other states through the following: 

  • Reduces the minimum age of a single petitioner from 25 to 21 and allows judges to use discretion on a case-by- case basis.

  • Provides an exception to the 10-year age difference requirement between the adopter and the adoptee, in the case of relative and stepparent adoptions.

  • Streamlines the path of a foreign adoption especially for Georgia parents previously able to obtain guardianship through international adoption procedures.

  • Individuals over the age of 18 may surrender parental rights upon signature, waiving the 10-day waiting period.

  • Eliminates the six-month residency requirement for adoptive parents to petition to adopt.

  • Allows non-residents to adopt Georgia-born children.

  • Allows Georgia residents to adopt from out-of- state agencies.

  • Allows birthmothers in non-agency adoptions to receive limited living expenses to cover the cost of food, rent and utilities in private independent adoptions.

As home to the 5th largest veteran and military population, we regularly look for ways to improve the lives of our service members and their families. Last summer, the House Military Affairs Study Committee found that a quality public education was a top priority for military families. Last week we passed HB 224, HB 148,and HB 222 which will aid our efforts in providing that quality education. House Bill 224 would provide military students the ability to choose which school within their school system to attend beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, as long as that school has adequate space and resources.

House Bill 148, also known as the Educating Children of Military Families Act, would authorize the Department of Education to create identifiers unique to military students to help monitor the educational progress and needs of students whose parent or guardian is an active-duty military service member or National Guard reserve member. This bill will help prevent students who have moved from place to place and school to school from being lost in the cracks of a less than cohesive educational experience, and prioritize recognizing their needs, keeping them on track. 

Education reform continues to be of priority with the passage of House Bill 237. This bill would allow individuals, corporations and communities to financially assist Georgia’s low-performing schools by establishing the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation under the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The bill provides that the foundation could receive private donations to award grants to public schools aimed at improving student achievement, with priority given to low-performing schools. In order to donate to the foundation, taxpayers will be required to submit an electronic notification to the Department of Revenue of the donation amount which then must be approved by the state revenue commissioner. Allowable credits are as follows:

  • $1,000 per year for single individuals, up to

  • $2,500 per year for married couples filing joint returns and up to

  • $10,000 per year for individual members of LLC’s, shareholders of Subchapter “S” corporations, or partners within a partnership.

  • Corporation would be allowed a credit no more than the amount donated or 75 percent of the corporation’s income tax liability, whichever is less.

The total amount of credit would be “first come, first serve” and are limited through 2033, the bill’s designated sunset date. Finally, the foundation would be required to submit an annual report to the Department of Revenue showing the total number and value of donations, approved tax credits, as well as the total number and value of public school grants it awards. It is our hope that these bills will promote partnerships between businesses, nonprofit organizations, local school systems and public schools while improving student achievement. 

Sponsored Legislation   

Last week, I was pleased to present House Bill 222 before my colleagues in the House. HB 222 would allow Georgia National Guard and Army reserve members in Georgia to be classified as a legal state resident under eligibility requirements for HOPE Scholarships and grants. Under current HOPE eligibility standards, a student must be a legal resident of Georgia for 12 consecutive months. However, due to relocation requirements, many military students are unable to meet residency requirements. HB 222 would close this loophole, affording all servicemen the opportunity to receive a quality education in Georgia. This measure received overwhelming bipartisan support and those of us representing Georgia’s military bases are grateful for our colleagues help in passing HB 222, which is now under review in the Senate.

Day 40 is scheduled for March 30th. That is only 32 days away! Obviously, there are many issues under debate, such as the future of casino gaming, school choice and medical cannabis expansion. If you have questions or concerns regarding legislation, please reach out to me. In the meantime, I will keep you updated on our continued efforts for simple, smart and effective government. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement. It is a pleasure and honor to serve as our community's Representative under the Gold Dome.  


Shaw Blackmon

Representative Shaw Blackmon
District 146
Phone: 404-656-0177
Address: 501-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Rep. Shaw Blackmon represents District 146.  He currently serves as a Deputy Whip and as a member of  Ways & Means, Economic Development and Tourism, Special Rules, Insurance and
Governmental Affairs Committees. Shaw is also a member of the Military Affairs Working Group.