Legislative Day 39
With one legislative day remaining, the General Assembly kicked in high gear today to wrap up consideration of legislation for the 2020 Legislative Session. Most notably, conferees on the FY 2021 State Budget returned their Conference Committee Report on the spending plan that will take effect on July 1. In revealing the highlights of the budget compromise this afternoon, House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) announced there would be no furlough days required of State employees, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) noted that the report includes full funding of county public health grants and six months of postpartum care for Medicaid recipients. Additional details on the spending plan, which is expected to be approved by the House and Senate later today or tomorrow, are in today’s Report.
In addition to the budget deal, Legislative Day 39 has been a meaty one under the Gold Dome — despite final passage of a bill banning representation of nonanimal products and non-slaughtered animal flesh as meat (SB 211). The House gave final passage to bills providing for healthcare transparency and PBM regulation (HB 991 and HB 946), allowing for background checks for psychologists and physical therapists (HB 752), and eliminating a child abuse registry that may violate due process (HB 993). The Senate also gave final passage to a number of propositions, including legislation establishing an all payers claim database (SB 482), reducing K-12 testing to near the federal required minimum (SB 367), and reducing legislative pay in light of COVID-19 (SB 211). Representatives and Senators continue to perfect measures as this Report publishes.
Our team will continue to follow action into the night and Legislative Day 40 tomorrow, including consideration of the budget compromise and dueling proposals to limit liability for COVID-19 exposures (HB 167 and SB 359). Follow us on Twitter at #GoldDomeReport.
In this Report:
- Conferees Agree on FY21 Budget Deal
- Notable Floor Action
Conferees Agree on FY 2021 Budget Deal
After several days of diligent work behind the scenes, House and Senate conferees on the FY 2021 State Budget emerged today with a deal. After thanking staff and colleagues for their hard work, House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) gave highlights on the compromise, which Chairman England noted looked “much different” than the version passed by the State Senate late last week (thanks to Governor Kemp’s revised revenue estimate earlier this week that decreased the anticipated revenue shortfall from 11% to 10%). Highlights shared included:
- No furlough days required in the budget for State employees;
- In education, a 10% reduction in the Quality Basic Education formula but full funding of enrollment growth, training and experience, equalization, sparsity, and student transportation;
- In health and public health, full funding for six months of Medicaid postpartum care and county public health grants;
- In behavioral health and developmental disabilities, restoration of many contracts for provision of direct services; and
- An enhanced bond package to get Georgians back to work.
The Conference Committee Report is being printed for legislators as we publish, and an electronic copy will be available here later this evening. Representatives and Senators will vote on the budget late tonight or tomorrow before adjourning sine die.
Notable Floor Action
The Senate was still working its way through the Rules Calendar at press time. Below is a selection of legislation and special action that passed through the chamber today.
- SB 367, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin, IV (R-Lawrenceville), addresses the number of required student assessments found in Title 20. The Senate agreed to the House changes by a vote of 45-0.
- SB 445, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), allows entities other than cities or municipalities to be designated as water and sewer authorities. The Senate agreed to the House changes by a vote of 46-0.
- SB 482, authored by Sen. Burke, MD (R-Bainbridge), creates the All Payers Claims Database in Chapter 53 of Title 31. The Senate agreed to House changes by a vote of 45-0.
- HB 86, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), allows teachers who have received “unsatisfactory” or “ineffective” performance reviews to appeal the decision. This bill passed by a vote of 49-0.
- HB 521, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), allows for temporary licenses for dentists licensed in other states to provide care for indigent populations. This bill passed by a vote of 52-0.
- HB 716, sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah), requires that insurance carriers issuing a health benefit plan through an agent shall file proposed commission rates with the department. This bill passed by a vote of 49-0.
- HB 755, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), requires local boards of education to provide preliminary annual allotment sheets to charter schools. This bill passed by a vote of 50-0.
- HB 846, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), includes the internal revenue code update. The bill also contains provisions related to refunds on tax overpayments. This bill passed by a vote of 46-3.
- HB 855, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), calls for the State Board of Education to develop eligibility criteria for foster care students to receive special education and related services. Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) proposed an amendment to move the effective date to July 1, 2021 and move the required date of implementation to August 1, 2021. This bill passed, as amended, by a vote of 49-0.
- HB 893, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry), codifies that the collection of Special Insurance Fraud Fund assessments can be conducted once per year rather than quarterly. This bill passed by a vote of 49-0.
- HB 984, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), clarifies when sentencing can be appealed, when the sentence begins, and the process for explaining credit for time served. This bill passed by a vote of 45-0.
- HB 901, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), gives the Environmental Finance Authority the power to make loans to local governments and non-government agencies. This bill passed by a vote of 901.
- HB 914, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), allows for military spouses licensed for certain professions in other states to practice in Georgia. Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen) proposed an amendment to revise Code to allow for the use of a “cremation device” other than a retort. This bill passed, as amended, by a vote of 42-8.
- HB 1090, sponsored by Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth), requires state employers to give employees break time to pump breast milk. This bill passed by a vote of 45-1.
In the House, Speaker Ralston moved matters swiftly along. The Rules Calendar starting the day was short with only four bills:
- SB 211, by Senator Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), addresses advertisement practices regarding non-animal products and non-slaughtered animal flesh as meat. This legislation was presented to the House in the form of a Committee Substitute by Representative Tom McCall (R-Elbert). This initiative is intended to provide the consumer information so that they can understand what they are purchasing (such as what a “veggie” burger is). Representative McCall reminded his colleagues that regardless if the burger is from plant-based products or from cattle the burger is from the farm. The House passed SB 211 with a vote of 156-0; the Senate must now agree to the changes in the Committee Substitute.
- SB 341, by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), permits the re-employment of retired police officers (post-certified individuals) in the event of emergencies and disasters. Representative James Burchett (R-Waycross) presented the legislation to the House and it was passed by a vote of 145-7, moving now to the Governor’s desk.
- SB 413, by Senator P.K. Martin, IV (R-Lawrenceville), addresses public hearings to be conducted by cities, counties and state agencies so that such hearings may be held virtually in times of emergencies. This legislation has been vetted by cities, counties and the press. Representative Andy Welch (R-McDonough) presented the Rules Committee Substitute which was passed swiftly with a vote of 158-0.
The House also took up a number of bills to address special actions:
- HB 752, by Representative Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation addresses Title 43 changes regarding criminal record checks (by FBI and GCIC) to be performed for certain professions. This cleans up the criminal records check language interstate compacts passed in 2019 for physical therapists, psychologists, and physicians. The House agreed to the Substitute with a vote of 143-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 781, by Representative Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), was before the House for it to agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation is the annual Department of Banking and Finance update of laws in Title 7. The House agreed to that Substitute with a vote of 157-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 823, by Representative Houston Gaines (R-Athens), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute (which only changed an effective date). This legislation amends O.C.G.A.16-5-46 and 40-5-151, relating to trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude and disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle and action required after suspending, revoking, or canceling license or nonresident privileges, respectively, so as to provide for a lifetime disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle by persons convicted of trafficking other persons for labor or sexual servitude while using a commercial motor vehicle. The House agreed with a vote of 149-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 865, by Representative Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. The House agreed with a vote of 154, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 879, by Representative Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation addresses sales of alcohol and contains HB 674 provisions regarding streamlining the permit renewals. It also addresses the previously enacted “Brunch Bill” and allows referendums in local jurisdictions to continue but permits sales by restaurants both for both on and off-premises consumption. It also addresses delivery of beer and wine as well as packaged spirits with safeguards in place for such sales, along with documentation. It further permits “tastings” with the language added from SB 146. The House agreed with a vote of 114-45, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk. HB 897, by Representative Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), was before the House for it to agree to the Senate Substitute. This bill creates a website relating to timber harvesting notification which will take effect on October 1, 2020. The House agreed to that Substitute with a vote of 161-1, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 953, by Representative Bonnie Rich (R-Sugar Hill), moved that the House agree to the Senate Amendment. This legislation, at the request of the Department of Administrative Services, addresses contents of state contracts and permits the state to enter into cooperative purchasing agreements in Title 50. The House agreed with a vote of 158-0, moving this legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 946, by Representative David Knight (R-Griffin), was before the House for it to agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation addresses regulation of pharmacy benefit managers and mirrors SB 313 which the House passed earlier in the week. The House agreed to that Substitute with a vote of 158-1, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 991, by Representative Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), was before the House for it to agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation also addresses pharmacy benefit managers and creates a Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Committee in Title 31. The House agreed to that Substitute with a vote of 158-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 993, by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation, in part, eliminates the child abuse registry as that information is captured in the SHINES system. The House agreed with a vote of 153-0.
- HB 1039, by Representative Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), moved that the House agree to the Senate Amendment. This legislation addresses Title 13 and the automatic renewals of service contracts. The House agreed with a vote of 151-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 1093, by Representative Steven Meeks (R-Screven), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This legislation creates an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Wine and Grapes in Chapter 8 of Title 2. The House agreed with a vote of 150-8, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 1098, by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This underlying bill addresses a Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan - it streamlines reporting, makes changes to billboard requirements, and addresses acquisitions. The House agreed with a vote of 153-4, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HR 1163, by Representative Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), moved that the House agree to the Senate Substitute. This is a road and bridge naming Resolution. The House agreed with a vote of 156-0, moving the legislation to the Governor’s desk.
- HR 1300, by Representative Clay Pirkle (R-) is a Resolution addressing easements and roads in Glynn County. The Senate Substitute added language to rename a state park in Reidsville the Jack Hill State Park in honor of the late Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill. The House agreed with a vote of 159-0, moving the initiative to the Governor’s desk.
- SB 20, by Senator Doc Rhett (D-Marietta), was presented to the House by Representative Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) who asked that the House recede from its position on the legislation where it had added language relating authorizing the Commissioner of Agriculture to promulgate and adopt rules and regulations relating to fertilizers and revising the time at which certain municipal solid waste disposal facility surcharges will increase. The underlying legislation addresses banking empowerment zones; the language addressing fertilizers and solid waste management is addressed in another bill. The House receded from its position.