With midnight and adjournment Sine Die quickly approaching, legislators and lobbyists continue to work this evening to get propositions across the finish line. Several major initiatives that remain in play include: SB 15, Sen. John Albers’s (R-Alpharetta) “Keeping Georgia Schools Safe Act”; SB 68, Sen. Freddie Powell Sims’s (D-Dawson) school district financial training bill; and SB 131, Sen. Burt Jones’s (R-Jackson) Atlanta Airport-takeover bill turned omnibus transportation proposition. Meanwhile, proponents of several other bills are sitting back in relaxation following final passage of their measures, including: HB 242, Rep. Lee Hawkins’s (R-Gainesville), massage therapy regulation bill; HB 311, Rep. Andy Welch’s (R-McDonough) sovereign immunity waiver measure; and HB 514, Rep. Kevin Tanner’s (R-Dawsonville) bill creating the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission. Rest assured, we will be at work until the gavels fall--follow along with us at #GoldDomeReport.
After the General Assembly adjourns Sine Die later tonight, Governor Kemp will have until May 12, 2019 to sign or veto legislation. Stay tuned for additional Reports on these actions.
In this Report:
- Bills and Resolutions Cross Finish Line on Legislative Day 40
- Propositions Remain in Play in Final Hours
- Legislators Approve Charity Care Study Committee, HIV/AIDS Pilots Late on Legislative Day 39
- New Legislation
Bills and Resolutions Cross Finish Line on Legislative Day 40
The following bills and resolutions of interest have achieved final passage as of our deadline today:
- HB 39, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), is the “Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Act”. The bill amends Title 43 to enter into an interstate compact for physical therapists. The bill was passed by the Senate as a Substitute, and the House agreed to the Substitute today by a 168-1 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 59, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), amends Title 20 to allow children of active duty military personnel to register in a local school district based on the parent’s official military orders rather than requiring the family to establish residency. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute, and the House agreed to the Senate Substitute today by a 166-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 63, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), establishes a step therapy program for health benefit plans in Chapter 24 of Title 33. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute and the House agreed to the Senate Substitute today by a 165-1 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 166, authored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), is the “Genetic Counselors Act.” The bill amends Title 43 to provide for the licensure of genetic counselors. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute, and the House agreed to the Substitute today by a 143-22 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 213, authored by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), amends Title 2 to enact the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act” which authorizes colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia to conduct research on the cultivation and uses of hemp grown in Georgia. The bill also outlines the process to receive a hemp growers license. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute, which was later amended by the House. The Senate voted today to agree with the Substitute as amended by the House by a 51-4 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 228, authored by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), amends Title 19 to change the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 17. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill last week by a 51-0 vote, and the House voted today to agree to the Senate Substitute by a 155-14 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 233, authored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), amends Title 26 to create the "Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act". The bill prohibits nonresident pharmacies from sharing patient and prescriber data with affiliates for commercial purposes, presenting a claim for a service provided based on referral from an affiliate, or mailing a prescription to a patient when the prescriber calls for an in-person consultation. It also requires such pharmacies to file an annual disclosure statement of its affiliates. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill last week by a 53-0 vote, and the House voted today to agree to the Senate Substitute by a 165-1 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 242, authored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), provides for the regulation of massage therapy education programs. It also defines what is a "massage therapy business." There are also requirements for the State Board overseeing this profession such as: it requires it to periodically evaluate board recognized educational programs and develop and enforce standards for continuing education courses required of licensed massage therapists. It further requires licensed massage therapists to maintain liability insurance. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill by a 51-3 vote last week, and the House agreed to the Senate Substitute by a 144-12 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 311, authored by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), provides for the waiver of sovereign immunity by the State and local governments to allow citizens to sue the same for declaratory or injunctive relief. The waiver is limited to actions challenging the constitutionality of a government action or asserting that a government violated state statute. Such waiver was previously implied in Georgia, but, in recent years, the Georgia Supreme Court has held that, if the State intends to waive sovereign immunity, it must expressly do so. The House agreed to the Senate Substitute to the bill today, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 459, authored by Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), would require the implementation of a driver’s license verification system for school bus drivers. The bill would require school districts to give the name and driver’s license information of such drivers to the DPS and would require the suspension of school bus drivers who have an invalid license. The bill was amended in the Senate to include language that clarifies and clarifies the process for volunteers to direct traffic. The House agreed to the Senate Substitute today by a 155-7 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 514, authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), amends Title 37 to create the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute, and the House agreed with the Senate Substitute by a 52-0 vote today. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 551, authored by Rep. Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold), amends Title 16 to provide for a standard level of kratom alkaloids and establish recommended dosages. The bill also provides for the prohibition of access to kratom for individuals under the age of 18. The Senate passed the bill as a Substitute, and the House later amended the Substitute. The Senate agreed to the Substitute as amended by the House today, and the bill goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 553, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), amends Titles 35 and 49 to alter the State Victim Services Commission membership provisions. The Senate passed the bill by a 49-0 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- SB 83, authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), expands the curriculum that public schools may offer relating to the Bible and other religious texts. Georgia law currently allows courses in Old Testament and New Testament history and literature, and this bill would expand available courses to those relating to law, morals, government, art, music, culture, and custom from religious texts. The bill was amended in the House to incorporate the content of HB 562, Rep. Robert Dickey’s (R-Musella) bill to statutorily establish the REACH Scholarship Program. The Senate agreed to the House Substitute by a 53-0 vote today, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- SB 142, authored by Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry), amends Title 33 to require that a statement indicating that a subscribers health policy is fully insured is included on a subscriber’s health insurance identification card. The House approved a Substitute of the bill by a 155-3 vote, and the Senate agreed to the Substitute by a 53-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Propositions Remain in Play in Final Hours
As the General Assembly approaches its midnight deadline to adjourn Sine Die, the following propositions of note have been acted on today but require further action and remain in play. Note that any of these propositions that are not acted on today will remain alive for next year’s legislative session.
- HB 68, authored by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), amends Title 20 to prohibit certain entities from being student scholarship organizations. Specifically, the bill bars affiliates of entities that provide accreditation of elementary or secondary schools from operating as a student scholarship organization. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill today, and the bill returns to the House for further action.
- HB 70, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), addresses guardian and ward law. The bill makes changes such as: guardianships and their bonding requirements and how those will paid from estate from minor; makes error corrections; adds language back in that was omitted in 2018; makes clarifications on bond payments; marries the Georgia law with the uniform law passed in 2016; addresses emergency guardians; guardian appointments’ time lengths for 60 days (home state of Georgia); repeals section on cost; addresses orders from other states and how they are registered; corrects an erroneous code reference; adds language relating to probate court enforcement of orders; addresses foreign conservators who register their orders in Georgia; and etc. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute by a 51-0 vote, and the bill returns to the House for further action.
- HB 85, authored by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville), amends Title 48 to exempt non-profit organ procurement organizations from sales and use tax. The bill also creates a reporting requirement for organ procurement organizations to submit annual reports including number of donors and transplants facilitated by the organization in the previous fiscal year. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill by a 35-19 vote last week, and the House today disagreed with the Substitute. The bill awaits further action by the Senate.
- HB 99, authored by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), modernizes Chapter 40 through the end of Insurance Code (Title 33). The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill by a 52-0 vote today, and the bill returns to the House for further action.
- HB 282, authored by Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), amends Title 17 to increase the amount of time that law enforcement agencies are required to preserve certain evidence of sexual assault. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill by a 55-0 vote today, and the bill returns to the House for further action.
- HB 381, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), amends Title 19 to fix grammatical mistakes, provide modernization, and revise definitions for child support guidelines. The Senate passed a Substitute to the bill by a 55-0 vote today, and the bill returns to the House for further action.
- SB 68, authored by Sen. Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson), strengthens provisions relating to the financial management of local school systems in Title 20. The bill was amended by the House to incorporate HB 32, Rep. Kevin Tanner’s (R-Dawsonville) bill that amends Title 20 to clarify duties of the Chief Turnaround Officer and establish the Georgia Turnaround Collaborative, HB 86, Rep. Tommy Benton’s (R-Jefferson) bill that allows certain teachers to appeal performance ratings under the statutory complaints policy, and HB 464, Rep. Martin Momtahan’s (R-Dallas) bill requiring local boards of education have a public comment period during every meeting which would be included on the agenda. The Senate amended the bill to remove HB 32 and HB 86 and sent it back to the House, which disagreed to the amendments. The Senate is expected to insist on its changes and appoint a Conference Committee.
- SB 110, authored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), amends Title 15 to establish the Statewide Business Court pursuant to the Constitution. The House adopted a Substitute to the bill last week by a 155-10 vote, and the House signed off on a Conference Committee Report earlier today by a 135-28 vote. The Report must now be approved by the Senate.
- SB 190, by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), seeks to make changes to Georgia’s Child Custody Intrastate Jurisdiction Act in Chapter 9 of Title 19. It provides that a party may bring a counterclaim for contempt or enforcement of a child custody order or for modification of legal (which is the responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including but not limited to the child’s education, healthcare, extracurricular activities and religious training) or physical custody in response to a complaint seeking a change of legal or physical custody. The House passed a Substitute of the bill by a 159-0 vote today, and it returned to the Senate for further action.
- SB 195, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), was originally the "Prescription Drug Benefits Freedom of Information and Consumer Protection Act". The bill was stripped in the House and replaced with the language of HB 583, Rep. Noel Williams’s proposition relating to travel insurance. The Senate disagreed with the House Substitute today, sending the bill back to the House for further action.
Legislators Approve Charity Care Study Committee, HIV/AIDS Pilots Late on Legislative Day 39
The House and Senate voted on the following legislation of interest after our deadline on Legislative Day 39:
- HR 584, authored by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth), creates the House Study Committee on Exploring a Floor and Trade Charity Care System. This proposal is built on the idea of cap and trade, whereby hospitals providing substantial indigent care could sell credits to other hospitals that provide less indigent care. The House adopted the resolution by a 163-5 vote, which constitutes final adoption.
- HB 290, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), is a set of pilot projects to address the proliferation of HIV/AIDS cases. This work will be done in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and will utilize a prophylactic drug which will be donated. The Department of Public Health will work with the CDC areas which have been identified at risk for greatest numbers to be infected with the disease. This legislation is a part of the proposed solution to curb new cases (the syringe exchange program is the other initiative). It is anticipated that this pilot initiative will cost $50,000 in the first year and between $200,000 and $300,000 over three years. The Senate passed the bill by a 52-0 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk.
The following legislation of interest was introduced to the House and Senate recently. Because this legislation was introduced after Crossover Day, it is ineligible to advance this session, but it can be considered next year.
- HB 700, authored by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), amends Title 43 to create licensing procedures and requirements for surgical assistants. The bill provides definitions for surgical assistants and delimitates the types of procedures they shall be allowed to perform. The bill also outlines how the Georgia Composite Medical Board must implement the new licensing process, along with how and why the Board may revoke a license. Lastly, the bill requires the Board to appoint an advisory committee. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
- HB 701, authored by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), amends Title 20 to exclude freeport property from the equalized adjusted school property tax digest for the purposes of calculating local five mill share. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
- HB 704, authored by Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet), amends Title 43 to create a new Georgia Board of Recreational Therapy within the Secretary of State’s office. The bill also provides the requirements to become licensed as a recreational therapist. This bill was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
- HB 709, authored by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), calls for a the holding of a nonbinding, advisory referendum election to gauge public opinion of daylight saving time. The referendum would provide options to 1) continue switching between standard time and daylight saving time; 2) observe standard time year round; and 3) observe daylight saving time year round (if authorized by Congress). This bill was referred to the House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee.
- HB 714, authored by Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta), amends Title 42 to revise disciplinary procedures used within the state penal system. Specifically the bill creates two types of infractions: administrative infractions, defined as “an action that does not otherwise constitute a violation of Georgia criminal law but is an infraction of promulgated correctional rules and regulations committed inside a detention facility.” and substantive infractions, defined as “any act committed inside a detention facility that constitutes a violation of Georgia criminal law.” The bill provides for a limit on the amount of consecutive days of restrictive housing for inmates along with the total amount allowed per year. This bill was referred to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
- HB 716, authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Perry), seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 33-24-59.23 so as to provide that health insurance carriers issuing a health benefit plan in the state through an agent is required to file proposed commission rates with the Department of Insurance and requires that carriers which do not pay commissions during special enrollments will be required on policy renewals to pay such commissions along with renewal commissions. If passed next year, it takes effect January 1, 2021.
- HB 717, authored by Rep. Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin), relates to the practice of midwifery in Chapter 26 in Title 43 and seeks to create the regulation of midwives, or the “Georgia Licensed Midwife Act.” Among requirements for licensure is a national certification, which would be approved by the board, such as the North American Registry of Midwives and having attended an education program or pathway accredited by the Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council. It would also create an “Advisory Board for Licensed Midwives.”
- HB 724, authored by Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven), seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 16-13-2 concerning conditional discharge for possession of controlled substances as first offenses and certain non-violent property crimes, dismissal of charges, and restitution to victims. It authorizes counties to adopt ordinances governing and punishing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in the unincorporated areas of a county. The maximum fine for punishment for violations would be $1,000.00.
- HR 682, authored by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), creates the House Study Committee on Higher Education Outcomes.
- HR 683, authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), creates the House Study Committee on a Tax Deduction for Members of a Health Care Sharing Organization (HCSO).
- HR 725, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), recognizes the policy recommendation of co-prescribing naloxone with opioid prescriptions to help minimize the opioid epidemic in Georgia.
- SB 267, authored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), amends Titles 31 and 43 to create the “Certified Community Midwife Act”. First the bill repeals the entirety of Title 31 Chapter 26. The bill then amends Title 43 to add a new chapter. The bill defines who can be considered a certified community midwife along with the duties they may perform. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 272, authored by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Columbus), amends Title 16 to prohibit the retail sale of dextromethorphan to minors. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 273, authored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), amends Title 20 to create the Georgia Agriculture and Mechanical University System. The bill outlines the powers, composition, and duties of the new Board of Trustees of the Georgia Agriculture and Mechanical University System. The bill also creates the Georgia Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholars Endowment Trust Fund. This bill was referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
- SB 274, authored by Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), amends Title 31 to create the Advisory Council on Rare Diseases. The bill defines “rare disease” as the definition provided in 21 U.S.C. Sec 360bb. The new Advisory Council will be housed within an academic research institution in Georgia that has a dedicated focus on rare disease research or has received grant funding to support the advancement of rare disease research that is approved by DPH. The bill also provides for the membership and duties of the council. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- SR 459, authored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), requests that all persons testifying before the Senate tell the truth and provides for bans on persons found to have lied to the Senate from providing testimony to the Senate for the remainder of the legislative session. This resolution was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee.
- SR 481, authored by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), encourages local educational agencies to support Georgia’s talented and gifted students by complying all State Board of Education and Georgia Professional Standards Commission guidelines for gifted education. The resolution also calls on agencies that waive gifted education provisions to notify parents of students identified as gifted which provisions it has waived and how it will meet the needs of their gifted students. This resolution was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
- SR 520, authored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), seeks to create the Senate Study Committee on Midwifery Practices. This Study would be conducted by five members of the Senate to be appointed by the President of the Senate. The Committee would be abolished on December 1, 2019.