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Archive for the ‘State Legislation’ Category

2017 Legislation Signed Into Law

2017 Legislation Signed Into Law

Legislation

Description

Date

HB 348

Waycross, City of; change corporate limits

March 24, 2017

HB 463

Early Care and Learning, Department of; establish nonprofit corporation to qualify as a public foundation; authorize

March 24, 2017

HB 283

Revenue and taxation; Internal Revenue Code and Internal Revenue Code of 1986; revise definitions

March 21, 2017

SB 124

“City of Decatur Public Facilities Authority Act”

March 17, 2017

HB 449

DeKalb County; taxes, fees, and assessments; change certain provisions

March 16, 2017

HB 42

Elections; election superintendents to correct mistakes and omissions on ballots for a primary or election; authorize

February 23, 2017

HB 272

Villa Rica, City of; ad valorem tax; provide homestead exemption of $8000 for residents 65 and older

February 15, 2017

HB 43

Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017

February 15, 2017

SB 70

Hospital Medicaid Financing Program; sunset provision; extend

February 13, 2017

HB 187

Monroe County; Board of Commissioners; provide nonbinding advisory referendum

February 9, 2017

SB 13

Jefferson County Hospital Authority; ad valorem tax; provide for a nonbinding advisory referendum

February 3, 2017

HB 31

Jefferson County; Board of Commissioners; levy additional ad valorem tax; provide nonbinding advisory referendum

January 24, 2017

2016 Legislative Highlights

2016 Legislative Highlights

House Bill 34 — The Georgia Right to Try Act

The law makes Georgia one of 30 states in the past two years to allow terminally ill patients the use of experimental drugs that are undergoing clinical trials but have not yet won full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients are responsible for paying for the drugs (although drug manufacturers may offer discounts and charitable foundations may also help defer costs). The movement is being led by the libertarian-leaning Goldwater Institute in Arizona. Advocates say the FDA drug approval process — which can take more than a decade — is too long a wait for more than 1 million people who die annually from terminal illness.

House Bill 555 — Mandates additional reporting about abortions in Georgia

The law sets a new mandate that supporters say will help the state track abortions by juveniles in Georgia. It requires the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents. State health officials already keep track of those numbers; it’s the first time these numbers must be confirmed via the courts. The report must be completed annually by March 15.

House Bill 649 — The Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act

Advocates say passage of this law made Georgia the second state, after Rhode Island, to license lactation consultants to help mothers who have problems breastfeeding their babies. The effort, supported by the state Department of Public Health, comes as the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia reports that nearly 75 percent of new moms in Georgia leave the hospital breastfeeding their babies but only 19 percent of them are still doing it at six months (something recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics). The idea, they say, is to help more women get the services and advice of breastfeeding experts. Another plus? Women may also now get help paying for it, since insurance companies often help pay for licensed heath care professionals.

House Bill 775 — Restrictions on sale and dispensing of spectacles

You can buy anything online, right? Just not eye exams in the Peach State, at least as of Friday. Georgia is among a number of states taking sides on the issue in the eye care industry, which has gotten a jolt from a Chicago-based startup called Opternative. The company, which officially launched last year, offers online eye exams and then, for $40, has a doctor review the online results and email a prescription for glasses or contacts. It’s drawn the ire of the American Optometric Association, which in April filed a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the company’s lack of federal approval and what it said was misleading claims over the online test’s accuracy.

House Bill 792 — Use of electroshock weapons by people who are students or who are employed at a public institution

Students at least 18 years old will now be legally able to carry Tasers and stun guns on Georgia’s public college and university campuses. Some dubbed the effort “campus carry lite” — after a bill vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal that would have allowed some students to carry guns on Georgia campuses. The author of the law — state Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville — said he intended to provide an alternative to students wanting to protect themselves on campus but not use a lethal weapon. The law states that what are formally called electroshock weapons must only be used for self-defense, getting to concerns by some lawmakers that somebody could use the device to zap somebody else just for fun.

House Bill 941 — Review of incidents involving a peace officer’s use of deadly force that results in death or serious bodily injury

No other state had allowed as much leeway as Georgia, but now this law aims to limit police officers’ ability to influence the outcome of grand jury proceedings when they face possible charges. Previously, officers were allowed to sit in on the entire grand jury hearing, listen to all the evidence against them and make a statement at the end that could not be questioned or challenged by prosecutors. Now, police officers may offer a statement to grand jurors but will not be allowed to stay in the grand jury room. They also will face cross-examination.

House Bill 951 — Sales and use tax; admissions to major sporting events; create exemption

The National Football League in May awarded Atlanta the 2019 Super Bowl, in no small part because Georgia lawmakers — with the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal — passed what amounts to an estimated $10 million tax break on ticket sales for the big event. The measure additionally extends a tax break for all-star games, college championships and any other game deemed to qualify as a “major sporting event.” And it will renew a sales tax break for back-to-school shoppers for a weekend in late July and restores an incentive to buy energy-efficient products in late September.

House Bill 965 — The Honorable Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Access Act

Yes, you read that right. Carter is a constituent of the law’s author, state Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, who says the former president’s recent cancer battle inspired him to try to help others get access to the same drugs. Carter, 91, announced in August that doctors found four small melanoma lesions on his brain, and that he would undergo treatment at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University using the drug pembrolizumab as well as radiation therapy. In early December, Carter announced that tests showed no sign of the cancer in his body. Now, any insurance company that offers a health care plan in Georgia cannot force patients with advanced cancer to first fail to respond to other treatments before trying more aggressive treatment programs such as helped Carter.

Senate Bill 309 — High schools that receive state funding cannot participate in an athletic association that prohibits religious expression on student athletes’ clothing

There were many battles fought at the state Capitol this year over so-called “religious liberty” bills. This is the only one that made into the law books — and with little backlash or bickering. Inspired by a high school runner disqualified from an association event last year while wearing a headband with a Bible verse written on it, the law expressly prohibits discrimination against religious expression on student athletic uniforms and pressures the powerful Georgia High School Association to allow its member schools to compete against nonmember schools. The association says it is changing its policy to allow inter-association competition. It has also said the runner’s disqualification had nothing to do with what was written on his headband.

Senate Bill 316 — Bingo; remove the daily permissible prize limitation

Bingo! One of the few legalized forms of gambling in Georgia, the games draw thousands of players daily to bingo halls and auditoriums across the state hoping to get a chance at cash prizes. Yet, while the state retains what the Georgia Bureau of Investigation considers one of the most restrictive bingo laws in the country, lawmakers agreed this year to loosen the rules just a bit. They’ve removed what had been a daily winnings cap of $1,500 — although a $3,000 weekly limit remains in place.

Senate Bill 364 — Revise annual teacher, principal and assistant principal evaluations

Increased emphasis on testing in schools has been bemoaned by teachers and parents alike for years, making this rollback all the more significant. The law officially reduces the number of state-mandated tests taken by students in Georgia’s public school classrooms and lessens how testing results influence teacher evaluations — something supporters say will allow for more spontaneity and less rote “teaching to the test.” Among the changes, the improvement by a student in test scores over time will drop from counting as at least half of a teacher’s evaluation to 30 percent.

Senate Bill 367 — Changes to the criminal justice system

One of Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature efforts in office has seen a number of changes to Georgia’s criminal justice system, from getting more nonviolent offenders into nonjail alternative programs to giving judges more discretion in sentencing. This latest law expands that work on a number of fronts. Among its provisions, this creates new charter schools in prisons, offers a new chance at parole for some serving decades-long sentences and blocks state licensing boards from requiring most people with criminal histories to disclose that information on a job form. The effort has already won praise from President Barack Obama, who has applauded it “for demonstrating that making our criminal justice system more fair is a bipartisan idea.”

Legislation Passed in The Senate  

SB 278

Increases the penalties for pimping and pandering, and requires regulation on the State Sex Offender Registry upon the second conviction for pandering. 

SB 308

Provides grants to nonprofit organizations which provide pregnancy services to women who are not likely to be able to afford them otherwise with the intention of reducing abortions.

HB 742;

Aligns the Georgia Tax Code with changes in the federal tax code, especially with respect to corporations. This measure makes permanent the federal Section 159 deduction for small business owners. All corporations must file taxes April 15th, except for S corporations which must file March 15th

We concluded the fifth legislative week of session on Monday, February 8th.  By Thursday, February 11, we have already reached the half-way mark of the 2016 legislative session, legislative day 20. With only 20 working days to complete our business, and “cross-over day,” legislative day 30, looming, we quickly got to work.  Committees were in full-swing, and many pieces of legislation started making their way over from the Senate to be heard in House committees.   

Below is a select list of bills that passed on the House floor this week:

HB 649, by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), proposes to enact the “Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act.”  While statistics show that breast feeding helps babies by reducing a number of problems such as asthma, childhood obesity, SIDs, and other health issues, is it necessary for government to license a practice that humans have been engaging in for eons? The bill purports to give nursing mothers an option to a clinically trained specialist to work with them on breast feeding.  If passed, this newly licensed group of consultants will fall under the Composite Board of Medicine. From my professional perspective as a clinician, I can appreciate the role of lactation consultants and respect the training they receive through standards already set forth by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. However, this bill calls for the creation of a state licensure pathway that I feel is unnecessary. If there is already a pathway to clinical certification by the IBLCE, then why is licensure necessary? The author of the bill stated that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) “mandates” lactations services on insurance companies; therefore, the state had to create a pathway to licensure.  The author made the claim on the House floor when presenting the bill that licensure of these consultants was necessary for legitimacy, but as in most cases, licensure is typically an economic protectionist move by one group who wants to squeeze out another from providing a given service, which only introduces more unnecessary regulation into the perverted reimbursement structure climate in healthcare, which is the most troublesome and costly feature of our healthcare system. Furthermore, any legislation that is promulgated as a result bad federal policy, like Obamacare, only serves to conscript the state’s governing machinery to carry out federal policies and grows the size of state government as a result at the expense of the state’s own sovereignty.  I voted NO on this legislation.  However, the legislation ultimately passed 129-27.

HB 821, by Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway), requires professional licensing boards to implement a process by which military spouses and transitioning service members may qualify for temporary licenses, licenses by endorsement, expedited licenses, or a combination of these for each profession, business, or trade for which a license is issued. I voted in favor of the bill.  This will help our military spouses here in the Camden County area.  It passed by a vote of 164-0.

HR 1198, by Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan), encourages the Environmental Protection Division to review its current regulations regarding aquifer storage and recovery to ensure they are sufficient and to revise those rules if necessary. I voted in favor of this resolution.  This resolution was adopted by a vote of 161-0.

HB 739, by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), addressing elementary and secondary education and textbook content, moved through the House by Committee Substitute with a vote of 165-3.  I voted in favor of the bill.

HB 509, by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), establishes a new Article 10 in Chapter 7 of Title 31 and will require that the Department of Community Health implement initiatives to improve quality and delivery of patient-centered and family-focused palliative care in Georgia.  Also, it will create a nine-member Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council who will be appointed by the Commissioner (experts on palliative care will be on this Council).  It came to the House Floor in a Committee Substitute form.  The bill is heavily backed by the American Cancer Society.  It attempts to focus on quality versus quantity of life.  However, my major concern with this bill is found on lines 78 and 79 stating, “The department may develop and implement any other initiatives regarding palliative care services…”  First, the Commissioner of the Department of Community Health has the authority to establish his own advisory council; therefore, this legislation serves as another unnecessary mandate only to grow the sizes of state government.  Second, the language suggesting that the department may implement “any other initiatives” about palliative care could suggest and imply that this advisory council could make future recommendations regarding controversial end of life decisions, like euthanasia. I do not believe that is the author’s intent, but that is my concern with this legislation.  I voted NO on this legislation; however, the Committee Substitute was adopted and passed with a vote of 138-23.

HB 870, by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough).  It permits two schools to play in an event; it places the decision with local schools and they can enter into an agreement to do so. It adds language in O.C.G.A. § 20-2-316.3.  It also addresses religious expression and safety of players.  Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) asked about religious items/expression and the wearing of headbands.  Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) also commended the efforts of Rep. Strickland.  He commented on recent actions taken by GSHA but they are not final “actions.”  The GSHA’s actions were taken in a Committee meeting on the same day that this legislation was in Committee.  Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) asked for clarification on the event which caused the legislation; it dealt with the disqualification of a runner who wore a headband with some sort of insignia.  It is not illegal to wear a headband but because the headband had some sort of insignia/language it was illegal.  This legislation clarifies all of that per Rep. Strickland.  Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta) asked about lines 27-29 and competitions with other schools – does it limit to scrimmage or others or does it envision full competition?  It permits the schools to play and they get to choose the type of game that they wish to play.  Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge) asked about lines 19-25 – it does not impact national events.  Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek) explained the vetting that was done on this legislation; there are seven pages in the rule books about uniforms.  There are narrow exceptions in every sport on what can be permitted (on logo/writing on equipment).  Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) also spoke on the legislation; they met with the Georgia High School Association and their attorneys for hours on this issue.  The Georgia High School Association will still govern.  It provides local control for the schools.  I voted in favor of the bill.  HB 870 passed with a vote of 136-25.

HB 219, by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick), exempts private swimming pools, including pools in apartment complexes, country clubs, subdivisions, condominium associations, home owners associations, town homes, and time shares from health inspections by the Department of Public Health at the county level. It also states that a resident, member, or the owner of such private pool may request an inspection at any time for informational purposes only.I voted in favor of the bill.  This bill passed by committee substitute by a vote of 152-8.

HB 757, by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), is known as the ‘Pastor Protection Act’. This bill came as a response to the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (SB 129), by Sen. Josh McKoon. It provides for ministerial protections for religious clergy in the State. Specifically, it provides that such clergy shall not be required to solemnize any marriage that would be in violation of his or her right to freely exercise religion, under the United States or Georgia Constitutions. Any refusal would not give rise to a cause of action. It also prohibits any business from being compelled to work on Saturdays or Sundays. It further exempts religious organizations from being required to rent or lease property space to be used for purposes that are objectionable to such religious organization. There were a number of folks who spoke to this proposal.  Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) stood before colleagues as a son of a pastor and the grandson of a pastor.  He explained that the legislation creates classes and does not protect all classes.  Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange) also rose, with mixed emotions, in support of the legislation and expressed that he is dismayed that the State needs to provide such faith community protections from overreaching government.  Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) also spoke to the legislation as did Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).  Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) also took the Well to speak and expressed the need to have “freedom of the pulpit.”  I voted in favor of the bill; however, I want to stress that I feel this protection should extend to ALL Georgians. Not just to once certain group of people.  I think this bill’s language should be broadened as it moves forward in the legislative process.  HB 757 passed by a vote of 161-0.

SB 331

This bill protects victims of rape by helping rape victims who conceive a child with a process to remove the offender parental rights. in Superior Court, through a presentation of clear and convincing evidence, the offender loses the ability to ever be legitimized as a parent plus rights to visitation or guardianship. Today a rapist may have parental rights once the baby is born.

SB 367 

Under this bill, two new classes of court divisions are created- DUI Court division and Family Treatment Court division.  The bill provides for educational service through state charter schools for people in custody or supervision of the department of Correction and Juvenile Justice. 

SB 369  

This bill will regulate the sale and use of fireworks.  The bill creates new restrictions where fireworks cannot be used, revises times during which fireworks can be ignited, restricts the use of fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and revises requirements relating to licenses to distribute fireworks.  It also provides criminal penalties for violations of provisions related to the sale, manufacture, and use of fireworks.  It passed in the Senate 50 to 1. 

SB 364 

Senate Bill 364, known as the Quality Basic Education Act, will reduce the number of tests students in Georgia have to take as well as lower the weight the results of those tests would have on teacher and school administrator evaluations.  The federal government requires 11 tests and Georgia currently requires almost three times that.  Georgia’s current policies require 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on student progress and 70 percent of a principal’s evaluation.  This bill would bring those percentages down to 30% for teachers and 40% for principals.  The bill passed 45 to 0.

SB 327 

This bill prohibits the state from contracting with companies that boycott good and services from Israel.  12 other states have similar legislation, as do countries across Europe to support Israel against corporate boycotts.

SB 258

This Bill protects property owners from tax valuation increases during tax appeals. 

SB 269 

This bill requires, as a condition of funding, local governments to certify that they are not enforcing any sanctuary policies.  

 

 

2015 Legislation of Note Passed or Introduced in the Senate

2015 Legislation of Note Passed or Introduced in the Senate:

SB 139:   Passed in the Senate – The purpose of this Bill is to create uniform standards for the use of plastic containers for restaurants and other establishments that use such materials as local communities across the country begin to outlaw or tax plastic bags costing people money and creating a patchwork of regulations from town to town.

SB 34: Passed in the Senate – This Bill passed the Senate to provide that in an emergency someone can enter a locked vehicle to rescue an incapacitated or endangered individual without being prosecuted.

 SB 157: This Bill was introduced to provide protections and restrictions on student data. It prevents the school systems from distributing any identifiable data to a third party without written consent from an eligible student or the parents.

SB 88: Passed in the Senate – This Bill would allow businesses to pay their employees using a payroll card with an opt out provision for the employee.

SR 389: This is Resolution was introduced to oppose the new FCC decision called Net Neutrality which will treat broadband, the internet and wireless communications like a utility with corresponding regulations. Many believe this will discourage technical innovations which have benefited billions.

HB 292: This House Bill is an annual update to Georgia law incorporating certain provisions into state law. The House Bill passed through the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday with an amendment to help small business owners increasing their same year Section 179 deduction for equipment purchases to $500,000.

HB 1: This Bill passed the House this week to change the provisions of Georgia law to allow for the use of medicinal marijuana oil for seizures and other medical conditions.The bill was first introduced last year and passed the Senate in a prior form; it has gone through several new changes before passage by the House. The Bill was sent to a Senate Committee for consideration.

HB 75: The 2016 state budget passed the House this week and is being heard in various Appropriations Sub-Committees over the next week before Senate floor consideration.

HB 170 : One version of a House transportation measure remains under consideration by the House. It will likely be amended again. Currently, it calls for the following:

  • Eliminates sales tax on gasoline, local and state and converts it to an excise tax.
  • Expands present Excise (by the gallon) fuel tax to 29.2 cents per gallon and based on last four years sales price.
  • Includes Bonds $100 million for FY 16 for transit.
  • Provides an annual $200 fee yearly on alternative fuel vehicles
  • Allows local governments to add fuel excise taxes to replace sales taxes on fuel.
  • ESPLOST’s, SPLOST’s are intact until planned expiration

SB 109:   This Bill was introduced to clarify the use and effectiveness of Physician orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment forms. It will provide alternate terminology for do not resuscitate orders and reflect patients’ Advance Medical Directives.These are very important documents to have to indicate your end of life decisions.

SB 18:   This Bill passed to allow the Technical College System of GA to accept prior work experience and skills learned through the Military to count for academic credit.

SB 58: This Bill passed to allow each member of the General Assembly, the Governor, and the Lieutenant Governor to publicly distinguish a deserving student with a written letter of recommendation for that student’s use in the college admissions process, providing that the student is committed to serving in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

SB 51:  This Bill passed to clarify Georgia law for the dispensing of expensive medical products called biologics. It defines the terms “biological product” and “interchangeable biological product” to better resemble definitions from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Public Health Service Act. The Bill will annotate the Code of Georgia with respect to implementing a special purpose local option sales tax to add to the purposes of the proceeds of the tax.

 SB 72: This Bill called “Tanja’s Law,” passed to strengthens the punishments for crimes committed against a police dog while the dog is performing its official duties. 
 
SB 3:
The Supporting and Strengthening Families Act” passed to allow parents to temporarily transfer custodial oversight to another adult during times when extenuating circumstances impact the ability to properly care for a child.
 
SB 8 / SR 7:  Rachel’s Law / the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission passed the Senate to increase criminal and civil penalties for perpetrators of human trafficking. It includes certain protections for and increases the statute of limitations on sexual exploitation crimes.
 
SB 86: This was introduced to propose to create an alternative to medical malpractice litigation whereby patients are compensated for medical injuries to provide for filing of and disposition of applications, appellate review, and administrative expenses. A similar bill titled the Patient Compensation Act has been under consideration in prior legislative sessions.
 
SB 87: This Bill was introduced to amend the Georgia Code so as to limit the use of specialty board designations by physicians unless the physician was Board certified.

SB 92: This Bill was introduced to establish an Education Savings Account program to provide for  qualifications and requirements, management of accounts, participating schools, responsibilities of parents, and the Office of Student Achievement.
 
SB 103: This Bill was introduced to change the laws to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday.
 
SR 155:  I introduced a Resolution calling on the US Congress to adopt and submit to the states a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution and to balance our current United States budget.
 
HB 75:  The Amended FY2015 Budget passed the Senate adopting a $21.1 billion supplemental budget runs through June 30, 2015, and increases for K-12 education growth and public health initiatives.This budget amends the FY2015 budget passed last session to make adjusts for revenues and program changes such as education.

SB 1: Passed. unanimously. This bill provides insurance coverage for basic autism therapy. It exempts businesses with 10 or fewer employees and imposes an annual limits of $35,000 for children 6 and younger. The bill was sent to the House and hopefully will be taken up for consideration.

SB 3:  This bill would allow a temporary transfer of custody and power of attorney from the parent to another person providing for the child’s care without court approval for up to one year.

SB 6: This bill would prohibit deferred deportation status from qualifying an alien to purchase a driver’s license in Georgia.

SB 38 This bill would create a recommendation process for legislators for qualified students who commit to ROTC service at Georgia colleges and universities.

SB 63 – This bill would allow craft breweries to sell up to one 12 pack of beer per customer for carry out.

SB 74 – I sponsored this bill to create a Charity Care Organization to provide a tax deductible contribution to raise moneys Charity Health Clinics that offer low cost and free healthcare for the uninsured.

SR 25 – I cosponsored this Senate Resolution recognizing the Atlanta Junior Rowing Association for their work and growing popularity among middle and high school students.

SR 95 – Recognizes the Pope High School Girls Softball team winning the State Championship 6A
 

TRANSPORTATION:

The House announced a transportation proposal this week –

HB 170

Transportation Funding Act of 2015 with its main provisions being:

  • Eliminates sales tax on gasoline, local and state and converts it to an excise tax.
  • Expands present Excise (by the gallon) fuel tax to 29.2 cents per gallon and based on last four years sales price.
  • Includes Bonds $100 million for FY 16 for transit.
  • Provides an annual $200 fee yearly on alternative fuel vehicles
  • Allows local governments to add fuel excise taxes to replace sales taxes on fuel.
  • ESPLOST’s, SPLOST’s are intact until planned expiration
If you would like additional information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly website at www.senate.ga.gov

2014 Legislative Highlights – Passed Legislation

2014 Legislative Highlights – Passed Legislation

SR 415: Constitutional State Income Tax Cap

  • Proposes an amendment to the State Constitution that would prohibit the General Assembly from raising the state income tax.
  • Will strengthen the pro-business environment in Georgia by giving businesses certainty that Georgia will remain a low-tax state.
  • Sends a clear message to businesses looking to move from another state or expand within our borders; spurs economic development by putting a spotlight on Georgia as a low-tax state while not costing a dime in tax revenue; will encourage job creation and potentially increase revenue from increased economic activity.
  • Requires ratification by the voters in the 2014 General Election.

HB 658: Death Tax Elimination

  • Eliminates the estate tax (also known as the death tax) after July 1, 2014. There will be no estate taxes levied and no estate tax returns will be required after this date.
  • The final nail in the coffin for the death tax in the state of Georgia.

 SB 98: Prohibits Taxpayer-Funded Abortion

  • Prohibits health plans offered through a state or federal health exchange within Georgia from providing abortion coverage except in the case of a medical emergency. Also prohibits the State Health Benefit Plan from covering expenses for abortion services, except to the extent permitted under the plan that existed on January 1, 2014 which is to save the life of the mother.
  • Bans the use of taxpayer funds for the use of abortion services through an Obamacare exchange or the State Health Benefit Plan.
  • Every neighboring state has passed similar legislation banning the use of taxpayer funds through an Obamacare exchange.

HB 990: Prohibits the Expansion of Medicaid Eligibility Without Prior Legislative Approval

  • Prohibits the Board of Community Health from adjusting income limits to expand Medicaid without prior legislative approval.
  • Federal government is trillions of dollars in debt and borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar that it currently spends and cannot be relied on to fund an expanding Medicaid program forever.
  • Keeps the decision-making authority on this important issue away from unelected bureaucrats and places it firmly in the hands of elected officials.
  • Potentially saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

HB 772: Drug Testing for Applicants and Recipients of Public Assistance

  • Allows drug testing of welfare applicants and recipients upon a reasonable suspicion of drug use; also requires electronic benefits transfer (“EBT”) cards for food stamp benefits to contain a photo of the recipient.
  • A recipient of welfare benefits who tests positive for controlled substances is ineligible for those benefits until he or she tests negative and for the following time periods corresponding with one’s history of positive results:
  1.   One month for a first positive result;
  2.   Three months for a second positive result;
  3.    One year for a third or subsequent positive result.
  • Encourages welfare recipients with drug problems to obtain help and ensures welfare benefits are not being used to promote drug habits.
  • Prevents the misuse of public funds designed to help feed, clothe, and shelter families in need.

HB 943: The Georgia Health Care Freedom Act

  • Prohibits state and local governments from advocating for the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Georgia and prohibits state and local governments from establishing or operating a health care exchange or navigator program, or accepting any money to do so.
  • Limits the negative fiscal impacts of Obamacare.
  • Disallows state and local officials from acting to support the Affordable Care Act in ways that are contrary to the official policies of Georgia.
  • Does not prohibit public employees or officers from advocating for Medicaid expansion on personal time, as part of his or her official duties, or from providing bona fide educational instruction about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in institutions of higher learning.
  • Does not apply to any navigator-related grant in effect on this bill’s effective date.

HB 60: Safe Carry Protection Act

  • Changes provisions relating to the carrying of weapons in Georgia.
  • Prohibits the state from creating and maintaining a database of those licensed to carry firearms.
  • Lowers the age from 21 to 18 for active duty military personnel with specific training to obtain a concealed firearms license for self-defense.
  • Allows for the use of firearm sound suppressors while hunting.
  • Protects Second Amendment rights for those living in public housing, thereby ensuring that the right to self defense is not limited by place of residence.
  • Provides that government or military officials cannot use the pretext of a declaration of emergency to seize firearms of law-abiding citizens.
  • Removes the criminal ban on those with firearms licenses legally carrying a firearm in bars, leaving this decisions about firearms carrying to the private property (bar) owner.
  • Removes the criminal ban on those with firearms licenses legally carrying a firearm into unsecured government buildings.
  • Allows churches the option of permitting those with firearms licenses to lawfully carry, with only a civil penalty of a $100 if a person unknowingly carries into a church where firearms are prohibited.

 HB 810: HOPE Eligibility Requirements

  • Revises eligibility requirements for HOPE scholarships for entering freshman students who obtained a GED or graduated from a home study program or a non-eligible high school. Revises current law to allow students who earned a score in the eightieth percentile or higher to be eligible for HOPE.
  • Allows more students who have excelled in non-traditional education formats to be HOPE-eligible.
  • Levels the playing field for HOPE eligibility requirements between traditional and non-traditional high schools.

HB 766: Work Based Learning Act

  • Reforms the Youth Apprenticeship Program to the Work Based Learning Program. Any eligible student aged 16 or above, regardless of grade, may participate. Skill development must be focused on those skills related to the student’s career pathway.
  • Gives career minded high school students an opportunity to gain on-the-job training and practical knowledge relevant to their chosen career path while still in school.
  • New incentives for employers to participate and broader fields of work.

HB 697: Zell Miller Grant Scholars

  • Establishes a full-tuition scholarship grant for students who attend technical colleges. Defines Zell Millar Grant Scholars as students who: 1) have met applicable eligibility requirements to receive a HOPE grant; and 2) have earned a cumulative grade point average (“GPA”) of at least 3.5 at the end of any quarter or semester in which the student has attended courses toward a diploma or certificate.
  • Technical colleges educate thousands of students each year, thereby preparing Georgians for work in fields vital to the state’s economic prosperity.
  • Makes job-based technical education available to more Georgians, helping Georgia attract new businesses that create jobs.
  • Recognizes that a four-year liberal arts degree is not a practical option for many students
  • Scholarship gives students and their parents a real alternative to the traditional four-year college degree path.

Multiple bills designed to rein in federal spending through the powers retained by the states under Article V of the United States Constitution

  • SR 736: Applies to Congress for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing certain amendments to the U.S. Constitution that place clear restraints on federal abuses of power.
  • HB 794: By adopting the Compact for a Balanced Budget, Georgia agrees to perform and comply strictly with the terms of the Compact; once three-fourths of the states have adopted the Compact, a declaration petitioning Congress pursuant to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to call a Convention for the purpose of adopting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States, will be transmitted.
  • SR 371: Requests that Congress call for a convention to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States with limited consideration of only proposing a balanced budget in the absence of a national emergency.
  • SB 206/HB 930: Provides a method of selecting delegates and alternates to an Article V Convention and qualifications of delegates.

Other Notable Legislation

  • HB 740: Allows active duty military personnel and their dependents to pay the less-expensive resident rate for Lifetime Sportsman’s Licenses, regardless of whether they are Georgia residents.
  • SB 276: Designates Georgia as a “Purple Heart State,” honoring our combat wounded veterans for their service and sacrifice in allowing the United States of America to maintain its sovereignty.
  • SB 235: Allows permanent, compensated firefighters who perform at least 1,040 hours of annual service to be eligible for membership in the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund; also allows all members to receive credit for prior eligible service rendered between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2014.
  • HB 702: Provides for the placement within the State Capitol or grounds, a historic granite monument depicting:
    1. The Preamble of the Georgia Constitution
    2.  Part of the Declaration of Independence
    3.  The Ten Commandments
    4.  the monument is subject to the availability of private funds.
  • HB 1080: Provides for the placement of a statue of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Capitol grounds, subject to the availability of private funds.
SB 391: Requires medical facilities in Georgia to apply to participate in the TRICARE program, which insures members of the military and their families. Although the bill requires medical facilities to apply, it does not require facilities to participate.

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GFRW Local Clubs

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