Georgia Gold Dome Report Legislative Day 38

Betty Q. Hixson

Day 38 began early with a Senate Rules Committee Meeting to add HB 1013, Speaker Ralston’s Mental Health Parity Bill, to the calendar. It was not until the third House Rules Committee meeting that action in both chambers picked up with the passage of SB 319, the Constitutional Carry Act of 2021, and the Speaker’s Mental Health Parity Bill, HB 1013.

The House was finally able to come to an agreement on HB 1147, which allows for the hunting of raccoons and opossums year-round. So much for playing possum for the rest of the session.

On a more serious note, the Senate passed HB 961, a bill to address re-balancing the civil justice system after the Hatcher decision. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Tomorrow is a Committee Day with a full calendar of meetings. Many are scrambling to add their bills to agendas. More in this #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • Floor Action

  • Committee Reports

  • What’s Next

Floor Action

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

  • HR 625 – State of Georgia; establish Georgia Gullah Geechee Heritage Society; encourage – PASSED (164-1)

  • HR 1025 – State of Georgia; recognize copper as critical; urge for inclusion on official United States Geological Survey Critical Minerals List – PASSED (162-1)

  • SR 463 – Joint Study Committee on the Electrification of Transportation; create – PASSED (167-0)

  • SB 319 – “Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2021”; enact – PASSED (100-67)

  • SB 343 – Retirement; prohibition of granting postretirement benefit adjustments to any individual who became a member on or after July 1, 2009; remove – PASSED (168-1)

  • SB 361 – “Law Enforcement Strategic Support Act” or “LESS Crime Act”; enact – PASSED (153-5)

  • SB 363 – “Fair Business Practices Act of 1975,”; class action suits and for damages for violating the requirements for solicitations for corporate filings; provide – PASSED (169-0)

  • SB 374 – Georgia Data Analytic Center; establish as an agent of all executive state agencies; definitions; provide – PASSED (163-0)

  • SB 379 – State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia; establish a program to promote the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in the state; provide – PASSED (166-1)

  • SB 403 – “Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act”; enact – PASSED (165-0)

  • SB 404 – Emergency Medical Services Personnel; Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to retain certain fingerprints under certain conditions; authorize – PASSED (159-6)

  • SB 553 – Watercraft; any person 15 years of age or older to operate a Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 vessel; authorize – PASSED (162-6)

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

  • HB 302 – Revenue and taxation; proceeds of local government regulatory fees be used to pay for regulatory activity; require – PASSED (35-19)

  • HB 412 – Professions and businesses; licensure of individuals in the practice of applied behavior analysis; provide – PASSED (52-1)

  • HB 424 – Income tax; change certain definitions – PASSED (52-0)

  • HB 478 – Evidence; expert testimony in criminal cases; change rules – PASSED (51-2)

  • HB 624 – South Georgia Judicial Circuit; additional judge of the superior court; provide – PASSED (55-0)

  • HB 752 – Psychiatric Advance Directive Act; enact – PASSED (55-0)

  • HB 884 – Professions and businesses; expedited licenses for military spouses; provisions – PASSED (51-0)

  • HB 934 – Sales and use tax; special district mass transportation; local government; provisions – PASSED (46-4)

  • HB 961 – Torts; authorize apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits; provide for evidence of fault of nonparties – PASSED (52-0)

  • HB 997 – Ad valorem tax; timber equipment and timber products held by timber producers; provide exemption – PASSED (50-1)

  • HB 1004 – Education; unified campus police forces through agreements entered into by colleges and universities; provide for establishment – PASSED (53-0)

  • HB 1013 – Mental Health Parity Act; enact – PASSED (54-0)

  • HB 1034 – Sales and use tax; exemption for sales of admissions to nonrecurring major sporting events; revise – PASSED (48-6)

  • HB 1041 – Income tax; tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations; increase aggregate limit – PASSED (54-0)

  • HB 1146 – Motor vehicles; law enforcement vehicles be equipped with primarily blue flashing or revolving lights; provide – PASSED (49-5)

  • HB 1183 – Criminal procedure; increase time allotted to try a criminal case in judicial emergencies; provide – PASSED (52-1)

  • HB 1193 – Funeral directors and embalmers; reinstatement of lapsed license under certain conditions; provide – PASSED (53-1)

  • HB 1276 – Community Health, Department of; statistical reports data relating to state health plans be posted on department website; require – PASSED (54-0)

  • HB 1433 – Criminal Justice Coordinating Council; revise and update composition of advisory board – PASSED (53-0)

  • HB 1437 – Income tax; revise rates of taxation on income

  • HB 1443 – Mobile food service establishments; operate in county of origin or other counties without an additional permit; provide – PASSED (53-0)

  • HB 1452 – Domestic relations; dating violence protective orders; revise a definition – PASSED (53-0)

Committee Reports

Senate Government Oversight Committee

Chairman Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) and the Government Oversight Committee took up these measures at an early morning meeting:

  • HB 1335, authored by Representative Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), adds in Chapter 4 of Title 1 the observance of Public Safety Week during the week where September 11 falls and adds a new state holiday, at the request of Governor Kemp, in honor of Juneteenth. Chairman Smyre indicated that this legislation adds a new state holiday, and the last such holiday added was the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observation. The Committee members acknowledged Representative Smyre for his long service to the state as this is his last legislative session. Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia), a floor leader for Governor Kemp, also acknowledged his support for the measure. The initiative received a DO PASS recommendation and moves to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 1182, authored by Representative Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), amends O.C.G.A. 36-9-3 so as to address an economic development issue for Grady County. The issue began, according to Representative Taylor, 70 years ago; the state’s EPD finally issued a permit for the creation of a 900 acre lake (even though the Code indicates lakes are to be 1000 acres as pointed out by Senator Kim Jackson (D-Stone Mountain). The county, along with its attorney, requested the legislation as the county wishes to develop acreage along the lake and asked for this change to provide that provisions regarding the disposition of property acquired for lake projects do not apply if any portion of such lake was constructed. The Committee gave this legislation a DO PASS recommendation, and it moves to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 92, authored by Representative Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), amends current law at O.C.G.A. 31-10-25 regarding states vital records and when birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage records may be disclosed. The legislation originally appeared in 2021. It will allow genealogists access to these records 125 years after the birth of an individual or 75 years after the death or marriage of an individual. The legislation, amended with the 125 years at the request of the Department of Public Health, received a DO PASS as amended out of the Committee and now moves to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 918, authored by Representative Mike Cheokas (R-Americus), establishes the Rare Disease Advisory Council within the Department of Public Health at O.C.G.A. 31-50-1 et seq. There are 200,000 Georgians with rare diseases and there are 7,000 such diseases (half of the affected individuals are children). The Council is to educate and look at research on these rare diseases. Further, this Council is to advise the state’s health plans (Medicaid, PeachCare, and State Health Benefit Plan) in their review of products and medications for the treatment of rare and orphan diseases and drugs or biological products within the emerging fields of personalized medicine and gene-editing therapeutics. It also instructs the Department of Community Health to seek the input of the Council regarding rare diseases and personalized medicine to address topics, including but not limited to the impact of coverage, cost-sharing, tiering, and utilization management on access to rare disease therapies. The legislation was a new Substitute, LC 33 9155S, which received a DO PASS recommendation from the Committee and now moves to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 960, authored by Representative Rob Leverett (R-Elberton), codifies the Office of Inspector General in Article 7, Chapter 12 of Title 45. Currently, the state’s Inspector General is within the Office of the Governor and was established by executive order by former Governor Perdue. Under the proposal, the legislation will allow it to be a state-created office so that the Inspector General may have more powers to investigate fraud, waste, abuse, and administration violations. It would allow this Inspector General to have the power to issue warrants and have POST-certified officers. There are 75 Inspector Generals within the federal government with a $2 billion cost and a staff of 13,000. There are 10 other states which have statutory offices of Inspector Generals as well. Representative Leverett indicated that he drew from language of other state statutes as well as the executive order. He also noted that the House Judiciary Committee had vetted the bill and made several changes. The current Inspector General Scott McAfee spoke to the Committee noting it would give him more ability to provide transparency and accountability. There were questions around the “police powers” provided; the length of time for the term of the Inspector General of six years; and investigatory powers and findings of the agency. In an effort to move the legislation forward, the Committee voted on an amendment offered by Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), which was adopted — which in part requires that the Inspector General selection be approved by the State Senate and elimination of the language around adding the POST-certified officers. The Committee then provided a DO PASS recommendation as amended to the bill in an effort to move the legislation forward to the Senate Rules Committee.

What’s Next

The General Assembly is in adjournment on Thursday and will reconvene for Legislative Day 39 on Friday, April 1 at 10 a.m.

The House nor the Senate has set a Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 39.

Copyright ©2022 Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 89

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