Gold Dome Update 
Highlights from the House 
Week Six
Monday, February 12th, we returned to Capitol Hill for week six of the 2018 legislative session. As we are over halfway through session, “Cross Over Day,” scheduled for day 28, is quickly approaching. Crossover day is the last day bills can transfer or "crossover" to the other chamber with enough time to make it through the legislative "process.” Since session began, we have worked hard to pass bills for the betterment of our state. And last week was no exception as we addressed many important issues.
Emergency Services
Last week we passed House Bill 487, which would give Civil Air Patrol volunteers the same leave allowances as American Red Cross volunteers for specialized emergency services. Under the legislation, state agency employees, who are certified Civil Air Patrol disaster service volunteers, will eligible to receive annual paid leave for up to 15 work days to participate in disaster relief efforts activated by certain state or federal agencies. Further, HB 487 protects those who volunteer from losing seniority, pay, vacation, compensatory / sick time or earned overtime because of their assistance in emergency situations.
Healthcare
Did you know that two out of three Georgians will receive a surprise medical bill in the next two years? In an effort to end surprise hospital bills for scheduled procedures, we passed House Bill 678. This bill provides consumer protections regarding health insurance, preventing patients from receiving “surprise” bills, which can be 10 to 12 times higher than the expected in-network charges. The legislation stipulates the following:

  • Requires hospitals, health care providers and insurers disclose which doctors in a treatment team are in a patient’s insurance network; which health care plans they participate in; which hospitals they are affiliated prior to providing nonemergency services.
  • Requires non-network providers give the patient an estimated bill upon request.
  • Allow patients to request information about potential costs in other medical facilities before care is given.

To further protect patients, the bill also requires insurance providers to bill patients for services within 90 days. Those receiving a surprise bill would have the same 90-day window to secure payment or file a dispute with an arbitrator from the insurance department. The House’s passage of this legislation is a positive step forward in eliminating this frustrating practice and increasing transparency between patients, health care providers and insurers.
Public Safety
We also passed House Bill 79, which helps to strengthen Georgia’s privacy laws. HB 79 requires law enforcement agencies, obtaining license plate information through automated license plate recognition systems, destroy unused data after 30 months. Currently, there is no limit to how long law enforcement agencies can save this data. Agencies would only be allowed to keep and share the information beyond 30 months if the data is part of an ongoing investigation. Further, the bill imposes penalties for unlawfully sharing this information, and most importantly, captured license plate data would be exempt from open records requests.

Elderly Abuse Prevention
House Bill 635 would authorize district attorneys in each judicial circuit to establish an Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team. This team, made up of representatives from each District Attorneys office, law enforcement agencies and Adult Protective Services would be responsible for coordinating investigations of suspected elder or disabled adult abuse, neglect or exploitation. These teams would also be responsible for identifying ways to improve local notification, response policies and procedures when an elderly or disabled person is abused, neglected or exploited.
Capitol Hill Happenings
During week six, we welcomed a number of groups under the Gold Dome. It was great to have visits from the Perry Chamber Youth Leadership group, as well as, FCCLA groups from Houston County. Last we was also Forestry Day at the Capitol! If any group you are affiliated with is making a trip to visit us under the Gold Dome, please let us know so we can recognize you in the gallery from the House floor!
Sponsored Legislation
Last week, after tireless work from our delegation, House Bill 749 unanimously passed the House. This bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where we are hopeful it will receive a hearing in the coming days. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Deal, this bill would exempt compensation benefits of spouses and/or dependents of deceased veterans from state income tax. 
All bills receiving favorable action in the House last week will now move to the Senate for further review. We will return to the Gold Dome today to resume our legislative business. I will continue to update you on issues important to our state. In the meantime, if you need anything at all, please feel free to contact me anytime. Thank you for allowing me to serve on your behalf under the Gold Dome as we continue to works towards simple, smart and effective government.

Respectfully,
Shaw Blackmon
Representative of Georgia's 146th House District

 
Representative Shaw Blackmon
District 146
Email: Shaw.Blackmon@house.ga.gov
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.