At the midpoint of a five-session day workweek, neither the House nor the Senate took up any legislative business on the floor today. Legislators quickly dispersed from both chambers to begin an active afternoon of committee meetings ranging from higher education to horse racing. Budget hearings also continued throughout the afternoon today with multiple House Appropriations subcommittees deliberating on the state’s financial commitments.
In today’s Report:
- House Higher Education Committee Hears Loan Forgiveness Bill
- New Legislation
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House Higher Education Committee Hears Loan Forgiveness Bill
The House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), met to consider one bill today. HB 736, authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), amends Title 20 to establish a loan forgiveness program for teachers who agree to teach in a turnaround school in a high-demand subject area. In his presentation, Rep. Belton proposed that that forgiveness of $5,000 per year for five years be offered to up to 1,000 educators (for a maximum cost of $5 million) who agree to teach mathematics, science, special education, or another high-demand subject area in a turnaround school for five years. He noted that there are 2,000 such vacant positions in the state, and forgiveness would be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) asked whether CTAE teachers would be included among the subject areas covered by the bill, to which the author said yes. There was also discussion about whether this forgiveness should be offered to new and veteran teachers who agree to teach in turnaround schools, as well as about how to ensure it promotes the hiring of effective teachers. Josh Stephens of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators spoke in favor of the bill. Rather than taking action on the bill today, Chairman Martin deferred action and suggested assembling a working group from the Committee to analyze and further refine the bill so that the Committee’s questions can be resolved.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House today:
- HB 824, authored by Rep. Erick Allen (D-Smyrna), seeks to establish a special license plate supporting the Friends of the Concord Covered Bridge Historic District, Inc. in O.C.G.A. 40-2-86(l)(64). It also proposes requisite language for constitutional approval requirements. This bill was referred to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.
- HB 828, authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) seeks to add a new Chapter 11 in Title 30 to provide for access to employee toilet facilities in a retail establishment when an individual presents written documentation from a healthcare provider that he or she suffers from an “eligible” medical condition; also it requires that at least three or more employees are working in the retail establishment at the time the request is made; and the employee facility is located in an area of the retail establishment where providing access would not create an obvious risk to the health or safety of the customer or an obvious security risk to the retail establishment. It exempts facilities that sell prescription drugs if the employee toilet facility is located in an area where the customer might gain access to pharmaceuticals and maintains records or information subject to HIPAA if the employee toilet facility is located in an area where the records or information may be accessed. The bill also adds a liability exemption for the retail establishment in certain instances when such toilets are used. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
- HB 829, authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), seeks to amend O.C.G.A. 48-5-7(c.7)(1) so as to provide for a local referenda to authorize assessment of residential homesteaded property owned by individuals who are 65 years of age or older at 20 percent of the fair market value regarding local school district taxes for educational purposes. It adds that such must be approved by approval of voters residing in the local school district. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
- HB 830, authored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), proposes to amend O.C.G.A. 47-20-87 to increase the percentage of an eligible large retirement system’s assets that may be invested in alternative investments. Presently it is five (5) percent; this proposes to move it to ten (10) percent. TRS, however, is still prohibited from investing in alternative investments. This bill was referred to the House Retirement Committee.
- HB 837, authored by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), adds a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 36-62-6.2 to proscribe county development authorities for counties in which at least 95% of the land area is incorporated into one or more municipalities from purchasing property titles, undertaking projects, or granting tax abatements without approval from the Board of Education and governing authority of any county or municipality the project is located in. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
- HR 875, authored by Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia), proposes to create the House Study Committee on Financing Options for Cannabis-based Businesses. The study would be conducted by five members of the House of Representatives and if adopted would be abolished on December 1, 2020. This resolution was referred to the House Special Rules Committee.
- HR 876, authored by Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia), seeks to urge the United States Congress to enact legislation to remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, exempting certain activities related to marijuana facilitating the full spectrum of private banking services for cannabis related businesses and encouraging scientific research related to cannabis products. This resolution was referred to the House Special Rules Committee.
- HR 962, authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize the General Assembly to provide for local referenda to authorize assessment of residential homesteaded property owned by individuals of certain ages at 20 percent of the fair market value of the property regarding local school district taxes. This resolution was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the Senate today:
- SB 316, authored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), seeks to amend Title 43 to provide for military spouses licensed in other states to practice certain professions and occupations to obtain a license by endorsement to practice in Georgia when that spouse of a service member or transitioning service member is stationed within this state; holds a current license to practice such occupation or practice issued by another state for which the training, experience and testing meet at least a majority of the requirements under Georgia to obtain a license; and is in good standing in the other state where the license is held. This bill was referred to the Senate Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee
- SB 320, authored by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), amends O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12 to create a penalty for individuals that fail to update their information with the Sexual Offenders Review Board. This bill was referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee.
- SB 321 , authored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) seeks to revise current law relating to the number of physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses a physician can authorize and supervise at any one time from four to six (combined full time equivalent) in Chapter 34 of Title 43. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
- SB 323, authored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), seeks to provide patient protection measures for patients undergoing sedation in office-based surgery settings. It provides for patients under conscious sedation in dental settings and for dental procedures in O.C.G.A. § 43-11-21. It further seeks to apply to any surgery or invasive medical procedure requiring analgesic or sedation when performed in a location other than a hospital or hospital associated surgical center or an ambulatory surgical facility including but not limited to physicians’ offices and medispas (which are defined in the proposal at O.C.G.A. § 43-34-47 including liposuction, laser procedures, intense pulsed light and injection of cosmetic filling agents and neurotoxins in a nontraditional setting). This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 324, authored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta), creates a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. § 49-4-159 to extend Medicaid services for pregnant women for 12 months after childbirth. This bill was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- SB 325, authored by Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth), amends O.C.G.A. § 17-3-1 to extend the statute of limitations for crimes related to human trafficking from four years to ten years. If the crime occured when a victim is under 18, this ten-year period begins once the victim turns 18. This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- SB 326, authored by Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth), creates O.C.G.A. § 17-10-21 to allow individuals convicted od non-violent offenses directly related to the individual being a victim of human trafficking to petition the court to vacate their conviction and sentence. The bill also stipulates that if a conviction and sentence are vacated subject to the terms of this Code Section, the resulting criminal record shall be restricted. This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.