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Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 10 (2024)
Monday, January 29, 2024

Earlier in the week, we speculated that a dog-and-cat fight could be brewing between the Georgia House and Senate, but an intrachamber kerfuffle might actually be on the rise. Two bills introduced in the House on Friday may whip up the biggest bread-based debate since white versus wheat. House Bill 1048, authored by Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), seeks to designate cornbread as Georgia’s official state bread. But House Bill 1034, authored by Representative Franklin Lehman (R-Statesboro), seeks to designate the fourth Friday in November as National Sugarcane Syrup Day — and is almost certainly promoted by the pro-biscuit caucus. Will the proponents of potlikker take on the backers of biscuits, or will they break bread together and support both measures? Either way, you can count on the #GoldDomeReport to let you know.

The House took up its first rules calendar on Friday, but both chambers only worked half a day before sending members home for the weekend. The General Assembly reconvenes Monday through Thursday next week when we will likely see the House’s version of the Amended FY24 Budget.

In this Report:

  • Floor Notes
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • What’s Next

Floor Notes

The House took up the following measures on Legislative Day 10:

  • HB 804 - Motor vehicles; issuance of a distinctive license plate for owners of ambulances; provide - PASSED 157-0
  • HB 434 - Georgia Composite Medical Board; licensing for radiologist assistants; provide - PASSED 152-2
  • HB 502 - Georgia Cosmetic Laser Services Act; revise a definition; revise a provision - PASSED 153-1

The Senate took up the following measures on Legislative Day 10:

  • SB 355 - Elections and Primaries; use of ranked-choice voting; prohibit - PASSED 31-19
  • SB 358 - State Election Board; remove the Secretary of State; authorize the board to investigate - PASSED 30-19
  • SR 158 - Northwest Georgia Logistics Corridor; designate as an official logistics growth corridor in Georgia - PASSED 49-0
  • SR 465 - Senate Special Committee on Investigations; create - PASSED 30-19

Committee Reports

Senate Judiciary Committee

Chairman Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) had three bills on the committee agenda late Thursday afternoon after our report went to press:

  • SB 332, authored by Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), addresses the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission. The version of the legislation was LC 48 1010. This is SB 92 from the 2023 Session. Five DAs filed a lawsuit, and an order was issued. The Supreme Court provided guidance on the legislation and understanding of the court’s role. Line 14 addresses the rules and regulations; they will be established and enforced by the commission, not the Supreme Court. 

Chairman Strickland noted it was a little “cleanup bill.” Senator Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) asked why the Supreme Court declined to act as directed in SB 92. The question concerns the role of prosecutors and the powers they exercise (judicial or executive powers).

The committee gave a DO PASS recommendation with a motion by Senator Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) and a second by Senator Jeff Kennedy (R-Macon). Legislative Counsel indicated an amendment was needed at line 3; the amendment (Senators Setzler and Kennedy) was offered and adopted. The legislation received a DO PASS as amended and passed by a vote of 6-3. The bill moves forward to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • SB 335, authored by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell), seeks to enact the Safeguarding Adopted Children from Sexual Violence Act, and the version of the legislation before the Committee was LC 49 1599. The legislation redefines the term “incest” and includes adopted family members. District Attorney Susan Treadaway (Cherokee) joined Senator Albers in presenting SB 335. Senator Albers stressed the predominant numbers of adoptive parents are heroes, but this legislation addresses the offense of incest by adoptive parents and adoptive family members.

Senator Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) inquired about the statute of limitations and when acts occurred — which would vary based on the facts per DA Treadaway. Does this carry beyond the age of majority? What about incest between adults? DA Treadaway indicated much would depend upon how a district attorney would come to know about a crime, and one of the first questions would likely be looking at a history of abuse. Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) noticed that the definitions are similar to what is considered “legal marriage” in Georgia. Senator Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick) asked if this just adds adoptive relationship to the laws, and DA Treadaway indicated yes, that was the case. Hodges moved do pass; Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) seconded his motion. The bill received a unanimous DO PASS recommendation, moving the legislation forward to the Senate Rules Committee.

  • HB 500, authored by Representative Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), seeks to address the offense of arson of law enforcement vehicles. The legislation was in response to the vehicles destroyed at the proposed law enforcement training site. The version of the legislation before the committee was LC 49 1584. Silcox discussed the legislation from last year, which did not reach the Senate Floor. LC 48 0852 was presented. This is a new crime of arson of a law enforcement vehicle. Silcox shared with the committee that the total property damage, to date, is more than $100 million as of today.

Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) inquired about the fine amount, which seemed high. The fine amount reflects new police vehicles costing around $100,000 once equipped. Senator Setzler agreed that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. His issue was the amount of time proposed 5-20 years for all offenses including statements which could be made. He pointed to the criminal solicitation statute; he noted that the “encourages and advises” language in the bill was his concern.

James Woodall, with the Southern Center for Human Rights, spoke to the committee — noting that there is redundancy in this legislation (can prosecute under the arson statute and criminal damage to property, and there is a sentence structure there for both). Restitution was an issue (the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers brought up that matter of the fine/restitution last session and when there was insurance in place). 

The legislation received a motion do pass by Senator Ben Watson (R-Savannah), which Senator Hodges seconded. The bill received a unanimous DO PASS recommendation. It now proceeds to the Senate Rules Committee, and Senator Albers will carry the initiative in the Senate.

New Legislation

The following new legislation of interest has been introduced in the House:

H.B.1033 Utility Worker Protection Act; enact Rep. Rob Leverett (R-123) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66317
H.B.1035 Pharmacies; board regulates sale and supply of opioid antagonists through vending machines; authorize Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-045) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66327
H.B.1036 Quality Basic Education Act; course of instruction in pregnancy, health, and human development for students in grades nine through 12; require Rep. Lauren Daniel (R-117) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66328
H.B.1037 Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health; create Rep. Lauren Daniel (R-117) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66330
H.B.1038 Crimes and offenses; offense of reproductive battery; provide Rep. Lauren Daniel (R-117) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66331
H.B.1040 Mortgage lenders and brokers; prohibit unfair or deceptive practices in consumer transactions related to mortgage trigger leads Rep. Scott Hilton (R-048) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66333
H.B.1043 Blockchain Basics Act; enact Rep. Scott Hilton (R-048) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66336
H.B.1044 Contracts; increase dollar value of certain public works contracts exempt from provisions relating to retention of contractual payments Rep. Victor Anderson (R-010) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66337
H.B.1045 Education; require schools to give notice and receive consent prior to providing students with sexual orientation or gender identity instruction; provisions Rep. David Clark (R-100) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66338
H.B.1046 Health; advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to order home healthcare services; authorize Rep. David Clark (R-100) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66339
H.R.879 Georgia Cancer Control Consortium; part of the Georgia Department of Public Health, HPV Cancer Free GA, Cancer Pathway, and The Susan Jolley Awareness Program; exceptional contributions to cervical cancer education and awareness in Georgia; commend Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-042) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66354

The following new legislation of interest has been introduced in the Senate:

S.B.399 Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia; to enter into and amend existing agreements with the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia; encourage and state expectations Sen. Shelly Echols (R-049) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66321
S.B.401 Senate Foster Care and Adoption Study Committee; implement recommendations Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-032) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66342
S.B.405 "Completion Special Schools Act"; certain students to be enrolled in a completion special school; lower the age of eligibility Sen. Clint Dixon (R-045) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66379
S.B.406 First Responder Building Mapping Information System; grant program to fund the creation of school mapping data; establish Sen. Clint Dixon (R-045) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66380
S.B.407 Law Enforcement Officers and Agencies; documenting of certain information in incidents of family violence; require Sen. Donzella James (D-035) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66382
S.R.488 Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services; commend Sen. Kim Jackson (D-041) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66383
S.R.489 Black Maternal Health Statistics; recognize Sen. Kim Jackson (D-041) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66384

What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 11 on Monday, January 29 at 10 a.m.

The Senate is expected to take up the following measures on Legislative Day 11:

  • SB 337 - Georgia Colonel; appoint honorary title for life; authorize the Governor
  • SB 342 - Child Abuse Records; child abuse and neglect registries; authorize the disclosure
  • SB 353 - Highways, Bridges, and Ferries; duties when death results from an accident upon a highway in certain instances; allow for delegation
  • SB 354 - Cosmetologists and Barbers; persons performing certain limited responsibilities; exempt from licensure
  • HB 130 - Georgia Student Finance Authority; student loan repayment for peace officers; provide
  • HB 455 - Professions and businesses; professional programs to address career fatigue and wellness in healthcare professionals; provisions

See our coverage of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, and Day 9.

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