Report for February 27, 2012
The most notable guest at the Capitol on Legislative Day 26 was American Idol runner-up and Rossville, Georgia native Lauren Alaina. She thrilled House members by singing her version of Georgia on My Mind.
Women dressed in red from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority were formally recognized in both the House and Senate.
Lawmakers anxiously moved legislation out of their respective Committees as Crossover Day approaches on March 7 under the current schedule.
Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) asked House members to take their seats at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The local calendar passed with a vote of 144 to zero.
A motion to reconsider HB 776 was put forth as the next order of business. The Bill would make it so that nonpartisan elections for members of consolidated governments would be considered county elections and not municipal elections. The motion to reconsider failed 50 to 95.
Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Lithonia) welcomed the large group of African-American women in the House gallery who had come to the Capitol today in support of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Reps. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch) and Susan Holmes (R-Monticello) recognized a group of students from Jones County.
HR 1535 was read aloud and Rep. Barbara Massey Reece (D-Menlo) formally honored the Trion High School Cheerleading Squad on their GHSA Class A State Championship.
- HB 463 was presented by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) and would provide for the sale of individual insurance coverage by limited licensees on personal property stored in self-service storage facilities. Without discussion, the Bill passed unanimously 148 to zero.
- HB 820 was submitted by Rep. Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas) and would allow an exception to a retail installment seller's requirement to insure its guaranteed asset protection waiver obligations under a contractual liability policy or other such policy. This addresses used car sales and the limited warranties to be offered by a company would require the company to have $100 million in net worth and post a $250,000 bond. There is also a debt cancellation waiver included. No questions were asked and the Bill passed out in the Committee Substitute form easily by a vote of 148 to one.
- HB 250 was brought forth by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) and would provide that a member of the Georgia Judicial Retirement System who rejected survivor's benefits may elect such benefits by paying the actuarial cost. It would also provide for a revised survivor's benefit option for persons who become members on or after July 1, 2012 as well as the payment of the remainder of a member's accumulated contributions. Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) asked a question about the payment process. Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) inquired if there was an individual judge behind this Bill. Rep. Howard Maxwell (R-Dallas) indicated that they were trying to conform the Judicial Retirement System with the other retirement systems. HB 250 passed easily 149 to two.
- HB 215 was presented by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) and would prohibit persons convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor from driving commercial motor vehicles designed to transport 16 or more persons. Rep. Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross) had several questions about the types of criminal offenses that the Bill would cover. There were also concerns about persons who are actually on the Sex Offender Registry and why this change would not apply to those individuals but rather only be applicable to persons applying for these licenses on and after July 1, 2012. However, HB 215 passed 157 to four.
- HB 955 was authored by Rep. Bill Hembree (R-Winston) and would provide for comprehensive revision of the provisions related to the Georgia Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association. This law has not been updated in several years. Without any questions or discussion, HB 955 passed unanimously 156 to zero.
- HB 880 was presented by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) and would change certain provisions related to real estate professionals. It would also provide for definitions relative to real estate appraisers and to real estate brokers and salespersons. Rep. Powell acknowledged that the Bill had been requested by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Appraisers Commission. It closes loopholes in the current law regarding an investigation and when a license is surrendered then action is stopped on such investigation. It also addresses what is considered as felony offenses. Rep. Powell's Committee Substitute passed with a vote of 154 to four.
- HB 971 was the final Bill to be acted upon. It was offered by Rep. Hembree and deals with changing certain provisions related to awards and benefits of workers' compensation. It would also change the maximum weekly compensation benefit for total disability and temporary partial disability. There is language relating to the settlement agreements and social security offset; addresses changes to filing using electronic means; waives penalties; addresses jurisdiction; and finally revises certain provisions related to compensation for loss of hearing caused by harmful noise. Despite Speaker Ralston acknowledging that he had some questions, Rep. Hembree yielded the Well. HB 971 passed easily 159 to three.
Rep. Rich Golick asked for the Rules of the House to be suspended. The Clerk then read the caption of a new bill which is the Governor's proposal on updating and changing Georgia's laws concerning prison reform.
The Senate session started an hour after the House at 11:00 a.m. The morning roll call signified the presence of 48 Senators. Sen. Chip Rogers introduced his brother, Rev. John Rogers as the Chaplain of the Day.
Sen. Donzella James (D-College Park) was joined by representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to acknowledge the individuals in this State that have lost loved ones as a result of drug and alcohol related vehicle fatalities.
The local consent calendar passed with a vote of 46 to one.
Five Bills received attention from the Senate on Monday.
- SB 269 was authored by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove) seeks to change certain provisions related to cooperative efforts for abatement of pollution, order by director, request for hearing, and allowance of reasonable time for abatement. However, Sen. Jeffares requested that the Bill be placed at the foot of the calendar, and it did not reappear for a vote later in the day.
- SB 441 was presented by Sen. John Crosby (R-Tifton) and would establish the offense of unlawful pointing of a laser device at a law enforcement officer. Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) asked a question about an inconsistency in the Bill's language. Sen. Crosby answered by saying that the language difference was intentional. The Bill passed easily.
- SB 448 was submitted by Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) but presented by Sen. Steve Thompson on account of Sen. Balfour's absence from the Senate chamber. The Bill would enact the "Small Business Borrower Protection Act." Sen. Balfour made his may to the Well in time to present amendment #1. It would simply provide a definition so that the Bill is more concise. After being put to a vote, SB 448 passed 45 to zero.
- HB 800 was presented by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) and would change certain qualifications for the position of assistant adjutant general. Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) adamantly opposed the Bill and spoke in the Well against it. HB 800 passed 32 to 15.
- SB 372 was reconsidered as the final piece of business for the day. It was presented by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and would determine whether a dead body that has been submitted to a funeral director in charge of a crematory is that of a deceased veteran. It would allow access to certain veterans' organizations to information about a deceased and would allow certain veterans' organizations under certain circumstances to make arrangements for the disposition of the cremated remains of a deceased veteran. Sen. Unterman presented amendment #2 to correct the error made in amendment #1 last Friday. Amendment #2 passed unanimously. SB 372 therefore passed as amended with a vote of 48 to zero.
HB 1165 – Rep. Josh Clark (R-Buford) offered this Tax Code proposal to amend O.C.G.A. § 48-5-299 concerning ascertainment of taxable property, assessments against unreturned property, penalty for unreturned property, and changing real property values established by appeal in prior year. It eliminates a population provisions in subparagraph (b). http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1165
HB 1166 – Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Brunswick) authored a new Chapter 29B in Title 33 to provide for individual health insurance coverage to children through child-only health plans. The idea is to restore access to creditable health care coverage for Georgia's children and bring insurance providers into the market to offer these types of plans. These child-only plans would be eligible for qualified individuals who are less than 19 years of age and shall not include dependent health insurance for qualified individuals under another person's health insurance. All insurers that deliver or issue for delivery individual health insurance in Georgia will be subject to the provisions of this new Chapter. As a condition of issuing coverage in the individual market, the carrier will be required to have an approved child-only policy available to be issued pursuant to Code Section 33-29A-3 and this Chapter. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1166
HB 1169 – Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) proposed an amendment to O.C.G.A. § 48-8-89.1 concerning the distribution of local option sales tax proceeds after the certification of additional qualified municipalities. It alters the distribution of the tax proceeds at subparagraph (f)(1)(C) it defines "qualified district area" which means:
a special district for the provision of local government services consisting of the remaining unincorporated area of the county where the population of the unincorporated area of the county, after removal of the population of a new municipality or newly expanded municipality from the unincorporated area, constitutes less than 10 percent of the population of the county according to the most recent decennial census.
There are notice provisions required to be given and once a distribution certificate is obtained it must be executed by the governing authority for the county where the special district is located and by the governing authority of the county on behalf of the qualified district area, if any. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1169
HB 1170 – Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) proposed this amendment at O.C.G.A. § 20-1A-2 concerning early care and learning by altering the definition relative to "family day-care home". It would now read that it means a "private residence operated by any person who receives therein for pay for supervision and care fewer than 24 hours per day, without transfer of legal custody, at least three but not more than six children under 13 years of age who are not related to such person and whose parents or guardians are not residents in the same private residence; provided, however, that the total number of unrelated children cared for in such home, for pay and not for pay, may not exceed six children under 13 years of age at one time." http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1170
HB 1173 – Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross) authored this legislation amending O.C.G.A. § 33-6-5 addressing unfair methods of competition and unfair and deceptive acts or practices. It provides for consumer protections related to aftermarket emissions parts and aftermarket safety parts at paragraph (13). In all instances where the aftermarket crash parts, aftermarket emissions parts or aftermarket safety parts are used in preparing an estimate for repairs the written estimate prepared by the insurance adjuster and repair facility will be required to clearly identify each such part in a written disclosure. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1173
HB 1175 – Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville) proposed this legislation adding a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. § 33-4-8 concerning actions taken against insurance companies. It outlines a process and procedure relative to claimant's offers to settle tort claims involving liability insurance policies. It further provides that failure to make an offer of settlement in conformity the law precludes the recovery of a claim for bad faith or negligent failure to settle. It does require that the insurer be allowed at least 60 days to respond to the offer to settle. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1175
HB 1176 – Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) authored this legislation as a part of the Governor's package and in response to the 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians. It amends Titles 15, 16, 17, 19, 31, 35, 36, and 42. A couple of the provisions include:
- Creation on or before January 1, 2013 by the Judicial Council of Georgia of mandatory policies and practices for drug court divisions using the current research and findings of such entities such as the National Drug Court Institute.
- Creation on or before January 1, 2013 by the Judicial Council of Georgia of mandatory policies and practices for mental health court divisions using the current research and findings of such entities such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Restriction of access to certain court records.
- Development of a pre-sentence risk assessment to identify the lowest risk, prison bound, non-violent drug and property defendants on or before January 1, 2013.
HB 1178 – Rep. Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta) authored this legislation amending O.C.G.A. § 28-5-42 concerning the introduction of legislation which will have a significant impact upon anticipated revenues or expenditures. It will require a ten-year projection of costs for such legislation which will create a new program or funding category and which will have a significant impact upon anticipated revenues or expenditures of the Department of Education. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1178
HR 1600 – Rep. Judy Manning authored this Resolution to recognize February 28, 2012 as "Children's Day" at the State's Capitol. www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HR/1600
HR 1610 – Rep.Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta) offered this Constitutional Amendment to provide that as of January 1, 2015 the Senate shall not consist of not more than 38 Senators and the House of Representative will consist of not more than 120 Representatives. This proposal is written at Article III, Section II at Paragraph I. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/1610
SB 479 – Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) authored this legislation amending Chapter 3 of Title 44 to require the purchaser of a condominium development or other property development at a foreclosure sale to take title subject to a lien in favor of the condominium or property owners' association. As for a condominium, this lien would be in an amount equal to a portion of the association's unpaid lien existing prior to the foreclosure but not more than the equivalent of the unpaid common expense assessments charged to the unit first coming due during the six months prior to such foreclosure sale. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/479
SB 485 – Sen. Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville) introduced this revision at O.C.G.A. § 43-34A-6 concerning the Patient's Right Know Act and that individual's right to file a grievance with the Georgia Composite Medical Board. It adds that an individual who is in the custody of the Department of Corrections or a county detention facility may not file a grievance with the Board until he or she has exhausted the grievance procedure made available by his or her custodian. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/485
SB 487 – Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) authored this legislation amending O.C.G.A. § 21-2-139 concerning the authorization and conducting of nonpartisan elections. It provides that elected municipal court judges will be required to be elected on a nonpartisan basis. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/487
SB 488 – Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) proposed this idea adding a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. § 26-4-81.1 concerning a provision of immunity from liability from claims for loss which arise from the use of a biosimilar biological product. This immunity would be granted to a reference product license holder and each entity marketing, selling or distributing the reference produce when the claims arise out of, caused by or relating to or resulting from the administration to or the use by an individual of any biosimilar biological product, including any such product that is interchangeable with the reference product. These claims include a failure to warn, design defect, or manufacturing defect and any type of breach of warranty (such as warranty for merchantability, fitness, or any implied or express warranty). http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/488
SB 489 – Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) introduced this amendment to O.C.G.A. § 31-11-103 to require that the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission report annually to the House and Senate Committees on Health and Human Services on outcomes and expenditure of funds distributed to health care providers. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/489
SB 500 – Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) proposed amending O.C.G.A. § 1-4-17 to change the date of Georgia Day from the 12th of February of each year to the 25th day of September of every year celebrating the landing of the first colonists in Georgia under Oglethorpe. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/500
SB 502 – Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) introduced this Bill adding a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. § 33-4-8 concerning actions taken against insurance companies. It outlines a process and procedure relative to claimant's offers to settle tort claims involving liability insurance policies. It further provides that failure to make an offer of settlement in conformity the law precludes the recovery of a claim for bad faith or negligent failure to settle. It does require that the insurer be allowed at least 60 days to respond to the offer to settle. This mirrors Rep. Rogers' Bill as noted above. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/1175
SR 1053 – Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) proposed this Resolution to create the Senate Science and Technology Innovation Study Commission as Georgia ranks 25th out of all states on the 2010 State Science and Technology Index and 19th out of all states on the 2010 State New Economy Index. http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/InjectSession.aspx?BillType=SR&BillNum=1053
SR 1054 – Sen. Mike Crane (R-Newnan) offered this Resolution for a constitutional amendment to provide for the prioritization of funding requirements regarding certain supplementary appropriations Acts. It provides for the procedures, conditions, and limitations and also gives the authority to the General Assembly for this. It would be known as the "Government Fiscal Responsibility Amendment" and would be added at Article III, Section IX. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SR/1054
SR 1056 – Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) authored this Resolution to recognize and commend Dr. David Satcher, the former 16th Surgeon General of the United States, and now the Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SR/1056
The House Rules Committee met on Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. with Chairman John Meadows (R-Calhoun) hosting. About 25 Representatives appeared before the Committee to ask for their Bills to reach the House floor. Chairman Meadows selected 15 pieces of legislation to be debated on Tuesday.
- HB 456 would establish the "Georgia Government Accountability Act," create the Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee, and authorize the committee to review and evaluate state agencies' productivity, efficiency, and responsiveness.
- HB 541 would provide for the offense of threatening or intimidating a law enforcement officer, public official, or other person related to such person's involvement in a judicial proceeding.
- HB 548 seeks to provide that individuals who are parties to a franchise agreement shall not be considered employees.
- HB 692 would provide for the automatic decrease in the salary of a teacher or other certificated professional personnel for any salary increase or bonus provided based, in whole or in part, on the results of standardized test scores which were falsified or known or caused to be falsified by such teacher or professional.
- HB 766 deals with revising the provisions of law regarding Foundations of American Law and Government displays.
- HB 845 would require early care and education programs to provide information on the influenza vaccine.
- HB 900 seeks to provide for the cancellation of a certificate of title for scrap metal, dismantled, or demolished trailers in a manner similar to motor vehicles, to help prevent trailer theft by persons seeking to sell stolen trailers for scrap metal.
- HB 932 deals with changing the required percentage of withholding payments due a nonresident subcontractor.
- HB 933 would provide for the release of funds from an escrow account when a monument is placed into a bonded memorial storage program.
- HB 942 seeks to repeal portions of said Code, or Acts in amendment thereof, which have become obsolete, have been declared to be unconstitutional, or have been preempted or superseded by subsequent laws.
- HB 944 would revise, modernize, and correct errors or omissions in said title in furtherance of the work of the Code Revision Commission.
- HB 986 would provide that in the event of a dispute or complaint arising involving material not in English, the English version of the material shall control the resolution of the dispute or complaint.
- HB 1082 seeks to provide for submission of this Act for preclearance under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended.
- HB 1146 would create the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Services Board.
- HR 1376 deals with authorizing the modification of a ground lease on state owned real property in Baldwin, Carroll, Coffee, Dade, and Dougherty County.
House Ways and Means Committee – Sales and Use Tax Subcommittee
The above subcommittee met earlier today and took up three bills which all deal with sales and use taxes on food items and are authored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). They combined two of the proposals into one bill and left the third alone. Those measures combined were HB 318 and HB 334; HB 318 addresses a tax exemption for prepared food products donated for the purposes of aiding entities which help with hunger relief and HB 334 would restore a sales and use tax exemption previously in the law granted to food banks for food purchases where the product is used by food pantries across Georgia to serve the hungry. HB 333 is an exemption for sales and use food items used with natural disaster relief. All of these bills were introduced in 2011, and the subjects of these proposals were included in HB 319 which has since stalled in the House Rules Committee.
House Health and Human Services Committee
In a lengthy meeting this afternoon, Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) and her Committee took up several proposals:
- HB 1110 was presented as a Committee Substitute by Chairman Cooper to clarify several provisions relating to the protection of the elderly. A recent constitutional challenge has made it necessary to amend Georgia's law on elder abuse as it was too broad. This language tightens current law and amends O.C.G.A. § 30-5-8 making it clear that abuse or exploitation of any disabled adult or elder person will be unlawful and that the neglect of any disabled adult or elder person by a guardian, caretaker, or other person overseeing the welfare of or having immediate charge or custody of such disabled adult or elder person to also be unlawful. In the Substitute, amendments were also made in O.C.G.A. § 31-7-12.1 to clarify that ANY unlicensed personal care home will be assessed by the Department for each day that a violation is found. The Committee also added an amendment in subparagraph (f) of this Code Section stating that not only would a violation be a misdemeanor for an owner or an operator of an unlicensed personal care home as it would constitute a nuisance danger to the public health, safety and welfare but any second offense would be a felony. The Bill also provides that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will have the powers and duties to investigate violations of O.C.G.A. § 30-5-8 (currently, only local law enforcement may do so). Jesse Evans, a Deputy District Attorney from Cobb County, supported the proposal and noted it was important for law enforcement to have background data on individuals which will be permitted. Others testifying about the Bill included Jesse Weathington from the Department of Community Health; Dr. James Bulot with the Division of Aging at the Department of Human Services; Ann Williams with the Georgia Council on Aging; and John Bankhead with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The Bill passed with the felony language added and now moves to the House Rules Committee.
- HB 952, by Rep. Jay Neal (R-LaFayette), presented a substitute on his Bill. Previously this Bill was presented for a hearing last week. It would authorize the State Board of Pharmacy to approve and designate certain opioid products that utilize tamper resistance technologies. There was one change made in the Bill, eliminating the use of the term "analgesic." Additionally, hospitals are now exempt from the Bill's requirements which would otherwise require "a pharmacist dispensing an opioid analgesic drug to incorporate tamper resistant technology by: (A) Writing the words 'TRF necessary' in the body of the prescription; or (B) Checking a box on the prescription with the designation 'tamper resistant formulation required." There were several questions raised by Committee members about the Bill. Rep. Watson (R-Savannah), and a physician, stated that he thought that current law permitted a physician to indicate "brand necessary" when writing a prescription which should be sufficient. Rep. Harden (R-Cordele) raised concerns about federal laws and current restrictions on dispensing Control II substances (which cannot be done through electronically). Amendments were offered with some failing but there were some made to the Substitute addressing the duties of the State Board of Pharmacy and the Substitute then passed as amended.
- HB 1069, by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold), was presented. His earlier version of the Bill proposed the revision of the definition of "security paper" required to be used by physicians in writing prescriptions. It adds that such security paper may also be that paper which approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the water-marked paper which has been sequentially numbered and approved by the Board of Pharmacy. His substitute was addressing last year's Prescription Monitoring legislation which passed and signed into law. HB 1069 passed out of the Committee by substitute without dissent.
- HB 972, also by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold), was then presented. It proposes the regulation of pain management clinics in the State by the Composite Medical Board. It defines the "pain management clinic" in the Substitute as a "medical practice advertising "treatment of pain" or utilizing "pain" in the name of the clinic or a medical practice or clinic with greater than 50 percent of its annual patient population being treated for chronic pain for non-terminal conditions by the use of Schedule II or III controlled substances. This term shall not include any clinic or practice owned, in whole or in part, or operated by a hospital licensed pursuant to Chapter 7 of Title 31 or by a health system or any ambulatory surgical center, hospice, or home health agency licensed pursuant to Chapter 7 of Title 31." It contains a felony provision in the Substitute for persons who operate a pain management clinic in Georgia without a license. It permits the forfeited property which the Composite Medical Board may receive to be used by it to help enforce the Chapter in the law – this caused some questions from Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Albany). Another part of the proposal in Article 10 of Chapter 34 of Title 43 causing issues for the Committee dealt with the prohibition of ownership of these clinics by persons other than physicians. Attorney General Sam Olens was on hand in the meeting to stress the need for this legislation; Florida has already amended its laws to help eliminate "pill mills" in that State. Amendments were made by Rep. Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) so that the records used by law enforcement officers, coroners and others will be sent to the Composite Medical Board and that motion carried to make that amendment; Rep. Buddy Harden (R-Cordele) also asked that Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency be included in the amendment and that amendment also passed. Rep. Cheokas amended line 94 of the Bill deleting the reference to "inpatients" and inserting in its place "patients" and adding hospice and home health agency so that the definition for "annual patient population" will read "persons send by a clinic or practice in a 12 month calendar year but shall not include persons that patients in a nursing home, hospice, or home health agency licensed pursuant to Chapter 7 of Title 31." These additional changes were then adopted by the Committee. Finally, Rep. Weldon asked for an amendment to O.C.G.A. § 43-34-284 so that a license which is obtained may be denied, suspended, or revoked by the Board when it is found that the licensee or physician is practicing at a licensed pain management clinic and has furnished false or fraudulent material information in the application; been convicted of a crime under any State or federal law regarding a controlled substance; the practitioner has a had his or her federal registration to prescribe, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance suspended or revoked; or violated other provisions in Chapter 34, Chapter 13 of Title 16 or Chapter 4 of Title 26. The Bill passed with all the amendments outlined by Committee Substitute.
- HB 1143, presented by Chairman Cooper, cleared out of the Committee. It permits the Composite Medical Board to determine how much continuing education to require for licensed orthotics and prostethetists. There has been some concern about whether this license group needs 40 hours or 30 hours of continuing education (this group only has 30 hours of continuing education now where other licensed professionals are required to have 40 hours). The Attorney General stated that there needs to be consistency with the requirement.
Chairman Cooper also noted that HB 1125 had been pulled from the agenda but cautioned that pharmacy benefit managers and the CMOs needed to work to address the concerns regarding the audits made of pharmacies. Notices are to be sent to all of these entities and Chairman Cooper urged that they be approved by her prior to their issuance to providers.
Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation
The only Bill to be discussed in the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation was HB 1102 by Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan). The Bill would provide a 30- day grace period for buyers of qualifying property to seek a limitation of liability. It would also establish automatic liability limitations for future recipients of qualified properties. Chairman David Knight (R-Griffin) had several complementary statements about the Bill that were directed at Rep. Smith. The Committee members did not spend much time considering the legislation and rather moved HB 1102 out quickly and onto the House Rules Committee.
The Senate Rules Committee met Monday afternoon as soon as the Senate session adjourned for the day. Chairman Don Balfour (R-Snellville) heard from several Senators and House members who requested that their legislation be placed on Tuesday's calendar. In the end, he placed all eight pieces of legislation from Section 1 of the Senate General Calendar onto the Senate Rules Calendar.
- SB 176 would authorize all agencies to conduct meetings by teleconference under certain circumstances.
- SB 293 would require the nation's motto, "In God We Trust," to be printed on license plates.
- SB 340 seeks to clarify provisions related to covenants, especially those adopted prior to the adoption of zoning laws.
- SB 350 would provide for the disposition of firearms used in burglaries or armed robberies.
- SB 365 seeks to require an attorney to attest that a borrower knowingly, intentionally, and willingly executed such form. It would also provide that mortgages shall be voidable if a waiver of borrower's rights and attorney attestation is not completed for a residential real property mortgage.
- SB 371 deals with providing for local governments' ability to accept community improvement district funds to use for improvements to airports and landing fields within the district.
- SB 446 would transfer certain functions related to elevators, dumbwaiters, escalators, manlifts, and moving walks, boilers and pressure vessels, amusement rides, carnival rides, and scaffolding and staging from the Department of Labor and Commissioner of Labor to the office of Safety Fire Commissioner and Safety Fire Commissioner.
- SR 590 deals with urging the Georgia Department of Education to implement cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes in the public schools of this State.
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate Finance Committee got started late after lunch on Monday. Only two Bills were on the agenda. HB 729 was originally authored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) but was presented by Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville). It would incorporate certain provisions of the federal law into Georgia law (the annual update law). Sen. Balfour proposed an amendment and it passed unanimously. HB 729 was voted on as amended and it passed. It now moves on to the Senate Rules Committee.
The second Bill on the agenda was SB 284 by Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta). This Bill would provide for provisions governing the creation and operation of land banks on and after July 1, 2011. Sen. Golden spoke of the importance of updating land bank law. The last time the law had been overhauled was more than 20 years ago. SB 284 passed unanimously.
Senate State Institutions and Property
Sen. Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville) presented his proposal to provide for the exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to an inmate filing a complaint against a physician or other medical personnel with the Georgia Composite Medical Board. This Bill is not removing due process; it is requiring inmates to utilize internal grievance procedures before going to the Composite Medical Board. There were some questions raised about whether inmates are aware of their rights to these internal grievance processes. A minor amendment was made by the Committee, and the Bill then passed.
Senate Banking and Financial Institutions
The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee met on Monday afternoon with Chairman Jack Murphy (R-Cumming) hosting. The first order of business was to discuss HB 886 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). This Bill would limit certain obligations related to credit exposure as a counterparty in derivative transactions. Chairman Murphy asked for a simple definition of what a derivative is. Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) asked a question about the role of regulators. After being put to a vote, HB 886 passed unanimously.
The only other piece of legislation on the agenda was SB 466 by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). This Bill would require that lenders give notice to contractors when a construction loan is nearing default. SB 466 received a hearing but was not voted on. It remains in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee until further action.
If you have any questions concerning this Report, please contact Stanley S. Jones, Jr., Helen Sloat or Taylor Janney.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.