House members have begun working in earnest on the FY 2019 Budget with several Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee soliciting testimony on the Governor's budget proposal. Meanwhile, the General Assembly awaits release of the January revenue numbers from the Department of Revenue to determine more about the health of the State's economy.
Monday will be "Insurance Day" in the House, where legislators will take up three propositions relating to insurance. These include bills intended to increase transparency in billing for out-of-network medical services, extend the self-evaluative privilege for insurers created in 2015, and modernize and clarify the Insurance Code. Details on these propositions and more in today's #GoldDomeReport.
Inside this issue:
- House Adopts Child Abuse Hotline Posting Bill
- Committee Reports
- New Legislation
- Rules Calendars for Legislative Day 19
HOUSE ADOPTS CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE POSTING BILL
Today, the House took up HB 655, legislation authored by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), that proposes to add at O.C.G.A. § 20-2-324.4 that every public school is required to post a sign containing the toll-free telephone number operated 24/7 by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect. The bill was considered and recommended by the House Education Committee and was adopted by a vote of 145-16.
House Education Committee
The House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), met today, taking up five propositions:
- HB 740, authored by Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), bars the expulsion or suspension for five or more days of a student in preschool through third grade before that student receives a multi-tiered system of supports, such as Response to Intervention. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the bill also requires a school also convene an IEP or Section 504 meeting to review appropriate supports being provided as part of such plan prior to expulsion or suspension for five or more days. Rep. Nix noted that the bill was revised based on feedback from speech-language pathologists and is supported by GAEL, Georgia Appleseed, and several other interests. Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) offered an amendment to replace references to "five or more days" to "more than four days", which has no substantive effect to the proposal. The amendment failed because it did not do anything. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS as presented and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 759, authored by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs), was billed by the author as a "tweak" to eligibility for the Special Needs Scholarship. Under the bill, once a student achieves eligibility for the Scholarship, he or she maintains it going forward. The current law, which requires a student be enrolled in a public school for one year prior to becoming eligible, caused problems for students who have breaks in enrollment caused by the student trying home school or an alternative school. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 763, authored by Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), expands the scope of a public school's existing student attendance protocol committee to include a focus on school climate in addition to attendance. The legislation was recommended by a juvenile court judge in Rep. Nix's district. Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) inquired as to whether "school climate" is defined in statute, and Legislative Counsel responded that the term is undefined but used in other code sections and imported here for consistency. Georgia Appleseed spoke in favor of the legislation. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HR 992 and HB 781, authored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), is a constitutional amendment and enacting legislation that will allow school districts to use up to 50% of their education local option sales tax to fund maintenance and educational programs of a school system. Rep. Tanner presented a substitute that simply replaces the tax purpose of "maintenance and operations" to "maintenance and educational programs." The enacting legislation also includes a list of expenses and programs (at lines 93-119) for which proceeds of such a tax may be used, including, but not limited to, school bus fuel, telemedicine, mental health services, foreign language programs, after-school programs, educational materials, and wraparound services. Chairman Coleman expressly stated that this proposal would not result in the diversion of QBE funds.
Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) inquired why the legislation limits dedication of funds to 50%, and Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) expressed concern that, by allowing funding of operations, legislators could be "putting the gun to the head" of local voters to continue re-authorizing these taxes. Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), noted that his constituents do not support the legislation and asked Rep. Tanner why, to which Tanner responded that there remains a fear that the proposition will lead to diversion of state funds.
Representatives of the Dawson County School Board and Public Education Matters Georgia spoke in favor of the proposition. Public Education Matters did, however, warn against allowing this type of funding solution to distract from fully funding education on the state level. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by a vote of 9-7, with Rep. Hilton and Rep. Teasley breaking party lines to vote against.
The Committee also assigned new legislation to subcommittees:
- Academic Support Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock): HB 852, HB 853, HB 874
- Academic Achievement Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson): HR 1017
Senate Judiciary Committee – Subcommittee B
Subcommittee B of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), met and heard one bill. SB 375, authored by Sen. William Ligon, Jr. (R-Brunswick), is the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act. The proposition amends Title 49 to allow a child-placing agency to decline to accept a referral for foster care or adoption services under a contract with the State based on the child-placing agency's sincerely held religious beliefs. The legislation also bars the State from taking an adverse action against such an agency, including failing to renew a contract or license, withholding funding, or taking an enforcement action. Sen. Ligon stated that at least three states have taken adverse actions against faith-based adoption programs (IL, MA, CA), and the current state of law in Georgia has prevented faith-based providers from securing contracts. He also stated that these types of bills have passed in numerous other states.
Barbara D'Castro, a counselor with An Open Door Adoption Agency who appeared with Sen. Ligon, represented that her organization has been unable to secure a contract with the state for placement of children because of their Christian faith basis. She also stated that there are three other agencies in Georgia with the same problem and three additional agencies operating in Georgia who cannot secure a state contract. Paul Smith, founder of Citizen Impact, an organization representing Christian ministries across the state, as well as Brant Frost of the Georgia Republican Assembly and Jane Robins of the American Principles Project, spoke in favor of the legislation.
Several members of the public spoke against the legislation, including Rev. Beth LaRocca-Pitts, Senior Pastor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church, Sean Young of the ACLU, and Jonathan Rogers, a volunteer with the Anti-Defamation League, a representative of Children's Rights, Voices for Georgia's Children, and Bona Allen, a lifelong DeKalb County resident.
The meeting was ongoing at our deadline, but check and follow #GoldDomeReport on Twitter for the Subcommittee's action and realtime updates during each Legislative Day.
House Appropriations Committee – Human Resources Subcommittee
The Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), met today to hear from the public to hear their requests for the FY2019 budget. There were requests from the child welfare provider groups, including Together Georgia, asking for a 7% rate enhancement for those entities taking Georgia's most difficult children to place as well as parity in funding the foster parents per diem rates. There were also requests from the Georgia Council on Aging and state wide independent living counsel and long term care ombudsman. The state wide independent living council asked for $1 million dollars for center expansion. Children's advocacy centers also requested additional funds for things such as therapy services, sophisticated interview equipment and outreach services. In particular, they would like to get a child advocacy center in the Milledgeville area. Dawn Alford with the Council on Developmental Disabilities asked for $11.9 million for developmental disability waivers and $4.8 million for supported employment waivers. There was also a request to fully fund vocational rehabilitation funding, noting that if the state supplied $1 million, they could get $5 million in federal funds which would help 1,400 people across the state acquire jobs.
House Education Committee – Academic Achievement Subcommittee
The Academic Achievement Subcommittee of the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson), also met today and heard two bills:
- HB 743, authored by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford), is the Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. The bill requires the Department of Education develop and post on its website guidelines and other relevant materials to inform and educate students participating in interscholastic athletics, their parents or guardians, and coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. The bill follows the form of the concussion bill adopted by the General Assembly in a prior year and requires the student participating in interscholastic athletics and the student's parent or guardian to sign and return an acknowledgement of receipt and review of the sudden cardiac arrest symptoms and warning signs each year. A school would also be required to hold an informational meeting prior to the start of each athletic season for all ages of competitors regarding the symptoms and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Herbert Nelson, father of one of the bill's namesakes, spoke in support of the bill, as well as representatives of the Georgia High School Association, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the American Heart Association. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee meeting.
- HB 762, authored by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), requires public schools to provide age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in kindergarten through grade 9 as part of their annual sex education courses. It also allows for in-service and continuing education for educators in sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. Under ESSA, schools have access to funding and curriculum to support this educational effort. Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross) inquired as to why the initiative stops at grade 9, to which Rep. Cantrell noted that it was the grade that was suggested to him by educators. Rep. Lopez also asked Rep. Cantrell to consider using his bill to change references to "AIDS" to "HIV", but Rep. Cantrell asked that his legislation retain its focus on education related to sexual assault and abuse. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Education Committee meeting.
House Juvenile Justice Committee
The House Juvenile Justice Committee, chaired by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), met and heard two bills today:
- HB 670, authored by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), amends Title 49 by changing how members of the Georgia State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision are appointed. The legislation allows the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to each appoint one representative. The Committee recommended the bi DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 131, authored by Rep. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), addresses termination of parental rights and stays in adoption proceedings until the termination of parental rights appellate process is complete. The legislation also provides for the waiver of a right to an attorney as long as the waiver is made knowingly, voluntarily and on the record and provides that in delinquency proceedings the child is permitted to waive the right to counsel if the child decides knowingly, voluntarily and on the record. The Committee recommended the bi DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
House Ways and Means Committee
The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), reviewed multiple bills today. With the exception of HB 741, which was removed from the calendar, all bills were voted DO PASS by the Committee. There was little to no discussion on the bills except for HB 821.
- HB 302, authored by Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), allows for an Ad Valorem tax on certain property requirements pertaining to millage rate adoption. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 327, authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), adds for the alternative ad valorem tax on determining fair market value on used motor vehicles not sold by a licensed used motor vehicle dealer and for the assessment of said tax on "kit cars." Kit cars are assembled by the purchaser from parts supplied by a manufacturer. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 352, authored by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), excludes vehicles that operate primarily on compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas, low-speed vehicles or electric powered personal transportation vehicles from the fee charged to alternative fueled vehicles. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 664, authored by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta), amends code section 48-7-27 relating to computation of taxable net income from savings trust accounts that taxable years beginning January 1, 2019 and shall not exceed $4,000 per beneficiary. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 690, authored by Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth), inserts "or used" after "new" to the definition on revenue and taxation on the fair market value of motor vehicles that are leased-thereby making the fair market value of the vehicle appealable. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 693, authored by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville), repeals provisions on the enforcement on the collection of taxes, fees, or assessments for solid waste management. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 697, authored by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), extends the exemption on sales and use tax in cases of sale or use of tangible personal property to certain nonprofit health centers for five additional years. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 735, authored by Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Butler), creates an income tax credit for expenditures on the maintenance of a railroad track owned or leased by a Class III railroad. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 741 (LC 34 5266), authored by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), changes the definition of an ad valorem tax on the fair market value of property. The Committee did not hear this bill as it was removed from the calendar.
- HB 749, authored by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), provides for an exemption to the income tax on retirement income as applicable as a retirement benefit from non-civilian service in the United States armed forces. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 792, authored by Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville), extends the sunset date for certain solid waste surcharges and hazardous waste fees. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 793, authored by Rep. Dominic LaRiccia (D-Douglas), renews an exemption on sales and use tax for the Georgia Aquarium. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 816, authored by Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville), provides for the Department of Revenue to have mandatory fingerprinting and criminal record checks for certain individuals. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 821, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), allows for the exemption of jet fuel tax exemption across the state of Georgia. There was a great deal of discussion, as Clayton County was concerned about the consequences of losing the tax revenue they obtain from this fee from Hartsfield International Airport. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS, with one nay, and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 827, authored by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), increases the value of rural hospital organization's tax credit to 100 percent. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HR 238, authored by Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), allows for the annual allocation of 75 percent of revenue from sale of outdoor recreation equipment for protection and preservation of conservation land. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
House Industry and Labor Committee
On Wednesday, the House Industry and Labor Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), took up five bills:
- HB 767, authored by Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), allows for the verification of lawful presence by electronic filing of an application for unemployment insurance. Author noted that this aids the unemployed in expediting the process and contains other benefits, such as saving gas-especially for those in rural areas. There were questions about what identification can be used, and the author noted that using drivers licenses streamlines the process by allowing for the ability to electronically "ping" Drivers Services and quickly verify the identity of the applicant. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 795, authored by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville), gives the Department of Labor the ability to fingerprint and brings its policies up to Federal standards. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 800, authored by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Peachtree City), changes the eligibility for appointment as director emeritus and administrative law judge emeritus of the State Board of Workers' Compensation so as to provide for the terms of their office and salary for the director emeritus and the office of administrative law judge emeritus. only affects those hired after 2018. The Committee unanimously voted DO PASS to the Rules Committee.
- HB 789, authored by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), this bill attempts to expand legislation in Georgia in order to recruit internet and technological companies to Georgia. It codifies the classification of an employee versus an independent contractor and inserts it into Georgia code. The former requires taxes to be taken out and be covered under workers compensation, while this is not needed for the latter. Examples of internet and technological companies include Uber and Handy (based out of NY). Gina Ferraria, counsel for Handy, explained that Handy is an app on the phone that allows the user to quickly connect with a handy man to complete repairs. There was a lengthy discussion as to whether or not to codify this law and how Handy ensures that their contractor is licensed (which varies according to state law). A representative of independent contractors spoke against the bill, stating that it would harm the contractors as they would lose some of their income to Handy and increase the likelihood of non-insured contractors working in the industry. Discussion was still ongoing as another committee began.
- HR 744, authored by Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), discusses whether or not a career should be licensed and the parameters for such licensure. Currently, the Georgia Occupational Regulatory Review Council, is responsible for recommending to the legislature whether a career should be licensed and if it should continue to be licensed. Author requested reports on who was licensed, how much they were licensed and the cost. However, he was informed they didn't do those reports (even though they are required to by law), because they stated that they didn't have funds in order to create these reports. Doing some of his own research, he noted that the currently required 1,000 hours to become a makeup artist or 1,300 hours to become a barber in Georgia is unnecessary. This bill call for these reports to be compiled and provided to the legislature for review. The Committee unanimously voted DO PASS to the Rules Committee.
The following propositions were introduced in the House:
- HB 860 – Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) has offered this proposal which seeks to amends Title 3, 17 and 35. It provides for a social host's criminal responsibility, regarding the serving of alcohol to individuals under the age of 21 years of age. If an individual takes reasonable action to prevent violations of the serving of alcohol to persons under the age of 21 including verifying the age of persons who appear to be under 21 years of age and took immediate and effective action to stop such violation of consumption of alcohol as soon as discovered as well as reporting of such to the appropriate law enforcement agency, then such individual would not be guilty of a crime. There is an exemption in his proposal for persons who are owners/landlords of multi-family properties where the tenant is furnishing alcohol. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
- HB 861 – Rep. Craig Gordon (D-Savannah) offered this legislation which redefines "rural area" as it now is a county with a population of less than 50,000. This proposal would define a rural area is that a county in Georgia in which the principal business operations of an eligible business are located. The bill was referred to the Insurance Committee.
- HB 866 – Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) offered this amendment to Chapter 1 of Title 10 to prohibit consumer credit reporting entities from charging a fee for placing or removing a security freeze on a consumer's account. In current law, these entities may charge a fee of no more than $3.00 to a consumer for such freeze placement or lifting. The bill was referred to the Banks and Banking Committee.
- HB 868 – Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) authored this revision to O.C.G.A. § 31-2A-18, concerning Georgia's Low THC Oil Patient Registry. Her amendment seeks amend the current listing of conditions for eligibility, adding systemic lupus erythematosus and discoid cutaneous lupus when such disease is diagnosed as severe or end-stage. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
- HB 869 – Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) proposed this repeal of the amendment in the Constitution creating within Fulton County the Fulton County Industrial District. It further prohibits the governing authority of Fulton County from levying any tax for educational purposes within the boundaries of an independent school system. The bill was referred to the Intragovernmental Coordination Committee.
- HB 872 – Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) authored this insurance-related proposal adding a new Chapter 20E in Title 33. It seeks to provide for tiered network standards. It defines a "tiered network" as "a network that identifies and groups some or all types of providers and facilities into specific groups to which different provider reimbursement, covered person cost sharing, or provider access requirements, or any combination thereof, apply for the same services. It does establish that insurers are prohibited from establishing tier selection and criteria in a way in which it would allow an insurer to discriminate against high-risk populations by excluding or placing providers in a tiered network based on their location in a geographic area that contains high-risk populations or excludes providers because they treat or specialize in the treating of high-risk populations. It also requires within 30 days upon receipt of a request, and not more than quarterly, that an insurer is to provide a provider who is participating in one or more of its tiered networks with a complete list of all network plans and products which such insurer offers to consumers with an indication of the provider's participation status in each network plan or product. Insurers are also prohibited from terminating a participating provider or from placing a participating provider in a tiered network without at least 60 days' written notice informing the provider of the pending action. If an insurer advertises a physician as a participating provider to a patient when such patient is selecting his or her insurance plan, then the insurer is required to cover the provider charges at in-network rates during the contract year for such patient. The bill was referred to the Insurance Committee.
- HB 873 – Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) proposed this legislation in the Insurance Code so as to provide for consumer protections and freedom of information regarding prescription drug benefits – it would be known as the "Prescription Drug Benefits Freedom of Information and Consumer Protection Act" in a new Chapter 65 of Title 33. In its "purpose" it states that the legislation is to "promote consistency and clarity in the disclosure of prescription drug formularies in order to aid consumers in making informed choices related to their health care." The legislation applies to insurance carriers under Title 33 providing accident and sickness products (individual, group or blanket policies); all third-party administrators (in Chapter 23 of Title 33); and pharmacy benefit managers. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are required to provide no later than October 1, 2018 on a public website, maintained by insurer or pharmacy benefits manager, formulary information (and also requires that such identify if the drug falls within a tier if a multi-tier formulary is used). Also a direct electronic link to the formulary information is to be displayed on the website home page of the insurer and pharmacy benefit manager. Insurers and PBMs are to update their formulary information within seven days of any change, alteration, modification or amendment to the formulary. It also requires that the Commissioner of the Department of Insurance is to develop, prior to October 1, 2018, a single, standard form for requesting prior authorization of prescription drug benefits (no more than two pages in length) which is to be made available electronically on Department of Insurance website, insurers' websites and PBMs' websites. Further, the Department of Insurance is to appoint an Advisory Committee on uniform Prior Authorization which is to advise the Department of Insurance Commissioner on technical, operational, and practical aspects of developing the single, standard prescription drug prior authorization form. Once an insurer or PBM receives a prior authorization form, they have two calendar days to acknowledge such receipt to the prescriber and are then to communicate to the prescriber the status (approved, denied, or incomplete) no more than four calendar days once receipt of this form. The Department of Insurance is provided authority to levy a fine against insurers and PBMs of not less than $25,000.00 per occurrence for failure to meet requirements as outlined in O.C.G.A. § 35-65-8; it also sets up such violation as a tort action. At O.C.G.A. § 33-6-9, it requires that an insurer or PBM offering prescription drug benefits is to honor a prescription drug prior authorization form approved by the immediately preceding insurer or PBM for at least the initial 60 days after a change in enrollee's health benefit plan, insurer, or pharmacy benefits manager subject to receipt of a record demonstrating approval of prior authorization from the prescriber, pharmacist or enrollee. The bill was referred to the Insurance Committee.
- HB 874 – Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) proposed this measure to be known as the "Student and Family Fair Notice and Impact Statement Act" in Chapter 2 of Title 20. It proposes to provide for fair and timely notice when any process is initiated which could lead to the closure or restructuring of a charter school (local charter, state chartered special school or a state charter school). Such notice is required within five days. Within 60 days of providing notice to the parents, the authorizing entity, where it has communicated action, or the charter school where it intends to surrender its charter, is required to prepare a student and family impact statement (its requirements are outlined in the proposal – which includes such things as a description of the proposed action (needs and benefits); information on a review of similar charter schools (performance and at-risk populations); survey of teachers in the school; etc.). The proposal does have a requirement for a public hearing to be held so that testimony may be provided on the findings of the student and family impact statement – expert testimony is also to be permitted. No final action by the authorizing entity is permitted until at least 30 days following the public hearing. The bill was referred to the Education Committee.
- HR 1077 – Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) authored this Resolution to recognize February 26-March 4, 2018 as "Eating Disorders Awareness Week" at the State capitol in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
The following bills were introduced in the Senate:
- SB 399 – Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) authored revisions to Chapter 26 to Title 43 to provide for changes to the roles and definitions of advanced nursing practice and advanced practice registered nurses. It permits an advanced practice registered nurse to serve as a primary or acute care provider of record. The bill was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 400 – Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) offered this proposal which would repeal the Certificate of Need Program in Title 31. The bill was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee.
- SB 401 – Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) offered this initiative which will amend O.C.G.A. § 20-2-327, relating to the recognition of advanced proficiency/honors courses and counseling and development of individual graduation plans. It seeks to provide for guidance in career oriented aptitudes and career interests in developing an individual graduation plan. In current law, students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades are provided counseling, advisement, career awareness, career interest inventories, and information to assist them in evaluating their academic skills and career interests – this adds "career oriented aptitudes. The student's individual graduation plan is to take into consideration when a scheduling a student's courses in the ninth grade. The legislation also directs the Department of Education to review each school counselor's role, workload, and program service delivery in grades six through 12 – this includes the scope of the school counselor's professional learning and annual evaluation instruments. A report is also to be generated by the Department of Education with its report sent to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly on its finding, including recommendations for improvements so that to ensure student academic success. The bill was referred to the Education and Youth Committee.
- SB 402 – Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) has proposed the "Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act, amending Titles 32, 36, 48 and 50. This initiative is a part of the outcomes from the study committees which were held last summer. It proposes to provide for broadband services planning, deployment and incentives. The Department of Transportation would be authorized to take actions to enable the rights of way of interstate highways to be used for the deployment of broadband and other communications technologies. The Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Georgia Technology Authority, would have this authority to establish a long-term policy with the regard to the rights of way of interstate highways and State-owned roads for this communications technologies. Part of this initiative establishes a new Chapter 66D in Title 36 so as to authorize the Department of Community Affairs and it is directed to establish rules and regulations necessary to create a program with the assistance of the Georgia Technology Authority that designates and recognizes political subdivisions that enact ordinances and policies that have the effect of removing local barriers to broadband deployment as broadband ready communities. It is also to work with the Department of Economic Development to jointly promote the availability of high-speed Internet services in broadband ready communities throughout the State. The bill was referred to the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
RULES CALENDARS FOR LEGISLATIVE DAY 19
The House will take up six bills on Monday:
- HB 487 -- Disaster Volunteer Relief Act; granted leave from work with pay in order to participate in specialized disaster relief services; authorize certain employees of state agencies
- HB 592 -- Insurance; compliance self-evaluative privilege; repeal applicability and sunset provisions
- HB 678 -- Insurance; consumer protections regarding health insurance; provisions
- HB 723 -- Sales and use tax; certain veterinary diagnostic and disease monitoring services; create exemption
- HB 734 -- Insurance; modernization and updates; provisions
- HB 739 -- Tracy Rainey Act; enact
The Senate will take up four bills on Monday:
- SB 31 -- Community Health Dept.; at least two members of board shall also be members of the state health benefit plan; State Health Benefit Plan Customer Advisory Council; create
- SB 315 -- Computer Crimes; create a new crime of unauthorized computer access; penalties; provide
- SB 353 -- Boilers and Pressure Vessels; violations concerning the regulation; civil enforcement and penalty authority in the Safety Fire Commissioner; establish
- SB 370 -- Medical Assistance; commissioner of human services waives the first $25,000 of any estate; provide
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.