Gold Dome Update 

Highlights from the House 

Week Twelve

Wednesday, March 29, brought the close of the 2023 legislative session. Over the last three months we worked diligently to pass meaningful legislation on behalf of our Georgia citizens for the betterment of our state. Below is an overview of the a few bills we passed in the final days of the session.

Foster Care Reform

To avoid placing children in foster care unnecessarily, we passed Senate Bill 133. This bill will clarify several code sections to improve juvenile court proceedings for children who need services for child delinquency or dependency. Through this bill we are working to ensure that all avenues have been explored prior to placing a child in the system. Stipulations of the bill are as follows:

  • Courts required to consider what state services have been provided to the child or the parent/guardian or what services may be available to allow the child to remain in their home.
  • Courts required to attempt the secure placement of a child other than in custody of DFCS.
  • Mandates a preliminary protective hearing take place within 72 hours of DFCS placement.
  • Requires all parties to provide copies of medical, psychological, and educational assessments and reports of the child or the child's parent/guardian to DFCS.


Public Safety

Senate Bill 107, or Izzy’s Law, was also passed to lessen accidental drownings for children. This law requires the development of a model safety plan for private swim instructors to utilize by January 1, 2024. Requirements of the plan are as follows:

  • Minimum standards for student-to-instructor ratios
  • Secondary supervision recommendations
  • Parent or legal guardian attendance
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification.

Violations of SB 107 would be considered a misdemeanor charge with a minimum fine of $200 for the first and second violation, as well as a $1,000 maximum fine for third and subsequent violations.

To help ensure that the state’s criminal case information is accurate, up-to-date, and easily accessible to appropriate parties, we passed Senate Bill 272. This bill would reestablish the state’s Criminal Case Data Exchange Board. This board will be charged in the regular review of best tracking practices and procedures to ensure accuracy of case data. In addition, this board will work with criminal justice experts to develop a human trafficking tracking system to better stay informed of where the courts are on their proceedings regarding these crucial cases. Ensuring our criminal case data exchange is up to date will assist our overloaded court system in the streamlining process while allowing all parties involved to stay abreast of the latest happenings of their criminal case proceedings.

Regulatory Reform

As Georgia driving trends have shown an increased use of Electric Vehicles, we passed Senate Bill 146. This bill will provide a regulatory framework for elective vehicle (EV) charging stations and allow our state to regulate these charging stations to the same extent as gas pumps.

  • Georgia Department of Revenue will be tasked to ensure that our state collects revenue like revenue that is typically collected from gasoline sales.
  • Department of ‘Agriculture will have regulatory authority over EV charging stations, including inspecting these stations.
  • Retail sale and include meters to record the total kilowatt-hours. These charging stations would also be required to provide accurate readings of electricity to their customers.
  • Electric utilities could not provide, own, operate or maintain any publicly available charging station unless it is done through a separate legal entity.


Budget News

We are pleased to report that the General Assembly came to agreement on the Conference Committee Report for House Bill 19, or the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 2024) budget. Effective July 1, this final version of the FY 2024 budget is set at a revenue estimate of $32.4 billion, which is $2.2 billion, or 7.4 percent, more than the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. There are many ins and outs of the Budget and what it entails. Be on the lookout for a detailed report in the coming days covering all aspects of the 2023 Amended FY Budget and the Full 2024 FY Budget.

The House of Representatives also passed the following bills and resolution from the Rules Calendar before adjourning the 2023 legislative session:

  • House Resolution 651, which would urge the Georgia Congressional Delegation to assist in finding reasonable solutions to protect North Atlantic right whales and Georgia's coastal culture and economy; this resolution received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 11, or the “Georgia Fights Terrorism Act,” which would grant original jurisdiction to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for violation of laws concerning domestic, cyber, biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 13, which would update requirements for county boards of equalization, duties, review of assessments and appeals by allowing a taxpayer with tangible personal property valued at more than $200,000 to appeal directly to a hearing officer; this bill would also require the local assessment office to include information on the notice of assessment about how these taxpayers can appeal;
  • Senate Bill 20, which would require insurers to contract with and maintain a sufficient and appropriate number of participating network providers; insurers would be prohibited from denying preauthorization of services that were rendered by an in-network provider because the referring provider is out-of-network; the bill would give the insurance commissioner authority to review network adequacy; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 56, which would create a deferred compensation plan for eligible county tax commissioners who do not participate in a retirement system or deferred compensation offered by the county that utilizes a 401(k) or 457(b); the Employees' Retirement System of Georgia would administer the plan and the state would match contributions of up to five percent of the minimum annual salary for county tax commissioners; this bill would allow for the imposition of sales and use tax on the retail purchase or sale of certain digital goods, products and services; the bill would also clarify various code sections that relate to individual income taxes, tax credits for medical rotations and large-scale project job tax credits; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 62, which would prohibit local governments from stopping the enforcement of policies that address unauthorized public camping, sleeping or the obstruction of sidewalks; the bill would prohibit hospitals and local government entities from dropping off homeless individuals outside of their area of operation or jurisdiction; the bill would require the state auditor to conduct a performance audit of homeless program spending in the state; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 63, which would prohibit a local jurisdiction from creating a bail schedule/policy that mandates releasing a person from jail on unsecured judicial release; this bill would modify the definition of "bail" in the code section and update the list of crimes under "bail restricted offenses" to include various crimes, such as misdemeanors and second or subsequent violations of certain crimes; no person would be eligible to be released on unsecured judicial release if they are charged with a bail-restricted offense; those individuals would only eligible for release through the use of secured means, professional bondsmen and approved property; any person arrested for any offense who has previously been convicted of a felony within the past seven years would not eligible for an unsecured judicial release; the bill would remove the exemption for those who were deported from the country by the federal government, meaning that a judgment could be made by a court on a forfeiture of an appearance bond if the person at issue was deported and could not attend court for that reason; a surety would be released from liability if the person at issue participates in an accountability court or enters into a pretrial release program prior to a judgment; the bill would increase the amount that bail recovery agents could charge for continuing legal education programs, the timeline for when sureties would be relived from liability due to a failure to timely file a bench warrant and forfeiture of bond, as well as the amount of remission of a bond that would be paid to the surety;
  • Senate Bill 68, which would add offenses and allow for the prosecution of dogfighting under the racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations, or “RICO,” framework; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 92, which would create the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission (PAOC) comprised of an investigative panel; the investigative panel would examine any district attorney (DA) or solicitor general (SG) who demonstrates mental or physical incapacity, willful misconduct in office, willful and persistent failure to carry out duties, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; this panel would also investigate any DA or SG who knowingly authorizes or permits an assistant DA or assistant SG to commit any act constituting a ground for removal; the PAOC would be allowed to entertain a complaint on various grounds, including when a DA/SG has a stated policy that demonstrates that he or she categorically refuses to prosecute any type of an offense; the bill would also add an additional duty for DAs/SGs requiring them to review each individual case to determine whether probable cause for prosecution exists, as well as make a prosecutorial decision based on the facts and circumstances of that case; this duty would also be grounds for a recall if a DA/SG fails to perform it; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 109, which would prohibit insurers from denying coverage of an in-network provider for provider administered medication or the administration of such medication under certain circumstances; SB 109 would require the Georgia Department of Community Health to cover continuous glucose monitors through Medicaid as a pharmacy benefit for patients with diabetes mellitus;
  • Senate Bill 115, which would recognize that under the common law public trust doctrine, the state owns all navigable stream beds for the public's use of fishing, hunting, passage, navigation, commerce and transportation;
  • Senate Bill 121, which would prohibit denying the installation of a well to provide water for a single-family residence located on a parcel of one acre or larger; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 127, which would require any local governing authority that has collected more than $500,000 in taxes for three consecutive fiscal years to reach an agreement with any designated private sector nonprofit organization that promotes tourism, conventions and trade shows before any changes can be made to the destination marketing organization; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 145, or the “Landscape Equipment and Agriculture Fairness (LEAF) Act,” which would prohibit local regulations that create differing standards for gasoline-powered leaf blowers from any other type of leaf blower; SB 145 would provide guidelines and requirements for municipal deannexations and create the “Commercial Property Assessed Conservation, Energy and Resiliency Development Authorities Law” to provide for the establishment of commercial property assessed conservation, energy and resiliency development authorities within each county and municipal corporation in the state; if a local government deems this authority necessary, the authority would facilitate local businesses in receiving low-cost, long-term financing for specified, qualified improvements, including energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy and resiliency improvements; the bill would also prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policy that restricts the connection or reconnection of any utility service or sales of certain fuels based on the type energy source, fuel delivered or the appliance used by the customer; the bill would increase the limit on the amount of investments an electric membership corporation could make or maintain in a gas affiliate from 15 to 30 percent of its net utility plant; SB 145 would make clarifying changes to Georgia’s “Zoning Procedures Law;” 
  • Senate Bill 155, which would create the offense of aggravated harming of a public safety/search and rescue animal when the offender knowingly and intentionally kills or injures the animal in a manner that affects its ability to perform its duties; the penalty for this conviction would be between two and 10 years of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000; the first two years of the sentence could not be suspended, probated, deferred or withheld by a sentencing court unless the prosecuting attorney and defendant agree on a sentence below the mandatory minimum; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 159, which would enhance penalties for a person who brings prohibited items beyond a guard line for the purpose of providing items to inmates; if a Georgia Department of Corrections employee or contractor is found guilty of bringing prohibited items/contraband into the facility for an inmate, this violation would be punishable by a 10-year term of imprisonment;
  • Senate Bill 160, which would extend the end date of a statute that authorizes the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) to collect required contributions from employers from 2022 to 2026; extending this statute would reduce the required Unemployment Insurance contribution rate for newly covered employees from 2.7 percent of wages to 2.64 percent; this bill would also reinstate administrative assessments that the GDOL collects for administrative costs; the assessment would be set at .06 percent of wages paid by an employer until 2027; this bill received final passage; 
  • Senate Bill 168, which would include chiropractic practices among the entities able to have a lien on a cause of action accruing to an injured person for costs of care; these filed liens would not be enforceable unless the chiropractor/chiropractic office that files the lien had an insurance claim rejected by the injured individual’s health insurance plan; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 195, or the “Freedom to Work Act,” which would require licensing boards to issue an expedited license by endorsement to active duty members of the U.S. military or their spouses if they meet certain criteria; the licensing board would be required to issue these licenses within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application rather than 90 days;
  • Senate Bill 211, which would create the Georgia Council on Literacy to conduct a comprehensive review of birth to postsecondary literacy programs to help improve literacy outcomes of Georgia students; comprised of 30 members, the council would meet quarterly before dissolving on December 31, 2026; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 216, which would amend references from “babysitter” to “respite care” in relation to short-term babysitting of a child in foster care, and the bill defines this type of care as occasional or short-term relief for a caregiver by a person or entity; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 217, which would restrict when a school zone speed limit may be enforced using an automated traffic safety device to 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes after school starts, 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes after school dismisses unless the school campus is bisected by a highway and when the driver is 10 MPH over the speed limit; when a citation is issued, the driver would receive an assigned hearing date within 60 days of the citation being issued; if a citation remains unpaid 30 days after a final notice, the bill would require a citation and an assigned hearing date to be issued for improperly overtaking a school bus, and registration of the vehicle could not be renewed until the penalty and late fees are collected for these two types of citations;
  • Senate Bill 222, which would require all election operation expenses to be paid by lawfully-appropriated public funds; the bill would prohibit local governments or election officials from accepting any contributions or donations for the purpose of conducting elections subject to specified exceptions; the bill would prohibit election superintendents, local governments and boards of registrars from accepting grants or gifts related to conducting elections from any entity other than the state or federal government; the bill would establish the State Election Board as a separate and distinct budget unit in the state budget that would be attached to the secretary of state’s office for administrative purposes only; the bill would completely remove the State Election Board from the jurisdiction of the secretary of state and would provide for the appointment of an executive director of the State Election Board; this bill received final passage;
  • Senate Bill 240, which would prohibit anyone hired after June 1, 2023, from becoming a member of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia if their charter school offers an alternative retirement plan; the bill would require the Employees Retirement System (ERS) of Georgia to identify each school system that does not extend Social Security coverage to members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS); the ERS would submit a report of all school systems that do not offer this benefit to the General Assembly by September 1, 2023; any school system not offering coverage would be required to revise their plan to extend coverage by 2024; starting this September, the ERS would no longer be authorized to approve any plan that does not extend Social Security benefits to PSERS members; the ERS would be able to invest up to 10 percent of assets in alternative investments, which is currently limited to five percent of assets; the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts certified SB 240 as a non-fiscal retirement bill;
  • Senate Bill 246, which would provide for the establishment of Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) grants; the grants would be awarded to eligible Georgia students enrolled on or before July 1, 2028, in authorized IPSE programs at qualified postsecondary institutions in an amount equal to the current academic year undergraduate tuition at each student's qualified institution; eligible students could also receive an additional IPSE grant to cover certain fees; the bill would authorize the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce to provide for the repayment of up to $100,000 in student loans for eligible recipients serving as faculty members in eligible postsecondary nursing programs in this state.

In total, our House body sent 87 general bills, 183 local bills and three resolutions to the governor for his consideration. This total does not include Senate legislation that received final passage. It is important to remember that bills introduced this year are still up for consideration during the 2024 legislative session. Although we have officially finished the session, the real work begins.

Please be on the lookout for monthly updates for the remainder of the year as there is much to cover where our government is concerned. In the meantime, if you need anything at all, please let us know. Thank you for the honor of allowing us to serve as your voice under the Gold Dome, as we work towards simple, smart and effective government. May God bless you and may He continue to 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