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Gold Dome

January 23, 2018

Gold Dome Report - January 23, 2018

While the House and Senate were relatively quiet today as the General Assembly observed its Eighth Legislative Day, the halls were alive with advocates for behavioral health during Mental Health Day at the Capitol. After hearing from Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald and several individuals sharing their recovery stories at a Depot breakfast, advocates set out to talk with legislators about the importance of accessible behavioral health services in Georgia.

Tomorrow will mark Georgia Cancer Awareness Day at the Capitol, sponsored by Georgia CORE, and the Senate and House are expected to take up their first Rules Calendars on Thursday and Monday, respectively. The current adjournment calendar only sets the legislative schedule through Monday, and the Amended FY 2018 budget is expected to emerge from the Appropriations Committee next week.

In this issue:

  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation

Committee Reports

House Judiciary

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) met today to consider two propositions:

  • HB 190, authored by Rep. Megan Hanson (R-Brookhaven), is a cleanup bill intended to eliminate marriage articles and require that prenuptial contracts be signed by both parties and witnessed by two individuals, including one notary. The bill is a priority for the Family Law Section of the State Bar and has been endorsed by the Judiciary Committee several times without later consideration on the House floor. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute.
  • HB 630, authored by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), amends Title 15 to modernize and clean up the Code related to probate courts and clarify and provide for the training and appointment of probate judges. The legislation provides for few functional changes in how probate courts operate and how probate judges are trained in reality but generally updates the Code to reflect such operations and training. At the request of Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville), the legislation also allows for judge advocates in the National Guard to be appointed as associate probate judges. The legislation also increases the bond for probate courts to $100,000. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute.

New Legislation

The following legislation was read and referred to committee in the House on Monday:

  • HB 718, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), amends Title 20 to require primary and secondary schools to allow up to five excused absences for students with a parent actively serving in the armed forces for the purpose of allowing participation in individual or group therapy recommended by a physician or psychologist. This bill was referred to the Education Committee.
  • HB 719, authored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex), amends Title 8 to require housing authorities to develop and implement policies granting housing preferences to veterans who are homeless. This bill was referred to the Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee.
  • HB 722, authored by Rep. David Casas (R-Lilburn), amends the Move On When Ready Act in Title 20 to expand the definition of “eligible postsecondary institution” where a student may earn dual credit. The bill expands the definition to include any nonprofit, baccalaureate degree granting institution that has been in 10+ years with a physical location in Georgia and is accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. The bill was referred to the Education Committee.