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Gold Dome

April 4, 2022

Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 40

HB 1013 was signed by Governor Kemp on Monday. Photo by Rahul Bali / WABE News.

Legislative Day 40 continues as this Report goes live, and the day has already been a historic one! Most notably, HB 1013, Speaker David Ralston’s (R-Blue Ridge) Mental Health Parity Act legislation was signed by Governor Kemp around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Advocates, legislators, lobbyists, and onlookers spilled over the railings as Governor Kemp put ink to paper on the legislation. After the signing ceremony, mental health advocates tuned up to serenade Speaker Ralston with “Thank You for Being a Friend.” The moment was poignant and moving, and the legislation is now a done deal!

There have been a few “fits and starts” throughout the day so far, with both chambers standing at ease for various reasons over the course of the day. Chief among those were abruptly-called House Rules Committee meetings. Among bills that struggled were an online sports betting proposal presented by Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). His Rules Committee Substitute proposal was voted down with a vote of 12-17. Another late arriving idea was language from Representative Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) from HB 290, the Patient’s Representation Act, that was threatened to be added to SB 456. Due to numerous questions, the underlying Rules Committee Substitute was held (but could emerge later this evening).

Before action was taken in the House to agree to HB 911, the FY 2023 Budget, Dean of the House Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) took the well for likely a final time to give his farewell remarks. It was a lesson in Georgia history as Dean Smyre has served under nine governors over his 48 year career in the House. He also reminded his colleagues that it had been an honor and privilege to serve in the House, noting many of the jobs he has held over his time under the Gold Dome, including Chairman of the House Rules Committee and a member of the Budget Conference. Dean Smyre also acknowledged his family present for the momentous occasion, including his father from Columbus and grandchildren. Smyre will be missed in the House — and will be missed by our Gold Dome editorial staff. Dean Smyre has been tapped by the Biden Administration to serve as Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and is awaiting Senate confirmation.

A few notes about changes to the General Assembly coming in 2023. There are 37 Representatives retiring from their seats with 88 incumbents in contested elections. The 37 who are leaving have a combined 341 years of service. On the Senate side, 10 Senators are retiring from their seats with 26 incumbents in contested elections. The 10 leaving the Senate have a combined 94 years of service.

Another departure of note is that Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) gaveled in the Senate today for the last time. Duncan made the decision to not seek re-election. As a former professional baseball player, he marked the day with his usual tradition: he threw out the first pitch this morning.

Although this Report is done, your Gold Dome Report team is still hard at work at the Capitol. Follow along with the action on Twitter at #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • Budget Conference Committee Reaches Compromise
  • Floor Action
  • Committee Reports
  • What’s Next

Budget Conference Committee Reaches Compromise

Early this morning, the House and Senate Budget Conferees met to sign off on their agreed upon budget for FY 2023. It was a bittersweet time as it would be the last time that Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn) would sign such a conference committee report. Chairman England, who was emotional during the meeting, leaves the House this year after 12 years serving in the role of chief budget writer for the House. Also, two long-time staff members, Martha Wigton and Melody DeBussey, will not be returning as each moves on to other life and career moves. The Senate, however, took up HB 911 before breaking for lunch. With a unanimous vote, the Senate approved the Conference Committee’s recommendations. As of our “going to print” with this report, the House has not approved the Budget for the new fiscal year. The Budget contains a $5,000 raise for state employees; completion of the Governor’s raise for school teachers ($2,000); full funding for QBE; money for higher education to address special instruction fees; monumental mental health crisis funding; and funding for law enforcement. There is also a move to value-based purchasing in Medicaid. 

The full tracking sheet for the Conference Committee Report is available online.

Floor Action

The House took up the following measures after our publication deadline on Legislative Day 39:

  • HR 998 - General Assembly; biomarker testing as a necessary part of precision medicine; recognize benefits - PASSED (153-0)
  • SR 596 - Isaiah "Coach" Berry Memorial Intersection; Barrow County; dedicate
  • SB 183 - Office of Sheriff; qualification requirements; revise - FAILED (55-83)
  • SB 276 - County Law Libraries; authorize the charging and collection of law library fees in county recorders' courts and magistrate courts; allow county governing authorities - PASSED (151-0)
  • SB 382 - Child Molestation; misdemeanor convictions for the offense of aggravated child molestation by raising the minimum age of victims from 13 to 14; revise provisions - PASSED (136-1)
  • SB 511 - County Boards of Equalization; handling of appeals of property tax assessments; revise certain deadlines - PASSED (92-48)
  • SB 605 - Employment Security; certain nonprofit organizations have the option of making installment payments to finance unemployment benefits paid to its employees for certain time periods during the COVID-19 public health emergency; provide - PASSED (153-0)

The House took up the following measures as of our publication deadline on Legislative Day 40:

  • HR 1082 - House Study Committee on State and Local Law Enforcement Salaries; create - PASSED (143-0)
  • HR 1103 - Biden Administration; remove its veto and reapprove Georgia's Medicaid expansion waiver; urge - PASSED (97-73)
  • HR 1147 - President of the United States; consider current geopolitical tensions and support policies and take measures to ensure America's long-term energy affordability, security, leadership, and progress; urge - PASSED (99-70)
  • SR 504 - Native American Tribes; recognize - RECOMMITTED
  • SB 84 - Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund; certain communications officers shall be eligible for membership in such fund; provide - PASSED (161-1)
  • SB 256 - County Boards of Health; comprehensive reorganization; provide - POSTPONED
  • SB 352 - Professions; issuance of expedited licenses by endorsement for certain licenses to spouses of firefighters, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officers who relocate to the State of Georgia; provide - RECOMMITTED
  • SB 364 - Telephone Service; class action suits and for damages against certain persons for violating provisions relating to telephone solicitations; provide - RECOMMITTED
  • SB 505 - Communications Officers; 9-1-1 communications officers receive training in the delivery of high-quality telephone cardiopulmonary resuscitation; require - PASSED (164-1)
  • SB 516 - Solid Waste Management; Environmental Protection Division to contract with the Department of Revenue to collect certain fees; require - PASSED (169-0)
  • SB 591 - Secondary Metals Recyclers; shall be illegal for certain persons to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell used, detached catalytic converters, used utility wire, or used communications copper; provide - POSTPONED

The House had the following measures left when this report was published:

  • HR 629 - House State Health Benefit Plan Study Committee; create
  • HR 798 - Joint Study Committee for Cannabis Waste Disposal and Recycling; create
  • HR 881 - Public schools; study Civil Rights Era and related subjects; encourage
  • HR 894 - General Assembly; appropriate all unanticipated federal funding allocated for a fiscal year if the sum exceeds $100 million; provide - CA
  • HR 1024 - House Study Committee on Indexing Maximum Weekly Workers' Compensation Indemnity Benefits; create
  • HR 1050 - Water conservation; commend outstanding advancements made by Atlanta metro region and all Georgians; urge continued initiatives
  • HR 1104 - Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame Highway; Fulton County; dedicate
  • HR 1149 - House Study Committee on Regulation, Affordability, and Access to Housing; create
  • SR 135 - Sports Betting; related matters; provide -CA
  • SR 477 - Joint Georgia Music Heritage Study Committee; create
  • SB 52 - Selling and Other Trade Practices; legislative findings; standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability; provide
  • SB 89 - Elections and Primaries; chief elections assistance officer; qualifications, appointment, supervision, and duties; provide
  • SB 200 - Emergency Powers of the Governor; certain business and religious institutions may continue to resume operations; certain states of emergency; provide
  • SB 259 - Dangerous Instrumentalities and Practices; firearms and the carrying and possession of firearms and weapons; revise various laws
  • SB 277 - Firearms; extend the exemptions from carry laws for court officials to include carrying inside of a courthouse
  • SB 338 - Medicaid; postpartum coverage under Medicaid from six months to one year following birth; increase
  • SB 352 - Professions; issuance of expedited licenses by endorsement for certain licenses to spouses of firefighters, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officers who relocate to the State of Georgia; provide
  • SB 359 - "Safe and Secure Georgia Act"; enact
  • SB 381 - Pimping and Pandering; penalty provisions; increase

The Senate took up the following measures after our publication deadline on Legislative Day 39:

  • HR 594 - County and municipal governing authorities; grant temporary tax relief to properties severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster and located within a nationally declared disaster area; provide - CA - PASSED (55-0)
  • HR 820 - James J. Boss Memorial Roundabout; Barrow County; dedicate - PASSED (50-0)
  • HB 56 - Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit; superior court; provide additional judge - PASSED (47-0)
  • HB 92 - Health; transfer of vital records to State Archives; revise provisions
  • HB 203 - Special license plates; Tybee Island Historical Society; establish - PASSED (51-0)
  • HB 322 - Juvenile Code; revise definition of sexual exploitation - PASSED (53-0)
  • HB 937 - Medicaid; coverage for annual mammograms at no cost to recipient; provide - PASSED (49-0)
  • HB 972 - Professional counselors; licensing requirements; change certain definitions - PASSED (48-1)
  • HB 1044 - Local government; creation of regional development authorities; provide - PASSED (42-10)
  • HB 1188 - Criminal procedure; each act of child molestation charged as a separate offense; provide - PASSED (51-0)
  • HB 1194 - Motor vehicles; federal regulations regarding safe operation of commercial motor vehicles and carriers; update reference date - PASSED (49-0)
  • HB 1216 - Traffic offenses; enhanced penalties for violations of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer; provide - PASSED (40-12)
  • HB 1283 - Quality Basic Education Act; recess for students in kindergarten and grades one through five; provide - PASSED (54-0)
  • HB 1344 - Public officers and employees; updated language regarding spouses of armed forces service members; provide - PASSED (51-1)
  • HB 1441 - Professions and businesses; exempt a certified peace officer employed as an independent contractor from certain requirements - PASSED (47-0)

The Senate took up the following measures as of our publication deadline on Legislative Day 40:

  • HB 1 - Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act; enact - PASSED (33-18)
  • HB 92 - PASSED (49-3)
  • HB 202 - Georgia Driver's Education Commission; violation of traffic laws or ordinance under Joshua's Law; increase additional penalty - PASSED (53-0)
  • HB 389 - Employment security; change definition of employment to include services performed by an individual for wages - PASSED (54-0)
  • HB 554 - Property; revise when an action may operate as a lis pendens - PASSED (53-0)
  • HB 969 - Insurance; update regulation of company holding systems - PASSED (53-0)
  • HB 1039 - Income tax; expenditures on maintenance for Class III railroads; extend tax credit - PASSED (55-0)
  • HB 1043 - Georgia Endowment for Teaching Professionals; create
  • HB 1045 - Workers compensation; dissolution of Subsequent Injury Trust Fund; extend time period - TABLED
  • HB 1058 - Income tax; affiliated corporations file separate or consolidated returns; provisions - PASSED (51-0)
  • HB 1275 - Local government; appointment and removal of municipal court judges; revise provisions - PASSED (51-0)
  • HB 1280 - Revenue and taxation; county tax commissioner duties; revise provisions - PASSED (45-7)
  • HB 1331 - State Employment Service and the Employment Security Administration Fund; change certain provisions - PASSED (42-9)
  • HB 1384 - Buildings and housing; amend Georgia state minimum standard codes to authorize certain uses of ungraded lumber; require - PASSED (49-4)
  • HB 1390 - Labor and industrial relations; right of action against a county or city employer for retaliation; provide - PASSED (48-0)
  • HB 1405 - The Zoning Procedures Law; revise - PASSED (53-0)
  • HB 1435 - Education; needs based financial aid program; include eligibility for students with a financial aid gap - PASSED (53-1)
  • HB 1516 - Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority; provide for definitions; provisions - TABLED
  • HB 1520 - Georgia Council on Addressing Health Care Workforce Challenges; create - TABLED

The Senate had the following measures left when this report was published:

  • HR 204 - Judge Willie J. Lovett, Jr. Juvenile Justice Center; City of Savannah; dedicate
  • HR 593 - Perry, Mr. Dennis Arnold; compensate
  • HR 626 - Robinson, Kerry; compensate
  • HR 732 - Local government; date temporary loans are payable from end of calendar year to fiscal year; change - CA
  • HR 842 - General Assembly; establish standard salary for Senators and Representatives equal to 60 percent of median household income - CA
  • HB 428 - Sales and use tax; change certain definitions
  • HB 681 - Education; course of study in financial literacy for students in tenth or eleventh grade; provide
  • HB 689 - Georgia Crime Information Center; persons who are victims of an offense of trafficking may petition the clerk of court to have sealed certain criminal history record information; provide
  • HB 824 - Georgia Legislative Retirement System; retirement allowance; increase
  • HB 893 - Conservation and natural resources; extend date for hazardous waste fees
  • HB 899 - Contracts; legal effects of the discontinuance of LIBOR; provisions
  • HB 916 - Superior and State Court Appellate Practice Act; enact
  • HB 923 - Local government; development authorities; cap the per diem allowance available to directors
  • HB 974 - Property; deeds; require electronic filing
  • HB 1008 - Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience; governance of program by board of directors of Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan; provide
  • HB 1068 - State government; service of process for state tort claims; revise provisions
  • HB 1092 Georgia Women's CARE (Child Care Alternatives, Resources, and Education) Act, enact
  • HB 1103 - Motor vehicles; heavy-duty equipment motor vehicle; revise definition
  • HB 1182 - Local government; disposition of property acquired for lake projects do not apply if any portion of such lake was constructed; provide provisions
  • HB 1186 - Speech-language pathologists and audiologists; revise licensing provisions
  • HB 1215 - Education; provision that reduced the amount of certain funding to state charter schools that offer virtual instruction; remove
  • HB 1232 - Motor vehicles; temporary license plates and operating permits; revise terminology
  • HB 1274 - State government; antisemitism; provide definition
  • HB 1295 - Quality Basic Education Act; group of performance evaluation ratings; remove needs development rating
  • HB 1297 - Insurance; discount for property owners who build a new property that better resists tornado and catastrophic windstorm events; provide
  • HB 1307 - Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act; revise
  • HB 1348 - Georgia Smoke-free Air Act; revise
  • HB 1352 - Property; provide for handling of certain wills
  • HB 1355 - Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act; revise
  • HB 1383 - Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978; hearing before an administrative law judge; provide
  • HB 1391 - Criminal procedure; compensation for public defenders and assistant public defenders; revise
  • HB 1409 - Labor and industrial relations; workers' compensation benefits; change certain provisions
  • HB 1484 - Social services; three-year pilot program to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of PANDAS and PANS under Medicaid; provide
  • HB 1528 - Commerce and trade; illegal for certain persons to purchase or attempt to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell used, detached catalytic converters; provide
  • HB 1533 - Professions and businesses; professional programs that address career fatigue and wellness in healthcare professionals are not obligated to report to licensing boards except in certain circumstances; provide

Committee Reports

House Health and Human Services Committee

Chairwoman Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) called the last meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee to order early on Sine Die to move one bill.

  • SB 342, authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta), amends Chapter 24 of Title 33. Chairwoman Cooper mentioned a member asked her to move the measure back to her committee for innocent changes. The Chair noted over the weekend she was informed that was not the case. She further informed the committee that no changes had been made, and they needed to move the bill back to the Rules Committee. It received a DO PASS recommendation again.

What’s Next

The General Assembly continued well after this Report was published.