Gold Dome Update  
Highlights from the House  
Week Eight

We returned to Capitol Hill for week eight of the legislative session, Monday, February 27th. This week was especially intense as Friday marked the Crossover Day deadline, which means all bills that did not pass out of the House by midnight will not have time to complete the legislative process in the Senate by day 40. We considered numerous bills this week and passed those we believe to be in the best interest of our great state. 

Expansion of Medical Cannabis Oil
House Bill 65 dealing with the expansion of Medical Cannabis Oil overwhelmingly passed the House last week. HB 65 expands our current medical cannabis law by adding eight more medical conditions to those whom would be allowed to apply for the THC oil registry. The additional conditions are as follows: Tourette’s syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; Epidermolysis Bullosa; Alzheimer’s disease; HIV; AIDS; peripheral neuropathy; and those who are in a hospice program. Other provisions of the bill are as follows:

  • Patients may possess cannabis oil with a maximum of 5 percent THC and a maximum amount of 20 fluid ounces.
  • Registration requirement with the Georgia Department of Public Health after physician recommendation.
  • Exemption from prosecution in Georgia for possession of medical cannabis oil that has been legally obtained in another state and meets the state requirements.
  • Reciprocity regarding medical cannabis registration cards of other states, as long as the medicine in such a person’s possession complies with Georgia’s laws.

Upon passing the 2015 law for allowance of medical cannabis oil, we soon heard from patients that shared concerns of prosecution for bringing the medicine into Georgia from other states. While this is an ongoing conversation, we do believe the expansion and prosecution exemption is a step in the right direction. This bill is now under review in the Senate. The House is also considering the Senate version of the bill which lowers the THC amount from 5% to 3% and only expands the bills qualified conditions to Autism Spectrum disorder.

Military Measures
As a result of the House Military Affairs Working Committee, we continue to pass legislation aimed at furthering our reputation as a “military friendly” state. Last week we passed two bills for the betterment of our military communities. The first was House Bill 245, which would require the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to streamline the workforce entry process for military spouses. Last year we passed the Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act, which requires our professional licensing boards to implement a process by which military spouses could receive expedited licenses. While this bill worked to address this concern, the act inadvertently omitted teacher’s licenses from eligibility. HB 245 corrects this exclusion and we would like to thank Rep. Al Williams for his sponsorship of the legislation.

The second bill regarding our military communities was House Bill 470, which would authorize the Department of Economic Development, upon appropriation of funds by the general assembly, to create a grant program to assist the identification of development opportunities in military and defence communities. Military communities would be required to submit a grant application to the Department of Economic Development, and the department would determine the grant amount on a case-by-case basis. HB 470 provides our military communities the financial means to invest in bettering our military installations, which currently represent the single largest economic development investment in our state. 

Speaker Ralston deserves a special thanks for not only creating our House Military Affairs Study Committee, but for also supporting our efforts as a permanent working group, dedicated to passing meaningful legislation to ensure Georgia remains a military friendly state. The Speaker has undoubtedly shown his commitment and support for our defense communities. Recognition also goes to Chairman Dave Belton, the entire Military Affairs working group, and other members of the House for supporting this measure.

Sponsored Legislation   

Last week, I was pleased to present House Bill 340 before my colleagues in the House. HB 340 works to revise Georgia's Title Ad Valorem Tax, which includes the well known  "Welcome to Georgia" tax implemented a few years ago. According to fiscal measures, tax changes under HB 340, show to be revenue neutral to a modest TAVT cut overall. The legislation does the following:

  • Applies TAVT to only the life of a lease and not the entire cost of the vehicle
  • Establishes a cap for the "Welcome to GA" TAVT
  • Reduces and eliminates certain title transfer TAVT
  • Eliminates a loophole so that the sale of new and used vehicles are treated the same, similar to former sales tax method
  • Allows local municipalities to "true-up" in line with 2012 ad valorem and a portion of 2012 sales tax
  • Reestablishes a fair ratio between state and local funds over 4 year period
  • Removes the need for the aging 2012 reference by 2022
  • Removes the automatic trigger up to 9% TAVT

The final product of HB 340 came together as many House members worked collaboratively to ensure we had a good, clean bill to move forward. Many House members, including Chairman Jay Powell, Chairman Rice and Representative Geoff Duncan worked hours on this legislation. This bill is now under review in the Senate and I will keep you posted on movement and progress. 

The last day of session, Day 40, is set for March 30th. Over the next few weeks, we will begin consideration of the many Senate bills that are now in the House chamber.  As we move into the final stretch of the 2017 legislative session, please reach out to me with concerns or questions! In the meantime, I will keep you updated on our continued efforts for simple, smart and effective government. Thank you for your support and the honor of serving as our community's voice 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.