Legislative Day 35 dawned with a cavalcade of state troopers ringing the State Capitol in advance of the Senate’s debate of HB 481, Rep. Ed Setzler’s (R-Acworth) “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.” Throngs of proponents and opponents to the legislation were already filling the halls well before most lawmakers even entered the building and beginning their work for the day. Although consideration of the LIFE Act was front and center (and debate continues at our deadline), the House and Senate did take up a number of other propositions heading into the weekend. Details on that action in today’s #GoldDomeReport.
Legislators return on Monday for Legislative Day 36.
In this Report:
- Senate Approves Strategic Integrated Data System, MedMal Settlement Bills
- House Adopts Physician Oversight Study Committee Resolution
- Committee Updates
- New Legislation
Senate Approves MedMal Settlement, Strategic Integrated Data System Bills
The Senate warmed up on several bills this morning prior to the debate over the LIFE Act that continues this afternoon, including two bills of note:
- HB 128, authored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), amends Title 33 to delete the requirement for insurers to notify the Georgia Composite Medical Board of agreements to settle claims of medical malpractice when the settlement results in a low payment under a high/low agreement. The Senate passed the bill by a 43-3 vote, and the bill moves on to the Governor’s desk.
- HB 197, authored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), seeks to integrate all state agency data into a singular streamlined database. According to the author, the bill would make it easier for state researchers to access agency data from a single place, along with promoting inter-agency communication across state agencies. The Office of Planning and Budget will have oversight of this database. The Senate passed the bill by a 50-0 vote, and the bill moves on to the Governor’s desk.
House Adopts Physician Oversight Study Committee Resolution
Before adjourning in advance of the Senate’s undertaking debate on HB 481, the House took up a light Rules Calendars with one resolution of note. HR 261, authored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta), would establish the House Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers. The Study Committee will evaluate current state laws, as well as proposed legislation to revise such laws, relating to physician oversight of physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to determine how such physician oversight could be simplified and streamlined to navigate in the practice environment. Although the resolution was originally drafted to create a Joint House and Senate Study Committee, it failed to pass by Crossover Day and was amended on the Floor of the House to allow immediate work by the House during this off-season. The House adopted the resolution by a 161-2 vote, which constitutes final adoption.
Senate Judiciary Committee
Late yesterday, Chairman Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) held a meeting of the Judiciary Committee. There were several items on the agenda and two noteworthy efforts included:
- HB 472, authored by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) and an administration Floor Leader, seeks to implement changes in Titles 15 in an effort for Georgia to implement the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. The legislation was derailed and used as a “Christmas Tree” in the Committee. The underlying legislation in Chapter 11 of Title 15 contains a new definition for “fictive kin;” provides that Department of Juvenile Justice officers acting as intake officers may not make determinations regarding dependent children; requires the court to determine if there are temporary alternatives to foster care; and allows a court to enter into ex parte orders. This legislation was combined with SB 222, creating the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. SB 222 is authored by Chairman Stone. Rep. Reeves argued that the legislation creating this Council was not a priority for Governor Kemp, and he respectfully asked that it be stricken from the substitute presented. Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), another one of Governor Kemp’s Floor Leaders, made a motion do pass on the original legislation but that motion failed. Another motion was made to DO PASS the new substitute with the Criminal Justice Reform language from O.C.G.A. ⸹ 17-19-1 with Chairman Stone’s language attached and that motion passed. This bill moves to the Senate Rules Committee which will decide on whether to place the legislation on the Senate Rules Calendar.
- HB 239, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), seeks to create the Georgia Business Court in Title 15. Chairman Stone indicated that this bill was “gutted” so as to insert the language from the Senate’s version creating this new Court would be used rather than the House’s version. Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) asked that the legislation be amended so as to address a concern he had regarding the potential for individuals with contract disputes may be required to utilize this court. Thus, language was inserted by way of an amendment at lines 139 and 155 so that a contract with a consumer may not require that a lawsuit be instituted in this new statewide business court. The motion was adopted and the substitute legislation as amended received a DO PASS recommendation, moving the legislation to the Senate Rules Committee.
House Juvenile Justice Committee
In other meetings late yesterday, Chairman Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) chaired a Juvenile Justice Committee discussion on SB 158. This legislation, a bill by Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) and carried in the House by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) and on behalf of the Administration, addresses changes to Georgia’s laws pertaining to anti-human trafficking. Changes were made so as to merge SB 158 and HB 234, a bill by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), which also deals with anti-human trafficking prosecutions. The Substitute seeks to import HB 234’s provisions relating to the use of property for human trafficking constituting a nuisance and providing for due process and options for judges where a property owner cooperates with law enforcement. The Committee made additional refinements to the bill, and the substitute legislation as amended received a DO PASS recommendation, moving now to the House Rules Committee.
The following legislation of interest was introduced in the House and Senate today. Because these items have been introduced after Crossover Day, they are not eligible for consideration by the both chambers before 2020 (with exception of House and Senate study committees).
- HR 585, authored by Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City), creates the House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention. The Study Committee will conduct a review of resources available for the prevention of gang and youth violence to determine the sufficiency of available resources and to provide for a greater synergy of resources. The resolution was referred to the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
- HR 588, authored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta), urges the Georgia Department of Public Health to review maternal deaths in this state and to develop strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths in this state. The resolution was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
- HR 589, authored by Rep. Mark Newton (R-Augusta), creates the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality. The Study Committee will identify, investigate, and disseminate findings regarding maternal deaths and to develop strategies and institute systemic changes to decrease and prevent maternal deaths in Georgia. The resolution was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
- HR 590, authored by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain), creates the House Study Committee on Georgia's Barriers to Access to Adequate Health Care. The Study Committee will study the benefit of improved awareness and early diagnosis of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal among medical providers; examine comprehensive medical and behavioral health services for those suffering from this serious autoimmune disorder which have been demonstrated to have a positive impact on medical outcomes and reduced burdens on patients, families, providers, and society; and identify barriers to insurance-based care for children with PANS and PANDAS and their families. The resolution was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.
- HR 592, authored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), creates the House Study Committee on Health Care Reimbursement. The Study Committee will study the current health care system and the various types of payors and identify any possible changes to such health care system to address the differentials in health care reimbursement. The resolution was referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.
- HR 644, authored by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), creates the House Study Committee on Health Care Reimbursement. The Study Committee will study the current health care system and the various types of payors and identify any possible changes to such health care system to address the differentials in health care reimbursement. The resolution was referred to the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Healthcare.
- SB 258, authored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), amends Title 49 to require the Department of Community Health to allow mothers giving birth to newborns to retain Medicaid eligibility for one year following such birth.
- SB 260, authored by Sen. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta), amends Title 47 to require actuarial investigations of the Teachers Retirement System at least once every three years and provide that the maximum annual assumed rate of return shall not exceed 6 percent.
- SR 433, authored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), creates the Senate Reducing Georgia's Cost of Doing Business Study Committee. The Study Committee will review and study the issue of Georgia's legal climate and its impact on the cost of doing business and performing healthcare services in Georgia