As doorkeepers threw open the doors to the House and Senate at midnight, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston’s gavels fell on the 2019 Legislative Session last night, adjourning Sine Die. The adjournment marked the conclusion of a session that started in a slow Super Bowl haze before reaching breakneck speed as legislators introduced over 2,400 pieces of legislation, many of which dealt with controversial issues and presented substantial policy shifts for the state. Legislators and lobbyists alike displayed visible relief as they departed the Gold Dome in the early morning hours today but acknowledged work is not yet done and many fights are not yet over. Indeed, Governor Kemp now has until May 12, 2019, to sign or veto legislation, there are numerous study committees to meet in the interim, and any legislation that did not pass or fail this spring lives on for next year, the second year of the 2019-2020 Biennium.
In this #GoldDomeReport, we recap notable legislative action in the closing hours of Legislative Day 40 and preview study committees heading your way this summer and fall. While we will be back to report on Governor Kemp’s actions on legislation and other developments in the offseason, we appreciate your loyal readership over the past three months and look forward to sharing many more Reports ahead!
In this Report:
- Additional Bills and Resolutions Cross Finish Line on Legislative Day 40
- Notable Propositions Stall in Final Hours
- Upcoming Study Committees
Additional Bills and Resolutions Cross Finish Line on Legislative Day 40
The following bills and resolutions of interest achieved final passage after our deadline yesterday:
- 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, and the House agreed to the Substitute by a 152-4 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- 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 House agreed to the Senate Substitute by a 155-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 79, authored by Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City), amends Title 30 to provide that blind persons shall not be discriminated against by the courts, Department of Human Services, or a child-placing agency in matters relating to child custody, guardianship, foster care, visitation, placement, or adoption. The Senate agreed to the House amendment to the Senate Substitute to the bill by a 49-1 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- 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 yesterday, and the House receded from its position to constitute final passage. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 239, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), amends Title 15 to establish a Georgia Statewide Business Court. The Senate voted 53-2 to agree to the House amendment to the Senate Substitute to the bill, constituting final passage. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- 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, and the House agreed to the Senate Substitute by a 156-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 323, authored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), amends Title 33 to add new restrictions on actions by pharmacy benefits managers. These new restrictions include prohibitions on referring an insured to an affiliated pharmacy for the provision of pharmacy care services; transferring or sharing records containing patient-identifiable and prescriber-identifiable data to an affiliated pharmacy for any commercial purpose; making any false or misleading statement to an insured, pharmacist, pharmacy, dispenser, or dispenser practice; restricting an insured from utilizing any in-network pharmacy or dispenser practice; and, implementing any medication management program that alters or denies access to ongoing therapy. The House agreed to the Senate Substitute to the bill by a 158-0 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 324, authored by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), is the “Georgia’s Hope Act”. The bill amends Title 16 to create the Office of Low THC Oil Control within the Department of Public Health which is to have the authority to issue licenses for the production, growing, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil. The House (147-16) and Senate (34-20) agreed to the Conference Committee Report, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 345, authored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), amends Title 42 to prohibit the shackling of women in prisons and jails in the state who are pregnant or postpartum. The Senate approved the bill by Substitute, and the House agreed to the Senate Substitute by a 152-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- 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, and House agreed to the Senate Substitute by a 154-3 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 478, authored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), seeks to make changes so as to make changes to the Child Abuse Registry. It strikes juveniles from the registry (it is a registry for those who have a substantiated abuse against them - separate from criminal prosecution); clarifies language; changes the format and allows notification before placement on the registry and an appeal and delineates what must be sent to the individual; permits a stay in a criminal prosecution in concert with case for substantiated abuse; and outlines requirements before an Administrative Law Judge. The Senate agreed to the House amendment to the Senate Substitute to the bill by a 49-0 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- HB 543, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), amends Title 19 to set forth the process by which a court by adjudicate an individual to be an equitable caregiver. The Senate passed the bill by Substitute, and the House voted to agree to the Senate Substitute by a 152-3 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- SB 15, authored by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), is the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” The House passed a Substitute (110-56) to the bill that requires: site threat assessments in every public school at least every five years (conducted by GEMA, local law enforcement, or private contractors) for implementation in the school’s safety plan; safety drills involving local law enforcement; annual safety reports published by local districts; a designated school safety coordinator in each school; best practice sharing between the Department of Education, law enforcement entities, and others; maintenance of the “See Something, Say Something” or similar app; and information sharing between schools and law enforcement. The Senate agreed to the House Substitute by a 42-11 vote, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- SB 214, authored by Sen. P. K. Martin, IV (R-Lawrenceville), amends Title 43 to reduce the number of apprenticeship hours by half of current requirements for cosmetologists, hair designers, nail technicians, estheticians, master barbers and barbers II. The bill also requires the “good moral character” requirement for these licenses. In Conference Committee, conferees agreed to a version of this bill that incorporates HB 42, Rep. Scot Turner’s (R-Holly Springs) measure that prohibits professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking a license of a person who is in default of an educational loan. The House (151-7) and Senate (42-8) agreed to the Conference Committee Report, and the bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
- 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, and the Senate agreed to the House Substitute by a 52-0 vote. The bill proceeds to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Notable Propositions Stall in Final Hours
Although legislators worked until midnight to pass as many bills as possible, there were several notable propositions that were acted upon yesterday but failed to achieve final approval before adjournment Sine Die. These bills remain alive for consideration next year.
- 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 disagreed with the Substitute yesterday. The Senate failed to take further action to achieve final passage for the bill.
- 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 failed to take further action, and the bill stalled until next year.
- SB 128, authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), was stripped by the House to include the contents of HB 276, Rep. Brett Harrell’s (R-Snellville) “marketplace facilitator” bill that would have required companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb to collect sales tax from customers. The Senate failed to take any action on the House Substitute, and the bill stalled.
- SB 131, authored by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson), is the “Georgia Major Airport Authority Act.” In its original form, the bill would have provided a pathway for the State of Georgia to assume control of the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. However, the House passed a Substitute to the bill that weakened the provisions relating to the Atlanta Airport (providing for an advisory committee rather than complete control) and added on additional transportation measures, including the jet fuel tax exemption that would primarily benefit Delta Air Lines. Due to the changes, the House and Senate could not come to agreement on the bill before adjournment.
Upcoming Study Committees
We expect that the following study committees will meet during the interim. Standing committees in the House and Senate may also hold special meetings to discuss particular issues. Follow the action of many of these committees with us at #GoldDomeReport.
- Johnny Tolbert III House Study Committee on Heat-Related Injuries, Cardiac Injuries, and other Sports-Related Injuries -- Created by HR 259, sponsored by Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point).
- House Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers -- Created by HR 261, sponsored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta)
- House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health -- Created by HR 421, sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome)
- House Study Committee on Innovative Financial Options for Senior Living -- Created by HR 533, sponsored by Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta)
- House Study Committee on Exploring a Floor and Trade Charity Care System -- Created by HR 584, sponsored by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth)
- House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention -- Created by HR 585, sponsored by Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City)
- House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality -- Created by HR 589, sponsored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta)
- House Study Committee on Georgia's Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care -- Created by HR 590, sponsored by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain)
- House Study Committee on Workforce Housing -- Created by HR 591, sponsored by Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain)
- Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders -- Created by SR 153, sponsored by Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta)
- Senate Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers -- Created by SR 202, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome)
- Senate Athletic Association Study Committee -- Created by SR 304, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White)
- Senate Study Committee on Portable Benefits for Independent Workers -- Created by SR 325, sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta)
- Senate Study Committee on Community Schools -- Created by SR 353, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur)
- Senate Passenger Vehicle Seat Safety Belt Study Committee -- Created by SR 366, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia)
- Senate Gaming and Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia's Equine Industry Study Committee -- Created by SR 367, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta)
- Senate Protections From Sexual Predators Study Committee -- Created by SR 371, sponsored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus)
- Senate Reducing Waste in Health Care Study Committee -- Created by SR 431, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta)
- Senate Reducing Georgia's Cost of Doing Business Study Committee -- Created by SR 433, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)
- Senate Study Committee on Creating a Georgia Agricultural Marketing Authority - Created by SR 442, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry)
- Senate Study Committee on the Financial Efficiency Star Rating -- Created by SR 452, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur)
- Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Landscape Workforce Access Study Committee -- Created by SR 460, sponsored by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa)
- Senate Higher Education Outcomes Study Committee -- Created by SR 464, sponsored by Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville)
- Senate Study Committee on Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia -- Created by SR 468, sponsored by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro)
- Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee -- Created by SR 479, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)