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Gold Dome

Feb. 26, 2021

Gold Dome Report — Legislative Day 24

Legislators closed out a long week at the State Capitol on Friday with a flurry of activity on the respective chambers’ floors. The House approved 16 measures, including bills enacting the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact Act (HB 395) and requiring insurers to offer “reasonably priced” health insurance policies (HB 509), while the Senate signed off on 9 bills covering topics from college hazing (SB 85) to campaign contributions (SB 221) to medication aides in nursing homes (SB 215). Though Representatives and Senators managed to complete the relatively long rules calendars, their committee schedule for the afternoon proved overly ambitious. By 2PM, most meetings had been cancelled and legislators were headed for the parking deck. The five consecutive legislative days this week had taken its toll on lawmakers and lobbyists alike, punting the perfection of legislation in committee to Monday.

The House adopted (with tacit Senate approval) an adjournment resolution that will bring legislators back to the Capitol on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week and set the stage for Crossover Day on March 8 and adjournment Sine Die on March 31. More on the remainder of the legislative schedule and today’s activity in this edition of the #GoldDomeReport.

In today’s Report:

  • House Approves Schedule Through Sine Die
  • Floor Notes
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 25

House Approves Schedule Through Sine Die

As its final item of business before heading into the weekend, the House approved an adjournment resolution on Friday that sets the schedule for the remainder of the 2021 Legislative Session. Although the Senate did not vote on the schedule, comments from Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan on the Senate floor suggest the upper chamber is in agreement. The schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 1

Legislative Day 25

Tuesday, March 2

Committee Day

Wednesday, March 3

Legislative Day 26

Thursday, March 4

Committee Day

Friday, March 5

Legislative Day 27

 

 

Monday, March 8

Legislative Day 28 (Crossover Day)

Tuesday, March 9

Legislative Day 29

Wednesday, March 10

Legislative Day 30

Thursday, March 11

Legislative Day 31

Friday, March 12

In adjournment

 

 

Monday, March 15

Legislative Day 32

Tuesday, March 16

Legislative Day 33

Wednesday, March 17

Legislative Day 34

Thursday, March 18

Legislative Day 35

Friday, March 19

In adjournment

 

 

Monday, March 22

Legislative Day 36

Tuesday, March 23

Legislative Day 37

Wednesday, March 24

Committee Day

Thursday, March 25

Legislative Day 38

Friday, March 26

Committee Day

 

 

Monday, March 29

Legislative Day 39

Tuesday, March 30

Committee Day

Wednesday, March 31

Legislative Day 40 (Sine Die)

 

Floor Notes

House

The following bills were taken up by the House on the debate calendar:

  • HB 152 Postsecondary education; exemption applicable to certain institutions operating on military installations or bases; revise provisions (Substitute)(HEd-Wiedower-119th) Bill passed by Substitute 165-0.
     
  • HB 271 Community Health, Department of; assess one or more provider matching payments on ambulance services; authorize (Substitute) (H&HS-Reeves-34th)  Bill passed by Substitute 160-0.
     
  • HB 275 Fire protection and safety; random drug tests for certain firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, paramedics, and cardiac technicians; require (Substitute)(PS&HS-McDonald-26th)  Bill passed by Substitute 132-0.
     
  • HB 289 Motor vehicles; issuance of Class C drivers' licenses; provide for requirements (Substitute)(MotV-Belton-112th)  Bill passed by Substitute 162-0.
     
  • HB 336 Agriculture; hemp farming; compliance with federal laws and regulations; provide (Substitute)(A&CA-Corbett-174th)  Bill passed by Substitute 153-12.
     
  • HB 338 Motor vehicles; issuance of veterans' driver's licenses; revise qualifications (Substitute)(MotV-DeLoach-167th)  Bill passed by Substitute 161-0.
     
  • HB 370 Health; term limits for members of joint hospital authorities; provide (H&HS-Jones-47th)  Bill passed 105-59.
     
  • HB 384 Motor vehicles; issuance of traffic citation to vehicle owner in lieu of individual operating motor vehicle in certain instances; provide (MotV-Dollar-45th) Bill passed 133-27.
     
  • HB 395 The Professional Counselors Licensure Compact Act; enact (Substitute)(RegI-Belton-112th)  Bill passed by Substitute 133-0.
     
  • HB 409 Judicial Legal Defense Fund Commission; establish (Substitute) (Judy-Gunter-8th)  Bill passed by Substitute 137-0.
     
  • HB 437 Local government; attendants at self-service motor fuel establishments to dispense motor fuel to individuals with special disabilities; require (Substitute)(H&HS-Howard-124th) Bill passed by Substitute 142-17.
     
  • HB 449 Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act; revise (EU&T-Smith-133rd) Bill passed 160-0.
     
  • HB 458 Georgia Composite Medical Board; require certain training relating to sexual misconduct for members (Substitute)(H&HS-Cooper-43rd)  Bill passed by Substitute 131-27.
     
  • HB 488 Courts; increase minimum compensation for chief magistrates and others; provide (Judy-Scoggins-14th)  Bill passed 154-7.
     
  • HB 509 Insurance; require certain insurers to make at least one reasonably priced comprehensive major medical health insurance policy available (Ins-Gaines-117th) Bill passed 121-11.
     
  • HR 77 State veterans cemetery; Augusta-Richmond County; support creation (D&VA-Prince-127th) Modified Structured Rule  Resolution passed 132-0.

Senate

The following bills were taken up by the Senate on the debate calendar:

  • SB 28 Juvenile Code and Domestic Relations; provisions relating to the protection of children; strengthen, clarify and update (JUDY-50th)  The bill passed 49-0.
     
  • SB 85 "Max Gruver Act"; enact (Substitute) (JUDY-56th) The bill had an amendment addressing penalties for those 17 and over.  The bill passed as amended 49-0.
     
  • SB 115 Drivers' Licenses; instructional course; educating drivers and the public on best practices to implement when interacting with law enforcement officers; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-29)  The bill passed by Substitute 36-13.
     
  • SB 116 Children and Youth Services; registration of maternity supportive house residences to provide housing for pregnant women; provide (Substitute) (H&HS-29th) The bill passed by Substitute 32-17.
     
  • SB 174 Bonds and Recognizances; appointed judges who are fulfilling a vacancy of an elected judge to issue an unsecured judicial release under certain circumstances; (PUB SAF51st)  The bill passed 50-0.
     
  • SB 198 Department of Public Safety; subsistence and per diem allowances; receipt of badge and duty weapon upon retirement; provide (Substitute) (PUB SAF-7th) The bill passed by Substitute 48-0.
     
  • SB 201 Revenue and Taxation; financial institutions to provide certain information related to delinquent taxpayers to the Department of Revenue under certain conditions; require (Substitute) (FIN-52nd)  The bill passed by Substitute 47-1 (it was engrossed on the Floor).
     
  • SB 215 Regulation of Hospitals; certified medication aides to administer certain medications to nursing home residents; authorize (Substitute) (H&HS-20th) The bill passed by Substitute 50-0.
  • SB 221 Ethics in Government; leadership committees; chairpersons; such committees may receive contributions and make expenditures; provide (RULES-53rd) The bill passed 30-21.

Committee Reports

House Appropriations Committee

The Committee, under direction of Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn), met this morning to take up several proposals.  There were four “compensation” resolutions before the Committee as well as an enabling bill which addressed a constitutional amendment which was ratified by the voters in November 2020.

  • HR 29, authored by Representative Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus), is a compensation resolution for Jakeith Bendray Robinson, Sr. who served in prison for 20 years when agents did not follow proper procedure and Mr. Robinson fell victim to double jeopardy.  His case had been appealed to the Court of Appeals but never docketed; it remained there for years without explanation.  Mr. Robinson’s case was reversed and he was released. This resolution seeks $560,000 in compensation.  The resolution, previously vetted in subcommittee, was originally proposed in the last biennium but fell victim to the COVID recess.  Representative Penny Houston (R-Nashville) moved to do pass the resolution.  The Committee gave the resolution a DO PASS recommendation with a vote of 46-13.
     
  • HR 24, authored by Representative Derek Mallow (D-Savannah), is a compensation resolution for Dominic Lucci who was one of the soldiers at Ft. Stewart who were convicted of a drive-by shooting in Savannah where an individual was killed.  Mr. Lucci and two others, Mark Jones and Kenneth Gardiner, were convicted of the act but the District Attorney was found to have suppressed evidence.  This resolution seeks to compensate Mr. Lucci for the wrongful conviction.  Representative Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) indicated that Georgia needs a statute for compensation like other states have adopted.  HR 25, also by Representative Mallow, is the compensation resolution for Mark Jones and HR 26, also by Representative Mallow, is the compensation resolution for Kenneth Gardiner. HR 24 received a DO PASS recommendation with a vote of 55-6; HR 25 received a DO PASS recommendation with a vote of 55-6; and HR 26 received a DO PASS recommendation with a vote of 63-7.  All now move to the House Rules Committee.
     
  • HB 511, authored by Representative Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), is a bill which is enabling legislation to HR 1 which was on the November 2020 ballot.  This legislation amends various titles across the Code and is part of the work that the late Representative Jay Powell (R-Camilla) had proposed.  It seeks to require that dedicated funds go to the purpose for which they are collected and as the Constitutional Amendment directs and not to the State’s general fund.  There are nine trust funds impacted by this legislation which assures that 1 percent of the total collections from the state budget go towards funding these funds.  The nine funds are: Solid Waste Trust Fund; Hazardous Waste Trust Fund; State Children’s Trust Fund; Wildlife Endowment Fund; Trauma Care Network Trust Fund; Transportation Trust Fund; Georgia Agricultural Trust Fund; Fireworks Trust Fund; and Georgia Transit Trust Fund.  Representative Reeves indicated it was a measure to provide transparency.  There is a safeguard for a financial emergency for the Governor and General Assembly should revenues not be as robust - this cap of 1 percent may be suspended so the funds may be used elsewhere. The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation, and it now moves to the House Rules Committee.

House Governmental Affairs - General Government Subcommittee

Chairman Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) and her Subcommittee took up these measures this morning:

  • HB 92, authored by Representative Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), addresses O.C.G.A. 31-10-25 and when it is permissible for information contained in vital records may be disclosed and the timing of such records may be transferred to the State Archives.  This legislation moves the timing to 100 years from birth or 75 years after death, application for marriage, dissolution of marriage, annulment or divorce.  Previously those times were 125 and 100 years respectively.  The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation, moving the legislation to the full Committee.
     
  • HB 465, authored by Representative Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), seeks to add a new Code section at O.C.G.A. 36-60-28 to prohibit local governmental entities from imposing civil penalties on alarm system contractors for false alarms.  Representative Gullett indicated that this is a model bill and if passed, Georgia would be the seventh state to pass.  There was a lot of spirited discussion around the legislation including local governments noting the costs associated with responding to false alarms.  Individuals purchase these systems but the systems rely on police and emergency responders and do not follow the law in O.C.G.A. 35-1-9 to determine if there is a valid need for response. There was testimony that 18 percent of calls are “false alarms.”  The City of Brookhaven discussed its policy and civil penalties which are imposed beginning with the third false report. The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation and now moves to the full Committee.
     
  • HB 148, authored by Representative Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), is a bill which was originally offered in 2019 as HB 34 by then Representative Valencia Stovall.  GMA supports the legislation which proposes to provide in O.C.G.A. 36-62-5 for tax paying business owners to be appointed to development authorities. The legislation was brought today in the form of a new substitute, LC 47 8099S.  There were questions raised around ethical violations and Chairman Taylor indicated that she also had remaining questions and felt that just by having a financial investment did not dictate that these individuals should be permitted to serve on a development authority.  Thus, the legislation just received a hearing without action being taken.
     
  • HB 608, authored by Representative Marcu Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), seeks to address the planning and deployment of broadband services in Georgia.  Specifically, this legislation amends Title 50 provisions to provide for certain powers, duties, and responsibilities of the OneGeorgia Authority and the Department of Community Affairs relative to funding and contractual awards for the deployment of broadband services to unserved areas and unserved locations within such areas.  It also proposes certain criteria and conditions for such awards and a process and procedure for the department to receive and investigate comments and suggestions related to proposed awards. This bill received a DO PASS recommendation, and it now moves to the full Committee.

Senate Education & Youth Committee

The Senate Education & Youth Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), met to consider the following measures:

  • SB 153, authored by Senator Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), amends Title 20 to create GOAL academies which operate as special charter schools with a specialized focus on dropout recovery or high school credit recovery. The bill also authorized the State Board of Education to approve, deny, or renew GOAL academy charter petitions.

Senator Dolezal presented the bill with the assistance of Mike Dudgeon from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and explained that there are three state charter schools already exist to serve students who drop out. Senator Dolezal stated that the goal of his legislation is to establish a third type of charter school that creates “a proper funding path” for these schools that is sustainable. He noted that these schools are state charter schools but largely meet in local district facilities, use local district teachers, and are governed by local district leaders, and they have “been working toward a compromise” with Mountain Ed, Foothills, and Coastal Plains. Mr. Dudgeon noted that work is still being done to figure out the best funding model, but for the first year, the legislation proposes to provide 90% of the basic part of the charter supplement and 25% of the facilities part of the charter supplement. He also stated that they expect to have a final compromise bill on Monday.

Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) expressed concern about changing these schools from state charter school status since they have statewide attendance zones and serve students in 60 counties. Senator Tippins also noted that these schools may be serving students over the age of 21, which is adult education outside the purview of the Department of Education.

Paul Williams of Foothills Education Charter High School, Wayne Lovell of Mountain Education Charter High School, and Ricky Rentz of Coastal Plains Education Charter High School spoke to the bill, noting that they want to work together for fair and sustainable funding so that they can continue to serve the target student population. However, they expressed concern about the speed and magnitude of changes being proposed and the fact that they have not been invited to sit down and work together to find a holistic, long-term solution. Mr. Williams expressed support for separating their schools from traditional state charters and codifying the statewide attendance zone but stated that the schools are currently opposed to the bill as drafted due to the funding provisions. Nathan Franklin, Superintendent of Walton County Schools and Vice Chair of Foothills’ Board, also urged caution of shifting costs to local districts, noting that 25% of students come from outside the districts and local districts do not have excess funds to redirect to the charter.

Senator Matt Brass (R-Newnan) asked about the success rates of these schools, to which Mr. Lovell noted that the schools have trouble meeting CCRPI progress due to the student population but have good success by other metrics. Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) expressed support for the schools, one of which started in Lumpkin County. Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) asked about how students over age 21 are funded, to which Mr. Williams explained that the schools receive no QBE funding for those students and either pay for their education through tuition or other non-QBE funds. Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson) expressed frustration that none of these charter schools are serving her districts. In conclusion, Mr. Dudgeon said there is “no intent” to go back to local funding of these schools. Additionally, Senator Dolezal stated that the schools have admitted they do not need all the funding they are receiving.

  • SB 220, authored by Senator Chuck Payne (R-Payne), amends Title 20 to create the Georgia Commission on Civics Education.

Senator Payne presented his bill to the Committee, and Senator Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) and Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson) expressed concern about diversity on the proposed Commission. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

New Legislation

The House read and referred the following legislation to committee today:

  • HB 638, authored by Representative Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville), amends Title 51 to apply more strict evidentiary requirements for the filing of asbestos or silica related claims after May 2021. The bill also stipulates that a product liability defendant is not liable for products or component costs sold or manufactured by a third party. This bill was referred to the House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System.
     
  • HB 639, authored by Representative Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville), amends Title 51 to provide transparency to the state's asbestos trust claim process. This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
     
  • HB 644, authored by Representative David Dryer (D-Atlanta), amends Title 20 to direct the board of regents to waive special institution fees for graduate assistants at all University System of Georgia institutions. This bill was referred to the House Higher Education Committee.
     
  • HB 645, authored by Representative Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville), amends Title 16 to include non-oil THC products in the state's allowance for medical marijuana. The bill also provides clarity to the state's medical marijuana commission's powers and the legislative oversight body's ability to request information from the commission. This bill was referred to the House Regulated Industries Committee.
     
  • HB 646, authored by Representative Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro), amends Title 20 to enact the P-Tech Dual Enrollment Act to encourage collaboration between industry partners and participating high schools and colleges. This bill was referred to the House Higher Education Committee.
     
  • HB 648, authored by Representative Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), amends Title 30 to create the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and transfer the supervision of the Georgia Industries for the Blind from the GVRA to the commission. This bill was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
     
  • HB 649, authored by Representative Erick Allen (D-Smyrna), amends Title 31 to require hospitals and long term care facilities to allow visitation of "essential visitors" which the bill defines as family members or guardians designated by the patient or resident of a long term care facility as crucial to their mental, physical, or social well being. This bill was referred to the House Human Relations and Aging Committee.
     
  • HB 652, authored by Representative Mandi Ballinger (R-Holly Springs), amends Title 15 to provide for the public election of juvenile court judges. This bill was referred to the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
     
  • HR 236, authored by Representative Jodi Lott (R-Evans), creates the House Study Committee on the Safe Staffing of Nurses in Georgia. This resolution was referred to the House Human Relations and Aging Committee.

The Senate read and referred the follow legislation to committee today:

  • SB 263, authored by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 43 to allow localities to issue licenses for the retail sale of marijuana. The bill also allows cities to expressly prohibit the retail sale of marijuana in their jurisdiction. This bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
     
  • SB 264, authored by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 43 to authorize the use of medical marijuana in Georgia and to allow individuals to petition the state to add new debilitating medical conditions to the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana usage. This bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
     
  • SB 266, authored by Senator Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), amends Title 20 to prohibit a person whose gender is male to participate in an athletic program or activity designed for females. This bill was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
     
  • SB 267, authored by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 47 to allow members of the Teacher's Retirement System of Georgia who elect optional retirement allowances to change their beneficiaries at any time. This bill was referred to the Senate Retirement Committee.
     
  • SR 165, authored by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), proposes a constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate marijuana. This resolution was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 25

The House is expected to consider the following measures on Monday for Legislative Day 25:

  • HB 124, authored by Representative Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), amends Title 43 to provide for multiple cremation devices.
  • HB 244, authored by Representative Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), amends Title 33 to include flood risk reduction in the enumerated list of county purposes for which county ad valorem taxes or county corporation taxes based upon gross direct insurance premiums shall be used.
  • HB 392, authored by Representative Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth), amends Title 3 to stipulate that licenses for the retail sale of alcohol be subject to distance requirements from schools.
  • HB 443, authored by Representative Rob Leverett (R-Elberton), amends Title 51 to create the Georgia Structured Settlement Protection Act.
  • HB 453, authored by Representative Lauren McDonald (R-Cumming), amends Title 40 to provide for standards for proof of eligibility for special license plates for certified, volunteer, and retired firefighters.
  • HB 459, authored by Representative Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), amends Title 36 to prohibit annexations of county operated airport property by governing authorities of certain municipal corporations absent approval by the governing authority of the county operating the airport.
  • HB 466, authored by Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), amends Titles 40 and 43  to reduce the number of required hours in the intervention component of DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Programs.
  • HB 476, authored by Representative Dale Washburn (R-Macon) is the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act of 2021.
  • HB 531, authored by Representative Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), amends Title 21 to provide that no election superintendents or boards of registrars shall accept private funding.
  • HB 539, authored by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), amends Title 43 to allow DCH licensed hospitals, medical schools, teaching hospitals, and clinics that provide care to predominantly Medicaid, indigent, and underserved populations to apply for a DEA registration number to write prescriptions to be filled outside the institution.

The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Monday for Legislative Day 25:

  • SB 80, authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), is the legislation proposing to create the “Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act.”
  • SB 82, authored by Senator Michelle Au (D-Johns Creek), proposes that the prudent layperson standard is not affected by the final diagnosis in Title 31.
  • SB 112, authored by Senator Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), seeks to address annual notification requirements for life insurance policy owners and requested beneficiaries in Title 33.
  • SB 114, authored by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), addresses grants for refusing to grant or revoke a license in Title 43.
  • SB 140, authored by Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), addresses the state’s flag and seals, proposing a monument to honor Senator Zell Miller on the capitol grounds.
  • SB 169, authored by Senator Larry Walker, III (R-Perry), seeks to amend Titles 13, 32 and 36 to provide for electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals on bonds.
  • SB 185, authored by Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Demorest), seeks to require that all questions of law decided by a court or the Georgia Tax Tribunal on matters   arising from the state board of equalization and matters arising from refunds and appeals of state administration of Title 48 be decided without deference to determinations or  interpretations of the Department of Revenue except without any effect on the judicial standard of deference given to rules promulgated pursuant to Chapter 13 of Title 50.
  • SB 245, authored by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), amends Title 16 to prohibit public officers from enforcing any federal act that infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms.