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GHDC 2020 Legislative Summary

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This is the legislative summary of 2020 GA legislative bills put together by the Georgia House Democratic Caucus (GDHC) of which I serve as Chief Deputy Whip.

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GHDC 2020 Legislative Summary

  1. 1. 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY This document serves to summarize the most important pieces of legislation that the Georgia General Assembly considered. This document does not contain every piece of legislation considered. 1
  2. 2. Key Legislation HB 793​ Fiscal Year 2021 Budget ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) The budget is the only constitutional responsibility the Georgia General Assembly has. Republicans cut approximately 10% across the board; these cuts affect major agencies. 1. Education a. $1 billion cut from the Dept. of Education b. $937 million cut from QBE for K-12 education c. $5 million cut to Preschool Disabilities Services d. $229 million cut to teaching at USG e. $35 million overall cut to technical education 2. Health a. $22.6 million cut from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services i. This represents a 31.6% cut in state funding b. $8.2 million cut from Dept. of Public Health c. COVID-19-related: i. $110,440 cut to Epidemiology ii. $604k cut to Infectious Disease Control iii. $1.6 million cut from Infant and Child Essential Health Treatment Services 3. Environment a. $2.3 million cut from Forest Protection b. $3.2 million cut from Environmental Protection 4. Social services a. $3.6 million of state funding cut from Child Support Services b. $6.3 million of state funding cut from Child Welfare Services c. $7.1 million of state funding cut from Out-of-Home Care 5. Justice a. $1.9 million cut from Public Defenders The Georgia House Democratic Caucus took a position against the FY 2021 Budget. HB 426​ Hate Crimes Bill ​(Passed by Both Chambers -​ ​House Vote​) HB 426 provides that a defendant is subject to enhanced criminal penalties if the defendant chose their victim based on the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. This applies if the victim is actually a member of one or more or these groups or the defendant perceived the victim to be a member of one or more of 2
  3. 3. these groups. The burden of proof for finding that the defendant committed a hate crime is beyond a reasonable doubt. The minimum sentence for a misdemeanor conviction of a hate crime would be 3-12 months and a fine not to exceed $5,000. The sentence for a misdemeanor hate crime of a high and aggravated nature would become 6-12 months and a fine not to exceed $5,000. If the defendant is convicted of a felonious hate crime, the court must impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of no less than 2 years. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus strongly supported the passage of this bill. HB 888​ ​Surprise Billing Consumer Act​ ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 888 would create the “Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act.” This bill defines “Surprise Bill” as “a bill resulting from an occurrence in which charges arise from a covered person receiving healthcare services from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.” The proposed section of Code 33-20E-3 limits the applicability of enforcement to only healthcare plans which are subject to the regulatory authority of the Commissioner. For instance, ERISA is excluded. The proposed Code section 33-20E-4 addresses surprise bills that occur as the result of emergency medical care. Some of its main proposals require insurers to provide benefits to cover persons for emergency treatment from both Participating and Nonparticipating facilities. Nonparticipating facilities cannot charge covered persons more than the person’s deductive, coinsurance, copayment or other cost-sharing amount as determined by their policy. When the covered person’s policy includes emergency service coverage, the insurer shall bill the covered person for emergency services received at Nonparticipating facilities as if such services were provided at a Participating facility. The bill also provides that insurers may not deny benefits for emergency services based on a covered person’s failure to provide subsequent notification when their medical condition prevents timely notification. The proposed Code section 33-20E-5 addresses surprise bills that occur as the result of nonemergency medical care. If the insurer provides benefits to covered persons related to nonemergency care, the insurer must cover the same should the covered person receive such services at a Nonparticipating facility. The Nonparticipating facility may only collect or bill the covered person’s deductive, coinsurance, copayment or other cost-sharing amount as determined by their policy. 3
  4. 4. Bills We Supported HB 245​ Peace Officers' Annuity Fund ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 245 is a r​etirement bill related to the Peace Officers’ Annuity Funds. Under current law, surviving spouses cannot remarry and still receive their retirement benefits. This bill fixes this issue and the fund can afford these payments. The average age of surviving spouses is 77 Peace Officers receive pensions after retirement, which continues for spouses after death. Currently, benefits payable to surviving spouses are terminated if the surviving spouse remarries. According to the Department of Audits and Accounts’​ ​Actuarial Investigation​, this bill would not result in increased costs to the Fund but future gains would be lost. The actuary estimates this to be an immaterial future cost. There would be no increase in the employer contribution rate or the unfunded actuarial accrued liability if this legislation is enacted. SB 426​ Release of Ethylene Oxide Reporting ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 426 would require the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources to make public notification of a release of ethylene oxide into the environment within 24 hours of discovery. SB 477​ Investigating Family Violence ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 477 creates the definition of “predominant aggressor” as it relates to incidents of family violence. In addition, this legislation would prohibit law enforcement officers from threatening or otherwise indicating that all parties to a domestic dispute would be arrested when determining who the predominant aggressor is. It would also direct them to consider whether injuries are offensive or defensive, threats of physical injury, and prior complaints of family violence when investigating. SR 19​ Constitutional Amendment to Allow Electronic Meetings ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) SR 19 allows the General Assembly to meet electronically or in a place other than the state capitol in a time of natural or manmade disaster, including a pandemic or enemy attack. It creates various requirements for the electronic meetings, including: 1. Members of each house must be able to observe statements about legislation, as well as other members; 2. The general public must also be able to observe statements about legislation and members of each house; 3. Members of each house must be able to see the contents of the legislation and any documents before the body; 4
  5. 5. 4. Members of each house shall be able to submit documents including bills and amendments through electronic means. The bill also clarifies confusing language in the Constitution. The bill provides that either house of the state government may: 1. Adjourn for more than three days if it has consent of the other house, and 2. Meet outside the state capitol if it has consent of the other house. The proposed constitutional amendment would be subject to ratification by a referendum. Bills We Opposed HB 444​ Dual Enrollment Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) The substitute limits dual enrollment courses eligible under HOPE scholarship to English, math, science, social studies, or foreign language and other eligible career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) courses. Future dual enrollment students will be limited to 30 semester hours of covered dual enrollment courses. Any student with 18 or fewer semester hours will be allowed to take up to 30 semester hours of dual enrollment classes. Students who are currently enrolled in dual enrollment programs with 19 or more hours will be allowed to take a total of 12 additional hours of dual enrollment classes. HOPE Scholarship funded dual enrollment classes will be limited to: 1. Eleventh and twelfth graders, and 2. Any tenth grader who 1. Is enrolled in CTAE courses; or 2. Met criteria for the Zell Miller Scholar program; or 3. Was enrolled in dual enrollment courses as a ninth grader. The bill grandfathers in students who were pursuing a high school diploma. Nothing prevents any student from taking dual enrollment courses at their own expense. High schools will be subject to audits by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. The bill requires post secondary institutions to provide student data to the Office of Planning and Budget, rather than the Office of Student Achievement. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. 5
  6. 6. HB 523​ Regulates the Use of Certain Real Estate as Short-Term Rental Property ​(No Vote) Short-term rental bill that causes the local government to treat short-term rental, long-term rental and residential all the same for zoning. HB 523 would prohibit local governments from banning short-term rentals or requiring registration for residential rental properties. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 545​ ​Treatment of Agricultural Facilities and Operations and Forest Land ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 545 states that no nuisance action can be filed against any agricultural facility, agricultural operation, or agricultural support facility, unless: 1. The plaintiff legally owns the real property affected by the alleged nuisance; 2. The real property is located within one-half mile of the source of the activity alleged to cause the nuisance; and 3. The action is filed within one year of the established date of operation of such facility or operation. If the physical facilities of the agricultural operation or the agricultural support facility are subsequently added or expanded, new technology is adopted, a change in ownership or size occurs, a change in the type of agricultural operation occurs, or if operations are interrupted for a period of five years or less, the established date of operation for each change does not divest the operation or facility of a previously established date of operation. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 593​ County Commissioners Retirement Fund ​(No Vote) HB 593 sought to establish a retirement fund for county tax commissioners. A significant source of funding for this new retirement funding would have come from an additional $3 fee applied to delinquent tax bills. This fee is only applied to those who are already paying additional late fees and interest on their tax bills. It was unnecessarily punitive for this retirement fund to be built from additional fees applied only to those already struggling with their tax payments. This bill was flagged in the Whip report; members were asked to vote their consciences and their districts. 6
  7. 7. HB 641​ Georgia Bureau of Investigation Granting Powers to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to Identify and Investigate Violations of the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act and Other Computer Crimes ​(No Vote) This is a department bill from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The bill gives the GBI authority to initiate criminal investigation into violations of the "Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act." This bill also authorizes the GBI to issue executive subpoenas with consent of the Attorney General for communication service records. This bill gives the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) the authority to investigate violations of the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act. This bill also gives GBI the authority, with consent from the Attorney General, district attorney, or other prosecutor, to issue subpoenas to investigate computer crimes. Such a subpoena will only be subject to a judicial review after the GBI requests a Superior Court Judge for an order to compel compliance with the subpoena. HB 641 gives the GBI subpoena power during the investigation of certain computer crimes in order to obtain various subscriber data from cell phone providers. Subpoenas for cell phone records can be issued by obtaining a subpoena from a Clerk of Court. Last, a subpoena should only be issued regarding a criminal case if there is an established case number and an assigned court date before a judge that can be listed on the subpoena. This would include a preliminary hearing for an unindicted case. Cell phone records can also be obtained by a search warrant issued by a magistrate judge, state court, or superior court. The reason cell phone records are important is that cell phones connect to cell phone antennas to pass data through radio signals. A cell phone company records the communication with the cell phone antenna. Specifically, the phone records include: 1. Identification of the antenna(s) with which a cell device connects (this includes on newer phones when you are roaming and not actively on a phone call); 2. The azimuth of the antenna (the direction in which the antenna is pointed) with which the cell device is communicating; and 3. The time in which the connection was initiated and terminated. By using this information, the GBI and law enforcement is able to get a general idea of where the cell phone is located. If three cell phone antennas are pinging at the same time you can potentially triangulate the location. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. 7
  8. 8. HB 715​ Removal of Gross Receipts for Classifying Businesses and Practitioners ​(No Vote) HB 715 would remove the requirement for business and occupation taxes imposed by local governments to be calculated by gross receipts. This removes a tool for equitable taxation. It would also eliminate the $400 elective fee category, meaning businesses and practitioners in the 400 Club would no longer have the power to choose whether to pay a $400 or a government’s receipts-based calculation.There are unintended consequences to small business owners and future small business development in Georgia. Gross receipts are the equalizer in calculating the amount of business and occupation taxes imposed by local governments. Gross receipts makes the tax equitable for everyone. Moreover, this is an occupation tax, not an income tax. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 720​ Lifetime Probation for Sex Offenders ​(Passed by the House -​ ​Vote​) HB 720 includes misguided changes to sex offender laws in Georgia. First, it creates new mandatory life sentences for certain crimes that currently do not carry that penalty. Although the crimes are serious, the legislature already has made the judgment that these crimes do not deserve life in prison. The sentences might begin as probation, but any judge would have discretion to order a person to spend the rest of his or her life sentence in prison for even one violation of probation—which could be as small as a traffic stop. If that happened, the parole board would not be able to consider an individual’s request for parole for at least 30 years. Second, HB 720 allows law enforcement to post signs on individuals’ residences with government-sponsored messages during Halloween. Posting these messages is unconstitutional if it violates those individuals’ rights against compelled speech. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 784​ Closed School Safety Sessions ​(No Vote) HB 784, relating to exceptions of open meeting rules, would allow local school board members to discuss and vote on school safety plans in sessions closed to the public. HB 838​ First Responder “Hate Crime” Bill ​(Passed by Both Chambers -​ ​House Vote​) This bill would bestow a civil right of action for police officers and create an additional crime for offenses against “first responders” which would include firefighters, EMTs and police officers. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus took a position against HB 838. 8
  9. 9. HR 882​ A Resolution Urging the American People to Support President Trump and the Brave Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies on Their Successful Military Operation that Neutralized Qasem Soleimani ​(Passed by the House - Vote​) This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 994​ Governor Kemp’s Criminal Gang Bill ​(Passed by the House -​ ​Vote​) This summary was provided by the Southern Center for Human Rights. SECTION 1: Requires Juvenile Court Hearing on Adult Prosecution Upon Prosecutor’s Request 1. Requires that a juvenile court conduct a hearing to determine whether to prosecute a child as an adult upon a motion by the prosecutor. 2. In order to transfer the case, the court must find: 1. There is probable cause that the child committed the offense; 2. The child has not been committed to an institution for the developmentally disabled or mentally ill; and 3. The child was at least 15 at the time of commission and is alleged to commit an offense that would be a felony, OR the child was 13 or 14 at the time of commission and is alleged to commit an act for which the punishment is death or life in prison or for an aggravated battery resulting in serious injury. SECTION 2: Establishes “Criminal Gang Activity” as a Criteria for Juvenile Courts to Consider for Adult Prosecution 1. Allows ‘evidence of a child’s participation in a criminal street gang’ to be considered along with 11 other factors by a judge deciding whether to transfer a child to adult court. SECTION 3: Requires Participation in an Intervention Program for Kids Found to be Involved in Gangs 1. Requires the court order a child adjudicated for a class A designated felony to participate in a criminal gang intervention program that is appropriate for the child based on the level of involvement. SECTION 4: Unnecessarily Expands the Definition of “Criminal Gang Activity” 1. Adds the following offenses to the definition of ‘criminal gang activity’: 1. Child molestation; 2. Aggravated child molestation; 3. Enticing a child for indecent purposes; and 4. Felony obstruction or hindering a law enforcement officer. 9
  10. 10. SECTION 5: Creates Multiple Counts of Criminal Gang Activity for Similar Conduct 1. Requires a separate charge and sentence under the criminal gang statute for committing an offense in furtherance of: (1) joining a gang, (2) maintaining gang status, or (3) increasing gang status. SECTION 6: Declares A Person Committing Criminal Gang Activity as a Public Nuisance and Allows Civil Actions 1. Establishes that a person who commits gang activity is a public nuisance. 2. Allows prosecutors to seek injunctions against property used for the purpose of criminal gang activity. SECTION 7: Allows Civil Actions Against People Alleged to be Involved in Gang Activity 1. Allows criminal courts to impose civil asset actions and forfeiture orders on people convicted of criminal gang activity. 2. Allows the state to bring a civil action based on the above injunction orders/judgments. 3. Establishes that a criminal conviction will automatically secure a judgment for the state in subsequent civil proceedings. SECTION 8: Requires People Convicted of At Least 5 New Offenses to Register on the State’s Sex Offender Registry. 1. Requires registration on the state’s sex offender registration for the following offenses: 1. Burglary with the intent to commit a sexual offense; 2. Keeping a place of prostitution; 3. Pimping; 4. Pandering; and 5. Any conduct involving criminal gang activity that involves an underlying felony sexual offense or intent to commit a felony sexual offense. SECTION 9: Requires the Department of Juvenile Justice to Develop and Implement an Evidence-Based Intervention Program. 1. Establishes that when a child is in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, there is a duty to develop and implement an evidence-based gang intervention and prevention program that addresses the major risk factors of gang membership and reduces gang participation. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus took a position against this bill. 10
  11. 11. Hot Topics The following topics were some of the most discussed during the legislative session. This does not contain every bill, but it is an attempt to cover the highlights of this legislative session. Budget & Taxation HB 432​ Income Tax Rate Cap ​(No Vote) HB 432 abolishes the state’s current system of tax rates that increase from 1 to 5.75 percent as incomes rise - known as a graduated tax system - in favor of a 5.5 percent flat tax structure. This was the second phase of a bill the Georgia General Assembly passed in 2018. HB 715​ Gross Receipts as a Criterion for Classifying Businesses ​(No Vote) This bill would remove the requirement for business and occupation taxes imposed by local governments to be calculated by gross receipts. This removes a tool for equitable taxation. It also would eliminate the $400 elective fee category, meaning businesses and practitioners in the 400 Club would no longer have the power to choose whether to pay a $400 or a government’s receipts-based calculation. The bill would result in unintended consequences to small business owners and future small business development in Georgia. Gross receipts are the equalizer in calculating the amount of business and occupation taxes imposed by local governments. Gross receipts makes the tax equitable for everyone. Moreover, this is an occupation tax, not an income tax. HB 864​ Excise Tax for Sale of Vapor Devices and Consumable Vapor Products​ ​(Tabled by House - ​Vote​) The bill establishes excise taxes of five cents per milliliter on consumable vapor products in a closed system and seven percent of the wholesale cost price on vapor devices and vapor devices that contain any consumable vapor product at the time of sale and are not intended to be refilled. The bill also reduces the tax on​ ​modified risk tobacco​ products by 50 percent. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 949​ IRS Conformity ​(Passed by the House -​ ​Vote​) HB 949 conforms Georgia’s revenue code to the federal IRS Code. The bill also reduces individual tax rates to 5.375%, eliminates the state deduction for individual Georgia income taxes paid, and creates a mechanism that attempts to account for the impact of the elimination of the marginal rates beginning January 1, 2021. 11
  12. 12. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 1102​ Revised Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax Act of 2020 ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1102 would create a ballot question that would ask voters whether or not to suspend the sales and use tax and replace such tax with a sales and use tax. If the sales tax and use tax is not approved by the voters, then the homestead option sales and use tax remains in full force. SB 416​ Legislator Pay Cut ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 416 reduces the salary for members of the Georgia General Assembly for the 2021 Fiscal Year by 10% and reduces the salary for the Lieutenant Governor for the 2021 Fiscal Year by 14%. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. Casinos HR 378​ Constitutional Amendment on Georgia Gaming Commission ​(No Vote) This Referendum proposes an amendment to Article I, Section II of the Georgia Constitution, to expand the ability of the General Assembly to allow pari-mutual betting, casino gambling, and sports better, but only on the premises of racetracks. The proceeds of gambling revenue will go to fund health care services and health insurance coverage. No such gambling will take place in any county in the state unless voters authorize it by referendum. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. COVID-19 SB 359​ COVID-19 Liability Protection for Organizations and Businesses ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 359 would provide immunity to all associations, institutions, educational organizations, churches, governments, businesses, individuals, workplaces, and medical facilities unless they acted in gross negligence; engaged in willful or wanton misconduct; recklessly inflicted harm; or intentionally inflicted harm. 12
  13. 13. These protections are extended to healthcare facilities and medical offices if they post signs that warn of the risk of infection. SB 359 includes any ticketed public events. The tickets are required to display a warning on signage in the venue and on ticket stubs informing patrons that they assume the risk of infection by attending the event. SB 359 includes a sunset provision, such that the immunity provisions would expire on July 14, 2021. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. Criminal Justice Reform HB 488​ Preventing Organized Retail Crime ​(Passed by the House - ​Vote​) House Bill 488 creates the offense of organized retail theft. Organized retail theft would occur when: a person takes merchandise from one or more stores; over 180 days; with the intent to sell the property and the total value of the merchandise was more than $20,000. The offense of organized retail theft would be a felony. The crime would carry a sentence of five to twenty years in prison and a fine of no more than $50,000. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. HB 555​ Warrants May Be Issued Only by Certain Judicial Officers for Public Child Welfare Case Managers ​(Passed by the House - ​Vote​) Superior Court judges, state court judges and probate court judges are the only judicial officers authorized to issue arrest warrants for certain public servants who have allegedly committed an offense in the performance of their duties. The specified public servants named in statute are: peace officers, law enforcement officers, teachers and school administrators. This bill permits Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) case managers to be included in this list. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. HB 1040​ Total Maximum Fee that Shall be Collected When Pay-Only Probation is Imposed ​(No Vote) This bill would increase the total amount at which the pay-only probation would be capped from three months to six months of total probation fees. This means that, if the bill is passed, the total cap for fees that a convicted person would have to pay in this probation arrangement would double. 13
  14. 14. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. HB 1060​ ​Vulnerable Child Protection Act ​(No Vote) HB 1060 provides that no health care professional may engage in any practices upon a minor, or cause such practices to be performed, for the purpose of attempting to affirm the minor’s perception of such minor’s sex, if that perception is inconsistent with such minor’s sex. HR 1023​ Sovereign Immunity Waiver ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HR 1023 is a constitutional amendment and referendum on waiving sovereign immunity. It provides that sovereign immunity is waived only for declaratory actions and injunctions against the State of Georgia. The petitioner cannot get attorney fees, costs or other monetary awards if they win their case. SB 38​ Abolishment of County Police Department ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 38 provides that a county police department may be abolished by a local act of the General Assembly or by a resolution of the governing authority of the county. Any action by a county to abolish a police department must be approved by a referendum. The law enforcement functions of such department would return to the sheriff of the county. SB 249​ Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 249 allows jail officers who are certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council to become members of the Peace Officers; Annuity and Benefit Fund. The monthly member contribution increases from $20 to $25 per month. The benefit increases from $17.50 to $25.15 for each full year of creditable service on July 1, 2020, and automatically increases to $30 per month for each year of creditable service on July 1, 2021. SB 249 revises the fee structure for forfeited and collected bonds in any quasi-criminal case from a graduated fine to the greater of $10 or 10 percent. The bill also revises fees collected before pretrial diversion in any quasi-criminal case from $5 to $5 or 5 percent, whichever is greater. This bill is certified by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts as a fiscal retirement bill. The actuarial investigation determines the first- year cost is $13,798,000, with an estimated total cost to the fund of $27,838,000; however, the new fee structure will generate $29,772,000 in revenue, and the fund will continue to meet minimum funding standards. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 288​ Record Restriction and Sealing ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) Senate Bill 288 expands the ability of individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors or convicted of non-serious or non-sexual felonies and are later pardoned to petition for the restriction and sealing of their criminal history record information. Specific misdemeanor 14
  15. 15. offenses along with violent or sexual felonies are excluded. Exceptions are provided to allow for criminal history record information that was previously restricted and sealed to be unrestricted and unsealed for certain purposes. A restriction or sealing may be used to disqualify an individual for employment in the same manner as a discharge under Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42. Restricted and sealed criminal history record information shall always be available for inspection: for the purpose of imposing a sentence under Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42; by the Judicial Qualifications Commission; by an attorney representing an accused individual who submits a sworn affidavit to the court attesting that such information is relevant to a criminal proceeding; by a prosecuting attorney or public defender; pursuant to a court order; and by an individual who is the subject of a restricted or sealed offense. SB 337​ Prohibition Against the Transmission of Photography Depicting Nudity ​(Passed by both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 337 amends the existing prohibition on sharing sexually explicit/nude photos and videos. It also makes the sharing of any explicit photo or video that is altered to include the person (“falsely created”) a crime. It also makes clear that this prohibition does not make any media platform or telecommunications service (like internet service providers) liable for the sharing of this explicit content. SB 344​ Certain Proceedings by Video Conference ​(Failed in the House - ​Vote​) SB 344, relating to order requiring prisoner's delivery to serve as witness or criminal defendant generally, expenses, and prisoner under death sentence as witness, provides that certain proceedings may be conducted by video conference. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 393​ GBI Attorneys Assisting Local Prosecutors ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House​ ​Vote​) SB 393 creates the GBI Legal Division that employs attorneys to assist district attorneys, solicitor-generals, or United States Attorneys upon request. This bill was flagged in the Whip report; members were asked to vote their consciences and their districts. SB 394​ Provides ​Attorney General Authority to Investigate and Prosecute Certain Crimes and Offenses ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 394 allows the Attorney General’s Office to employ peace officers to investigate human trafficking crimes and Medicaid fraud, as well as to issue subpoenas. 15
  16. 16. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 402​ Unsecured Judicial Release​ (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 402 renames the release on bail of a person on “his or her own recognizance” with “unsecured judicial release.” “Unsecured judicial release” is defined as the release on a person’s own recognizance that does not purport a dollar amount through secured means or property. An elected judge or judge sitting by designation may not issue an unsecured judicial release for a person charged with a bail restricted offense for purposes of pretrial release programs, pretrial release and diversion programs, or pretrial intervention and diversion programs. A bond issued by an elected judge or judge sitting by designation that purports a dollar amount must be executed in the full-face amount through secured means or by use of property. A duly sworn sheriff may release an inmate from custody in cases of medical emergency with consent of the judge. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 435​ The Survivors First Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 435 provides relief to proven victims of human trafficking from sentencing and punishment for crimes committed while being trafficked. A defendant convicted and sentenced for an offense as a direct result of being the victim of human trafficking may petition the court to vacate the conviction. The petition must be submitted on the appropriate form promulgated by the attorney general, along with a copy of the defendant's criminal history background check, no earlier than six months following the conviction and sentencing for a misdemeanor and one year following a completion of sentencing for a felony. The petition may include certain documentation of the defendant's status as a victim of an offense of human trafficking. Defendants with an outstanding warrant may not file a petition. If the prosecuting attorney consents to set aside the conviction or fails to respond to the petition within 30 days, the court shall, without notice or hearing, issue an order vacating the convictions and sentence and restrict access to criminal history record information for the offense. If the prosecuting attorney objects, the court shall hold a hearing within 90 days of the filing of the petition. If the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant committed an offense as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking, the court may issue an order vacating the conviction and sentence. If ordered, the court shall also issue an order restricting access to criminal history record information for the offense. 16
  17. 17. Finally, the bill amends the Code as it relates to the Georgia Crime Information Center to allow for the restriction of access to a defendant's criminal history record information in accordance with the intent of the bill. SB 439​ ​Enhanced Notice to and Improved Participation of Foster, Pre-Adoptive, and Relative Caregivers in Certain Hearings ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 439 allows courts to hear evidence from caregivers, foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relatives that care for a child in dependency and termination of rights hearings when determining whether a home environment is safe. It would allow for electronic notification of hearings and electronic filings by parties. The legislation also directs the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to provide a method by which person’s entitled to notice can file an objection to a placement change, including those not represented by attorneys. SB 443​ Revise Garnishment Proceedings ​(Passed by both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 443 generally provides clearer guidelines for garnishees in garnishment proceedings. The changes include: 1. The garnishment period has been expanded from 179 to 1,095 days from the date of service of the garnishment. 2. The plaintiff can include unrecovered fees with the garnishment amount. 3. The garnishee and the plaintiff can agree to reduce the amount of payment. 4. Garnishments for private student loans may not exceed 15 percent of the defendant’s disposable earnings for each week. 5. The bill makes it easier for garnishees and defendants to respond to legal pleadings. SB 504​ ​Referendum to Abolish the Glynn County Police Department ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) This bill provides for a referendum to abolish the Glynn County Police Department on May 2, 2021. SB 509​ ​Abolishment of the Glynn County Police Department​ ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) SB 509 abolishes the Glynn County Police Department and transfers all property, equipment, records, documents, funds, and other items in the possession or control of the county police department to the Sheriff of Glynn County. 17
  18. 18. Education SB 294​ Permit ​Teachers Retirement System of Georgia to Invest in Alternative Investments (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 294 authorizes the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia to invest up to five percent of eligible TRS assets in alternative investments and funding options as defined in the code (​OCGA 47-20-87​). This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 318​ Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act ​(No Vote) SB 318 would create the Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act. Under Section 1 of the bill, this bill would provide that a public institution of higher education - any college or university under the management and control of the University System of Georgia or Technical College System of Georgia - (“institution”) may not create “free speech zones” or restrict expressive activities from unrestricted outdoor areas of campus. The institutions may maintain and enforce reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on expressive activities so long as the restrictions are clear, published, content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression. Protected expressive activities includes speech and conduct protected by the First Amendment, including peaceful assembly, distributing literature, carrying signs, circulating petitions, demonstrations, protests, and speeches including those by guest speakers. A person may engage in noncommercial expressive activities as long as he or she does not act unlawfully or materially and substantially disrupt the institution. Institutions are not prevented by this legislation from prohibiting student on student harassment; from complying with federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment; or from prohibiting, limiting or restricting expression not protected under the First Amendment. Institutions may not deny a student organization any benefit or privilege available to other student organizations based on the actual or anticipated expressive activity of the student organization. The institutions must make their policies, regulations and expectations of students available on their websites and in their handbooks. The institutions must also develop materials, programs and procedures that those persons responsible for discipline or education of students understand the policies and regulations related to expressive activity on campus. The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia must publish an annual report related to its actions on free expression and share it with the Governor and General Assembly on July 1 of each year. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. 18
  19. 19. SB 367​ ​Effectiveness of Educational Programs ​(​Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 367 amends O.C.G.A. 20-2-281, relating to assessments, by reducing the number of state assessments given to students. SB 367 eliminates the fifth grade end-of-grade social studies assessment and reduces the number of end-of-course assessments in high school from eight to four. School systems must administer the state required end-of-grade assessment for grades three through eight within 25 school days of the last day of school. The Department of Education is authorized to conduct an analysis of locally implemented assessments and provide guidance to eliminate redundant assessments to improve student achievement. SB 386​ Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act ​(No House Vote) SB 386 allows more state money to be used at schools that lack basic accountability mechanisms, comes with gaps in protections for students with disabilities and could continue to erode public school budgets. Elections HB 757​ Qualifying Periods for Special Elections ​(No Vote) HB 757 would provide for the determination of qualifying periods for special elections. It also provides for voter registration deadlines for special primary runoffs and any other election or runoff held in conjunction with a special primary runoff. This bill would eliminate jungle primaries in special elections for State House and State Senate races starting in 2021. HB 1029​ Nonpartisan Election of Twiggs County Probate Judge ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) This bill establishes that elections for the office of probate judge of Twiggs County will be non-partisan and conducted at the same time of the general non-partisan elections. This does not affect the current or future term limits of the sitting judges. HB 1030​ Nonpartisan Election of Twiggs County Magistrate Judge ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) This bill establishes that elections for the office of chief judge of the Magistrate Court of Twiggs County will be non-partisan and conducted at the same time of the general non-partisan elections. This does not affect the current or future term limits of the sitting chief judge. HB 1148​ Nonpartisan Election of Berrien County Magistrate Court Judge ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1148 changes the position of chief magistrate of the Magistrate Court of Berrien County to an elected, nonpartisan position. 19
  20. 20. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. HB 1195​ Nonpartisan Election of Berrien County Probate Judge ​(Passed by Both Chambers -​ ​House Vote​) HB 1195 provides that the election of future probate judges in Berrien County shall be nonpartisan elections. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. SB 463 Prohibit the Unsolicited Distribution of Absentee Ballot Applications ​(No House Vote) SB 463 would prohibit the unsolicited distribution of absentee ballot applications. Instead, the Secretary of State would develop a secure website that would allow voters to apply online for an absentee ballot. Firearms HB 751​ The Anti-Red Flag - Second Amendment Conservation Act ​(No Vote) HB 751 would allow preemption of local regulation and lawsuits, and exceptions, so as to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation in this state involving extreme risk protection orders. HB 787​ Honored Concealed Carry Permits ​(No Vote) HB 787 would add 18 states to the 32 where Georgia now honors concealed carry permit laws. Georgia now has so-called reciprocity agreements with the 32 states that allow its permit-holding residents to legally carry a firearm while visiting them. Healthcare HB 719​ Modernization of HIV Related Laws ​(Passed by House - ​Vote​) Modernizes the state’s HIV laws. Someone who knowingly infects someone with HIV without their knowledge has committed a felony, but the sentence is to 5 years from 10 years. HB 719 changes the definition of “HIV test” to no longer require the test to be approved by the Department of Community Health. The term “person living with HIV” is defined in the bill as a person who has a confirmed HIV test. This bill classifies someone with the following conduct as guilty of a felony: 20
  21. 21. 1. Knowingly engaging in a sexual act with the intent to transmit HIV and do not disclose their HIV status to the other person, when the act has a significant risk of transmission. (This does not apply to victims of forced sex acts who have HIV.) 2. Consenting to performing a sexual act in exchange for money with the intent to transmit HIV to the other person, when the act has a significant risk of transmission. The following would no longer be a felony: 1. Allowing someone to use a hypodermic needle for drugs and failing to disclose HIV status. 2. Donating blood, fluids, or organs without disclosing HIV status. This bill also makes it no longer an enhanced sentence when an HIV infected person transfers their bodily fluids specifically to a police or corrections officer with intent to transmit HIV. The definition of ‘Drug related objects’ no longer includes hypodermic needles or syringes. It also makes it lawful under 16-13-32.1 for a person or corporation to sell, rent, advertise etc. materials which they intend to be used for injecting a controlled substance into the body. The amendment to 16-13-32.2 allows a person to use hypodermic needles or syringes to inject a controlled substance into the body under this code. HB 789​ Creation of a Surprise Bill Rating System ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 789 requires insurers that advertises or designates any hospital as in-network to disclose the relevant health benefit plan surprise bill rating within such advertisement. HB 842​ Gracie's Law ​(Passed by the House - ​Vote​) HB 842 "Gracie's Law" prohibits discrimination against persons with mental or physical disabilities seeking organ donations. This bill allows the local government to "deal" with the discrimination. HB 842 provides that an individual with disabilities recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act cannot be denied an anatomical gift or organ transplant; be denied related medical services related to organ transplantation; or have their insurance coverage for a procedure associated with the evaluation or receiving an anatomical gift or organ transplant be refused by a healthcare service provider solely based on their disability. HB 958​ The Maternity Supportive Housing Act ​(Passed by House - ​Vote​) This bill would allow a church, religious organization or nonprofit to house up to six pregnant women (ages 18 and older) and their children while the mother is pregnant and up to 18 months after childbirth. The bill defines the term “maternity supportive housing” to allow for a regulatory carveout for this type of facility. Housing pregnant mothers would typically require compliance with healthcare facility regulations, but this bill seeks to allow this type of housing to 21
  22. 22. be exempt from such regulation. Additionally, the bill provides that the local governments must regulate these homes with the same occupancy requirements as single-family homes. This bill was flagged in the Whip report; members were asked to vote their consciences and their districts. HB 987​ Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) This bill amends the “Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act” by adding a code section to prevent discrimination or retaliation against those who report, investigate, or protect against adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It requires personal care homes, assisted living communities and nursing homes to inform residents if there is COVID-19 in the facility; keep protective equipment for residents and staff; create an infection control plan; and require all staff and patients to be tested. HB 1114​ Medicaid Coverage for Lactation Care and Services and Postpartum Care (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1114 expands Medicaid coverage upon appropriation of funds by the General Assembly for mothers to have access to lactation care and services. This bill also would expand Medicaid to cover postpartum care for up to six months after birth. SB 71​ Floor and Trade Charity Care Credit Exchange Program ​(Failed in the House - House Vote​) SB 71 was replaced with the language from HB 542. It mandates the Department of Community Health (“the department”) to create a pilot program from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 to test a regulated charity care credit exchange program. The simulation would include the annual amount of charity care from each health care facility, a value of their charity care credits, and the opportunity to sell excess charitable credits in exchange for hospital funding. This could support hospitals that provide a significant amount of indigent care by allowing them to sell their excess credits in exchange for funding. This bill was flagged in the Whip report; members were asked to vote their consciences and their districts. SB 303​ Georgia’s Right to Shop Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 303 would require healthcare insurers to share payment comparisons to in-network providers, estimates of average amount of coverage accepted to in-network providers of a particular service, estimated out of pocket expenses, a comparison on quality metrics based on the Hierarchical 22
  23. 23. Condition Category Methodology, and provide access to any all-payer health claims database maintained by the department on a publicly accessible interactive website. Quality metrics include: risk adjusted and absolute hospital readmission rates, admission volume, utilization volume, risk adjusted rates of adverse events, and risk adjusted and absolute relative total cost of care. Health insurance providers may charge more than the estimate given online if the increase is unforseen services was disclosed in a person’s policy. This bill provides for a carveout for health maintenance health benefits plans (HMOs) except that HMOs still must compare quality metrics. SB 313​ ​Pharmacy Benefits Managers ​(​Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 313 requires any physician employed or contracted with a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) that is advising or making determinations specific to an insured individual to: have actively seen patients within the past five years; and has practiced in the same specialty area for which the physician is providing advisement within the past five years. The Department of Community Health (DCH) is encouraged to require the use of a licensed Georgia physician for prior authorization, step therapy appeals, or determination reviews for contracts and amendments entered into with a PBM. This bill grants the Department of Insurance regulatory authority of PBMs in Georgia. Any methodologies utilized by a PBM in connection with reimbursement must be filed with the department. A PBM must utilize the national average drug acquisition cost as a point of reference for the ingredient drug product component of a pharmacy's reimbursement for drugs appearing on the national average drug acquisition cost list. A report must be filed with the department every three months detailing all drugs appearing on the national average drug acquisition cost list reimbursed at 10 percent and below the national average drug acquisition cost, as well as all drugs reimbursed at 10 percent and above this national average. For each drug in the report, a PBM must include: the month the drug was dispensed; the quantity of the drug dispensed; the amount the pharmacy was reimbursed per unit or dosage; whether the dispensing pharmacy was an affiliate; whether the drug was dispensed pursuant to a state or local government health plan; and the national average drug acquisition cost on the day the drug was dispensed. This bill requires that PBMs will not engage in any practice that: discriminates in reimbursement, assesses any fees or adjustments, or excludes a pharmacy from the PBM's network; in any way bases pharmacy reimbursement for a drug on the patient outcomes, scores, or metrics; includes imposing a point-of-sale fee or retroactive fee; or derives any revenue from a pharmacy or insured in connection with performing PBM services. PBMs are required to pass on to the health plan 100 percent of all rebates it receives from pharmaceutical manufacturers and report annually to each health plan the aggregate amount of all rebates and other payments that the PBM received from pharmaceutical manufacturers in connection with claims if administered on behalf of the health plan. PBMs must offer the option of charging a health plan the same price for a prescription drug as it pays a pharmacy for the prescription drug. A PBM must report in the 23
  24. 24. aggregate to a health plan the difference between the amount the PBM reimburses a pharmacy and the amount the PBM charges a health plan. This information will be confidential and not subject to open records unless the health plan is administered by the DCH. SB 391​ ​Early Prescription Refills During Emergencies Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) SB 391 requires insurers who cover prescriptions to waive “refill too soon” restrictions on 30-day supply refills during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or when there is a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service. The prescription must also have refills remaining and the prescription cannot be a Schedule II controlled substance. SB 391 also allows the Insurance Commissioner to extend this waiver longer, in 15 or 30 day increments, if they think it is necessary. SB 482​ All-Payer Claims Database ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 482 creates the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database (GACPD) Advisory Committee to oversee the implementation of the GACPD in order to facilitate accurate and transparent payment data reporting. The data from the GACPD will be used to establish baseline health care cost information, monitor health care costs, assess population health, identify health disparities, inform consumers of healthcare costs, and conduct waste, fraud, and abuse studies. SB 483​ Behavioral Rehabilitation and Stability Services Act ​(No House Vote) SB 483 creates a three county pilot program for an institution for mental diseases to manage up to 16 vacant beds in private or public acute care hospitals through a behavioral rehabilitation joint venture with the hospital. The Department of Community Health (“DCH”) would provide Medicaid reimbursement at 100 percent of cost the second year of the joint venture operation. Contributions received by the joint venture does not count against the aggregate cap of $4 million for an individual rural hospital organization or the aggregate cap on tax credits of $60 million per taxable year. Cannabis HB 847​ Hemp Farming ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 847 expands and clarifies the regulations established under the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. This bill sets the documentation requirements for transportation of any hemp and hemp products being transported within or through the state. Hemp shippers would be required to carry documentation proving lawful production and THC levels. Hemp and hemp product shippers 24
  25. 25. would also be required to carry a bill of lading with ownership information, origin and destination information, and the quantity of the shipment. This bill expands the abilities of authorized colleges and universities to process hemp for research purposes. Authorized colleges and universities would also be permitted to contract with third parties for the growth and processing of hemp. This bill would also allow processors and authorized colleges and universities to temporarily store and transport hemp plants. This bill explicitly requires proprietors, partners, and executives (such as CEOs and CFOs) to undergo a criminal background check when applying for a license or permit. Under this bill, those requesting a license to grow or a permit to process hemp would now be required to submit their fingerprints, which would be compared against state and federal records. The annual renewal fee for processing permits would also be raised from $10,000 to $50,000. This bill would also allow greenhouse growers, those who only provide or sell hemp to other licensees, to receive a growing license without entering into a contract with a processor. It would also allow licensees to provide or sell hemp to other licensees and authorized colleges and universities. It would also allow licensees to provide or sell hemp to growers and processors in another state, so long as the grower/processor has been authorized by that state and the state’s regulations have been approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. This bill would also require crop samples to be collected and tested by the Georgia Department of Agriculture before any hemp can be harvested. The Georgia Department of Agriculture would also be required to randomly test hemp products from permitted processors. If the testing reveals a THC level above 0.3% the crop or hemp products must be destroyed. THC removed from hemp products during processing would also be required to be destroyed. It also explicitly states that packaging raw hemp material for sale is not a legal form of processing. Immigration HB 915​ Georgia Anti-Sanctuary Act ​(No Vote) HB 915 would require the state to adhere to federal immigration laws in Georgia with respect to criminal “illegal aliens.” Justice For All Legislative Package HB 426​ Hate Crimes Bill ​(Passed by Both Chambers -​ ​House Vote​) HB 426 provides that a defendant is subject to enhanced criminal penalties if the defendant chose their victim based on the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, 25
  26. 26. mental disability, or physical disability. This applies if the victim is actually a member of one or more or these groups or the defendant perceived the victim to be a member of one or more of these groups. The burden of proof for finding that the defendant committed a hate crime is beyond a reasonable doubt. The minimum sentence for a misdemeanor conviction of a hate crime would be 3-12 months and a fine not to exceed $5,000. The sentence for a misdemeanor hate crime of a high and aggravated nature would become 6-12 months and a fine not to exceed $5,000. If the defendant is convicted of a felonious hate crime, the court must impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of no less than 2 years. The Georgia House Democratic Caucus strongly supported the passage of this bill. HB 636​ Use of Force Data Collection Act ​(No Vote) HB 636 would require law enforcement agencies to maintain a publicly accessible database of all incidents where officers used force. The database would also include the identities of officers who have been disciplined for their use of force. After the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, additional scrutiny of law enforcement agencies is a must. By maintaining a publicly accessible database of all incidents where officers used force, it provides transparency to the public about the individuals who are out policing in their communities. This bill would allow for greater accountability from our law enforcement agencies in who they are hiring. HB 1185​ Body-Cameras for All Law Enforcement Agencies in Georgia ​(No Vote) HB 1185 provides that certain peace officers wear body-cameras that record audio and video of all activities performed while on duty. Body-cameras are a great way to improve law enforcement practice. The body-cameras would allow for real-time information to be captured as law enforcement patrols the community. Having peace officers wear body-cameras lead to more positive interactions with the community and makes officers more cautious in their actions. HB 1186​ Change of Venue for District Attorney Act ​(No Vote) HB 1186 permits a replacement district attorney to request a change of venue if: a previous district attorney was removed from the case for cause, or if a local government official made statements that tainted the local jury pool. One of the pillars of our criminal justice system is the ability to be tried by a jury of your peers. If a District Attorney gets removed or if a local government official makes statements that taints the local jury pool, it is only just that a change of venue be allowed. We must provide an avenue to allow for justice to be served. HB 1187​ Anti-Chokehold Legislation ​(No Vote) HB 1187 would prohibit the use of pressure on the throat or windpipe by a law enforcement officer. A similar bill was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019. The use of chokeholds by police officers should not be allowed in our society. There are many other ways to 26
  27. 27. subdue a suspect. The chokehold is dangerous because it can very easily lead to death. This use of excessive force is unnecessary and should be banned. HB 1190​ Repeal Stand Your Ground ​(No Vote) HB 1190 would repeal the ‘stand your ground’ law in Georgia in its entirety. Georgia is one of 26 states that has a ‘stand your ground’ law on the books. The “shoot first, ask questions later” culture has no place in our state. HB 1203​ Repeal Citizen’s Arrest ​(No Vote) HB 1203 would appeal citizen’s arrest in its entirety. No private person should be allowed to effectuate an arrest. The perpetrators in the Ahmaud Arbery case have claimed this as a defense to the murder they committed. The current law allows for private persons to arrest another person if a felony has been committed in their presence. However, it is time for that to end. No private citizens should have the right to police their own communities. HB 1207​ End Racial Profiling Act ​(No Vote) HB 1207 prohibits law enforcement agencies from engaging in racial profiling. It would require the Attorney General to publish an annual report on how many times a law enforcement agency stops, searches, frisks, or collects data on individuals. No individual deserves to be stopped by law enforcement based on their race. Racial profiling has no place in our society, and we cannot allow it to happen anymore. HB 1209​ Repeal “No Knock” Warrants ​(No Vote) HB 1209 prohibits “no knock search warrants.” A no knock warrant permits an officer to execute a search without giving audible notice of their presence and purpose. No Georgian should be subjected to a “no knock” warrant. The murder of Breonna Taylor happened because officers were executing a “no knock” warrant. This policing tactic has significantly increased in usage over the past few decades. There must be clear notice for when law enforcement is about to enter private property. HB 1210​ Repeal Special Presentments for Law Enforcement Officers ​(No Vote) HB 1210 repeals the provisions that give law enforcement officers advance notice of charges before their case is sent to a grand jury and permits law enforcement officers to present evidence to the grand jury. Law enforcement officers should not have special treatment in the court of law. We believe that officers need to be treated the same as any other person who is in front of the grand jury. 27
  28. 28. HB 1214​ Establishment of a District Attorney Oversight Commission ​(No Vote) HB 1214 creates the District Attorney Oversight Commission. This Commission would have the power to discipline, remove, and force the retirement of district attorneys. Currently, there is no mechanism to do so in the state of Georgia. District Attorneys need oversight. HB 1230​ Removes Official/Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement Officers in Georgia for Misconduct or Illegal Activities ​(No Vote) HB 1230 removes official/qualified immunity protection from civil actions against law enforcement who have engaged in misconduct or illegal activities. If law enforcement officers have been engaging in misconduct or illegal activities, they should not have the protection of immunity from civil actions. Victims of misconduct or illegal activities should have legal recourse. HB 1239​ Appointment of a Special Prosecuting Attorney When a Law Enforcement Officer is Charged With a Felony or an Act of Family Violence ​(No Vote) HB 1239 provides for the appointment of a prosecuting attorney when the accused is a law enforcement officer charged with a felony or an act of family violence. There must be additional oversight when a law enforcement officer is charged with a felony or an act of family violence. Accountability is crucial. HB 1255​ Law Enforcement Officers Apply Nonviolent Means When Effecting an Arrest (No Vote) HB 1255 provides that law enforcement officers shall apply nonviolent means, when possible, before resorting to the use of physical force in carrying out his or her duties. Miscellaneous HB 61​ Offer Qualified Active Duty Military Service Members Between the Ages of 18 and 24 Motor Vehicle Insurance Policies ​(No Vote) HB 61 permits motor vehicle insurance companies to offer qualified active-duty military service members a reduction in the premium for motor vehicle liability, first-part medical, and collision coverage. The insurer may request proof of eligibility annually from the policyholder. HB 474​ Certain Procedures Prior to the Adoption, Amendment, or Repeal of Any Rules of the State Board of Workers' Compensation ​(No Vote) HB 474 creates a new code section that provides certain procedures prior to the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rules of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The board must: 1. Send a copy of the proposed rule change to the advisory council of the board 28
  29. 29. 2. Notify the General Assembly at least 30 days before the proposed effective date 3. Hold a hearing, if one is called by Chairperson of Senate Insurance and Labor Committee or House Committee on Industry and Labor 4. Following any hearing, produce and provide a on the reasons for and against the rule change to the General Assembly If the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee or House Committee on Industry and Labor object to a rule change, a resolution to override the rule change must be brought before the General Assembly. If the resolution is adopted by less than two-thirds of the vote in either the House or Senate, the resolution must be submitted to the Governor for his or her approval or veto. HB 758​ Georgia Motor Carrier Act of 2012 ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 758 would prohibit the usage of a “motor carrier safety improvement” by or as required by a motor carrier or its related entity as a factor when evaluating whether an individual is an employee, independent contractor, or jointly employed employee under any state law. This bill defines a “motor carrier safety improvement” as a device, technology, training, program, or operational practice used primarily to facilitate compliance with traffic laws and improve motor vehicle safety. This bill was flagged in the Whip report. HB 821​ Granting Postretirement Benefit Adjustments to Certain Individuals ​(Passed by House - ​Vote​) HB 821 allows for all members who entered the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia, Legislative Retirement System, and the Georgia Judicial Retirement System after July 1, 2009 to begin receiving postretirement benefits starting July 1, 2020. HB 973​ Designate June 19 as “Juneteenth” ​(No Vote) HB 973 would designate June 19 of each year as a state holiday. HB 1235​ Designate June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day” ​(No Vote) HB 1235 designates June 19 of each year as a state holiday. HR 1551​ National Statuary Hall Collection Replacement Committee ​(No Vote) HR 1551 creates a committee that would replace the statute of Alexander Hamilton Stephens (Vice President of the Confederacy) with Martin Luther King, Jr., in National Statuary Hall. 29
  30. 30. SB 43​ Dalton Utility Revenue Bonds ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 43 lifts a restriction whereby current law requires a city/county to conduct a referendum in order to issue revenue bonds for gas/electric investments, but only for a city/county that has electric industry assets greater than $300 million. This is a narrowly tailored general bill that, in practice, is basically only applicable to Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power and MEAG-affiliated electric providers are not required to conduct a referendum. This bill was flagged in the Whip report for a recommended “no” vote. SB 312​ Create the Georgia Commission on African American History and Culture ​(No House Vote) SB 312 designates June 19 as “Juneteenth” and September 1 as “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day” in Georgia SB 340​ Childhood Cancer Awareness Day​ ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 340 designates September 1 of each year as Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Georgia. SB 442​ ​Prohibit Amendments to Property Owners' Association Instruments and Covenants (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) SB 442 provides that a homeowner association’s instrument cannot be amended to prevent a property from being used as a rental as long as the lease is for six months or longer . This bill attempts to permit homeowner associations to amend their instruments to limit rentals in their neighborhoods. Amended instruments would apply to homes when a new owner buys the home, while grandfathering-in current investors. This bill was flagged in the Whip report; members were asked to vote their consciences and their districts. Democratic Bills These are the Democratic bills that received a Floor vote in the House. HB 216​ Special License Plate for Georgia Tennis Foundation ​(Passed by the House - ​Vote​) HB 216 would create a special license plate for the Georgia Tennis Foundation. HB 230​ Benefit Corporations ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 230 provides for benefit corporations’ stock certificates, amendments and transactions, duties and limitations of liability of directors of benefit corporations, annual public benefit reports, changes the definition of a foreign corporation, changes provisions relating to the right to dissent, and changes provisions relating to the corporate name of a foreign corporation. 30
  31. 31. HB 695​ Increase Term Limit of City of Brookhaven Mayor ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) HB 695 repeals the term limit of the mayor of Brookhaven and repeals expired provisions relating to the election of the mayor and councilmembers during the first four years of the city's existence. HB 869​ Clayton County Water Authority ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 869 provides that the Clayton County Water Authority is a body corporate and politic, a political subdivision of the state, and a public corporation. HB 921​ Revises Provisions Regarding City of South Fulton’s City Attorney ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 921 revises provisions relating to the city attorney for the city of South Fulton. HB 944​ Election of Miller County Board of Education Members ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) HB 944 provides for the election of the Miller County Board of Education members by district. HB 945​ Election of Miller County Board of Commissioners ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) HB 945 provides for the election of the Miller County Board of Commissioners by district. HB 988​ Expand the Macon County Board of Elections and Registration ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 988 expands the Macon County Board of Elections and Registration from three members to five members. HB 1019​ Offices of Mayor and Councilmembers of the City of South Fulton are Part Time (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1019 provides that the offices of the city of South Fulton mayor and council members are part time. HB 1046​ Provide Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities at Self-Service Gasoline Stations ​(Passed the House - ​Vote​) HB 1046 gives people with disabilities access to the gas pumps, where attendants would come out and assist. This bill would require self-service gas stations to provide an attendant to dispense gas for special disability permit holders. The special permit holder must be driving the vehicle and not accompanied by a person 16 years or older. Gas stations must have a telephone 31
  32. 32. number that is fully operational for which a person can call to request assistance. Assistance is not required if a second attendant is not present. If the owner of any gas station fails to provide assistance, they will be subject to a $150 fine. Gas stations will be required to display a sign on the front of each self-service gas pump. The sign must clearly state the phone number for which special disability permit holders can request assistance. If the owner of any gas station fails to put up signage, they will be subject to a $150 fine for each gas pump without a sign. The fine can be waived if the sign is posted within 14 days of the citation. HB 1075​ Staggered Terms for Members of the Atlanta Independent School System Board of Education ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1075 provides for staggered terms for members of the Atlanta Independent School System Board of Education. HB 1137​ Assessment and Collection of a Technology Fee by the State Court of Washington County ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1137 1137 authorizes the assessment and collection of a technology fee by the Washington County State Court. HB 1165​ Repealing the Joint Liberty County, City of Gum Branch, City of Midway, City of Riceboro, and City of Walthourville Fire Protection Facilities and Equipment Authority (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1165 repeals the joint Liberty County, city of Gum Branch, city of Midway, city of Riceboro, and city of Walthourville Fire Protection Facilities and Equipment Authority. HB 1167​ City of Atlanta Ad Valorem Tax for Municipal Purposes ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1167 provides a new homestead exemption from city of Atlanta ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of $30,000 for each resident of Atlanta who holds real property subject to a written lease having an initial term of not less than 99 years with a landlord that is an entity exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and who owns all improvements located on the real property. HB 1171​ Dissolve the Newton County Recreation Committee ​(Passed by Both Chambers - House Vote​) HB 1171 allows Newton County to dissolve the Newton County Recreation Commission. 32
  33. 33. HB 1174​ Newton County Public Facilities Authority Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1174 creates the Newton County Public Facilities Authority and provides for the appointment of members to the authority. HB 1215​ City of Fayetteville Community Improvement Districts Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1215 provides for the creation of one or more community improvement districts in Fayetteville City. HB 1216​ Homestead Exemption from City of Union City Ad Valorem Taxes ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1216 provides a $2,000 homestead exemption from Union City ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes. HB 1217​ Middle Chattahoochee Regional Water and Sewer Authority Act ​(Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) HB 1217 renames the South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority. HB 1243​ Appointment and Terms of Office for DeKalb County Board of Commissioners (Passed by Both Chambers - ​House Vote​) House Bill 1243 changes the manner of appointment and terms of office of the members of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics, and provides for an ethics administrator and the duties of that position. HR 1039​ Dominic Brian Lucci Compensation Resolution ​(Passed by House - ​Vote​) Mr. Lucci was convicted for malice murder and possession of a firearm and sentenced to life plus five years in prison. It was later found that an eyewitness testified against him falsely and recanted their testimony. Additionally, Mr. Lucci’s counsel was unable to access exculpatory evidence on his behalf. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the conviction and Mr. Lucci was released. This resolution provides compensation of $1,000,000 to Dominic Brian Lucci for his loss of liberty, personal injury, lost reputation, emotional distress, and other damages as a result of 25 years of incarceration. HR 1041​ Mark Jason Jones Compensation Resolution ​(Passed the House - ​Vote​) This bill provides that the Department of Administrative Services pay compensation to Mr. Jones of $1,000,000.00 for his wrongful conviction. 33

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