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Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 18 (2024)
Friday, February 9, 2024

It appears that cornbread and biscuit lovers can live in harmony after all. Perhaps in an early Valentine’s gift to each other, dissenting factions in the Georgia House of Representatives came together on Friday to pass two measures previously considered as divisive as the pronunciation of pecan. Representatives gave approval to both HB 1048, designating cornbread as the official state bread, and HB 1034, acknowledging the fourth Friday in November as National Sugarcane Syrup Day, in honor of the nectar most associated with biscuit sopping. You never know what you might learn in a legislative debate, from pet names for legislative spouses (we’re looking at you, Little Sugar Cane) to cooking advice (never add sugar to cornbread). Lawmakers and lobbyists welcomed the rare consonance and amusing tidbits heading into the weekend.

But it wasn’t all fun and games in the State Capitol on Friday, and you could tell by their crisply pressed blue jeans that the Georgia State Senate meant business. Curiously though, only the House had a Rules Calendar on Friday. Details on that and the rest of the legislature’s limited action heading into the weekend are in this #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

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

Floor Notes

The House took up the following measures on Legislative Day 18:

  • HB 959 - Motor vehicles; procedure for passing stationary vehicles on certain highways; provide — PASSED 158-0
  • HB 1026 - State government; Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as official soap box derby of the State of Georgia; designate — PASSED 155-1
  • HB 1034 - State holidays; fourth Friday in November as National Sugarcane Syrup Day; designate — PASSED 156-1
  • HB 1048 - State symbols; cornbread as official state bread; designate — PASSED 155-3

Committee Reports

Senate Education and Youth Committee

Early Friday morning, the Senate Education and Youth Committee convened, chaired by Senator Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett), to discuss several measures:

  • SB 395, authored by Chairman Dixon, amends Title 20 to allow students, visitors, and employees to carry opioid antagonists in schools and would exempt anyone who administers it in good faith from civil liability.

Many members of the public came forward to express support of the measure. Jeff Breedlove from the Council for Recovery came forward to express support and answer questions about workforce issues and emergency response times in rural areas.

An amendment was offered and accepted which adds protections to charter schools and staff on line 39. The measure passed 6-2.

  • SB 360, authored by Senator Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro), amends Code Section 20-2-260 regarding capital outlay funds. This permissive measure would allow for pre-kindergarten classrooms to be eligible for these funds. Roughly 50,000 children are not enrolled in a lottery funded pre-K program, so this measure would increase funds for those classrooms. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • SB 202, authored by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), amends Title 20 to create a pilot program for outdoor learning spaces at elementary and secondary schools. This measure passed out of committee last year but failed to make it through the process. An amendment was made to update the school years; it passed unanimously. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • SB 379, authored by Senator Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone), amends Code Section 20-2-182 to create the “School Chaplains Act.” This measure would allow school systems to employ or accept a volunteer as a school chaplain. In their role, chaplains can provide support, services, and programs as assigned by the local superintendent. In the school, they can operate with counselors or in lieu of counselors but are not required to be certified professional personnel. With time constraints, the measure was unable to be heard and would be discussed at the next committee meeting.

Senate Finance Committee

Chairman Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) called the Senate Finance Committee to order Friday at 7:30 a.m. for a quick meeting to discuss one measure.

  • SB 349, authored by Chairman Hufstetler, amends Title 48 to limit the application of freezing a property’s assessed value when setting millage rates. The measure seeks to close a loophole allowing people to freeze their rates for a three-year period through the current appeals process. A new fiscal note was presented and shows zero cost to the state. An amendment to remove a scrivener's error on line 382 was accepted. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

New Legislation

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

H.B.1190 Secretary of State; division director to issue licenses in certain instances ; authorize Rep. J. "J" Collins (R-071) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66810
H.B.1192 Sales and use tax; certain high-technology data center equipment; prohibit issuance of new certificates of exemption Rep. John Carson (R-046) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66812
H.B.1194 State Board of Education; procedures for student transfers between local school systems; provide Rep. Matt Dubnik (R-029) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66814
H.B.1195 Income tax; workforce-ready graduates employed in high-tech full-time jobs in rural counties; provide tax credit Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick (D-095) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66815
H.B.1196 Public utilities; certain utilities to allocate a portion of their revenue to a Georgians First Fund; provisions Rep. Becky Evans (D-089) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66816
H.B.1198 State Board of Education; three-year pilot immersive writing program for eligible public elementary schools; establish Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-069) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66819
H.B.1201 Criminal procedure; vacating of sentences of victims of trafficking; provisions Rep. Houston Gaines (R-120) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66822
H.B.1204 Insurance; medically necessary expenses for standard fertility preservation services when a medically necessary treatment for cancer, sickle cell disease, or lupus may directly or indirectly cause iatrogenic infertility; require coverage Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-012) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66826
H.B.1205 Equality in Financial Services Act; enact Rep. Todd Jones (R-025) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66831
H.B.1206 Commerce and trade; form executed via electronic signature; provisions Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-012) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66832
H.B.1208 Housing, education, and labor; prohibit discrimination based on natural, protective, or cultural hairstyles Rep. Kim Schofield (D-063) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66839
H.B.1209 Ethan's law; enact Rep. David Clark (R-100) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66840
H.B.1211 Crimes and offenses; exclude lawful good faith bargaining from the definition of criminal extortion Rep. Spencer Frye (D-122) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66860
H.B.1214 Criminal procedure; considerations in sentencing and paroling a defendant who was less than 18 years of age at the time he or she committed a crime; provide Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-079) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66864
H.B.1215 Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act; enact Rep. Park Cannon (D-058) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66865
H.B.1216 Medical assistance; pilot program to provide coverage under Medicaid program for doula care for pregnant Medicaid recipients; provide Rep. Park Cannon (D-058) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66866
H.R.1042 Joint Study Committee on Judicial System Compensation; create Rep. Rob Leverett (R-123) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66841
H.R.1049 Together Georgia; commend Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-013) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66852
H.R.1053 School Social Workers Association of Georgia; commend Rep. Miriam Paris (D-142) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66856

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

S.B.469 "College Success 529 Expansion Act"; enact Sen. Jason Esteves (D-006) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66806
S.B.470 Proceedings Against Intruders; notice of vacancy; create Sen. Ed Setzler (R-037) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66807
S.B.471 Professions and Businesses; certain licenses and certificates issued by certain professional licensing boards; change the expiration and renewal dates Sen. Rick "Ricky" Williams (R-025) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66828
S.B.472 "Combating Organized Retail Crime Act"; enact Sen. John Albers (R-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66829
S.B.473 "Georgia Consumer Privacy Protection Act"; consumer personal data in this state; protect the privacy Sen. John Albers (R-056) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66835
S.B.477 Retirement and Pensions; creation of the Peach Save plan, a defined contribution retirement plan; provide Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-052) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66846
S.R.575 Sales Tax; educational purposes; provide - CA Sen. Billy Hickman (R-004) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66827
S.R.579 Sports Betting; Georgia General Assembly to provide by general law for sports betting in this state; authorize -CA Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-046) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66880

What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 19 on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, at 10 a.m.

The House is expected to take up the following measures on Legislative Day 19:

  • HB 300 - Solar Technology Trust Fund; fund within state treasury; establish
  • HB 461 - Revenue and taxation; proceeds to local government regulatory fees be used to pay for regulatory activity and not general operations; require
  • HB 516 - Transportation, Department of; increase minimum amount for a public road construction or maintenance contract that prohibits negotiation
  • HB 576 - Health; prohibit certain health care providers and facilities from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due solely to their vaccine status
  • HB 809 - Occupational therapists; perform dry needling as a physical agent modality if certain training and education requirements are met; authorize
  • HB 925 - Protecting Religious Assembly in States of Emergency (PRAISE) Act; enact
  • HB 977 - Elections; number of contests subject to risk-limiting audits; expand
  • HB 984 - Insurance, Department of; Office of the Safety Fire Commissioner; update practices
  • HB 997 - Motor vehicles; require disqualification to operate a commercial motor vehicle upon receipt of notification from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of a positive drug test
  • HB 1022 - Colton-McNeill Act; enact
  • HB 1033 - Utility Worker Protection Act; enact
  • HB 1037 - Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health; create
  • HB 1044 - Contracts; increase dollar value of certain public works contracts exempt from provisions relating to retention of contractual payments

The Senate is expected to take up the following measures on Legislative Day 19:

  • SB 412 - Professions and Businesses; administrative and civil sanctions against charitable organizations, paid solicitors, and solicitor agents for certain violations; change provisions
  • SB 424 - West Georgia Judicial Circuit; create
  • SB 389 - Georgia National Guard; adjutant general to be the official sponsor of the state-sponsored life insurance program; provide
  • SR 543 - America's Borders; increased protections; support
  • HB 63 - Insurance; insurers providing policies for groups of 20 or more to furnish claims experience at the request of a group policyholder; require
  • HB 206 - Local government; creation of Commercial Property Assessed Conservation, Energy, and Resiliency Development Authorities; provide

See our coverage of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, and Day 17.

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