Gold Dome Report - February 23, 2017
Day 23 was a very busy day. The Capitol was packed today with various school groups and a number of organizations hosting events. It was 'Hemophilia of Georgia Day' today and the organization was recognized for their advocacy to provide better services for individuals with bleeding disorders. It was also 'Community Service Boards Day at the Capitol'. The CSBs were presented with a resolution by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) that recognized their role as Georgia's 'safety net' for mental health, developmental disability and substance use disorder services. A large number of Committees also held meetings this afternoon to consider pending legislation.
The House took up ten pieces of legislation this morning.
HB 90, by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park), establishes a direct pay reporting program that allows taxpayers to accrue and pay sales and use taxes directly to the Department of Revenue, so long as that taxpayer has purchased more than $2 million of tangible personal property per year. It provides for interest to be paid on overpayments by a taxpayer through such a program. The bill passed 167-0.
HB 134, by Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch,) allows the use of single county T-SPLOSTs to fund state transportation projects. This bill passed 106-58.
HB 153, by Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville), moves the Council of American Indian Concerns from the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget to the Department of Natural Resources. It passed 138-0.
HB 162, by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell), allows for debt refund payments by courts to be paid directly to the court where the debt is owed in order to exclude the administrative collection assistance fee. It further lays out duties of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). This bill passed 158-0.
HB 205, by Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun), seeks to regulate the exploration extraction of gas and oil in the state, indicating that exploration meant to identify new sources of energy should not occur at the expense of the State's natural resources, specifically fresh water. The bill further lays out responsibilities for the Board of Natural Resources to create rules establishing procedures for the restoration of well sites. HB 205 passed by a vote of 162-1.
HB 222, by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire), provides that members of the Georgia National Guard or a reserve component of the armed forces are to be classified as a legal resident under the requirements for HOPE Scholarship eligibility. It passed 148-0.
HB 239, by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), seeks to allow the Division of Low-Voltage Contractors to have no more than four hours of continuing education annually. It prohibits education courses conducted by manufacturers specifically meant to promote their products and it provides that such contractors can waive these requirements if the Division deems it appropriate. HB 239 failed to pass with a vote of 42-117.
HB 246, by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), amends the 'Student Health and Physical Education Act' (SHAPE) by eliminating the sunset date that was originally set for June 30, 2019. It passed 144-16.
HB 268, by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), was presented as a 'housekeeping bill' for the Secretary of State's Office for the purpose of adhering to recommendations provided by the Georgia Elections Advisory Council. It provides that counties may not change precincts within 90 days of an election and it provides polling managers the ability to control the flow of traffic inside voting precincts. It further extends the 90-day period an elector has to correct discrepancies to 26 months. It passed 111-57.
HB 305, by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), was the last bill to be considered. It seeks to add stepparents and former stepparents to the list of third party persons who are permitted to petition the court for the custody of a child once paternal power has been lost. It passed by a vote of 133-35.
The Senate had a number of bills on the calendar for this morning. Prior to considering the Rules Calendar, Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) announced the winners of the 'David Shafer Essay Scholarship Contest.' He also presented a resolution recognizing the winners, SR 226.
SB 88, by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), was the first bill considered. It provides for the regulation of narcotic treatment programs, which includes laying out requirements regarding minimum standards, licensing, and application review. The bill passed by committee substitute by a vote of 50-2.
SB 108, by Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry), establishes the Women Veterans Office which is to be under the Department of Veterans Services. It passed 52-0.
SB 128, by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa), also passed by a vote of 52-0. It allows the Department of Driver Services to share drivers' info with the Department of Natural Resources in order to prevent fraud to ensure that such drivers are not in violation of the law.
SB 137, by Sen. Greg Kirk (R-Americus) seeks to amend State law in order to only charge the obligor of child support the $25 fee required under the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. It passed 53-0.
SB 141, by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) requires that an engineering evaluation be performed on any type of carnival (theme park) ride prior to a permit being issued. A permit is required for such rides to operate in the State. It passed by a vote of 53-0.
House Judiciary Committee
The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), considered four bills today:
- HB 221, authored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), codifies portions of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. This bill sets forth the authority of an agent, provides a model power of attorney form, and provides that using a power of attorney to effectuate a crime is not a defense to the crime. Similar legislation has been enacted in 21 other states and the District of Columbia. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 319, authored by Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville), raised the maximum reimbursement by the state to local district attorneys who defend habeas corpus petitions. The current maximum is $10,000, and the legislation will raise the maximum to $30,000. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 323, authored by Rep. Johnnie Caldwell (R-Thomaston), is the annual Code Revision Committee bill that cleans up grammatical errors in the Code. Chairman Willard asked that the Committee strike the first section from the bill, and the Committee agreed to do so. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- HB 434, authored by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), allows blighted property to be acquired through eminent domain for economic development purposes. In 2006, Georgia outlawed the ability for local governments to use eminent domain to acquire and transfer property to private entities for economic development purposes. This bill loosens that restriction but requires that the property maintain the same use for five years after condemnation and requires approval of the local superior court. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
Senate Judiciary Committee
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), considered eight propositions today:
- SB 126, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), clarifies venue as to tort actions brought against the state. The bill provides that tort claims may only be brought in the county where the tort occurred, except that claims for wrongful death may be brought in the county where the tort or death occurred. The Committee recommended that the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 127, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), allows a victim of crime to file a motion with the court when he or she does not receive the notification of proceedings required under the currently-codified Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The bill does not give a victim a right to intervene in a criminal case, only the ability to file a motion and be heard. This bill is presented as a companion to SR 146, but it is not enacting legislation. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by committee substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SR 146, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), is the Georgia Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, known nationally as “Marsy’s Law.” The resolution seeks to amend Georgia’s Constitution to include rights for victims that are already provided to suspected and convicted offenders. There remained contention among Committee members regarding whether the Constitution should provide for a cause of action to enforce rights (as in Sen. Kennedy’s proposal) or whether remedies for enforcement of rights should be promulgated by the General Assembly (as in an additional version presented by Legislative Counsel). The Committee recommended Sen. Kennedy’s version DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 174, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), is legislation crafted by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Council focused primarily on the adult criminal justice reform initiatives this year. The legislation is focused on accountability courts and probation and parole reforms. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by committee substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 175, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), is legislation crafted by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Council focused primarily on the juvenile justice reform initiatives this year. The legislation is focused on parental accountability courts and incompetency determinations for juveniles. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by committee substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 176, authored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), is legislation crafted by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Council focused primarily on driving-related reform initiatives this year. The legislation provides for second notification of drivers before issuance of bench warrants and clarifies provisions related to habitual violator permits. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by committee substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 189, authored by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), is a cleanup bill relating to the legal defense of indigent criminal defendants. The legislation is recommended by the Georgia Public Defenders Council. The Committee recommended the bill DO PASS by committee substitute and be sent to the Rules Committee.
- SB 194, authored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), is a cleanup bill following last session’s rewrite of Georgia’s garnishment law. The proposal incorporates feedback from members of the Bar who have worked within the new regime. The Committee recommended that the bill DO PASS and be sent to the Rules Committee.
Our 2017 Georgia Capitol team consists of Stan Jones, Helen Sloat, Chuck Clay, George Ray, and Logan Fletcher. We will also try our hand at tweeting this year – so follow us! @GDR_Live
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