Skip to Main Content
Facebook Visit us on LinkedIn Visit us on Twitter Visit us on YouTube Visit us on Instagram

Gold Dome

March 13, 2023

Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 32

Although the weather cooled down outside the State Capitol on Monday, legislative activity continued to heat up in the run toward adjournment sine die. With just over two weeks until the legislature calls it quits for the year, the chambers took up several measures and committees got back to work perfecting legislation from their colleagues across the hall. In the Senate, members signed off on Governor Kemp’s “Safe Schools Act” (HB 147) and the annual “dangerous drug update” to the Georgia Code (HB 332). The House approved two measures (SB 21 and SB 23) authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta). After lunch, committees and subcommittees took up other weighty measures, including this year’s omnibus mental health legislation and legislation lowering barriers to occupational licensing for Georgians with criminal records (SB 157). Updates on other floor and committee action are in this #GoldDomeReport.

Also on Monday, Lt. Governor Burt Jones and President Pro Tem John Kennedy announced a new initiative to address constituent concerns for all 56 senators. More on this new initiative here. Jones also highlighted four “priority” study committees for the interim. More on those in this report.

In this report:

  • Lt. Governor Announces “Priority” Study Committees
  • Floor Action
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • What’s Next

Lt. Governor Announces “Priority” Study Committees

Lt. Governor Burt Jones announced four priority study committees on Monday. The appointments to the following “studies” will be announced post sine die:

  • SR 85, authored by Senator Larry Walker (R-Perry), creates the Senate Occupational Licensing Study Committee to look at Georgia’s current occupational licensing laws and requirements.
  •  SR 275, authored by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell), creates the Senate Study Committee on Expanding Georgia’s Workforce, which will examine current practices, pilot programs, private-public partnerships, and initiatives by industries across Georgia to increase workforce opportunities.
  •  SR 279, authored by Senator Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), creates the Senate Study Committee on Certificate of Need (CON) Reform and will address CON reform policies that will preserve the ability of hospitals to continue to provide open access to all patients in a community.
  •  SR 282, authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), creates the Senate Study Committee on Foster Care and Adoption, which will review current guidelines and processes related to foster care and adoption.

Floor Action

The House took up the following measures on the floor on Legislative Day 32:

  • SB 21 - Georgia Veterans Service Foundation, Inc.; revise operations (D&VA-73rd) Kirkpatrick-32nd. The bill passed by a vote of 169-0.
  • SB 23 - O.C.G.A.; various titles; revise a committee name; relating to inactive boards, panels, authorities, centers, commissions, committees, councils, task forces, and other such bodies; provisions; repeal (CR-48th) Kirkpatrick-32nd. The bill passed by a vote of 108-61.

The Senate took up the following measures on the floor on Legislative Day 32:

  • HB 147 - Safe Schools Act; enact (Ed-9th) Hodges-3rd. The bill passed by a vote of 52-3.
  • HB 155 - Professions and businesses; issuance of licenses by endorsement for spouses of firefighters, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officers who relocate to Georgia; provide (Substitute)(RI-49th) Albers-56th. The Committee Substitute passed by a vote of 54-0.
  • HB 165 - State government; public disclosure not required relative to inspection of public records; include certain documents from Department of Natural Resources (NR&E-64th) Anavitarte-31st. The bill passed by a vote of 49-5.
  • HB 332 - Controlled substances; Schedules I, IV, and V; provide certain provisions (JudyNC-158th) Watson-1st. The bill passed by a vote of 54-0.

Committee Reports

House Education - Education Policy Subcommittee

Chair Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) and the subcommittee convened to discuss the following measures.

  • SB 32, authored by Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), amends Article 11 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the O.C.G.A. to create Alyssa’s Law. This would require local education agencies to implement a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting disparate emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple states and local first responder agencies in the event of a school security emergency.  A substitute was presented to include multiple vendors. LC 49 1421S received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • SB 45, also authored by Anavitarte, amends Part 3 of Article 16 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the O.C.G.A. to create AJs Law. The bill allows a parent or guardian to submit a seizure action plan to their student annually. The action plans must include specific elements and be made accessible at schools. The bill requires the Department of Education to develop a model seizure action plan and establish standards for employee seizure training by Aug. 1, 2023. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • SB 169, authored by Senator Chuck Payne (R-Dalton), amends Code Section 20-2-754 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The legislation seeks to extend hearing dates for student discipline tribunals and provides for limits. It also provides appropriate grade-level instructional materials to any student in in-school suspension. Waits for school disciplinary hearings may take several days, and parents struggle with what to do with their children. Teachers also struggle in trying to help those children to catch up once they come back to school. The presented substitute changes the timing for hearings and notification of those hearings. It would allow for an extension request for any reason but cannot be longer than five days. Robert Costley from the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders expressed concern over the measure. The Subcommittee held a hearing only on this measure, so no action was taken.
  • SB 170, authored by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell), amends Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to allow a student to be an ex-officio member of the State School Board. A student would serve as an advisory member of the State Board of Education. This student would not be a voting member, nor would they be able to join the executive session. The legislation also suggests student representatives on local boards as well. This includes the student perspective, like the state teacher of the year provides to the Board as an ex-officio member. It will provide a classroom perspective to the State Board. Representative Mesha Mainor (D-Atlanta) was curious if this could be included as an excused absence. The Subcommittee held a hearing only on this measure, so no action was taken.

House Education - Education Curriculum Subcommittee

Chair Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robins) and the subcommittee met to discuss the following measures.

  • SB 50, authored by Senator Max Burns (R-Sylvania), amends Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the O.C.G.A. with LC 54 0142, which seeks to increase the number of lifeguards in the state. The measure allows local school systems to include lifeguarding and aquatic safety as an elective. If the school chooses to have this course, the measure lays out a specific curriculum. At the end of the course, students can be certified if they choose to be. This measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • SR 175, authored by Senator Matt Brass (R-Newnan), creates a joint study committee on dual enrollment. The study committee would be comprised of four members of the House and the Senate plus three Georgia employers experiencing workforce challenges, State School Superintendent Richard Woods or his designee, Chancellor Sonny Perdue or his designee, TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier or his designee, Student Finance Commission President Lynn Riley or her designee, and Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson or his designee. Irene Munn from the Georgia Network for College and Career Academies spoke in support of the measure. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

House Public Health Committee

Chairman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) and the Public Health Committee met this afternoon.  The committee took up the following:

  • SB 1, authored by Dolezal, removes the automatic repealer on the prohibition on state and local governments from requiring proof of COVID vaccination for government services previously enacted at O.C.G.A. 50-1-11.  The Code section presently stands to be repealed unless SB 1 is enacted on June 30, 2023.  The bill was presented by Representative Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth). 

Representative Michelle Au (D-Johns Creek) noted the history of the sunset provision by former senator Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge). She asked if Burke was wrong — there is a reason doctors “practice medicine,” per Jones. He argued that an additional year would allow more data and that removing the sunset is a “smart thing to do” regarding public safety. Au also inquired about vaccine compliance; data is needed per Jones for trend analysis. Au explained that there has been an erosion of trust overall in vaccines. Representative Teddy Reese (D-Columbus) asked a hypothetical about Georgia World Congress Center requiring individuals to have a COVID test before a conference. The state could not implement or discriminate, but a private group could do so. Does this preempt city governments from a stricter provision? No government can discriminate against you in providing a service, according to Jones. Representative Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) asked about when we reach “herd immunity.” Representative Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) asked for DO PASS on LC  33 9304S. No one signed up to speak to the legislation. The bill received the DO PASS recommendation with a tie vote.  Chairman Cooper broke the tie, moving the legislation forward to the House Rules Committee.

House Health Committee

Chairman Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) called the meeting to order this afternoon to delve into these proposals:

  • SB 164, authored by Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), addresses licensure of advanced practice registered nurses in Chapter 26 of Title 43. Presently, these advanced practice registered nurses are licensed as nurses and have certificates and not separate licenses depicting their advanced education. The legislation is the combination of two bills — both subjects went through GORRC and were approved unanimously. The APRNs’ scope of practice is not changed. The APRNs asked for their own license number. The second portion of the legislation is for anesthesia assistants who are completely separate from physician’s assistants. Thus, they want a separate license category for themselves as their training is completely different. Representative Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta) asked about page 8, line 189, and an anesthesiologist’s residency — generally, 3-4 years, but some individuals do more advanced training. On page 10, line 238, the anesthesiologist assistant graduates from an assistant program after a pre-med degree. An anesthesiologist would supervise these anesthesiology assistants and can supervise up to four assistants. Lines 292-294 were also examined. There is nothing in that, which would address prescribing, as drugs are not prescribed outside of the hospital, and the individual remains under the supervision of the anesthesiologist. These anesthesiology assistants have their own DEA numbers. The bill received a DO PASS recommendation, moving the legislation forward to the House Rules Committee. Chairman Hawkins will carry SB 164 forward in the House.
  • SB 197, also authored by Hufstetler, seeks to enact at O.C.G.A. 43-1-33 the "Health Care Practitioners Truth and Transparency Act." The legislation has been pushed by the Medical Association of Georgia and the Georgia Alliance for Patient Protection. It is about transparency. Some specialties advertise, and they are not necessarily who they say they are. The legislation does make these requirements apply to “all” clinical settings. Representative Mark Newton (R-Augusta) asked about professionals, such as physical therapists and pharmacists, who have graduated from doctoral programs. They described the bill as practitioners explaining who they are without deception. Signage would require them to designate what type of doctor they are.  Representative Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) asked if there was a way to expand on this to cover all. The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation, moving the legislation forward to the House Rules Committee. Newton will carry the proposal forward in the House.
  • SB 223, authored by Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah), seeks to add a new Code section at O.C.G.A. 31-1-25 to address reimbursement of a patient incurred expenses related to participation in cancer clinical trials. He explained LC 33 9402 as it helps Georgia CORE to get more cancer research done. Chairman Hawkins indicated it is a very good bill, noting that his family had cancer experience and the expenses involved. There were no questions. The bill received a DO PASS recommendation. It will be carried in the House by Chairman Hawkins.
  • SB 199, authored by Senator Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta), addresses Chapter 18 of Title 45, the State's Employee Benefit Plan Council. This bill requires the establishment of health savings accounts (different from health spending accounts which must be spent annually). It would save the state money with savings of FICA funds. 11,000 are in high deductible plans and would have significant savings by adding this benefit to the State’s Benefit Plan. Representative Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) asked about how much could be contributed — there is a $3,500 annual cap on the contribution, per Estevez. The money is transportable wherever the individual may go. This legislation was “hearing only” today, and thus, no vote was taken.
  • SB 76, authored by Senator Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson), addresses Chapter 18 of Title 45, the State Employees' Health Insurance Plan. It caps insulin cost at $35.00 for a 30-day supply for State Health Benefit Plan enrollees. Representative Mark Newton (R-Augusta) asked about the negotiated price and what is included in price concessions. LC 52 0283SCS was the version of the legislation considered today. Representative Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) explained that he knew the author had worked hard on the legislation and noted Eli Lilly’s concession on the medication’s costs. Representative David Knight (R-Griffin) also took a moment to express that there is little transparency on the costs of prescription drugs. The cost, if Eli Lilly has dropped the cost, is less, but the public is charged a higher cost. He is interested in rebates and the actual cost for the drug. There are only three insulin manufacturers according to Merritt. There is a fiscal note on the legislation. Representative Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) expressed her support of the legislation, noting it was a start.  Representative Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) asked about the cost; it would be $306,000.00 for 2,400 individuals. Some individuals covered by State Health Benefit Plan have no cost share for their drugs, according to Brandy Sylvan, with the Department of Community Health. She noted that 78 percent of the State Health Benefit Plan members already pay less than this amount.  Knight kept asking what the “true cost” was for the drugs. It is around $50.00, according to Merritt. This legislation was “hearing only” today, and thus, no vote was taken.

House Juvenile Justice Committee

Chairman Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) and members of the Juvenile Justice Committee met on the following measures:

  • SB 135, authored by Senator Kirkpatrick, amends Chapter 7 of Title 19, the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017. It seeks to align evidentiary medical and genetic testing with current law. The first section updates the types of labs that can be used for genetic testing, and the second section allows the results to be self-authenticating. The legislation received no questions, and the bill received a DO PASS recommendation.  The House Rules Committee will now review the proposal.
  • SB 134, authored by Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), seeks to amend Title 24, the Evidence Code. It provides that a child witness be deemed competent to testify without taking the oath (in dependency and criminal proceedings, such exception is already permitted, and this bill adds the exception for termination of parental rights to make it consistent). The legislation also allows the use of narrative form medical reports (an exception for medical record records) in dependency and termination matters (opponents are to be provided the narrative 60 days in advance and objections are allowed — narratives may also be excluded if something is needed earlier than 60 days.  Senator Cowsert explained that Georgia has a short shot clock on dependency to use these narratives and requires that it be given to the other side five days prior to the hearing, and in termination of parental rights hearing, is to be provided the information within 15 days of the hearing). This legislation is a part of the Lt. Governor’s legislative package. Chairman Ballinger indicated her appreciation of the legislation. There was a question about the removal of the oath because of perjury, but that is current law according to Cowsert (if the child is a victim of a crime). The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation, moving it forward to the House Rules Committee. Representative Beth Camp (R-Concord) will carry the legislation forward in the House.

Senate Finance Committee

Chair Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) and the committee convened to discuss the following measures:

  • HB 31, authored by Representative Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City), seeks to amend Part 2 of Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 12 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to dedicate hazardous waste fees to the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 36, authored by Representative Chuck Martin (R-Marietta), seeks to amend Chapter 5 of Title 48 of the O.C.G.A. to allow individuals to choose a public hearing officer on ad valorem tax assessment appeals. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 138, authored by Representative Clint Crowe (R-Jackson), amends Code Section 48-5-40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. It is a decennial bill to increase the population counts according to the most recent census data for leasing property. This measure was brought forward in the 2022 Legislative Session but failed to receive final passage. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 230, authored by Representative Mark Newton (R-Augusta), amends Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the O.C.G.A. for a local project. This would allow a local referendum for local voters to decide on a half-of-a-penny sales tax for a capital outlay project for Augusta Richmond County to replace the coliseum. Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) expressed concern since this measure creates a precedent for local governments to assess sales taxes for projects. No action was taken on this measure. An amendment is expected to include a cap.

Senate Judiciary Committee

Chairman Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) opened the meeting late this afternoon by recognizing several judges in the room. The Committee took up these bills:

  • HB 508, authored by Representative Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), was presented as LC 48 0859.  The legislation addresses O.C.G.A. 16-5-94 to provide for service on the respondent in a protective order proceeding.  It is to be delivered by the sheriffs within 24 hours of the time that the order is issued. Senator Kennedy, asked about the time of delivery within 24 hours; Representative Ballinger explained that it was to explain that time is of the essence. Kennedy asked if this service was to be given more priority over other work by the sheriffs; Ballinger stated yes. Superior Court Clerks Association explained that it was important to get these service notices out. The clerks have expressed that they are receiving information several days later — Mike Holiman explained that the service should be done “upon filing” of the order.  Some areas do not use e-filing. Chairman Strickland asked about “issuance” versus “filing.” Sheriffs, however, are responsible for service. The committee gave a DO PASS recommendation to the proposal; no amendments were offered. The legislation will be carried by Senator Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) in the Senate.
  • HB 166, authored by Representative Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin), addresses an issue her local magistrate court judge brought to her and where the constable resides. It addresses O.C.G.A. 15-10-101 and the requirements for a constable. It does not list a requirement that the individual be a Georgia resident, but it does require that the individual be a registered voter. The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation, moving it forward to the Rules Committee. Strickland will carry the legislation in the Senate.
  • HB 91, authored by Representative Will Wade (R-Dawsonville), is a bill which has previously been discussed. It amends Title 53. Section 1 outlines if you are named as a beneficiary in a will then it requires that notice be given to an entity like an individual.  Section 2 addresses the Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration.  Today, the Committee reviewed LC  44 2271.  The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation and moves forward to the Senate Rules Committee. Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) will carry the legislation forward in the Senate.
  • HB 182, authored by Representative Matt Reeves (R-Duluth), seeks to amend O.C.G.A. 44-2-18 relating to acknowledged deeds and timeshares. The measure clarifies the relationship between acknowledged and attested deeds. The substitute which was presented adds a new section to address timeshares. There are currently 18 existing timeshares in Georgia and this section promotes their industry by addressing issues within the code. Senator Cowsert expressed concern about the due process of a timeshare owner. The new section leaves intact certain laws, but addresses commercial real estate procedures. Representative Reeves noted this creates a second set of laws for the national companies. Cowsert reiterated his concern for consumers. Reeves highlighted that due process inclusions in the new language creates more rights and procedures for a consumer. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation. Strickland will carry the legislation forward in the Senate.
  • HB 444, authored by Representative Reeves, seeks to amend Article 9 of Chapter 14 of Title 44 of the O.C.G.A. LC 49 2953 is the lis pendens bill. There had been problems with pending lawsuits. The measure seeks to codify lis pendens and set procedures. It places a duty on the party which files the suit. This is the senate version from last year. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation. Strickland will carry the legislation forward in the Senate.
  • HB 80, authored by Representative Rob Leverett (R-Elberton), amends Article 1 of Chapter 14 of Title 24 of the O.C.G.A. regarding unsworn declarations. The substitute, LC 49 1420S, allows unsworn declarations to be equivalent to a sworn statement in a civil suit. This measure seeks to ease the burden on those involved with international litigation. Currently, an individual must go to a consulate and sign their statement and be notarized. Unsworn declarations have been used in federal court for many years, and this does not impact wills or deeds. This measure only applies to those who are overseas signing documents for only civil suits. The new substitute only changes the language in statements where an individual signs to include that they attest they are outside of the United States. To clarify, anyone signing an unsworn declaration is subject to penalty of perjury. The State Bar supports the measure. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation. Senator Kennedy will carry the legislation forward in the Senate.

New Legislation

The following legislation of interest has been introduced. Since the General Assembly is beyond Crossover Day, new legislation requiring action in both chambers is not eligible to achieve final passage by both chambers during this legislative session, but it will be available for consideration during the 2024 Legislative Session.


Quality Basic Education; calculation and distribution of funds to local units of administration for student transportation programs; revise provisions

Rep. Viola Davis (D-087)


Department of Public Health; appointment of a state surgeon general; provide

Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-039)


Senate Study Committee on an Equity Impact Tool for Legislation; create

Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-039)

What’s Next

The General Assembly is in adjournment on Friday and will reconvene for Legislative Day 33, on Tuesday, March 14, at 10:00 a.m.

The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Legislative Day 33:

  • HB 85 - Insurance; require health benefit policy coverage for biomarker testing if supported by medical and scientific evidence (H&HS-32nd) Cooper45th
  • HB 162 - Income tax; one-time tax credit for taxpayers who filed returns for both 2021 and 2022 taxable years; provide (FIN-3rd) McDonald-26th
  • HB 311 - Ad valorem tax; optional temporary tax relief to certain properties located in nationally declared federal disaster areas; provide (FIN-28th) Smith70th
  • HB 402 - Education; water safety education information to parents of students under 18 years of age and to students 18 years of age and older; provide (ED&Y-48th) Hilton-48th
  • HB 440 - Education; authorize public and private schools to stock a supply of undesignated ready-to-use glucagon (H&HS-28th) Stoner-40th
  • HB 482 - Income tax; tax credits for establishing or relocating quality jobs; provide clarification (FIN-56th) Sainz-180th
  • HR 66 - General Assembly; motor fuel and diesel fuel taxes; ratify Governor Brian P. Kemp's Executive Orders (FIN-3rd) Gambill-15th

The House has not yet set a Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 33, but it is expected to do so on Tuesday morning.