Georgia Legislative Gold Dome Report Day 34

A rainy morning gave way to a mostly sunny day outside the State Capitol and inside the Appropriations Committee room on Wednesday. Less than two weeks after getting the handoff from the House, Senate appropriators met to pass out their version of the FY23 State Budget. Although Senate Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) noted that there was much agreement between the House and Senate versions of the spending plan, he went on to outline a number of changes focused on the three themes of quality, stewardship, and fidelity. Read on for more on Chairman Tillery’s remarks on the FY23 Budget, which is expected on the Senate floor on Friday.

With six legislative days remaining in the 2022 Legislative Session, committees continue to process bills and resolutions, and the House and Senate Rules Committees are gingerly sending measures onward for floor votes. More on the legislation working toward final approval in this #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

Senate Appropriations Approves FY23 Budget

In an early morning meeting on Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its version of the FY23 State Budget. Appropriations Chair Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) presented the spending plan, noting that it maintains many of the provisions promoted by Governor Kemp and the House. These include a $5,000 raise for State employees, $2,000 raises for teachers across the state, full funding of the Quality Basic Education formula, elimination of the special institutional fee in the University System of Georgia, 12 month postpartum care in Medicaid, and investments in mental health services and workforce. But Chairman Tillery also noted that “there are some differences.”

Turning to the Senate’s differences, Chairman Tillery framed the changes around the Senate’s focus on “quality, stewardship, and fidelity” in spending. From a quality standpoint, he emphasized the Senate’s interest in earning returns on State spending by focusing on outcomes, not just inputs. The Chairman explained that the Senate first piloted this focus with value-based payments in skilled nursing last year, and the Senate’s version of the FY23 Budget includes $18 million for quality-based payments to community service boards, $46.2 million for value-based purchasing in Medicaid, and $2.4 million for value-based purchasing in PeachCare for Kids. In this vein, the Senate spending plan also includes $28 million for a “beat the odds” program to incentivize schools to increase third-grade reading outcomes.

Turning to his stewardship theme, Chairman Tillery promoted investments in public safety and criminal justice with specific additions for more medical examiners, death investigators, and an improved facility in Macon within GBI. He also highlighted performance-based increases for Special Assistant Attorneys General and the juvenile courts that reduce dependency case backlogs to less than 180 days. The Chairman also expressed a commitment to “Georgia’s children”–the nearly 3,000 children in foster care–with $2.5 million for the University System of Georgia to pilot an experiential program for foster kids to visit college campuses. The Senate budget also includes additional funds for tuition equalization grants (and beginning a transition to target those funds at students studying in high-demand fields) and an increase to the public library book allowance.

Finally, under his fidelity theme, Chairman Tillery expressed the importance of fully funding the State’s obligations and formulas. To that end, he noted that the Senate budget fully funds skilled nursing facilities at the 2020 cost report levels and integrates the GNETS program in the Department of Education into the Quality Basic Education Program. Chairman Tillery closed his substantive remarks with an addition that makes a big splash this year–full funding of all 513 NOW and COMP waiver slots currently needed. Only 100 such slots are currently funded by the State.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the spending plan as presented, and it is expected to receive a full Senate vote on Friday. We will include a detailed overview of the Senate’s changes to the FY23 Budget in Friday’s Gold Dome Report, but, in the meantime, you can review the entire budget document here.

Floor Action

The House took up the following measures on Legislative Day 34:

  • SB 341 – Healthcare Services; guidelines for the prior authorization of a prescribed medication for chronic conditions requiring ongoing medication therapy; provide – PASSED (161-0)

  • SB 358 – Georgia Public Safety Training Center; reimbursement of certain costs incurred by active duty, retired, or honorably discharged members of the US armed forces who are attending basic law enforcement training; provide – PASSED (163-0)

  • SB 395 – Mountain Judicial Circuit; third judge of the superior courts; provide – PASSED (162-0)

  • SB 396 – Georgia State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); rename such program the Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank Program (F2FB) – PASSED (161-0)

  • SB 469 – Watercraft; certain watercraft to have day and night visual distress signals on board when on coastal waters of Georgia; require – PASSED (164-0)

  • SB 493 – Time-Share Projects and Programs; nonjudicial foreclosure of time-share estates; authorize – PASSED (159-2)

The Senate took up the following measures on Legislative Day 34:

  • HB 305 – Professions and businesses; massage therapy; revise a definition – PASSED (50-1)

  • HB 343 – Game and fish; rebuttable presumption of violation by individuals in possession of hunting paraphernalia while on others’ lands; provide – PASSED (50-0)

  • HB 1011 – Motor vehicles; amber strobe lights; permitting requirements; exempt low speed vehicles – PASSED (44-4)

  • HB 1021 – Insurance; minimum nonforfeiture interest rate for individual deferred annuities; decrease – PASSED (48-1)

  • HB 1148 – Game and fish; possession of cervid carcasses; remove definitions; provisions – PASSED (50-0)

  • HB 1195 – Local government; audits of funds may be conducted in accordance with statutory accounting principles; provide – PASSED (50-0)

  • SR 507 – Coleman-Benton, Kerri; recognize – PASSED (48-0)

Committee Reports

Senate Appropriations Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), met Wednesday morning and considered the following measures (in addition to the FY23 Budget):

  • HB 1331, authored by Representative Steven Meeks (R-Screven), amends Title 34 to  change certain provisions relating to the State Employment Service and the Employment Security Administration Fund. Specifically, the bill moves the administration of the SES and ESAF from the Department of Labor to a designee to be selected by the Governor.

    The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • HR 593, authored by Representative Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), provides for the compensation of Dennis Arnold Perry for wrongful conviction.

    The Committee recommended that the resolution DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • HR 626, authored by Representative Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), provides for the compensation of Kerry Robinson for wrongful conviction.

    The Committee recommended that the resolution DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Chairman Ben Watson (R-Savannah) and his Committee took up these measures mid-afternoon:

  • HB 1355, authored by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), creates the Childhood Lead Exposure Act in Chapter 41 of Title 31.  Representative Dempsey was back before the Committee with a new Substitute LC 33 9188S.  Senator John F. Kennedy (R-Macon) had worked with stakeholders to work on the definition of lead hazard abatement. An amendment was also offered by Senator Kennedy for line 182 of the Substitute, replacing original language into the substitute concerning supplemental addresses, clarifying the owner of residential rental property.  The substitute, as amended, received a DO PASS recommendation and moves to the Senate Rules Committee.  It was not noted as to who will carry this proposal forward in the Senate.

  • HB 937, authored by Representative Sharon Henderson (D-Covington),  requires that health insurers send a notice to women at age 40 and older about their coverage for an annual mammogram in O.C.G.A. 33-29-3.2(g). The legislation received a DO PASS recommendation and moves forward to the Senate Rules Committee. Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) will carry the legislation in the Senate.

  • HB 1219, authored by Representative Penny Houston (R-Nashville), amends O.C.G.A. 43-11-2 to add additional members to the Board of Dentistry.  This legislation moves the composition of the Board from 11 members to 17 members.  It increases the numbers of dental hygienists on the Board to two members; one non-dentists member; 13 dentists;  and a member appointed by the Board of Regents with knowledge of education of dental students. Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) inquired how this legislation would increase dentists and hygienists in the state. There was also testimony by Christy Smith, a dental hygienist educator at Georgia State, about the need for more hygienists to serve on the Board for more adequate Board representation, noting that hygienists spent more time with a dental patient.  There was mention that with more individuals on the Board that it was possible that the dental students would have more exam options.  A motion was made DO PASS; the motion carried 6-5.  Representative Houston noted that this was not a partisan bill as “everybody has teeth.”  It was not noted as to who will carry this proposal forward in the Senate.

Senate Health and Human Services – Mental Health Parity Subcommittee

Chairman Dean Burke (R-Bainbridge) and the Subcommittee on HB 1013 met to take more testimony on Speaker David Ralston’s legislation addressing the mental health needs in the state.  The room was jammed with folks; meanwhile, people stood in the hall on the fourth floor of the capitol while the doorkeepers fought to keep some modicum of order – declaring if you leave the room you cannot get back in.  The media was also present in full force with cameras lining the outside wall of the room, trying to capture some of history on this monumental bill.  Spectators and lobbyists climbed over one another in an effort to get a seat to learn more about the proposal as no live-stream of the meeting was available. The meeting was called to order just after 3:00 PM and Chairman Ben Watson addressed the room and noted the public’s engagement on the legislation. He even stated that the seating might be beyond the Fire Commissioner’s fire code limit. Representative Todd Jones (R-Cumming) spoke on behalf of the House and noted the feedback which had been received and that the House members were open to constructive criticism. There is a mental health and substance abuse issue in the State.

A Sheriffs’ representative, Sheriff Ron Freeman from Forsyth, mentioned a mental health problem in the state and his own experiences in his area.  He accented the use of incarceration of the mentally ill – costing resources and money. He worked to obtain a federal mental health grant with CJCC, developing a co-responder mental health team and he explained how they intervene on 9-1-1 calls for folks in crisis.  His county had made 285 responses; they can medically sign 1013s and that has been done 37 times. They have only incarcerated three individuals. His team deals with the 9-1-1 calls, but also the aftermath so as to limit added 9-1-1 calls. The field for deployment is great.  This effort has been a step forward for law enforcement.  The Forsyth initiative is a private initiative – there are only minimal state funds involved with this pilot program. There are challenges, per the Sheriff, with DBHDD, but this initiative was done with CJCC.  They looked for best practices around the country in developing their response model.

Dr. Dan Salinas, from CHOA, as a pediatrician he noted that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s in full support of the legislation.  The legislation, per the physician, positively impacts children.  He mentioned the need for better care coordination for children’s care, highlighting a  2021 study done of children and adolescents. They looked at behavioral and mental health needs when children were in crisis. The study had a cohort of 60 children and adolescents over a two year period. 88 percent were covered by Medicaid or CMOs. ER visits were reviewed; one child was found to have had 66 ER visits. Two children had double digit acute psychiatric visits. Looking for appropriate placements is difficult; many days are spent in the ER while a placement is found. CHOA also fully supports a unified formulary, parity overall, and the workforce language in the legislation.  The passage of the legislation can make Georgia an example of a system that works – right access, right care, right time.  Access and coordination prevent crises. Representative Mary Margaret Oliver asked about the formulary issues; he shared that sometimes it takes weeks for a child to get a healthcare issue under control with medication but that child may switch insurers and could run out of medicine.

A probate Judge from Athens-Clarke County indicated that this legislation would go a long way with delivering services to individuals who are presently falling through the cracks. Criteria for outpatient treatment standards are close to the inpatient treatment standards – use of word “imminently”  has been her concern. Presently, the court has to wait for an individual to be in crisis before intervention.  It could be less expensive with earlier intervention. She noted that some individuals can recover and urged the Subcommittee to look at the North Carolina statute. The judge also mentioned “transport” and who would be responsible for subsequent transports after initial transports. Police may find the current language burdensome with the transports. Non-emergency transport should not be an obligation of the sheriff but an obligation of the facility.

A Superior Court Judge spoke on a co-responder program. 

Rick Ward, Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, spoke in full support of HB 1013. He reminded the Subcommittee that pediatricians are the largest number of providers of mental health services and often are the first provider for these children. The pandemic has made the situation far worse.  He supported the minimum spend ratio (MLR) in the legislation.  Georgia, Mr. Ward stated, is the only state in the southeast which does not have a MLR on their CMOs.  A common formulary is also a positive – like for ADHD diagnosis. An advisory committee, addressing mental health codes for the younger children’s mental health is positive, but they do not wish to give the impression that services for children ages 5-18 are adequate because they are not.

Garry McGiboney had provided a statement which was distributed to the Subcommittee.

Dr. Molly Dang, an anesthesiologist, opposed the legislation as it does not ensure or protect patient choice or confidentiality (no HIPAA enforcement) and she had concerns about the use of DSM5. Further, she mentioned that the legislation contains no religious exemptions for providers or patients.  The STOH may be well meaning but does not meet every community’s needs or desires. The legislation ignores religious values and freedoms of individuals.  She told the Subcommittee that it could not rely on the CDC and WHO. They need to promote unique communities’ wellbeing.  She indicated she is supportive of Individualized health and mental health care.  A blanket one-size fits all does not work.

Toni Sanuello represented 30 friends. A spoke as a former teacher and stated she was not affiliated with a group but on behalf of families who are dealing with extra stressers.  She indicated her support of reform on mental health but does not support something that imposes some type of program which usurps the parents’ role in their children’s lives. She urged the subcommittee to be courageous – she sees HB 1013 as a possible infringement on parents’ rights.  She told the Subcommittee, we are now awake, and opposed the legislation.

Elizabeth Shaw, a mother and wellness coach, developed a youth program.  There will be repeated individuals. Why are children so sick? Why are they building a new hospital? She too spoke in opposition to HB 1013.

Chris Johnson spoke as an individual in long-term recovery. HB 1013 will impact him, and others like him, and he and the group support the legislation. A co-responder initiative can be very successful and will keep individuals out of jails. He thanked BHRIC and all the work that the Commission has done.  There are some line item concerns in the legislation, which have been shared with the Subcommittee.

Allen Brady, Coweta County resident, outlined his concerns, mentioning Section 3-3 probable cause (minority report in the House); Section 1-5 physical health – Obama Care for mental conditions and his costs have increased threefold and he feared that this legislation would also drive up insurance costs; Section 1-6 has no religious exemptions; WHO references are numerous; tracking of individuals in a shared database is also problematic; some individuals are criminals; and etc.  He submitted his written remarks to the Subcommittee.

A disabled veteran opposed the legislation. She stated that she had not heard a lot of advocates for the patients but rather had heard advocates for providers, workforce and insurers.  The parent should be the advocate for the children. She stated that Georgia should not follow what has been done in California, New York, and Illinois.

Kim Jones, NAMI Georgia, spoke about BHRIC and its commissioners.  She explained that BHRIC heard from folks who are part of the system – from folks who have been holding the hands and walking them through the broken system. The people impacted will make the bill successful.  There have been five individuals she personally has known that have died since the introduction of the bill. Bill is about life and death; she asked that the Subcommittee pass the bill and to keep the bill strong.

Representative Jones thanked speakers for their public remarks.

Chairman Watson said the 78 page-long bill was something to digest.  He committed to working with the House on the legislation.

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville), met on Wednesday afternoon to consider the following measures:

  • HR 881, authored by Representative Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville), encourages each public school in this state to study the Civil Rights Era and related subjects described herein to affirm the commitment of the free peoples of this state to reject bigotry.

    Representative Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) recommended, and the Committee adopted, three amendments to the language of the resolution. The Committee recommended that the resolution DO PASS by Committee Substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • SB 498, authored by Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), amends Title 20 to provide for the recognition of certain accrediting agencies as reliable authorities as to the quality of education offered in secondary schools.

    Senator Tippins presented the bill to the Committee, explaining that it is “not intended to put anyone out of business” but is aimed at ensuring that accreditation entities are evaluating the quality of student learning. He simply stated that the overseers need (and currently don’t have) overseers. Senator Tippins also addressed rumors that his bill would shift school evaluation to standardized testing, which he said was not the intent. The bill does provide that 80% of a school’s evaluation should be based on academic output.

    Chairman Dubnik asked Vice Chairman Chris Erwin (R-Homer) to work with the author to continue perfecting the bill, specifically noting an interest in accreditation for elementary and middle schools. The Committee took no other action on the bill.

  • SB 575, authored by Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), amends Title 20 to provide that local boards of education shall review the financial status of the local school system at least quarterly rather than monthly.

    Senator Tippins presented the bill to the Committee, which recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

  • SB 588, authored by Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), amends Title 20 to provide that all meetings of local boards of education shall be open to the public. The bill also provides that members of the public shall not be removed from such public meetings except for actual disruption and in accordance with rules adopted and published by the local board of education.

    Chairman Dubnik presented the bill to the Committee as a Substitute (LC 49 0973S), which he described as a “much improved” bill. The Chairman explained that the Substitute now consists of: a requirement that local boards of education provide a public comment period during every regular monthly meeting (not required for special meetings or executive sessions); a prohibition from requiring more than 24 hours notice from individuals wishing to participate in the public comment period; a requirement that audio and video recording be allowed; and a requirement that local boards of education post meeting notices prominently on their websites. The Substitute also requires local boards of education to adopt and publish rules of conduct for meetings and post those rules prominently on their websites. The Substitute allows for individuals to be removed from meetings for “actual disruption” (not simply viewpoints or expressions) and specifically states that nothing in the bill should be construed to limit the authority of police officers. The Substitute finally eliminates the Superior Court grievance process in favor of the existing recourse provided in the Open Meetings Act.

    The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.

Senate Education and Youth Committee

Chairman Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) called the Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Education and Youth Committee to order to discuss the following measures:

  • HB 1178 is Governor Kemp’s “Parent’s Bill of Rights”. This measure is being carried by Representative Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville), one of the Governor’s Floor Leaders. HB 1178 amends Part 5 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 to provide a framework for parents to request information on instructional material; this would include supplemental or ancillary. The bill requires a review period for two weeks at the beginning of each nine-week period which will be made available to parents. If parents request access to instructional material outside of the review period, the school has three days to provide a description and a timeline of when the information will be provided within 30 days of the receipt of the request. If the school administrator or the local superintendent denies parents request or does not provide the information within 30 days, the parent may appeal this to the local school board or governing board. This appeal must be placed on the next agenda of the local governing board. This measure also includes a provision for parents to opt their children out of photographs and videography by a written note.

    The following organizations voiced their support for the measure: Georgia Baptist Mission Board and Frontline Policy Action.

    The following organizations expressed concern over the legislation: Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Public Education Matters Georgia, and the Intercultural Development Research Association.

    The measure passed along party lines and is on to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 1295, by Representative John Corbett (R-Lake Park), amends Part 6 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20. The author’s goal is to reduce the 47% turnover rate for teachers that are in the first five years of their careers and to try to retain and develop highly effective teachers. The bill removes “needs development” from the code to reduce punitive measures in the assessment process. Currently, if a teacher receives two assessments within five years that show “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory,” they can lose their teaching certificate. However, these categories would remain on the assessment forms. Secondly, the bill allows the Department of Education the latitude to create a new assessment pilot program for teachers. This will only be implemented in 10 school systems chosen by the Superintendent, varying in urban, rural, and suburban settings. Finally, it requires the Department of Education to submit a yearly report to the House and Senate Education Committees.

    Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) asked several questions on non-renewable certificates. Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D-Albany) asked how evaluations of teachers were currently conducted. Commissioner Woods came forward to explain the process.

    Lisa Morgan, the President of GAE, expressed support for the measure.

    Senator Jackson motioned DO PASS for the bill, as passed by the House (LC 49 0917S). The motion succeeded, and the measure is now on to the Senate Rules Committee.

House Ways and Means Tax Revision Subcommittee

Subcommittee Chairman Mark Newton (R-Augusta) called the Subcommittee to order to discuss the following Senate measure:

  • SB 516, authored by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Catuala), amends Part 1 of Article 2 of Chapter 8 of Title 12. He began his presentation by describing an issue in his district, that on Highway 27, a contractor cleared property to find a large pile of tires. Senator Robertson asked on behalf of his constituent about the removal process and has worked with EPD. This led to an inquiry on how the $1 fee per tire is garnered if the retailer understands the process.

    The bill changes the current law to allow the $1 fee to be collected at the tire distributor level instead of at the current retail level because of the fewer amount of distributors. Ten percent of the fees income would be dedicated toward innovative projects specifically relating to used tires.

    Members had several questions relating to the measure, and it was held for further consideration.

House Higher Education Committee

Chairman Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) called the Higher Education Committee to order. Chairman Martin noted SB 333 and SB 397 would be held until the Committee meets again Friday. He continued to hold a hearing only on the following measures:

  • SB 379, authored by Senator Brian Strickland (R-McDonough), amends Title 20 to provide for the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to establish a program to promote the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in the state. Specifically, the bill creates the High-demand Career Initiatives Program within the Office of Workforce Development to incentivize small- and medium-sized apprenticeship sponsors to establish new or additional registered apprenticeship programs. The Program will be established subject to appropriations and allow employers to sponsor up to five apprenticeships per year and receive a contract completion award of up to $10,000 per apprentice.

    Representative Angelika Kausche (D-Johns Creek) mentioned her knowledge of the German apprenticeship model, in which the businesses pay for the credits rather than the state. She asked for confirmation that this bill would have instead be the state paying rather than the business. Senator Strickland agreed that her assessment was correct but there was a $10,000 cap.

    Chairman Martin asked if there had been funds appropriated for the measure. Senator Strickland did not have the exact number but said over $1 million had been appropriated.

    Representative Betsy Holland (D-Atlanta) asked if the definition of high-demand jobs was a fluid one or if the legislature would have to continually update it. Senator Strickland agreed that it was fluid, but, as a lawyer, he could see some situations where tweaks might be needed.

    Robert Dickey (R-Musella) expressed his concern that the bill would allow out-of-state companies to benefit rather than local businesses. Senator Strickland mentioned that while this is new, there are reporting requirements that will allow the legislature to make better decisions at a later date.

  • SB 231, authored by Senator Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) presented SB 231 again to the Committee. The measure amends Title 20 to create a pilot program within a limited number of charter schools to provide a high school diploma pathway for individuals between the ages of 21 to 35. Last year, SB 204 was a start on this issue. According to proponents of the bill, some barriers remain for this population, and the legislation will expand opportunities for individuals in this age bracket in poverty and allow for wraparound services. Costs are projected at $2.1 million per center.

Senate Finance Committee

Chairman Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) called the Senate Finance Committee to order to discuss the following measures:

  • HB 469, authored by Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), amends Article 2 of Chapter 7 of Title 48 of the O.C.G.A., which passed during the 2021 Legislative Sessions. The author noted this tax credit would have a $3.50 return on every dollar spent for historic tax credits.

    Senator John Albers pointed out there are three components of the bill for commercial and residential historic structures and video gaming tax credit. Each part has a two-year sunset. He added that some of these credits would be reviewed in the joint independent tax credit study.

    Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) noted the bill was initially for the project in savannah and asked, since it is finished, why this is still needed. Representative Stephens accented the project had been completed but that these incentives could save other places in the state and mitigate costs. Representative Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) noted that several buildings in her district could benefit from this measure.

    John Bozeman came forward to answer a few of the questions surrounding the sunset for the video tax credit. He noted that the credit only applied to Georgia companies.

    The measure received a DO PASS recommendation as amended.

  • HB 586, authored by Representative Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), amends Title 48 to extend sunset dates on a variety of tax credits along with creating a new tax credit for ticket sales for fine arts performances within facilities owned by an art 501(c)(3). LC 43 2398S was presented to include tax credits for land conservation with a $4 million cap per year.

    The substitute to HB 586 as amended received a DO PASS recommendation. Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) will carry the measure in the Senate.

  • HB 896, authored by Representative Clint Crowe (R-Jackson), seeks to add an update to the population bracket for individuals who have lease lots on Lake Jackson so that they may continue to receive a homestead exemption in O.C.G.A. 48-5-40(3)(L). This moves the population from the 2010 census to the 2020 census. LC 43 2151 received a DO PASS recommendation.

  • HB 934, by Representative Rob Leverett (R-Elberton), amends Part 1 of Article 5A of Chapter 8 of Title 48, which would allow T-SPLOST funds to operate similarly to SPLOST funds. Funds are raised based on an estimate provided in the local referendum or after five years, whichever comes first. HB 934 would allow the funds to be raised until the five years instead of being capped at the estimated amount. A representative from ACCG spoke in favor of the message. The measure was tabled until the next Committee meeting.

  • HB 997, by Representative Sam Watson (R-Moultrie), amends Part 1 of Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 48. This measure adds definitions for timber producers, products, and equipment and adds a ballot question to be voted on in the General Election in November of 2022. The ballot question asks if timber products and equipment should be exempt from ad valorem taxes.

    Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) asked if there was a fiscal note on the measure. Representative Watson noted that is not possible to ascertain because some are registered, some are not.

    The measure received passed with one nay vote. Senator Larry Walker will carry the measure in the Senate.

  • HB 1034, by Representative Marcus Weidower (R-Watkinsville), amends O.C.G.A. 48-8-3 in order to extend a sales tax exemption for sales of non-recurring major sporting events to include the FIFA World Cup to the list. LC 50 0292 also extends the time for this section to be repealed from December 31, 2022 and extended to December 31, 2031. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation. Senator Jon Albers (R-Roswell) will carry the bill.

  • HB 1058, authored by Representative Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), amends Code Section 48-7-21 to allow corporations to decide how to file their returns, whether separately or consolidated. Currently, the Department of Revenue decides. LC 50 0350ERS received a DO PASS recommendation. Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) will carry the measure in the Senate.

New Legislation

The following legislation of potential interest has been introduced:

What’s Next

The General Assembly is in adjournment on Thursday and will reconvene for Legislative Day 35 on Friday, March 25 at 10AM.

The House has not yet set a Rules Calendar for Legislative Day 35.

The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Legislative Day 35:

  • SR 542 – Women Veterans Day; recognizing the first Tuesday in March of every year

  • HB 911 – General appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023

  • HB 1064 – Income tax; certain retirement income for military service; provide exemption

  • HB 1089 – Revenue and taxation; certain violations of registration requirements for motor vehicles operated by motor carriers; increase penalty

  • HB 1188 – Criminal procedure; each act of child molestation charged as a separate offense; provide

  • HB 1349 – Natural Resources, Dept. of; attempt to prevent net loss of land acreage available for hunting on state owned lands; extend date

  • HB 1372 – Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act; revise provisions and short title

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National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 83