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Gold Dome

March 19, 2018

Gold Dome Report - March 19, 2018

Legislators rounded third and headed for home today under the Gold Dome, completing Legislative Day 36 of 40. But even as the legislative session enters the home stretch, there remains much work to be done. After full calendars on the House and Senate floors, both chambers continued their work in committee meetings that lasted into the evening. Reports from committee meetings concluded by deadline are included in today’s Report—look for late updates from others in our next Report and by following #GoldDomeReport on Twitter.

In today’s Report:

  • Floor Action
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 37

Floor Action

The House took up the following propositions today:

  • HR 944 - People's Republic of China; organ harvesting; express concern – PASSED 156-0
  • HR 1137 - United State Congress; President of the United States; support members of the armed forces and repair mental and physical health; urge – PASSED 164-0
  • HR 1292 - Georgia Alzheimer's and Related Dementia Advisory Council; study providing access to quality long-term care for individuals with Alzheimer's; urge – PASSED 170-1
  • HR 1414 - House study Committee on school Security; create – PASSED 169-0
  • HR 1469 - Government of Israel; maintain Consulate General in Atlanta, Georgia; urge – PASSED 173-0
  • HR 1470 - President of the United States; relocate United States Embassy to Israel's capital of Jerusalem; urge – PASSED 117-43
  • HR 1471 - House Study Committee on the Revitalization of the Atlanta State Farmers Market; create – PASSED 164-4
  • SB 301 - Access to Digital Assets Act"; enact – PASSED 162-2
  • SB 328 - Income Tax; expiration of certain income tax credits; provide – PASSED 139-36
  • SB 331 - Georgia Lottery for Education Act; winner of lottery prize to remain anonymous under certain conditions; allow – PASSED 173-1
  • SB 336 - Georgia Bureau of Investigation; general provision; subpoena issued for production of electronic communication; not provide notice to the subscriber – PASSED 113-59
  • SB 370 - Medical Assistance; commissioner of human services waives the first $25,000 of any estate; provide – PASSED 166-0
  • SB 377 - State Workforce Development Board; transfer to Technical College System of Georgia; duties and obligations; revise – PASSED 164-1
  • SB 444 - Georgia Alzheimer's and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council; create – PASSED 160-1
  • SB 458 - Ad Valorem Taxation; conditions; family owned farmed entities; discontinue a qualifying use of bona fide conservation use property; provide – PASSED 172-0
  • SR 821 - Cyber Security and Information Technology Innovation Corridor; recognize Savannah – PASSED 167-1

The Senate took up the following propositions today:

  • HB 381 - Abandoned Mobile Home Act; enact – PASSED 53-0
  • HB 732 - Crimes and offenses; trafficking an individual for sexual servitude; provisions – PASSED 51-0
  • HB 792 - Waste management; sunset date for certain solid waste surcharges and hazardous waste fees; extend – PASSED 42-11
  • HB 793 - Sales and use tax; certain aquarium construction; provide exemption – PASSED 45-9
  • HB 820 - Revenue and taxation; procedure for counties following a rejection of a tax digest; establish – PASSED 55-0
  • HB 852 - Quality Basic Education Act; student's continued enrollment in a public school under certain circumstances; provide – PASSED 54-1
  • HB 856 - Board of Public Safety; add commissioner of community supervision – PASSED 52-0
  • HB 876 - Buildings and housing; counties and municipalities proscribing the use of wood in the construction of certain buildings when state minimum standard codes are met; prohibit – PASSED 40-14
  • HB 897 - Georgia Power of Attorney Act; revise – PASSED 53-0
  • HR 279 - Single Parent Day; March 21; designate each year – PASSED 50-0

Committee Reports

Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), met twice today to consider several propositions:

  • HB 81, authored by Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton), allows certain health care facilities to receive income tax refund setoffs for collection of medical debts. Specifically, the bill allows authority-owned hospitals to garnish income tax refunds to recover medical debts. The Committee held the bill for further consideration.
  • HB 93, authored by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), provides that no interest shall be paid on refunds of sales and use taxes to a purchaser that held a certificate or exemption letter if such purchaser did not use such document during the purchase. The bill was presented as a substitute incorporating language offered by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta) in other bills relating to his tax reform study committee that already passed the Senate. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • HB 314, authored by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland), was originally the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act. Chairman Hufstetler presented a substitute to the bill that replaced the contents with SB 359, his “Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act” that is lingering in the House. SB 359 addresses surprise billing for emergency room services provided to patients and passed the Senate earlier this year by a 52 to 0 vote. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute without discussion and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • HB 327, authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), makes several changes to Georgia law relating to the alternative ad valorem tax on motor vehicles. The bill was presented as a substitute incorporating language from Sen. Albers and providing for a 40% and 60% split of revenues between the state and local governments. The substitute also eliminates a make-whole provision for local school districts. Representatives of the Association County Commissions of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association, MARTA, and the Georgia Education Coalition spoke against the bill as draft, noting that the legislation would have a substantial impact on local tax collection for municipalities and school districts. Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) expressed concern about the drastic impact the bill has on MARTA and why MARTA was not consulted. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • HB 696, authored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), creates a sales and use tax exemption for certain computer equipment sold or leased for use in high-technology data centers. The bill was presented as a substitute that includes requirements that a data center receiving the exemption create at least 20 high-quality jobs and post a bond of up to $20 million, as determined by the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by Committee Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
  • HB 871, authored by Rep. Dominic LaRiccia (R-Douglas), creates an exemption from state sales and use tax for 50 percent of the sales price of manufactured homes to be converted into real property. Consideration was pending on this bill at deadline.

Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) met on Thursday to hear testimony on HB 605, the “Hidden Predator Act of 2018.” Authored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), the bill amends Article 2 of Chapter 3 of Title 9 of the O.C.G.A. to change provisions relating to the revival of certain claims involving childhood sexual abuse.  It states that any civil action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse committed on or after July 1, 2015, shall be commenced 1) on or before the date the plaintiff attains the age of 23 years; or 2) within four years from the date that the plaintiff knew or had reason to know of such abuse and that such abuse resulted in injury as established by competent medical or psychological evidence.  It also states that a plaintiff who is between the age of 23 and 38 may bring a civil action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse committed on or after July 1, 2018.  One highly debated section provides for the definition of “entity” as the institution, agency, firm, business, corporation or other public or private legal organization and notes that an individual who is alleged to have committed the abuse is referred to as “person.”  In addition, if the person worked or volunteered for an organization and the organization was aware of the abuse, they would also be liable for civil action.  For the organization to be liable, preponderance of the evidence there is a finding of gross negligence, that the entity knew or should have known of the alleged conduct giving rise to the civil action, and that such entity failed to take remedial action.  There was a great deal of heated discussion during the hearing.  Many proponents for and against the bill rose to speak on the issue until late in the night.  Those against the bill included several lawyers, and the Boy Scouts of America.  Those four included several who had either experienced or had a close family member who had been molested as a child.  The general disagreement revolved around how much liability an organization would have, the actual cost of proving and/or disproving the molestation and the length of statute of limitations.

New Legislation

The following propositions have been introduced in the Senate:

  • SR 1056, authored by Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale), creates the Senate Study Committee on Adult Changing Stations in Commercial Public Facilities.
  • SR 1058, authored by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia), urges Congress to halt the transfer of current and former military personnel's health care costs from federal government to the states.

Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 37

The House will take up the following propositions on Wednesday:

  • SB 8 -- "Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act"; health insurance; provide consumer protections; definitions
  • SB 139 -- Focused Programs of Study; pathway in leadership; provide
  • SB 202 -- Medical Assistance; increase in the personal needs allowance to be deducted from a nursing home resident's income; provide
  • SB 350 -- Notice of Information Practices By Institution or Agent; policy renewal to comport with federal law; update notice practices requirements

The Senate will take up the following propositions on Wednesday:

  • HB 149 -- Law enforcement; comprehensive regulation of trauma scene cleanup services; provisions
  • HB 398 -- Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund; update a cross-reference; provisions           
  • HB 419 -- Fireworks; certain counties further regulate use or ignition; enable authority
  • HB 494 -- Early care and learning; safety of children in early care and education programs; revise certain provisions
  • HB 671 -- Special license plates; Georgia Beekeepers Association; establish
  • HB 700 -- Georgia Student Finance Authority; service cancelable educational loans; include graduate degree programs
  • HB 718 -- Education; certain absences of students with parents in service of the armed forces of the United States; excuse
  • HB 739 -- Tracy Rainey Act; enact
  • HB 740 -- Education; local school system to conduct certain screenings, assessments, and reviews prior to expelling a student; require
  • HB 765 -- C.J.'s Law; enact
  • HB 779 -- Emergency management; homeland security division; provisions
  • HB 780 -- Banking and finance; changes to provisions applicable to financial institutions; provide
  • HB 843 -- Revenue and taxation; tax credits; include any census tract in a county that contains a federal military installation and industrial park
  • HB 878 -- Insurance; cancellation of an insurance policy by an insured; change certain provisions
  • HB 886 -- Sales and use tax; exemption for agricultural machinery and equipment; provisions
  • HB 898 -- Motor vehicles; fleet vehicles and fleet vehicle registration plans; revise provisions
  • HB 906 -- Public records; public disclosure of personal information of certain foster parents; exclude
  • HB 920 -- Domestic relations; department's information concerning the parties to an adoption under certain circumstances; allow for the use
  • HB 995 -- Local government; certain disclosures from consultants who enter into contracts to prepare requirements for bids; provide