Welcome to my legislative update!
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Sponsored Legislation Update


Believe it or not, we only have two weeks left of the 2017 legislative session. I am pleased to report that a number of bills I am working on have successfully crossed into the Senate chamber and are now under review. With only a few days left, we are now considering a number of Senate bills that are now in the House. 

HB 146- The Firefighter Cancer Insurance Bill
Last week, I was extremely thankful and greatly appreciate the Senate's unanimous vote and passage of HB 146. I am hopeful that Governor Deal will lend his signature to the bill, making it official Georgia code. I can't thank Senator John Albers, enough for his efforts and assistance, ensuring this bill received passage from the Senate. I look forward to working with Governor Deal's office in addressing any concerns they may have.

 

 
Senate Bills
As I said, there are a number of Senate bills in the House that are currently up for review. Below is every piece of legislation we are presently discussing. Thank you to the Senate Press office for their work, providing us with the information below: 
  • Hospital Financing Program Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 70, which would extend the sunset provision for the provider payment fees of operating a hospital until June 30, 2020. These fees are necessary to obtain federal funding for Medicaid financing. SB 70 passed by a vote of 50 to 3. – SB 70
 
  • Off Premise Sales of Malt Beverages Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough) sponsored Senate Bill 85, which would allow breweries to sell malt beverages directly to consumers for on and off premises consumption. Breweries will be able to sell up to 288 ounces per consumer per day for off premises consumption and will be permitted to sell up to 3,000 barrels per year for consumption both on and off premises. Beverages can be sold any time or day so long as alcohol sales are permitted by the county or municipality. SB 85 passed by a vote of 49 to 2. – SB 85
 
 
  • Enhancing Mental Health Treatment in Georgia Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), would create the Georgia Mental Health Treatment Task Force. The taskforce will ensure that the state’s health system is providing proper and essential mental health services. They will assess all aspects of the state’s approach toward mental health treatment. SB 4 passed by a vote of 44 to 0. –SB 4
 
  • Rural Hospital Tax Credit Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) sponsored Senate Bill 14, which would grant limited liability corporations (LLC), shareholders of “S”corporations or members of partnerships the right to receive an income tax credit equal to 70 percent or $10,000, whichever is less. This bill pertains to donations that are made to rural hospital organizations. SB 14 passed by a vote of 41 to 5. –SB 14
 
 
  • Repealing a Registration Requirement for those Handling Organic Food Currently, no product may be labeled “organic” unless the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDOA), or an entity on behalf of GDOA certifies it. On Wednesday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 69, sponsored by Sen. John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa), which would repeal a provision that requires those who produce, process, distribute or handle any organic product to register with the GDOA. These entities must still register with the USDA. SB 69 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. –SB 69
 
  • Authorizing the Commissioner of Agriculture to Issue a Variance or Waiver Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Lee Anderson (R – Grovetown), would allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a variance or waiver on a rule that the Commissioner issued, specifically on the adulteration and misbranding of food. Whoever seeks the waiver must demonstrate that the rule can be achieved through other means; and that the strict application of the rule would cause undue hardship. However, under SB 78, the Commissioner would not have authority to issue a variance or waiver that would pose a health threat to the public. SB 78 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. –SB 78
 
 
  • A Freeze on Renewal Fees for Hunting Licenses Sen. Bill Heath (R – Bremen) sponsored Senate Bill 48, which would put a freeze on fees for renewing hunting licenses before they expire. Licenses that are affected will be resident and non-resident annual big game licenses, and resident annual and two-year licenses. Senate Bill 48 passed by a vote of 53 to 1. – SB 48
 
  • Persons Requiring Involuntary Treatment Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Bill 52 which would eliminate the sunset date on a provision in current Georgia law authorizing licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to perform emergency examinations and certifications of those who need involuntary treatment. Senate Bill 52 passed by a vote of 51 to 3. – SB 52
Pictured above: Dallas Police Department Chief Scott Halter and
Major Jim Boshell.

 
 
  • Dental Hygienists Performing Delegable Duties Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 12 authorizing licensed dental hygienists to act in the place of a licensed dentist if he or she is absent. However, before performing dental duties, the dental hygienist must be given permission to do so by the dentist. The law currently states that a dentist must supervise the work of a dental hygienist while performing such duties. Senate Bill 12 was passed by substitute with a vote of 48 to 1. – SB 12
 
  • Weapons Carry for Retired Law Enforcement Officer Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla) sponsored Senate Bill 18, which would allow any certified peace officer employed by any state entity, who retired in good standing, to retain their badge and weapon as compensation. SB 18 would also allow retired a Georgia resident who served as a law enforcement officers for at least 10 years to carry a handgun anywhere in the state. Senate Bill 18 was passed by substitute with a vote of 47 to 1. – SB 18
 
  • Emergency Medical Services Transport Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), permits emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to decide to transport anyone that may need involuntary treatment to a hospital. Emergency personnel will not be held liable for any civil damages unless those damages are a result of deliberate negligence. Senate Bill 40 was passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 47 to 1. – SB 40
 
  • Requiring Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers to be Licensed Senate Bill 41, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), would require the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy (GSBP) to license durable medical equipment suppliers. Applicants must apply for a license through the GSBP to maintain an office in Georgia, pay a fee and meet all safety requirements set by the Board. Under SB 41, a license is effective for 36 months. SB 41 passed with a vote of 40 to 8. – SB 41
 
  • A More In-Depth Guideline for Discharging Judgments Against Certain Property Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro) sponsored Senate Bill 87, which would provide procedural guidelines for debtors to cancel judgments against property that is exempt due to either federal or state bankruptcy statutes. SB 87 passed with a vote of 49 to 1. – SB 87
 
  • Prohibition of “Upskirting” Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker III (R – Perry ), would forbid the use of a electronic device to observe, film, video record or photograph under or through an individual’s clothing in an attempt to view intimate parts of the body or undergarments where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Such conduct is considered criminal regardless of whether the act occurs in a public place. SB 45 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 45
 
  • Space Flight Activities Tort Exemptions Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick) sponsored Senate Bill 46, which would provide operators of space flight activities immunity from any lawsuits if the spaceflight participants become injured during spaceflight except in cases where operators are negligent or act with intentional misconduct. SB 46 passed with a vote of 49 to 2. – SB 46
 
  • Georgia Right Track Act Sen. David Shafer (R – Duluth) sponsored Senate Bill 89, the “Georgia Right Track Act,” which would provide investments for railways, railroad facilities and railroad equipment. This bill would enhance the state’s investment in freight rail projects and help support a safe and balanced transportation system. SB 89 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 89
 
  • Weapons Carry License for Retired Disabled Law Enforcement Officers Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Sen. Michael Rhett (D – Marietta), authorizes retired disabled law enforcement officers to obtain a free weapons carry license if they have served for at least 10 years or left their position due to an injury suffered in the line of duty. SB 15 also requires that law enforcement officers comply with other stipulations regarding the weapons carry license. SB15 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 15
 
  • Regulation of Low THC Oil Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) sponsored Senate Bill 16, which will decrease the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Georgia’s medical cannabis oil to three percent. SB 16 amends qualifying conditions to include autism spectrum disorders. When diagnosed with autism, patients 18 years of age or older who suffer from severe autism, or those under 18 with authorization from a physician, will be allowed to receive low THC oil. SB 16 passed with a vote of 41 to 12. – SB 16
 
  • The Fairness, Accountability, Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton) presented Senate Bill 2, formally titled “The FAST Act – Fairness, Accountability, Simplification and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed.” The bill seeks to remove redundant regulations that make it more difficult to conduct business in Georgia. SB 2 requires an emphasis on a fair system that allows for Georgia’s agencies to more easily communicate with businesses in their jurisdictions. It also mandates that agencies that do not meet their own license issuing schedules will have to reduce fees paid by the consumer. This bill is one of the six Senate Majority Caucus priorities and passed 52 to 0. – SB 2
 
  • The CONNECT Act Senate Bill 3, or the “Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training Act”, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta), would encourage high schools and industries to participate in credentialing programs that would allow high school students to earn certified industry credentials while still in school. Areas of focus under this bill include industries in the career, technical and agriculture education programs. If SB 3 becomes law, it would give Georgia’s high school students another path to take after they graduate. SB 3 is one of the six Senate Majority Caucus priorities and passed 52 to 0. – SB 3
 
  • Establishing Technology Standards and Policies for State Agencies Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Bill 117, which would require the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) to establish technology standards and policies for Georgia’s governmental agencies within the Executive Branch. However, GTA must provide a waiver to agencies if their regulations are inapplicable or do not promote the best interests of Georgia. SB 117 passed 53 to 0. – SB 117
 
  • Direct Primary Care Act Sen. Hunter Hill (R – Atlanta) sponsored Senate Bill 50 which would grant the use of primary care agreements in the state of Georgia and create a legal structure for carrying out these agreements. Physicians and their patients would have a contract between each other where the physician or physician’s medical practice agrees to provide the individual patient with health care services for an agreed upon fee and for a period of time. The bill passed by a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 50
 
  •  Bankruptcy Exemptions for Health Savings Account Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro), would exempt assets in health savings accounts and medical savings accounts from bankruptcy. The bill passed by a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 71
 
  • Regulation of Controlled Substances Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) sponsored Senate Bill 106 which would restore the privileges of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) to provide anesthesia without a doctor on-site. CRNAs would not be allowed to dispense, prescribe or distribute a controlled substance without a physician or physician assistant being present. This bill revises a provision relating to healthcare professionals who must be on-site at a pain management clinic in order for the clinic to provide medical treatment. The bill passed by a vote of 49 to 2. – SB 106
 
  • Physician Assistants Authorized to Prescribe Hydrocodone Products Senate Bill 125, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough), would allow physician assistants who have been authorized by a physician the right to issue prescriptions for hydrocodone products for five days or less. This bill would require that all physician assistants who are authorized to write prescriptions must also complete continuing education. The bill passed by a vote of 48 to 3. – SB 125
 
  • The Georgia Regional Transit Council Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), would form the Georgia Regional Transit Council. The Council will work to create plans to reduce travel times, road congestion, improve access to highways and develop ideas for transportation innovations. SB 6 passed by a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 6
 
  • Visiting Sports Teams Physicians Exemption Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome) sponsored Senate Bill 47 which would permit physicians, physician assistants and athletic trainers who are licensed in other states to treat team members and coaching staff of visiting sports teams during events held in Georgia. This bill would exempt medical personnel from state licensure requirements when they have an agreement with a traveling team, or are invited by a national sports committee. Senate Bill 47 passed with a vote of 47 to 0. – SB 47
 
  • Chief Judge of the Recorder’s Court of Chatham County Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah), would develop a new process for appointing the Chief Judge of the Recorder’s Court of Chatham County and would establish a Court Administrator position for the Recorder’s Court of Chatham County. Senate Bill 73 passed with a vote of 34 to 16. – SB 73
  • Statewide System of Emergency Cardiac Care Centers Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 102 which would establish the Office of Cardiac Care under the Department of Public Health. The office of Cardiac Care would be responsible for selecting qualified hospitals to become emergency cardiac care centers. Senate Bill 102 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 102
 
  • Womens Veterans’ Office Senate Bill 108, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry), would create and establish a Women Veterans Office. Female veterans have a variety of different challenges than men including healthcare, mental health, and reintroduction into society after serving. This office provides education and a mentor program to help ensure these women get the assistance they need. The bill passed by a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 108
 
  • Department of Driver Services to Share Information Sen. John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa) sponsored Senate Bill 128 which would allow the Department of Driver Services to share the personal information of a driver with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In an effort to help prevent fraudulent applications and permits from being approved by the DNR. The bill passed by a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 128
 
  • Child Support Recovery Act Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus), would change Georgia law so that a person who owes child support would be charged $25 annually based off the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Under the new bill, departments can collect the fee through different remedies and not solely monthly installments. The bill passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 137
 
  • Carnival Ride Safety Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White) sponsored Senate Bill 141 which would require an engineering evaluation by engineers on carnival rides before a permit can be issued for operation in the state of Georgia. The engineering evaluation must be done before the ride’s annual inspection. The bill passed by a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 141
 
  • Surprise Billing and Consumer Protection Act Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 8 which would protect consumers against surprise billing by providers, hospitals and insurers for out-of-network services. Under this legislation, surprise bills for emergency services would be disputed through a resolution process within the Department of Insurance. SB 8 also requires that a database with usual and customary cost of services be created and maintained by the Department of Community Health. Senate Bill 8 was passed by a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 8
 
  •  Pronouncement of Death of Patients in Nursing Homes or Hospice Care Senate Bill 96, sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah), would permit nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to be granted the authority to pronounce a patient’s death if they are in hospice care or a nursing home regardless of organ donor status. Senate Bill 96 passed with a vote of 52 to 1. – SB 96
 
  • Recognition of Emergency Medical Service Personnel Senate Bill 109, sponsored by Sen. Michael Williams (R – Cumming), would allow emergency medical service personnel to cross state lines and treat patients in the event of an emergency. This bill would help mediate the exchange of information between other member states and would support the cooperation of member states regarding EMS personnel licensure and regulation. The bill passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – SB 109
 
  •  Protecting Public Safety Officers Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) sponsored Senate Bill 154 which would increase the punishment of individuals who commit crimes of aggravated assault or battery against a public safety officer. SB 154 would add a $5,000 fine to aggravated assault and battery crimes, increase the payments to families of officers who are killed in the line of duty and would provide that parents or legal guardians of minors are responsible for the unlimited financial liability of these crimes. Senate Bill 154 passed with a vote of 47 to 7. – SB 154
 
  •  Local Law Enforcement Compensation Commission Senate Bill 155, sponsored by Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus), would establish the Local Law Enforcement Compensation Commission. The Commission would be responsible for examining the salaries and benefits of local law enforcement officers and reviewing compensation offered by law enforcement agencies across the state. SB 155 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – SB 155
 
  • Back the Badge Act of 2017 Senate Bill 160, sponsored by Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla), would impose stricter penalties on individuals convicted of harming public safety officers. Under current law, punishment of 10 to 20 years is imposed on anyone who is convicted for aggravated assault for harming a public safety officer. This bill would strengthen the current mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated battery by preventing any part of the 10 year minimum sentence from being suspended, deferred or probated. SB 160 would allow juveniles to be charged as adults, when accused of aggravated assault with a firearm against a law enforcement officer. The bill passed with a vote of 40 to 12. – SB 160
 
  •  “Back the Badge” License Plate Sen. Greg Kirk (R – Americus) sponsored Senate Bill 169 which would honor law enforcement officers by allowing citizens to purchase license plates titled “Back the Badge”. The funds collected will be donated to the Peace Officers Annuity and Benefit Fund which prepares their members for retirement and provides a well deserved pension once that goal is reached. The bill passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – SB 169
 
  • Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr. Act Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 121 which would permit a pharmacist to dispense opioid antagonists as it is pursuant to a statewide standing order. This bill would also remove the drug Naloxone off the list of dangerous drugs and would reclassify it as a Schedule V controlled substance. SB 121 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 121
 
  • Eliminating Corporate Net Worth Tax Senate Bill 133, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry), would exempt corporations that are valued at less than $100,000 from paying the corporate net worth tax and eliminate the need for these corporations to have to file a return related to this tax. SB 133 passed by a vote of 38 to 16. – SB 133
 
  • Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax Senate Bill 156, sponsored by Sen. Fran Millar (R – Atlanta), would address the transportation needs of DeKalb County through non-public transit funding by prohibiting the MARTA penny sales tax from increasing. The Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax, or E-HOST, also specifically benefits the transportation needs of public safety personnel while exempting food and prescription drugs. SB 156 passed by a vote of 36 to 18. – SB 156
 
  • Sick Leave Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 201 which would allow employers who employ 25 or more people who work more than 30 hours a week to use up to five days of sick leave to care for an immediate family member or dependent. Under this bill, employees who use sick leave must adhere to the terms of their employer’s sick leave policy. SB 201 passed by a vote of 41 to 10. – SB 201
Pictured above: Douglasville Police Department Chief, Gary Sparks. 
 
 
  • Lottery for Education Proceeds Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), would require the Georgia Lottery to give a certain portion of their proceeds to fund the Lottery for Education Account. SB 5 would require the Georgia Lottery to increase the funding amount by one percent each year for three years starting at 26.5 percent in Fiscal Year 2018. Senate Bill 5 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 5
 
  • Pharmacy Benefits Managers Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would increase the oversight capabilities of the Insurance Commissioner over Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM). Current law restricts the Commissioner from expanding provisions and rules pertaining to PBMs. SB 103 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 103
 
  • Waiving the Right to Counsel Senate Bill 130, sponsored by Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) would require that if a person waives their right to counsel before a hearing, it must be done voluntarily, knowingly and on the record. SB 130 also allows a child to waive their rights to counsel at an arraignment if the waiver is done voluntarily, knowingly and on the record. SB 130 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 130
 
  • Nurse Licensure Compact Senate Bill 166, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), would authorize Georgia to become a party state to the Nurse Licensure Compact. This legislation would allow registered professional nurses or licensed practical nurses to obtain a multi-state license which permits nurses to practice in any state that is a part of the Compact. SB 166 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 166
 
  • Access to Child Abuse Information Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 168 which would expand the list of individuals and agencies that can gain access to child abuse records. This bill would authorize certain government, adoption and law enforcement agencies to obtain child abuse records and gives access to any federal, state or local governmental entity that is investigating a possible child abuse case or potential foster and adoptive households to acquire background information . Senate Bill 168 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 168
 
  • State Road and Tollway Authority Sen. Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) sponsored Senate Bill 183 which would provide the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) with additional powers to extend credit, accept interest on any property and incorporate nonprofit corporations as subsidiary corporations. SB 183 would also allow SRTA to extend the expiration date for collection of tolls and requires SRTA to report all toll collections to the General Assembly. SB 183 passed with a vote of 50 to 1. – SB 183
 
  • Personal Needs Allowance Sen. Michael Rhett (D – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 202 which would increase the personal needs allowance for medical assistance to $70 per month for individuals who are institutionalized. SB 202 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 202
 
  • The Protect Act – Protecting Georgians Against Terrorism Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), would redefine domestic terrorism to include damaging, disrupting or destroying critical infrastructure. SB 1 would also create a separate Department of Homeland Security as well as a State Board of Homeland Security to create a homeland security strategy and oversee its implementation by state and local agencies. The bill would also grant the Georgia Attorney General authority over multi-jurisdictional acts of terror. SB 1 passed with a vote of 42 to 12. – SB 1
 
  • Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr. Act Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 81 which would allow pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to individuals in accordance with a statewide standing order. The bill also would require prescribers and dispensers of controlled substances to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program every 24 hours. SB 81 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 81
 
  • Changing Information Provided to Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia Senate Bill 95, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro), would change what information the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia can and cannot acquire from the Department of Driver Services, Secretary of State, Department of Public Health and state criminal agencies when compiling the statewide master jury list. Under the bill, the Georgia Supreme Court would oversee the preparation, dissemination and improvements of the jury list. SB 95 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 95
 
  • Human Trafficking Hotline Model Notices in Government Buildings Sen. Donzella James (D – Atlanta) sponsored Senate Bill 104 which would require government entities to post the human trafficking hotline model notice inside designated government buildings. It would also require government entities to provide a link on their websites to the notice on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation website. SB 104 passed by a vote of 52 to 0 . – SB 104
 
  • Providing Additional Pathways for the Department of Education Senate Bill 139, sponsored by Sen. Hunter Hill (R – Atlanta), would allow local school systems, charter schools and colleges to create additional career pathways for the State Board of Education to consider. The Department of Education must then review the submission within 90 days. SB 139 passed with a vote of 52 to 1. – SB 139
 
  • Allowing Cemeteries to Redistribute Income from Perpetual Care Trusts Sen. Michael Williams (R – Cumming) sponsored Senate Bill 147 which would allow cemeteries and cemetery companies to distribute income from perpetual care trust funds through unitrust distribution methods. This would allow for them to use up to four percent of the net fair market value of the perpetual care trust fund for grounds maintenance. SB 147 passed with a vote of 48 to 1. – SB 147
 
  • Alternative Education Programs for Disruptive Students Senate Bill 152, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D – Decatur), would require schools to reassign students who would otherwise be suspended or expelled, to an alternative education program. This bill limits the length of time the assignment would last as long as the student exhibits appropriate behavior throughout the assignment’s duration. The assignment may be prolonged if the student commits a serious offense, but maybe appealed to return to a regular classroom after two semesters. SB 152 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 152
 
  • Criminal Trespassing Offense Senate Bill 159, sponsored by Sen. Lee Anderson (R – Grovetown), would add vertical purple paint lines to the list of legal markers for private property. Under this bill, anyone entering a property marked with purple paint without the permission of the property owner is committing criminal trespass. SB 159 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 159
 
  • Accountability Courts Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) sponsored Senate Bill 174 which would require the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia to develop a peer review process to ensure that Veterans Division Courts are abiding by the same policies and procedures as other accountability courts. This bill also addresses probation and reviewing someone with no prior felony convictions to receive a probation sentence unless the courts determine incarceration is necessary. SB 174 passed with a vote of 55 to 0. – SB 174
 
  • Incompetence of Delinquent Children Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) sponsored Senate Bill 175 which would encourage parental responsibility of juveniles found to be delinquent. SB 175 would also provide professional guidance for the detention of a child who is depicted as incompetent to move forward in juvenile court proceedings. Juveniles who are determined to be incompetent may be released or detained depending on their mental state. SB 175 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 175
 
  • Drivers License Privileges Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon), would provide that if an individual is arrested for violating motor vehicle or traffic laws a second attempt must be made to reach them before a bench warrant is issued if they miss their court date. SB 176 would also reinstate licenses to certain violations that occurred before July 1, 2015. SB 176 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 176
 
  • Dually Enrolled Students HOPE Grant Eligibility Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 186 which would allow students who obtained a high school diploma while dual enrolled to be eligible for a HOPE grant in pursuit of an associate degree at a branch of the Technical College System of Georgia or a unit of the University System of Georgia. The student must still meet all residency, achievement and enrollment standards. SB 186 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 186
 
  • Avoiding Drinking Water Contamination in Primary and Secondary Schools Sen. Vincent Fort (D – Atlanta) sponsored Senate Bill 29 which would require that drinking water outlets used in schools and child care centers be tested for lead contamination by June 30, 2019. Under this bill, any lead contamination identified should be addressed and requires the school to submit a plan of corrective action to the Department of Public Health. SB 29 passed with a vote of 50 to 1. – SB 29
 
  • Unlocking the Promise Community Schools Act Senate Bill 30, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort (D – Atlanta), would require the Department of Education (DOE) to make grants available for eligible schools that demonstrate a need for community school programming. If awarded a grant, a school must then provide the DOE with a community school plan and establish a school leadership team responsible for overseeing its implementation. Senate Bill 30 passed with a vote of 50 to 1. – SB 30
 
  • Removal of Mental Health Records from Georgia Crime Information Center Senate Bill 99, sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent (D – Atlanta), establishes a process for individuals who have been involuntarily hospitalized to have their mental health information automatically removed from the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) and provides protocol for a hearing before a judge to determine whether or not the record should be removed. If the judge chooses not to hold a hearing, the record will be purged from the system. If an individual does not petition for a hearing, their record will remain in the GCIC database indefinitely. SB 99 also changes the definition of a knife to a cutting instrument with a blade longer than 12 inches. SB 99 passed with a vote of 52 to 1. – SB 99
 
  • Refining Venue for Tort Actions Against the State Senate Bill 126, sponsored by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon), would bring torts in which the state is the defendant, under the jurisdiction of the state or superior court where the tort first occurred. However, wrongful death actions may be taken in the county where the loss occurred or where the victim died. SB 126 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 126
 
  • Asserting Victim’s Rights Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) sponsored Senate Bill 127 which would allow a victim of a crime to be heard in a criminal case to assert their rights guaranteed in the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. Specifically, SB 127 grants a victim the right to file a motion to be heard if they have not received reasonable notice of proceedings, if they had not been given the opportunity to testify or if the rights of other victims had been violated. SB 127 passed with a vote of 51 to 1. – SB 127
 
  • Civil Case Filings and Disposition Forms Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) sponsored Senate Bill 132 which would remove the current requirements for filing civil case and disposition forms and would allow the Judicial Council of Georgia to create similar forms for the purpose of gathering data. Under this legislation, these forms would be transmitted to the Administrative Office of the Courts through state and superior clerks and removes the authority of the Georgia Courts Automation Commission to do so. SB 132 passed with a vote of 48 to 1. – SB 132
Pictured above: Commending Luke Deakin on becoming an Eagle Scout.

 
  • “Save, Earn, Win Act” Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer (R – Duluth) sponsored Senate Bill 134, the “Save, Earn, Win Act,” which would authorize banks and credit unions to offer a new type of savings account in which depositors are entered into a drawing that pays a prize to the winner. The prize-linked savings accounts authorized by the “Save, Earn, Win Act” could be interest bearing or non-interest bearing. It would be up to the financial institutions in question to organize their raffle as they deem fit. SB 134 passed with a vote of 48 to 2. – SB 134
 
  • Training for School Resource Officers Senate Bill 149, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D – Decatur), would require the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to develop a course designed to train School Resource Officers appointed to elementary and secondary schools. This bill would also require probation officers to successfully complete the training course and receive certification in order to authorize their power to arrest. The course would consist of at least 40 hours of training in the subjects of drug and gang awareness, adolescent interaction, criminal offenses and emergency preparedness. SB 149 passed with a vote of 50 to 1. – SB 149
 
  • Over the Counter Hearing Aids Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), would allow for the exemption of state licensing requirements in order to dispense and sell over-the-counter hearing aids to individuals 18 and older, who provide proof of an audiogram taken in the last six months. These hearing aids must use the same technology as an air-conduction hearing aid, allow for the end user to control volume and whose manufacturer must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration. SB 153 passed with a vote of 52 to 1. – SB 153
 
  • Uniformity in Copays and Coinsurance Senate Bill 164, sponsored by Sen. Fran Millar (R – Atlanta), would require providers to charge the same copayment, coinsurance or office visit charge for patients when they visit a primary physician, osteopath, physical therapist, occupational therapist or chiropractor. SB 164 passed with a vote of 51 to 1. – SB 164
 
  • Georgia SERVES Act of 2017 Sen. Hunter Hill (R – Atlanta) sponsored Senate Bill 170 which would require the Department of Human Services to develop a uniform statewide foster care volunteer certification system. Under the bill, two levels of volunteers would be established: Level I volunteers would be able to provide household support, babysitting and mentoring for the foster child; and Level II volunteers would be able to do so in the volunteer’s home for up to 72 hours. SB 170 passed with a vote of 40 to 13. – SB 170
 
  • Captive Insurers Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson) sponsored Senate Bill 173 which would clean up language relating to captive insurers. A captive insurance company is a company that provides risk-mitigation services for a parent company or any group related to the company. SB 173 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 173
 
  • Grant Authority for Rural Hospitals Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) sponsored Senate Bill 180 which would modernize the grant authority used by the Department of Community Health to issue grants to rural hospitals. SB 180 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 180
 
  • Eminent Domain and Permitting for Oil Pipelines Senate Bill 191, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough), would create a two-step application process for companies wishing to construct an oil pipeline in the state of Georgia. Companies must first obtain a permit from the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, and then get a certificate of need from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. SB 191 also provides for the use of eminent domain for the building and expansion of oil pipelines in Georgia. However, no permit shall be issued for any new petroleum pipeline within the Georgia coastal zone management program. SB 191 passed with a vote of 40 to 13. – SB 191
 
  • Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Programs Senate Bill 193, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), would make revisions to the Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting Grant Programs by removing any references to the Indigent Care Trust Fund which are under the current law governing the program. Revisions to SB 193 clarify that services provided to a person through the program are not based on income. SB 193 passed with a vote of 36 to 16. – SB 193
 
  • Synchronizing Patients Chronic Medication Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome) sponsored Senate Bill 200 which would allow pharmacies to dispense more than one prescription at once to an individual by aligning their medications. Under this bill, pharmacies would only charge one fee based on the total number of prescriptions given. SB 200 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 200
 
  • Hearing Aid Insurance Coverage for Children Sen. P. K. Martin (R – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Bill 206 which would require insurance companies to provide hearing aids and replacements to children 18 years old or younger. Coverage must be provided for a continuous 48-month period or for the duration of the hearing aid warranty, whichever is longer. Under this legislation, costs would be capped at $3,000 per hearing aid, per ear. Health plans purchased through the health insurance exchange or offered through employers with less than 10 employees are exempt. SB 206 passed with a vote of 47 to 6. – SB 206
 
  • Administering Student Assessments Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R - Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 211, which would introduce new requirements for research-based student assessments for students in the first and second grade. Specifically, SB 211 would require input from local school systems in how a research assessment is prepared and would require access to real-time data to help measure a student’s progress throughout the year. SB 211 would also call for a study to determine if Georgia’s standards for certain national assessments are in line with national standards. SB 211 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 211
 
  • Dispersing SPLOST funds to Municipalities Senate Bill 216, sponsored by Sen. Steve Henson (D – Stone Mountain), would require that any county imposing an Equalized Homestead Option Sales Tax (E-HOST) distribute their Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money to municipalities even if they rely on the county to maintain their roads, sidewalks and bike paths. SB 216 passed by a vote of 49 to 1. – SB 216
 
  • Autonomous Vehicles Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), provides for the operation of automated driving systems (ADS) for use in autonomous vehicles. Under SB 219, vehicles with ADS engaged do not require a human operator and therefore would not require passengers to have valid driver’s licenses. These vehicles must be registered as automated vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles and must maintain a valid insurance policy in order to operate on highways in Georgia. SB 219 passes with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 219
 
  • Optometrists Administering Medication by Injection Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 221 which would authorize optometrists to administer medication by injection to treat various conditions of the eye and adnexa oculi. Under this bill, optometrists must hold a license or certificate showing their completion in injectable training or must be enrolled in an approved injectable training program to perform such actions. SB 221 passed with a vote of 34 to 17. – SB 221
 
  • Local Government 9-1-1 Authority Act Senate Bill 222, sponsored by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon), would create the Local Government 9-1-1 Authority which would act as a public corporation composed of all counties and municipalities that offer 9-1-1 services. The Authority would administer, collect, audit and remit 9-1-1 revenue for local governments on terms set by each local government. The Authority would also be responsible for the maintenance and improvement of 9-1-1 services across Georgia. The cost recovery fee for service suppliers would not exceed 45 cents. SB 222 passed by a vote of 50 to 3. – SB 222
 
  • Farm Wineries Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Bill 226 which would increase the amount of grapes farm wineries are allowed to acquire from outside of Georgia for production in the state from 20 percent to 40 percent of the winery’s annual production. SB 226 passed by vote of 50 to 2. – SB 226
 
  • Controlled Substances Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 241 which would allow the Department of Public Health to maintain and administer the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Under this bill, the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency will continue its responsibility to investigate and report potential violations from the PDMP. SB 241 also provides rules for disposing controlled substances prescribed to a patient in hospice care after their death. SB 241 passed with a vote of 45 to 0. – SB 241
 
  • Limiting Nurse Protocol Agreements Senate Bill 242, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford), would increase the number of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) that can be supervised under one physician. Under SB 242, physicians could have a roster in emergency settings of up to 10 APRNs. SB 242 passed by a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 242
 
  • State Sexual Offender Registry Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) sponsored Senate Bill 250 which would require that an individual who is a convicted sexual offender in another country, register on the State Sexual Offender Registry. Under SB 250, the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board transfers its power of sentencing to the Superior Court Judge for convictions. SB 250 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 250
 
  • Eligibility and Qualifications for Office Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) sponsored Senate Bill 258 which would prohibit citizens from holding civil office if they are holders of public monies due to municipalities. SB 258 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 258
Douglas County SO Chief Deputy Kenneth Conner and Colonel Doug Oliver
I will return soon with more updates from your Georgia General Assembly! In the meantime, if you need anything at all, please let me know. I welcome your input as we make our way towards the end of this year's session. As always, thank you for allowing me the honor of representing your interests under the Gold Dome!

Micah
Copyright © 2017 Micah Gravley for House District 67, All rights reserved.


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