The General Assembly ticked another legislative day off the calendar today, but the halls echoed mostly empty as many lawmakers and lobbyists dispersed early for the weekend. With no business to take up on the House or Senate floor and no committees meeting this afternoon, the day’s action was largely confined to gossip swirling around the status of the state’s budget and the timing for addressing the financial needs of Georgia and its citizens. Prevailing winds suggest that finding resolution may take a while, but it will depend on the status of revenues and whether those begin to move upward after lagging for several months. On a positive note though, late yesterday, Governor Kemp signed HB 276, the marketplace facilitator legislation that will take effect on April 1, 2020 and apply to sales on and after that date. That legislation is projected to bring in, at minimum, $10 million monthly in internet sales and use taxes to bolster the state’s revenues. This bill is just one of a number of legislative initiatives that may impact the revenue picture over the next few weeks. It may also require that the Governor revise his revenue estimate for FY 2021 since collections based on new legislation was not included in the original revenue calculation used to formulate the budget proposals. We may be here a while, but lucky for you, our #GoldDomeReport team is not knocking off early or going anywhere until adjournment Sine Die--whenever that may be!
In today’s Report:
- New Legislation
- Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 10
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House today:
- HB 853, authored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), creates O.C.G.A. 40-2-63.2 to provide for the creation of a new special license plate for elected tax commissioners. This bill was referred to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.
- HB 855, authored by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), creates a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 20-2-152.2 to require the State Board of Education to adopt criteria for the determination of foster care students’ eligibility for special education. Specifically, the bill lists evidence of the effect of trauma on a foster care student’s school performance. Local school systems are required to make these determinations immediately upon the student’s enrollment. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
- HB 863, authored by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs), amends O.C.G.A. 33-3-21.1 to require that any insurer of property and casualty must include, in their annual report to the Insurance Commissioner, information about:
- Motor vehicle bodily injury liability insurance, including medical pay insurance
- Motor vehicle personal injury protection insurance
- Motor vehicle property liability insurance
- Uninsured motorist insurance; or
- Underinsured motorist insurance
- Number of claims at the end of the previous year
- Aggregate dollar amount of claims at the end of the previous year
- Aggregate dollar amount of claims closed with payment at the end of the previous year
- Number of policy owners at the end of the previous year
- Direct premiums written at the end of the previous year.
This bill was referred to the House Insurance Committee.
- HB 864, authored by Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee), amends Title 48 to add new definitions for nicotine vapor devices and other electronic smoking devices. Additionally, the bill alters the state’s tobacco excise tax to include vapor devices; at a rate of 7%. The bill also creates a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 48-11-4.1 which sets forth a licensing process for sellers of vapor products. Each vapor license will cost $25.00 for the initial year of registration and $10.00 for subsequent renewals and will be required for each individual place of business.
- HR 1023, authored by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to provide that individuals may petition the judiciary for declaratory relief from certain acts of the state or certain local governments or officers or employees thereof that violate the laws or Constitution of this state or the Constitution of the United States. Such petitions must be brought in the name of the State or local government entity that is being petitioned. Petitions may seek injunctive relief, but no damages, attorney’s fees, or costs would be recoverable. The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the Senate today:
- SB 335, authored by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), is an initiative backed by Lt. Governor Duncan and proposes include a number of policy goals around the state’s foster care system and the children and families that are served by the Division of Families and Children’s Service (“DFCS”). Among the inclusions in this bill are:
- A new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 12-3-9.2 so as to waive any admission fees to a state park, historic site or recreational area operated by the state for any child in temporary or permanent custody of DFCS. Fees are also waived for the child’s foster care parents or such child’s relative or fictive kin serving as a placement for that child.
- The bill also adds language in O.C.G.A. 15-11-64 to require that juvenile courts are to collect data on all cases in which a child alleged or adjudicated to be a child in need of services or a delinquent child is placed in foster care and has also been alleged or adjudicated to be a dependent child. Data collected is to show information on courts’ adherence to timeframe requirements/deadlines which are outlined in O.C.G.A. 15-11-102.
- Changes in O.C.G.A. 15-11-110(c) , addressing continuances of hearings in a dependency proceeding so as to clarify that hearings with dependency case time limitations, required by O.C.G.A. 15-11-102 and termination of parental rights hearings are to take priority in attorney conflict resolution over all other civil and criminal hearings and non-jury appearances in any other class of trial court.
- Changes to O.C.G.A. 49-5-8, regarding the powers and duties of the Department of Human Services, so that the Department is authorized to contract with, certify, or partner with licensed child-placing agencies to assist with or provide casework services. It further adds that the Department is authorized to require varying levels of initial and annual training (which may be offered online) based on the experience of foster parents, the age and needs of the foster child/children, and whether the foster parents are providing only “respite care.”
This bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- SB 337, authored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), amends O.C.G.A. 16-11-90 to outlaw the act of transmitting a falsely created videographic or still image depicting nudity or sexually explicit conduct of an adult. This bill was referred to the Senate Science and Technology Committee.
- SB 339, authored by Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta), seeks to provide for a Medicaid public option program to provide healthcare coverage to individuals who are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or the PeachCare for Kids Programs in new Code sections at O.C.G.A. 49-4-200 et seq. The bill requires DCH to establish the Georgia Reliable Insurance Network. This network must include at least the same coverage provided to recipients of Medicaid including essential health benefits (exclusive of dental or nonemergency transportation coverage). DCH must administer the network through Medicaid CMOs and establish special enrollment periods. DCH must also maintain an outreach campaign to keep Georgians informed of the program. Lastly, the bill’s funding structure includes a mandate for DCH to perform an actuarial study to determine the costs of the program; with results submitted to the General Assembly no later than October 31, 2020. The bill’s provisions only become effective upon the General Assembly providing specific appropriations in its 2021 general session. If no funds are allocated in the 2021 session, the bill’s text would stand repealed on June 30, 2021. This bill was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- SB 340, authored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), provides in Chapter 4 of Title 1 that September 1 of each year shall be Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Georgia. The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- SR 652, by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), designates the month of September as Veterans’ Suicide Awareness Month in Georgia. This Resolution was Read and Adopted.
- SR 664, authored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), recognizes the week of February 3-7, 2020 as National School Counseling Week. This resolution was Read and Adopted.
Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 10
The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Monday for Legislative Day 10:
- SB 296 - Funeral Directors and Embalmers; alternative cremation process; provide (RI&U-31st)
- SR 554 - Iran; protest the hostile actions of the Iranian regime without subjection to violent retaliation; support the rights of the people of Iran (RULES45th)
- SR 538 - U.S. Congress; pursuing impeachment proceedings against President Donald J. Trump; condemn (RULES-51st)