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Gold Dome

March 22, 2024

Gold Dome Report - Legislative Day 38

Dusk arrived at the Georgia State Capitol as work continued in the State Senate on Legislative Day 38.

Legislative Day 38 provided more healthcare drama than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Just hours before the Senate’s committee action deadline on Thursday, a bipartisan group of Senators made a last-minute run at advancing Medicaid expansion in Georgia. Taking up a substitute to HB 1077 that would enact the "Peachcare Plus Act," an Arkansas-style Medicaid expansion, the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee voted 7-6 to advance the measure. But hopes were dashed when the chair of the committee added his vote of “nay” to create a tie and condemn the bill for 2024. Later, the House got in on the theater, presenting an amendment to HB 1339, the hotly debated measure reforming Georgia’s Certificate of Need program. Presented and passed as a compromise with Senate negotiators, the deal was confirmed with a vote in the Senate later in the evening, sending substantial CON reform to the governor’s desk. Stay tuned for what might happen next week in the #GoldDomeReport.

In addition to the healthcare-apalooza, the House and Senate took up numerous other measures on Thursday. The House passed Senator Jason Anavitarte’s (R-Dallas) "Workforce EXCELeration Act" (SB 112) and Senator Jason Esteves’s "College Success 529 Expansion Act" (SB 469). The Senate worked late into the evening on their Rules Calendar, passing legislation geared at expanding a tax credit supporting foster child support organizations (HB 1090) and the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless Act (HB 1410). Read on for more on Thursday’s action leading into the long weekend before Legislative Days 39 and 40 next week.

In this Report:

  • Senate Appropriations Committee Unveils FY25 Budget
  • Floor Notes
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • What’s Next

Senate Appropriations Committee Unveils FY25 Budget

With just a week remaining before adjournment sine die, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its take on the FY25 State Budget on Thursday morning. While appropriators adopted most of the recommendations of the Governor and House of Representatives, there were a number of notable departures in the spending plan discussed by budget Chair Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia).

Chairman Tillery highlighted that the Senate budget includes 4% raises for State employees and additional $3,000 supplements for certain POST-certified State employees, DFCS employees, and some others. The spending plan also includes Medicaid and DBHDD provider rate increases "across the board," annualizes 513 NOW and COMP waivers, and adds 100 more. In education, Tillery noted the appropriation of $108 million for school safety grants and over $200 million for pupil transportation. He also discussed a Senate decision to use $63 million to pay off outstanding bond debt early due to the State’s current favorable cash position. A full tracking sheet of the Senate’s proposal is available here.

The full Senate is expected to take up the FY25 Budget on Tuesday, but appropriators in both the House and Senate are likely to be spending the weekend hammering out differences. A final compromise budget must be passed out of the House and Senate before adjournment on Legislative Day 40 on Thursday, March 28.

Floor Notes

The House took up the following measures on Legislative Day 38:

  • SB 112 - "Workforce EXCELeration Act"; enact — PASSED 143-23
  • SB 230 - Programs and Protection for Children; foster parents bill of rights; revise provisions — PASSED 169-0
  • SB 259 - Superior Court of Banks County; move from the Piedmont Judicial Circuit to the Mountain Judicial Circuit — PASSED 150-1
  • SB 293 - County Boards of Health; operational policies and procedures of the Department of Public Health apply to local personnel; provide — PASSED 120-37
  • SB 324 - State Printing and Documents; a victim centered address confidentiality program; provide — PASSED 151-1
  • SB 368 - Government Transparency and Campaign Finance; foreign nationals from contributing to candidates or campaign committees; prohibit — PASSED 161-2
  • SB 373 - Licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy; issuance of expedited licenses by endorsement for marriage and family therapists; provide — PASSED 159-0
  • SB 374 - "Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act of 2021"; land surveyor interns and professional land surveyors; change provisions — FAILED 59-96; RECONSIDERATION 82-68
  • SB 420 - Agriculture; acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by certain foreign persons and entities; prohibit — PASSED 97-67
  • SB 433 - Nonprofit Corporations; enact "Donor Intent Protection Act"; provide definitions; charitable organizations from violating the terms of charitable contributions; prohibit — PASSED 157-3
  • SB 469 - "College Success 529 Expansion Act"; enact — PASSED 155-0
  • SB 472 - "Combating Organized Retail Crime Act"; enact — PASSED 167-0
  • SB 479 - Secondary Metals Recyclers; applicability of the definition of the term "used, detached catalytic converters" to said article; provide — PASSED 138-13
  • SB 496 - Ad Valorem Taxation of Property; extension of preferential assessment periods for certain historic properties; provide — PASSED 145-3
  • SB 503 - Residential and General Contractors; the general contractor license as a commercial general contractor license; rename — PASSED 149-2
  • SB 505 - Hospitals and Related Institutions; required publication by hospital of certain financial documents on its website; provisions; revise — PASSED 156-0
  • SB 520 - Domestic Relations; provisions relating to income withholding orders; change and clarify — PASSED 166-0

The Senate took up the following measures on Legislative Day 38:

  • HB 51 - Education; local boards of education use vehicles other than school buses for transport of students; authorize — PASSED 50-1
  • HB 185 - Education; provide for HOPE Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) grants — PASSED 50-0
  • HB 285 - Employees' Retirement System of Georgia; total percentage of funds invested in alternative investments; raise limit — PASSED 45-5
  • HB 301 - Motor vehicles and traffic; revise amount of civil monetary penalty for violations of improperly passing a school bus or speeding in a school zone — PASSED 33-18
  • HB 404 - Safe at Home Act; enact — PASSED 44-2
  • HB 461 - Revenue and taxation; proceeds to local government regulatory fees be used to pay for regulatory activity and not general operations; require — PASSED 46-4
  • HB 499 - Domestic relations; authorize child support and insurance policies for certain disabled children; provisions — PASSED 47-0
  • HB 516 - Transportation, Department of; increase minimum amount for a public road construction or maintenance contract that prohibits negotiation — PASSED 41-6
  • HB 663 - No Patient Left Alone Act; enact — PASSED 49-0
  • HB 874 - Schools; automated external defibrillators; require — PASSED 48-0
  • HB 896 - Domestic relations; process by which individuals may change their married surname to previous surname following divorce; provide — PASSED 49-0
  • HB 1010 - Public officers and employees; increase number of hours permitted for paid parental leave — PASSED 42-6
  • HB 1026 - State government; Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as official soap box derby of the State of Georgia; designate — PASSED 49-2
  • HB 1046 - Health; advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to order home healthcare services; authorize — PASSED 49-0
  • HB 1053 - State government; prohibit governmental agencies from using central bank digital currency as payment — PASSED 38-11
  • HB 1058 - Motor vehicles; federal regulations regarding safe operation of motor carriers and commercial motor vehicles; update reference date — PASSED 48-0
  • HB 1072 - Health; drug repository program; revise definitions; provide for pharmacist to pharmacy technician ratios — PASSED 50-1
  • HB 1090 - Income tax; contributions to foster child support organizations; expand tax credit — PASSED 50-0
  • HB 1105 - The Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act of 2024; enact — PASSED 34-19
  • HB 1149 - Local government; require local constitutional officers to annually report audits of discretionary funds to the General Assembly — PASSED 45-5
  • HB 1183 - Education; local school systems to provide certain information to parents and guardians of students in grades six through 12 on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes; require — PASSED 45-2
  • HB 1193 - Motor vehicles; require operation of flashing or revolving amber lights upon certain vehicles — PASSED 53-0
  • HB 1203 - Dispossessory proceedings; authorize landlords to use certain off-duty sheriffs, constables, or marshals to execute writs of possession; provisions — PASSED 49-0
  • HB 1223 - Georgia Soil Amendment Act of 1976; provide for a new prohibited act — PASSED 49-1
  • HB 1240 - Uniform Commercial Code Modernization Act of 2024; enact — PASSED 52-1
  • HB 1312 - Agriculture, Department of; regulation and taxation of electricity used as motor fuel and electric vehicle charging stations; extend effective date of provisions — PASSED 43-9
  • HB 1335 - Health; personal care homes, assisted living communities, and memory care centers; revise staffing requirements — PASSED 42-4
  • HB 1410 - State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless Act; enact — PASSED 45-1

Committee Reports

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Chairman Ben Watson (R-Savannah) and members of the Senate and Human Service Committee met late Wednesday to address these measures:

  • HB 1037, authored by Representative Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove), seeks in its original form to create a Maternal and Infant Health Commission within the Department of Public Health. The bill became a vehicle for language for the Department of Driver Services on Wednesday evening. This was substituted to create a bill that encompasses language to prove government efficiency by creating one commission and repealing provisions relating to two inactive groups; creating the Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health and its composition, membership, duties, and responsibilities; repealing provisions establishing the Governor's Commercial Transportation Advisory Committee and provisions creating the Commission on the Preservation of the State Capitol. The changes are included in Titles 31, 40 and 50. Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) asked for an amendment to include representation on the new Maternal and Infant Health Commission to include a member of the minority party. The amendment was adopted and the Bill received a DO PASS as amended.
  •  HB 1314, authored by Representative Ruwa Romman (D-Duluth), seeks to amend O.C.G.A. 31-11-13 to designate ambulance services as an essential service in Georgia. Representative Romman indicated that this was to help Georgia in its application of grants for funding.  Many other states make these emergency services as “essential services” like police and fire services. The Feminist Women’s Health Center lobbyist spoke about the legislation, noting that she was unaware how this legislation could be somehow a “workaround” on abortion.  Emergency services and hospitals have EMTALA requirements. Senator Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), a proponent of the Heartbeat Bill passed previously, raised his own alarm and asked that an amendment be made in Title 16, reciting to the prohibition as he did not wish to create a circumstance around the law. An amendment was offered to eliminate the words “Emergency medical services, including” at line 10 of the version of the legislation that passed the House so that it would read:

Ambulance services, whether provided by a public, private nonprofit, or private for-profit entity, are hereby declared to be essential services in this state.  

Senator David Lucas (D-Macon) indicated he was greatly concerned by the proposed change as emergency services are broader than just ambulance services.  Lobbyist Josh Mackey noted that ambulance services is broadly defined in Title 31, providing that information to give some comfort to the committee. The legislation received a DO PASS as amended, moving forward to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 1363, authored by Representative Karen Mathiak (R-Griffin), is the legislation which is to address a discrepancy in payment of medications when a covered individual purchases a medication at an independent pharmacy versus a national chain pharmacy in O.C.G.A. 45-18-16.1. The legislation was intended to only apply to those covered by the State Health Benefit Plan which is overseen by the Department of Community Health. It came to the committee in a new substitute to require that drugs dispensed to a covered person for self-administration under a state health plan be reimbursed using a transparent, index-based price, plus a dispensing fee. Chairman Watson had removed the “trigger mechanism” in the legislation to help protect the smaller pharmacies, however, he noted that he was concerned about the numbers he had seen. After suffering some issues in keeping a committee quorum due to the lateness of the evening and locating all the various parties involved, including the independent pharmacies and the Department of Community Health, the legislation was held with no action taken. Chairman Watson committed that he would work with Representative Mathiak to get language in the Appropriations Bill, HB 916, to get a study committee formed to look further at these pricing issues.

Senate Education & Youth Committee

The Senate Education & Youth Committee, chaired by Senator Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett), met late on Wednesday to consider the following measures:

  • HB 338, authored by Representative Chris Erwin (R-Homer), is the "Student Technology Protection Act." The bill amends Title 20 to provide for the inclusion of methods for the promotion of the safe and appropriate use of technology and responsible digital citizenship in the comprehensive character education program.  Further, the bill requires local boards of education and governing bodies of charter schools to annually submit acceptable-use policies and technology protection measures for review by the State Board of Education. The content restriction and filtering requirements apply only to publicly-owned devices and systems.

Representative Erwin presented the bill as a substitute (LC 49 1914S) that also includes content from SB 405, which lowers the age of eligibility from 18 to 16 for certain students to be enrolled in a completion special school. The committee recommended the bill DO PASS by substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • HB 298, authored by Representative Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove), originally provided for an exemption or deferment from jury service for natural or adoptive mothers of children six months of age and younger.

Representative Daniel presented the bill as a substitute that strips the original and inserts the content of HB 1036, which requires a course of instruction in pregnancy, health, and human development for students in grades nine through 12. The bill also requires that such courses be included in the course of instruction regarding health and physical education and that the content be delivered in collaboration between the Department of Education and Department of Public Health. The instruction must include stages and hallmarks of gestational development for humans (including showing an ultrasound or animation of gestational development) and comorbid conditions encountered in pregnancy. The committee recommended the bill DO PASS by substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • HB 409, authored by Representative Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove), originally amended Title 36 to authorize local authorities to dispose of real property in the same manner as county governing authorities.

Representative Daniel presented the bill as a substitute that strips the original and inserts the content of HB 1284, known as "Addy’s Law." The bill provides for suggested standards for the establishment of school bus routes, enhances the penalties for meeting or overtaking a school bus, and provides for notification to insurance carriers upon issuance of a second or subsequent civil monetary penalty for such violations. The committee recommended the bill DO PASS by substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • HB 846, authored by Representative Rob Leverett (R-Elberton), in its original form, amends Title 20 to require local school systems to notify employees whether social security taxes will be withheld from their pay and whether they are eligible to be included in certain benefits, pension, or retirement plans upon hiring, separation, and at least every five years.

Representative Leverett presented the bill as a substitute (LC 49 1923S) that incorporates the content of HB 1384, which increases from three to five the number of accumulated sick leave days teachers and other school personnel may take each school year for personal or professional reasons. The committee recommended the bill DO PASS by substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • SR 692, authored by Senator Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), creates the Senate Transporting Students Safely Study Committee. The committee recommended the resolution DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee. 

Senate Finance Committee

Wednesday evening, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), was called to order to consider several measures:

  • HB 1021, authored by Representative Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove), amends Title 48 to increase the standard deduction for dependents. The measure seeks to increase the per-dependent deduction from $3,000 to $4,000. The measure received a unanimous DO PASS recommendation. Senator Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell) will carry the measure forward.
  • HB 1180, authored by Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), amends Title 48 relating to the film tax credit. A new version, LC 50 0916S, was presented. The measure contains several changes to credit, including royalties on films receiving the credit, removing video games from the definition of production expenditures, increasing the production credit to $750,000 and the aggregate to $8 million, altering the criteria for state-certified production, changing credit transfers and limiting them to 2.3%, adding a definition for Georgia based qualified production facilities, and cleaning up the code to prevent duplicative laws. The cap of this credit is limited to 12.5% of revenue.

Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) expressed concern over the Georgia-based qualified production facility criteria, which is limited to creation between 2023-2027. He was unsure why there was a beginning date. Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) asked about the list of underutilized communities. Senator Jason Esteves (D-Atlanta) asked if independent films would be captured with the $750,000 limit.

Senator Beach motioned to strike January 1, 2023, and correct the language surrounding it. This amendment failed. The vote was 7-6, and Chairman Hufstetler voted against it to tie the count. Senator Matt Brass (R-Newnan) offered several amendments. The first reduced the aggregate amount from $8 million to $3.5 million. This amendment failed in the same manner as the last. Senator Brass then struck lines 763 and 1106 in their entirety, effectively removing the sunsets. This amendment passed, and the measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

  • HB 1182, authored by Representative Clint Crowe (R-Jackson), amends Title 48 to revise the low-income housing tax credit. Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) offered an amendment adding on lines 42 and 126 individuals with disabilities. This amendment passed. Senator Esteves offered an amendment to increase the amount, but it failed. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HR 96, authored by Representative Noel Williams (R-Cordele), amends Title 48 relating to the severance tax. The underlying measure seeks to reduce the ad valorem tax assessment on timber at sale or harvest. Currently, standing timber is the only product taxed. Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) presented a substitute, LC 50 0909S. The substitute includes changes to landowners with property in CUVAs who remove portions of land from easements to place solar panels on them. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 1116, authored by Representative Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City), amends the historic tax credit in Title 48. A substitute was presented to extend the sunset for residential tax credits to 2027, aligning it with the sunset for the commercial credit. LC 50 0911S received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 264, authored by Representative Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), amends Title 48 regarding appeals. The measure seeks to benefit taxpayers by altering the time when an appeal can be made on a property. Effectively reduces the number of days any corrections or changes on a notice of appeal, allows email for receipt of notice of appeal, revises hearing scheduling date, and reduces the number of days for the tax assessors board to review the taxpayer’s appeal. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

New Legislation

The following new legislation of interest has been introduced:


Crimes and offenses; prohibit sale, distribution, or use of certain assault weapons

Rep. Eric Bell (D-075)


Labor and industrial relations; minimum wage; provide for an increase

Rep. Eric Bell (D-075)


Dual Enrollment Act; residency requirement for eligible students; provide

Rep. Steven Sainz (R-180)


Medical assistance; coverage of prescription drugs prescribed as a treatment for obesity for Medicaid recipients; provide

Rep. Marvin Lim (D-098)


Health; bad debts and underpayment for Medicare services; provisions

Rep. Marvin Lim (D-098)


Law enforcement officers and agencies; employ civilian personnel to investigate traffic accidents involving property damage; provisions

Rep. Marvin Lim (D-098)


J.R. Crickets; commend

Speaker Jon Burns (R-159)


Grants of Pardons, Paroles, and Other Relief; procedures when a person is denied parole after completing certain prerequisites; provide

Sen. Josh McLaurin (D-014)


Trafficking in Cocaine and Illegal Drugs; provide for the offense; mandatory minimum penalties; provide

Sen. Timothy "Tim" Bearden (R-030)


Broken Shackle Ranch Inc.; recognize

Sen. Lee Anderson (R-024)


Senate Study Committee on Universal Design Incorporation Within State Buildings; create

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-036)

What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 39 on Tuesday, March 26 at 10 a.m.

The House postponed the following measures to Legislative Day 39. The House Rules Committee is expected to meet on Tuesday, March 26, to add additional measures to a Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 39.

  • SB 97 - 'Georgia Cyber Command Act'; Georgia Cyber Command Division under the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; create
  • SB 132 - Agriculture; the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by certain nonresident aliens; prohibit
  • SB 208 - 'Georgia Development Impact Fee Act'; provide for fees for education
  • SB 212 - Probate Court Judges; relating to elections; end activities and duties
  • SB 344 - Sales and Use Taxes; firearms, ammunition, gun safes, and related accessories during an 11-day period each year; exempt
  • SB 351 - "Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024"; enact
  • SB 399 - Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia; to enter into and amend existing agreements with the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia; encourage and state expectations
  • SB 402 - Instruction Permits; restrictions upon the operation of Class C motor vehicles by Class D license holders with certain passengers in the vehicle; revise
  • SB 449 - Certified Nursing Aid; certain military medical personnel from an examination requirement; exempt
  • SB 497 - Education; High-demand Career Initiatives Program as the High Demand Apprenticeship Program; redesignate
  • SB 517 - Criminal Prosecutions; immunity from certain criminal prosecutions against law enforcement officers whose threat or use of force is justified or otherwise lawful; provide
  • SR 189 - General Assembly; development impact fees for educational purposes; provide - CA

The Senate left the following measures on the table on Legislative Day 38. The Senate Rules Committee is expected to meet on Monday, March 25, to set a Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 39. 

  • HB 158 - Courts; change name of Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit to DeKalb Judicial Circuit
  • HB 872 - Medical professionals; rural assistance; expand service cancelable loan program for healthcare providers to include dental students
  • HB 1123 - Handicapped persons; require establishment of an Adult Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team in each judicial circuit
  • HB 1341 - State symbols; white shrimp as official state crustacean; designate