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Gold Dome

February 7, 2019

Gold Dome Report - February 7, 2019

Although today marked just the tenth legislative day under the Gold Dome, the end of the 2019 Legislative Session is already in sight. Adopting HR 152, the House and Senate agreed to adjourn sine die on April 2, setting up what is sure to be a packed legislative calendar that includes four rare five-day work weeks. The compressed schedule means legislators will quickly work to introduce and consider weighty legislative propositions, including today’s passage of SB 25, a measure aimed at clarifying the circumstances in which a driver need not stop for a school bus, by a 55-0 vote in the Senate. The work will continue in the House tomorrow as that chamber votes on the Amended FY 2019 Budget. Details on the House’s changes to Governor Kemp’s first spending proposal and much more in today’s #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • House Appropriations Committee Approves Amended FY 2019 Budget
  • House, Senate Agree to Schedule Through Sine Die
  • Committee Updates
  • New Legislation
  • Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 11

House Appropriations Committee Approves Amended FY 2019 Budget

The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), met yesterday to put its stamp of approval on the Amended FY 2019 Budget. HB 30, which will be considered by the full House tomorrow, contained the following notable changes from Governor Kemp’s proposal:

  • Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
    • $640,526 reduction to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to recognize one-time savings due to delayed implementation dates.
       
  • Community Health
    • $500,000 increase for Augusta University for recruitment to advance basic science and clinical translational research in women's and childhood cancer.
    • $180,049 reduction to Georgia Board for Physician Workforce: Graduate Medical Education to reduce funds for contracts based on actual slots started.
       
  • Education
    • $1M increase to State Schools for generators at the Georgia School for the Blind and the Georgia School for the Deaf to help ensure the safety and well-being of residential students during inclement weather.
    • $600,000 increase to School Security Grants.
    • $38,860 increase to Agricultural Education for local law enforcement security at youth camps when students are present.
    • $3.5M reduction to Audio-Video Technology and Film Grants eliminating additional audio-video and film equipment grants for rural school systems.
    • $132,617 reduction to Chief Turnaround Officer for personal services based on actual start dates for new positions.
    • $50,000 reduction to Agricultural Education for personal services based on actual start dates for new positions.
       
  • Human Services
    • $504,000 reduction to Child Welfare Services but direction for the Department to utilize surplus funds to assess the readiness of congregate foster care settings to become accredited qualified residential treatment programs pursuant to the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act.
       
  • Public Health
    • $350,000 increase to Adolescent and Adult Health Promotion for an Alzheimer's disease public awareness campaign.
    • $366,858 decrease to Departmental Administration to reflect an adjustment to agency premiums for Department of Administrative Services administered self insurance programs.

House, Senate Agree to Schedule Through Sine Die

The House and Senate each passed HR 152 today, which set the calendar for the remainder of General Assembly’s legislative session. Crossover Day is scheduled for March 7, and the legislature is expected to adjourn sine die on April 2. The complete schedule follows:

Monday, February 11, 2019

Legislative Day 12

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Legislative Day 13

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Legislative Day 14

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Legislative Day 15

Friday, February 15, 2019

Legislative Day 16

 

 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Presidents' Day

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Legislative Day 17

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Legislative Day 18

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Legislative Day 19

Friday, February 22, 2019

Legislative Day 20

 

 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Legislative Day 21

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Legislative Day 22

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Legislative Day 23

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Legislative Day 24

Friday, March 1, 2019

Legislative Day 25

 

 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Legislative Day 26

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Legislative Day 27

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Legislative Day 28 (Crossover Day)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Legislative Day 29

 

 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Legislative Day 30

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Committee Work Day

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Legislative Day 31

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Legislative Day 32

Friday, March 15, 2019

 

 

 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Legislative Day 33

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Committee Work Day

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Committee Work Day

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Legislative Day 34

Friday, March 22, 2019

Legislative Day 35

 

 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Legislative Day 36

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Legislative Day 37

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Committee Work Day

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Legislative Day 38

Friday, March 29, 2019

Legislative Day 39

 

 

Monday, April 1, 2019

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Legislative Day 40

Committee Updates

House Judiciary Committee

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), met to consider three measures today:

  • HB 25, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), amends Titles 10 and 13 to provide military service members civil relief concerning certain contractual obligations due to circumstances of active duty. Specifically, the bill allows a service member who is deployed for 90 days or longer to terminate contracts for television or internet service or gym membership without penalty. Rep. Belton noted that federal law already provides similar protection for leases and loans through the Service Member Civil Relief Act, and the Pentagon has asked states to assist with this type of expanded relief. Brad Carver, who is retired from the Army Reserve, and Joe Ferrero of the Georgia National Guard spoke in favor of the legislation, noting that it is good for individual soldiers and keeping Georgia “military friendly.” Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) asked whether the reference to gyms (“health spas”) should be expanded since the definition referenced excludes non-profit, physician-owned, and skilled nursing gym facilities. The Committee adopted an amendment that would remove those exclusions, and the Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
     
  • HB 91, authored by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), amends Title 31 to allow the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to retain fingerprint records for participants in the Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program for purposes of the federally-authorized Rap Back Program. The Rap Back Program allows for continual background checks rather than only a single background check at time of hire. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
     
  • HB 92, authored by Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough), amends Title 36 to allow municipal court judges to carry over up to six hours of training each year. Municipal court judges are currently required to accrue 12 hours of training each year. Municipal Court Judge Matt McCord spoke in favor of the legislation. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittees

Subcommittee A of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), met to consider two bills yesterday:

  • SB 10, authored by Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta), amends Title 16 to increase the amount of marijuana that must be possessed for a felony from one ounce to two ounces and provides new punishments for possession amounts. Specifically, the bill provides that if a person is in possession of no more than one half ounce, they may be punished by a fine of no more than $300 rather than imprisonment. Sen. Jones provided the subcommittee with a breakdown of marijuana possession laws in other states, highlighting the varied partisan makeup of states that enacted legislation similar to SB 10. Sen. Jones stated that even if Georgia were to enact SB 10, it would still be considered to have more conservative marijuana policies than many Republican states. Chairman Cowsert asked a clarifying question about the definition of possession with intent to sell which will not apply to the new punishments pursuant to SB 10. Thomas Weaver also testified on the bill to point out an inconsistency that the Subcommittee took under advisement. The bill was referred to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for action.
     
  • SB 38, authored by Sen. William Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick), amends Title 15 to exclude pleadings or documents related to the enforcement of child support orders or recovery and documents made physically at a courthouse by an attorney or their designee from electronic filing requirements. This bill also exempts pleadings or filings made by the Attorney General, district attorney, or public defender from electronic filing fee requirements. The bill was requested by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The bill was referred to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for action.

Subcommittee B of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. William Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick), also met to consider two bills yesterday:

  • SB 1, authored by Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta), amends Title 16 to allow for an enhanced penalty for hit-and-run offenses that result in serious bodily injury. Under the bill, such offenses could be charged as a felony with a punishment of imprisonment no less than one year and no more than ten years. Marcus Coleman, cousin of the hit-and-run victim that inspired the legislation, and Ivan Shoestack, a hit-and-run victim himself, spoke in favor of the bill. The bill was referred to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for action.
     
  • SB 9, authored by Sen. Harold Jones II (D-Augusta), amends Title 16 to provide penalties for coercing an individual over the age of 18 to perform a variety of sexually explicit acts. The bill was held for additional work and testimony in the Subcommittee.

Senate Higher Education Committee

The Senate Higher Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), held its first meeting today. The committee began by adopting rules and proceeded to hear testimony on two bills:

  • SB 19, authored by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta), amends Title 20 to authorize the Georgia Student Finance Authority to establish a "Public Safety Officer Higher Education Fund" to provide student aid to individuals who work in public service. Sen. Rhett stated that his thought process behind the bill stems from the principle that investment in public servants creates better public servants. Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Dunwoody) asked whether or not individuals qualified for this scholarship also qualify for the HOPE scholarship. Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) clarified that while there might be a statute of limitations for using the HOPE scholarship in a certain period after high school graduation but this bill would not have similar time limits. Chairman Tippins indicated that a substitute will be presented which raises the GPA requirement from 2.0 to 3.0. Chairman Tippins, after indicating the bill would be only heard today, wished to see a fiscal note for the bill; which Sen. Rhett stated will be out shortly.
     
  • SB 57, authored by Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 20 to create the “Pay Forward, Pay Back Student Grant Act.” This bill authorizes the creation of grant assistance to any eligible student upon the execution of a contractual agreement that the student agrees to pay a percentage of their future annual adjusted gross income to the Georgia Student Finance Authority. Sen. Rahman outlined the reason he introduced the bill, explaining rising issues with student debt in Georgia. He explained that the program created by the bill will allow students to focus more on careers of interest rather than simply careers with the highest wages.

Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) asked what formula would be used to determine the percentage a person pays back based on their wage. He raised concerns with language in the bill that creates a hard cap of 10 years for repayment. Sen. Rahman stated the Georgia Student Finance Commission would determine the formula. Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) raised concerns that without a formula, a fiscal note would not be able to properly predict the financial impact of the bill. Sen. Rahman agreed with the concerns and indicated he would work to fix the bill. Chairman Tippins noted that because the bill considers all students in Georgia eligible, and is dependant on budget allocations, there would not be enough funds for every student that applies.

Caylee Noggle, Interim President of the Georgia Student Finance Commission gave the Commission’s input on the bill. No other state has a statewide program of this type but some individual schools offer similar options to students. She stated similar programs typically set repayment as 1-2% of a student’s income. The Georgia Student Finance Commission has no position on the bill but is willing to work with the committee.

Chairman Tippins asked if other grants have performance requirements to continue receiving funds. Most grants require students to maintain good standing with their institution. The bill was held pending further consideration.

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), met today to introduce its members and assign them to subcommittees. Members began by introducing themselves and describing why education is an important issue for them. Chairman Jasperse told members of the committee to perform due diligence on all legislation and to make sure they study the issues at hand. Vice-Chair Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) announced the chairmen of the Education Subcommittees:

  • Academic Achievement: Rep. Mike Cheokas (R-Americus)
  • Academic Support: Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock)
  • Academic Innovation: Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead)

The following bills were assigned to subcommittee:

  • HB 1: Academic Support
  • HB 32: Academic Achievement
  • HB 59: Academic Achievement
  • HB 69: Academic Support
  • HB 78: Academic Achievement
  • HB 130: Academic Support

New Legislation

The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House today:

  • HB 19, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), amends Title 8 to create a comprehensive civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and employment. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
     
  • HB 158, authored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), amends Title 49 to require that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral treatments used to treat HIV/AIDS as to those included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
     
  • HB 160, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), amends Title 31 to reinstate a Department of Community Health pilot program for bariatric surgical procedures for the treatment and management of obesity and related conditions under the State Health Insurance Program. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
     
  • HB 165, authored by Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville), amends Title 16 to authorizes the GBI to retain fingerprints from weapons carry license and license renewal applications. This bill was referred to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
     
  • HB 166, authored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), is the the “Genetic Counselors Act”. The bill amends Title 43 to authorize the licensure of genetic counselors. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
     
  • HB 168, authored by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), amends Title 48 to extend a tax exemption regarding the sale or use of tangible personal property to certain non-profit health centers for an additional 5 years. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
     
  • HB 169, authored by Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus), amends Title 20 to require the Board of Education to create a course of study in financial education for grades K-12. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
     
  • HB 170, authored by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), amends Title 48 to raise the aggregate amount of education donation tax credits from $5 million to $15 million. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The following legislation of interest was introduced in the Senate today:

  • SB 60, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), amends Title 20 to provide guidelines and other relevant materials to inform high school students participating in interscholastic athletic activities about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. This bill also provides for removal from athletic activities under certain circumstances. This bill was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
     
  • SB 61, authored by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), amends Title 31 to exempt integrated surgery centers from certificate of need requirements. More specifically this bill applies to ambulatory surgery centers built and operated in connection with an integrated athletic training and educational facility for youth, amateur, and professional athletes, medical research activities, and physician training and education for sports medicine. This bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
     
  • SB 62, authored by Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain), amends Title 48 to provide a 100% tax credit for expenses associated with qualified child and dependent care. This bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. 
     
  • SB 64, authored by Sen. William Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick), amends Title 15 to include acts of terroristic threats directed towards individuals at, or generally against, an educational facility or school as a Class B designated felony act. This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
     
  • SB 66, authored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), is the “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act”. The bill amends Title 36 to streamline the deployment of wireless broadband in the public rights of way. This bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.  

Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 11

The House will take up the following measure tomorrow for Legislative Day 11:

  • HB 30 -- Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2018 - June 30,
    2019 (App-Ralston-7th)(Committee Substitute)

The Senate will take up the following measure tomorrow for Legislative Day 11:

  • SR 19 -- Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics; create (Substitute)(TRANS-21st)