Rep. Franklin Recaps Week 8 Under the Gold Dome

This is a legislative update from State Representative Lehman Franklin.

The House kicked-off the eighth week of the 2024 legislative session on Monday, February 26 with myself and fellow lawmakers gathering in the House chamber for three long days of legislative work. The House also dedicated an entire day of work in our committees so that bills could have a chance to pass out of committee and make it to the House floor for a vote. Thursday was especially important as it marked Legislative Day 28, or “Crossover Day,” the deadline for bills and resolutions to pass from their originating chamber to remain eligible for final consideration by Legislative Day 40, or “Sine Die.” On Crossover Day alone, the House passed 72 bills. We worked long hours this week working late into the night as we tackled a range of pressing issues for the citizens of our great state.

This weeks recap is going to be a long one but I wanted to include everything that was accomplished.

This week, my House colleagues and I overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation aimed at modernizing and refining healthcare regulations throughout Georgia, with a strong emphasis on addressing the unique healthcare challenges faced by rural communities. House Bill 1339 would stand as a cornerstone in this effort, proposing a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s certificate of need (CON) laws. Derived from the findings of the House Study Committee on Certificate of Need Modernization, which held hearings throughout last summer and fall, HB 1339 would present a series of impactful healthcare reforms to enhance accessibility and affordability for all Georgians. As such, the bill would require the Department of Community Health (DCH) to conduct regular reviews and updates of the state health plan every five years to ensure the plan meets the evolving needs of our state. Additionally, the legislation seeks to streamline the certificate of need application process by requiring an individual to submit a letter of intent to the department at least 25 days prior to submitting an application for a certificate of need for clinical health services, shortening the timeframe that exists in current law. After receipt of a CON application, DCH would have a 120-day period to review the application, and within 30 days, an applicant would have an opportunity to meet with DCH. Any opposition to a CON application would be required to be submitted within 30 days of the receipt of the application. Further, HB 1339 would expand CON exemptions, including prolonging the allowable period for repurposing closed hospitals without a CON, raising the bed capacity expansion threshold and extending the maximum distance for healthcare facilities to relocate without a CON. Also, psychiatric or substance abuse inpatient programs or beds for Medicaid and uninsured patients would be exempt from CON requirements when an agreement is reached with a nearby hospital, and new or expanded rural hospital-based obstetric services would be exempt, as well as acute care facilities in rural counties. Moreover, the legislation would introduce measures to address noncompliance through mechanisms such as increased monetary penalties and exemption revocation. HB 1339 would also bolster rural healthcare through the expansion of rural hospital tax credits and the establishment of the Comprehensive Health Coverage Commission, which would be tasked with advising the governor, General Assembly and DCH on healthcare access and quality for low-income and uninsured communities in Georgia. This important legislation would not only address critical healthcare access and efficiency issues across the state but would also signify a significant step forward in ensuring equitable and effective healthcare delivery for all Georgians.

Also, this week, the House gave unanimous passage to House Bill 451, which would require public entities to offer additional, illness-specific insurance to first responders diagnosed with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This coverage would include a $3,000 cash benefit and income replacement disability benefits, which would be provided 90 days post-diagnosis. House Bill 451 recognizes that first responders are often exposed to traumatic events in the line of duty and are at greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, which, if untreated, can result in the inability to serve as a first responder, as well as grave health consequences, including death by suicide. By providing supplemental insurance coverage for first responders grappling with occupational PTSD, the legislation would acknowledge the sacrifices and challenges these individuals face in protecting the community. Ensuring adequate support and financial resources for those on the front lines would improve their mental health and resilience and would also promote the overall security and welfare of Georgia’s citizens.

My House colleagues and I also championed legislation aimed at fostering a culture of firearm safety and responsible gun ownership throughout Georgia with the passage of House Bill 971, or the Firearm Safe Handling and Secure Storage Tax Credit Act. Under House Bill 971, a Georgia taxpayer would be allowed to claim a tax credit for eligible expenses incurred for firearm safe handling instructional courses and the acquisition of firearm secure storage devices in the amount of the eligible expenses or $300, whichever is less. Such eligible expenses would include the purchase of one or more firearm secure storage devices for personal use and the cost of an in-person firearm safe handling training of at least two hours that includes instruction on safe handling, use and storage of firearms. Georgia taxpayers seeking this tax credit would be required to apply with the Department of Revenue for preapproval, and approval from the department would be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until tax credit cap of $3 million is reached for that year. With an annual combined cap set at $10 million, this legislation would exemplify our commitment to fiscal responsibility while actively encouraging participation in vital gun safety education programs. Moreover, HB 971 would institute a lifetime limit of $300 per individual taxpayer and prohibits the carryover of unused credits, ensuring that benefits are distributed equitably among all eligible citizens. By promoting responsible gun ownership across the state, we could cultivate a safer and more secure environment for all Georgians.

We also unanimously passed a bipartisan measure to support Georgia’s servicemembers and their families as they relocate to our state with House Bill 880. HB 880 would bring our state in compliance with the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by allowing the spouses of servicemembers to continue practicing their jobs without a license in certain circumstances. To qualify, the spouse would be required to hold a current license from another state and be in good standing in that state, submit an expedited license by endorsement application along with the servicemember’s military orders, which could be filed prior to relocation to Georgia, as well as be employed by an in-state employer. If the license by endorsement is not granted within 30 days after the application is submitted, the spouse could still work for the in-state employer without being licensed. However, if the spouse is denied an expedited license by endorsement, he or she would no longer qualify to practice the occupation in this state. This military-friendly legislation would streamline the licensing process by providing clear guidelines for qualification and expedited application procedures, offering timely relief to military spouses seeking employment opportunities upon relocation to our great state.

As we continue our commitment to enhancing mental health services in our state, the House gave passage to House Bill 1104, which would address mental health risks for public and participating private school student athletes. This bipartisan bill would require athletic associations, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, to post guidelines and relevant materials on their website to inform and educate students, parents and/or guardians, school personnel and coaches about mental health risks and available resources for students. In developing such guidelines and materials, an athletic association could utilize educational videos available at no cost to the state. Additionally, coaches would be required to annually view approved educational videos, if available, and review guidelines and materials related to mental health risks in student athletes. Each public school and participating private school would be required to provide information to each student athlete’s parent or guardian at least once each school year regarding mental health risks and available resources. This legislation would not create any liability for local boards of education or governing bodies of a school or officer, employee or volunteer for any act or omission related to the removal or non-removal of a student athlete who displays an actual or perceived risk to their mental health or another student athlete’s mental health. Young student athletes can face tremendous pressure between sports and school, and that pressure can negatively impact mental health. Therefore, it is important that we support our student athletes through this bipartisan legislation that would educate and provide resources to address mental health concerns.

The House backed our promise to support victims of human trafficking by giving unanimous passage to House Bill 1201, which would allow a victim of human trafficking to have their sentence vacated when related to the conditional discharge of possession of controlled substances as a first offense, as long as the crime was a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking. The victim would be able to petition the court by providing documentation from the Attorney General, detailing their status as a victim of trafficking. A defendant convicted of an offense and sentence, or a defendant who was sentenced as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking, could petition the court to vacate the conviction and/or the sentence. If the prosecuting attorney consents in writing to the vacatur of the conviction or fails to respond to the petition within 30 days of service, the court could, without notice or hearing, issue an order vacating the conviction or sentence. If the attorney objects to the petition, the court would be required to hold a hearing within 90 days of the filing. If it is determined that the defendant committed the offense due to a result of human trafficking, then the court would issue a vacatur of the conviction and sentence, and it would result in the discharge and dismissal of the offense. If defendants are found to have committed offenses due to being a victim of human trafficking, access to criminal history record information would be restricted, and no fee would be charged to the individual by the Georgia Crime Information Center or any other entity. HB 1201 would help ensure that victims who are sentenced under The First Offender Act have the same opportunity of innocence as other victims of human trafficking. It is vital that we grant victims of human trafficking, who have been vacated of their offenses, a chance to re-enter society with clean records.  

On Crossover Day, we gave unanimous passage to legislation that would allow for a designated essential caregiver to be present with a patient or resident of a hospital or long-term care facility while they are receiving care. House Bill 663, or the “No Patient Left Alone Act,” would permit a minor or an adult who is admitted to a hospital or long-term care facility, to have a parent, guardian, person or caregiver to be physically present with them at all times while the patient remains in the hospital or facility. HB 663 would not require these designated caregivers to be allowed into operating rooms, isolation rooms, behavioral health settings or other typically restricted areas or to be present during administration of emergency care. This designated caregiver would be required to adhere to the policies of the hospital or long-term care facility, and their access could be suspended or terminated under certain circumstances. Also, the Department of Public Health would be prohibited from taking action against hospitals and facilities for granting access to visitors, harm to a visitor, failing to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which limit visitor access and any action of a visitor or designated caregiver. Finally, these rights for caregivers could not be terminated, suspended or waived by the hospital or long-term care facility, the Department of Public Health or any governmental entity, regardless of emergency declarations by the governor. Patients who are being treated in hospitals and long-term care facilities can be in incredibly vulnerable states, and they deserve to have loved-ones or caregivers present with them in the room for support and advocacy. As we saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Georgians who were in these facilities could not see their loved ones. This legislation would change that to ensure that patients are never left alone without their family or caregiver by their side.  

Into the late hours on Crossover Day, the House also gave unanimous passage to House Bill 499 to support disabled Georgians. HB 499 would authorize child support and insurance policies for disabled children who have become adults and have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. HB 499 would allow a court to require either one spouse or both spouses who are in a divorce proceeding, living separately or in a state of separation to pay child support for a disabled child who has become an adult but lacks the ability to take care of themselves independently. The legal proceeding could be filed at any time after the child reached the age of 17 and a half years old. To determine the amount of support the dependent adult child would receive, the court would consider the dependent’s income and assets; existing and future needs; required care and supervision; whether a parent or another person pays for the care or supervision of the dependent or provides it; the financial resources available to each parent; any other resources available for the care of the dependent; state or federal programs the dependent receives or will receive; and the effect that court ordered support would have on the dependent’s eligibility for any state or federal programs. The obligation for child support would be modified if there was a substantial change in a parent or dependent’s ability to provide support. Notably, the child support would be in addition to the benefits or assistance the dependent may receive from a source other than his or her parents and would not impact the eligibility of a dependent to receive the maximum benefits provided by any federal, state, local and other governmental and public agencies. The court could also direct one or both parents to maintain life insurance for a disabled child who has become an adult but lacks the ability to take care of themselves independently. Adults with disabilities may not be able to secure full-time employment needed to live independently, and in these cases, especially, it is important that we can provide support for them to receive the care and supervision that they may need well into adulthood.

Finally, the General Assembly gave final passage this week to House Bill 915, the Amended Fiscal Year 2024 budget, via the adoption of a joint House and Senate conference committee report. Set at a revised revenue estimate of $37.9 billion, this amended budget includes $2 billion in surplus funds, resulting in a total infusion of $5.4 billion, marking a notable 16.9 percent increase over the original budget estimate. Noteworthy investments would include unprecedented funding for the state’s infrastructure, particularly for essential technology and capital projects. The Rural Workforce Housing program would receive $23.9 million to provide funding for projects that address current workforce housing needs through housing expansion or improvement. Capitol Hill building improvement projects would secure an additional $392 million, which would be allocated toward repairs and improvements to our Gold Dome for occupant safety and public access, as well as a new legislative office building. Education would also see substantial support in this budget as $102.5 million would be allocated to the Department of Education for Quality Basic Education midterm adjustments, and $8.9 million would be designated for the Summer Transition program to provide rising Pre-K students and rising Kindergarten students with extra support in language, literacy and math to close the achievement gap. Notably, the employee retirement system would receive $500 million for enhanced benefits to provide greater cost-of-living benefits to state retirees in future years, and state employees and teachers would benefit from a one-time salary supplement through an appropriation of more than $300 million. This budget would also appropriate funding for healthcare initiatives, including $178 million for a new dental school at Georgia Southern University and $50 million for the construction of a medical school at the University of Georgia. Additionally, $500 million would be earmarked for the new Freight Infrastructure Projects program to enhance the state’s rapidly growing and thriving freight network; $250 million would go to the Local Road Assistance Administration Program as a one-time infusion to support local transportation infrastructure projects across the state. HB 915 recognizes many of the House’s budgetary priorities and was signed into law by Governor Kemp on Thursday, February 29.

The following House bills and resolutions also received passage during the eighth week of session:

  • House Bill 56, which would expand eligibility for the Public Safety Memorial Grant to include spouses of law enforcement officers, firefighters or prison guards who have died in the line of duty;
  • House Bill 218, which would define the term “mentally incapacitated” and would allow for the admission of an out-of-court statement, which is currently hearsay, as testimony in court when a person who is 17 years old or older and who is mentally incapacitated describes any act to a third party of nonconsensual sexual contact, or any act of physical abuse, performed with or on that mentally-incapacitated person. The third party to whom the information was told must be available to be cross examined;
  • House Bill 349, which would allow the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers to license mobile barber shops. Rules and regulations would require a functional sink, including a holding tank with adequate waste-water storage and adequate lighting and ventilation. A mobile barber shop would be subject to business, licenses, health and sanitation standards and other requirements imposed upon stationary barber shops by ordinance or resolution of each county in which the mobile barber shop would operate;
  • House Bill 441, which would prevent licensed dentists from providing teledentistry unless the dentist has been issued a permit by the Georgia Board of Dentistry. Permits would only be issued after a licensed dentist proves there is an established referral relationship with a dentist who practices in a physical dental office in Georgia within 50 miles of where the teledentistry interaction would occur or the closest office outside of the 50-mile radius. The teledentistry permit would allow a dentist to: authorize a licensed dental hygienist to perform dental hygiene functions; prescribe medications that are not controlled substances; authorize digital scans; and authorize the transmittal of patient records. The bill would include conditions for providing dental care through teledentistry as well as insurance coverage requirements;
  • House Bill 481, which would define the word “fiduciary” as any retirement system or administrator that manages retirement system assets, renders investment advice for a fee or other compensation and manages the administration of a retirement system. The bill would require fiduciaries to execute their duties in the sole interest of the plan members and beneficiaries, but the fiduciaries would be liable if investment decisions were not made in the best interest of the plan members or beneficiaries. HB 481 would require each fiduciary to vote and execute all voting proxies in the best interest of the system, in favor of confidential proxy balloting and in support of management. All retirement systems that receive public funds and systems must comply by November 1, 2024. The bill would be certified by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts as a non-fiscal retirement bill;
  • House Bill 583, which would create a new law relating to cottage food items, operators and production operation. A cottage food operator may only operate so long as they are in compliance with this article, and cottage food production operations may sell directly to consumers or to retail food establishments. Violations of compliance within this article or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this article would be given a civil penalty of no more than $75 per violation. The Department of Agriculture would be authorized to inspect the area in a residence used by a cottage food operator in order to investigate a consumer complaint;
  • House Bill 589, which would require the state auditor to collect an annual disclosure for entities that perform work related to fiscal notes. Disclosures would be required to include all sources of grant funding or income received within the prior five years related to fiscal notes or economic analysis requested through the legislative or executive branches. By November 1, 2024, and each year after, the state auditor would be required to compile a disclosure report that is made available to the chairpersons of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee and report any findings to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission;
  • House Bill 598, which would remove several sports organizations from amateur status and allow for the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission to regulate those organizations, including those involved with kick boxing, karate and sports combat;
  • House Bill 617, which would add the development of a statewide freight/logistics implementation plan to duties of the director of planning at the Department of Transportation. The statewide freight/logistics implementation plan would be based on a 20-year projection and identify example project types, specific projects to be programmed or critical corridors. The plan would take into account foundational investments that ensure: maintenance of existing transportation systems; catalytic investments that strategically expand the transportation system to both support economic development and improve the mobility of goods/people; and innovative investments that promote industry growth and sustain existing industry use of the freight network. HB 617 would create the Georgia Freight 2050 Program to be administered by the department to enhance the state’s investment in the statewide transportation freight network. The program would fund and support projects included in the freight plans identified in existing law (Code Section 32-2-41.4). Priority would be given to capacity enhancements including: widening of interstates and non-interstate arterial roads; interchange, intersection and other operational improvements; intermodal or multimodal capacity enhancements; railroad crossing access/safety improvements; commercial motor vehicle parking/safety improvements; and projects located in an international ocean trade zone;
  • House Bill 625, which would update the salary schedule for the office of coroner and would provide compensation guidelines for deputy coroners. The bill would establish certain conditions under which the coroner and deputy coroner would receive additional employment benefits from the county governing authority;
  • House Bill 643, which would allow certain state court judges of Fulton County to participate in a county’s defined contribution plan in addition to the Georgia Judicial Retirement System. Currently, certain state court judges of Fulton County are prohibited from participating in other retirement systems. The bill would be certified by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts as a non-fiscal retirement bill;
  • House Bill 808, which would amend current law relating to the personal property tax exemption to change the ad valorem taxation exemption on tangible personal property from $7,500 to $20,000. If signed into law, the bill must be approved by Georgia voters during the November 5, 2024, general election;
  • House Bill 825, which would require certain judicial circuits to pay a supplemental benefit to district attorneys who retire from the circuit. Any judicial circuit subject to these provisions would be required to pay a supplemental benefit calculated by multiplying the benefit percentage the district attorney earned at retirement from the Judicial Retirement System of Georgia together with the aggregate county salary supplement being paid to the active district attorney at the date they begin receiving retirement benefits or the supplement paid to the retiring district attorney on their last day of service, whichever is greater. The bill would be certified by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts as a fiscal retirement bill. The actuarial investigation determined there would be no cost to this legislation;
  • House Bill 827, which would increase the penalty for the crime of livestock theft to between two years and 15 years imprisonment and would increase the maximum fine to $10,000. If the fair market value of the livestock is $100 or less, then the punishment would be increased to a high and aggravated misdemeanor. The Department of Agriculture commissioner would also be provided with authority to enforce this crime;
  • House Bill 839, which would enter the State of Georgia into an interstate compact known as the Social Work Licensure Compact. The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists would be the administrators of this compact while rulemaking would be overseen by the Social Work Licensure Compact Commission, made up of members of all existing member states. The purposes of the compact would include increasing public access to social workers, reducing the multiple licenses required between different member states and promoting mobility between member states to lessen the current workforce shortage for social workers. All member states must also meet criteria to be eligible for the compact, including certain graduation requirements, licensure of one of three license categories and a completed period of supervision for participating social workers. The requirements would take into account education, background and other regulatory measures usually required in attaining a standard social worker license. The criteria would also include any differing requirements the participating states may require. A social worker must comply with all laws and regulations of the host state in which the services are being provided. Any active military member or their spouse could designate any member state to be their “home state” and would retain their designation during the period that the service member is on active duty. The compact would have the state join a data system maintained by the Compact Commission that would have member data, including identifying information, licensure data and other non-confidential information. If a state is deemed by the commission to be in default or non-compliance of the compact, the commission would be responsible for sending them a written notice detailing the default. After all courses of action have been exhausted, the defaulting state may be terminated from the compact by a majority vote of the commission. The executive and judicial branches of each participating state would be responsible for enforcing the compact. Withdrawal from the compact would require a statute repealing the compact and would not take effect until 180 days after the enactment of that statute. The compact would become effective after a seventh member state joins the compact. Another section of the bill would be known as the ‘Interstate Massage Compact Act.’ for the purposes of increasing access to licensed massage therapy services, supporting relocating military families and increasing the accountability of a licensee. All member states must also meet criteria to hold a multistate license while also observing the laws and regulations of the host member state where the services are provided. The requirements would take into account education, background and other regulatory measures usually required in attaining a standard massage therapist license. Any active military member or their spouse could designate any member state to be their “home state” and would retain their designation during the period that the service member is on active duty. The compact would have the state join a data system maintained by the Compact Commission that would have member data including identifying information, licensure data and other non-confidential information. The compact would have the state join a data system maintained by the Compact Commission, that would have member data including license status, investigative and adverse actions. This compact would provide a licensed massage therapist to hold a multistate license if they meet requirements from the respective member states. Georgia would be entered into the Interstate Massage Compact Commission, which would have oversight over rulemaking and would aid in implementation of the compact. If a state is deemed by the commission to be in default or non-compliance of the compact, the commission would be responsible for sending them a written notice detailing the default. After all courses of action have been exhausted, the defaulting state may be terminated from the compact by a majority vote of the commission. The executive and judicial branches of each participating state would be responsible for enforcing the compact. Withdrawal from the compact would require a statute repealing the compact and would not take effect until 180 days after the enactment of that statute. The compact would become effective after a seventh member state joins the compact;
  • House Bill 844, which would replace the ‘Dietetics Practice Act’ with the ‘Practice of Nutrition and Dietetics Act.’ The Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Dietitians would be renamed to the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Dietitian Nutritionists and Licensed Nutritionists. The board would consist of seven members appointed by the governor;
  • House Bill 846, which would require local school systems to notify new hires whether Social Security taxes are withheld from employee paychecks beginning July 1, 2024. Every five years and upon separation of employment, the school system must remind employees whether Social Security taxes are withheld from their pay during employment;
  • House Bill 910, which would require a commercial entity to use a reasonable age verification method before allowing access to a public website that contains a substantial portion of material that is harmful to minors and would hold that commercial entity liable for damages and a fine of up to $10,000 per violation if it would fail to perform reasonable age verification, namely that the individual would be at least 18 years of age, of the individual attempting to access the material. When performing a reasonable age verification, the commercial entity would not retain any identifying information after access to material has been granted;
  • House Bill 924, which would prohibit insurance companies from requiring the practice of “white bagging” by in-network providers for certain specialty medications. “White bagging” is the practice of requiring that these drugs be purchased through third-party pharmacies;
  • House Bill 926, which would add the term “healthcare worker” and “emergency health worker” to the list of crimes included within the definition of “class B designated felony act” in the Juvenile Code. The bill would also allow a traffic court judge to reinstate an accused person’s license when it was suspended because of a failure to appear, and they subsequently have scheduled a new date to appear before the court; have appeared in court for a hearing, arraignment or waiver of arraignment and entry of plea; or when the charge has been fully adjudicated;
  • House Bill 927, which would revise restrictions relating to hunting feral hogs, bears and deer. The bill would make the color fluorescent pink an acceptable outer garment color that can be worn while hunting these animals under specific circumstances;
  • House Bill 935, which would create a Back the Blue Fund for the purpose of providing bonuses to deputy sheriffs and jailers. An option would be provided to contribute $5 to the fund upon issuance or renewal of a motor vehicle car tag. The commissioner of the Department of Revenue would be the custodian of the fund and administer to sheriffs’ offices through the Georgia Sheriff’s Association;
  • House Bill 957, which would establish procedure and policy for discovery and subsequent removal of vessels abandoned or left unattended on public property or in public waters of this state;
  • House Bill 974, which would require the secretary of state to maintain a state-wide program for the posting of digital images of election ballots. The bill would require a minimum scan resolution of 200 dots per inch (DPI) for scanned paper ballots and 600 DPI, or the highest resolution possible within the certified voting system for scanned absentee ballots;
  • House Bill 996, which would authorize jailers who have been certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council as having successfully completed the course of training required by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Act to arrest any person in violation of a criminal law which occurs in the jail or within the perimeter of jail guard lines. The jailer would also be able to arrest anyone who has a complaint or arrest warrant pending and surrenders themselves;
  • House Bill 1017, which would create the offense of unlawful squatting when someone enters and resides upon the land or premises of the owner without the owner or rightful occupant’s knowledge or consent. A person who violates this provision would receive a citation advising them to present documentation within three business days authorizing their presence on the land or premises. If the person is unable to provide documentation, the person would be subject to arrest for criminal trespass and would be guilty of a misdemeanor. If a person does provide documentation, a hearing would be set within seven days of submitting the documentation to determine its validity. If the documentation is found to be improperly executed or fraudulent, that person would be subject to demand for possession and removal, subject to arrest and assessed an additional fine based on the fair market monthly rental rate of the premises. A law enforcement official would exhibit an affidavit regarding a person’s claim to the property at least three days prior to turning that person out of possession;
  • House Bill 1018, or the Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act, which would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for a financial institution to require the usage of a firearms code in a way that distinguishes a firearms retailer in the state from other merchandise retailers or for a financial institution to decline a lawful payment card transaction based solely on the assignment or non-assignment of a firearms code. A financial institution would not disclose a financial record, including a firearms code, unless the disclosure was based on a good faith conclusion that it was required by law or regulation. The Attorney General will not bring action until the violator has received written notice of the alleged violation and has failed to cease violating the activity within 30 days of receiving notice. The bill prohibits any person or government entity from creating or maintaining a multijurisdictional database of persons who have applied for weapons carry licenses or a record of privately owned firearms;
  • House Bill 1023, which would amend current law relating to taxation of corporations to change the rate of taxable net income for corporations from 5.75 percent to the same rate as the individual income tax rate in the corresponding year. The bill would further amend state law relating filing dates and failure to file for corporate taxpayers, to allow for an additional month to file a state return beyond an extension provided related to a federal income tax return. HB 1023 would eliminate certain provisions to repeal the corporate net worth tax;
  • House Bill 1028, which would clarify certain rules/regulations relating to the Department of Public Health including adding certain conditions to the definition of sexually transmitted diseases, adding opioid antagonists and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs to the commissioner’s standing order and removing certain outdated Code sections;
  • House Bill 1031, which would amend current law relating to duties of the chief appraiser, to require county chief appraisers to reappraise land parcels in their county in 2025 and every three years thereafter. HB 1031 would amend current law relating to annual notices of current assessment, to require notices to include the current year’s estimated roll-back rate. HB 1031 would amend current law to require the state auditor to use median ratio, coefficient of dispersion and the price related differential of all classes of property the board of tax assessors approves as part of the tax digest for that year. The state auditor, county governing authority, municipality with independent school systems, local board of education and county board of tax accessors may appeal decisions of arbitrators to the superior court of the county. The appeal would be heard as soon as practical unless a mutual agreement would be reached between the superior court, the county and the state auditor;
  • House Bill 1040, which would prohibit engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices when using a mortgage trigger lead, or a consumer report whose issuance is triggered by a credit inquiry, to solicit a consumer who has applied for a loan with another mortgage lender or broker. Those acts or practices would include: failing to state in the initial solicitation that the person is not affiliated with the mortgage lender with which the consumer initially applied; failing to conform to applicable law relating to prescreened solicitations using consumer reports; using information of consumers who have opted out of prescreened offers of credit or who are on the federal do-not-call registry; or soliciting a consumer with an offer of certain rates and terms while knowing that those rates and terms will subsequently change to the consumer’s detriment;
  • House Bill 1046, which would allow advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to complete and sign death certificates under the authority of a physician. These healthcare professionals would be required to complete biennial continuing education as approved by the board. There would also be a selection box added to the death certificate to indicate whether a physician or non-physician completed the certificate;
  • House Bill 1052, which would amend current law related to bona fide conservation use property to allow property leased by a corporation, partnership, general partnership, limited partnership or corporation or a limited liability company to qualify as bona fide conservation use property if it meets the following conditions: entity is owned by at least one natural or naturalized citizen and the primary purpose of the property would be related to production of agricultural or timber products;  
  • House Bill 1053, which would prohibit governmental agencies from accepting a payment using a digital currency issued by a federal reserve bank or foreign central bank and would prohibit governmental agencies from participating in any test of a central bank digital currency;
  • House Bill 1075, which would require state agencies to accept non-property-related documents notarized by a notarial officer of another state, provided that the manner of notarization would be authorized by that state, the person notarizing the document would be authorized to do so in that state and that the signature and title of the person notarizing the document would be attached to the document. These specific notarial acts performed in other states would have the same force and effect as if it had been made before a notary public in this state;
  • House Bill 1078, which would exclude the Georgia Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) as an applicable service within the definition of adult day health services. The bill would provide additional opportunities with Georgia’s Medicaid program to provide comprehensive acute and long-term healthcare services to qualifying individuals;
  • House Bill 1090, which would amend current law relating to tax credits for contributions to foster child support organizations to expand qualified expenditures for the credit to include wraparound services for aging foster children and justice involved youth that meet one of the following: are enrolled in a public postsecondary education institution; enrolled in a program to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent; enrolled in a vocation school; or participating in a registered and compliant apprenticeship program. The bill defines “aging foster children” as former foster children up to the age of 21 who were either in foster care for at least six months after the age of 14 and were not adopted or reunited with family by the age of 18; adopted after the age of 14; or in foster care for at least six months after the age of 14 and meet the definition of “homeless children and youths” or qualify by reason of low-income for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. HB 1090 defines “justice involved youth” as between the ages of 18 and 21 who are currently or previously committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and were placed, or are currently placed, in a nonsecure facility or community setting. The bill includes mentorship services provided to justice involved youth as a qualified expense. The annual compensation threshold to receive the credit would be increased from $500 to $1,200 per year, and payments made to employees would be a qualified mentorship organization that provide services other than mentorship are a qualified expense. HB 1090 would authorize the tax commissioner to share information necessary to efficiently administer and enforce provisions when another state agency has statutory authority to administer such tax credits;
  • House Bill 1096, which would allow the office of the secretary of state to institute a unified system for tracking the continuing education credits completed by licensees of the various boards under the secretary of state’s purview. Beginning on January 1, 2025, a professional licensing board would not be able to renew a license until the applicant has complied with all applicable continuing education requirements;
  • House Bill 1099, which would amend the crime of criminal trespass to allow for prosecution when a person enters onto the property of another where certain purple marks act as a warning not to enter onto the premises. The purple marks on trees or posts would serve as a legal warning not to enter onto a property so long as they are clearly visible, spaced no more than 100 feet apart (on forested land) or 1,000 feet apart (on non-forested land) and placed at the required height to avoid flood zones;
  • House Bill 1100, which would allow the Department of Revenue to contact an individual with an interest in or title to a vehicle 30, 20 and 10 days prior to the date of an insurance suspension via electronic means;
  • House Bill 1105, or the ‘Georgia Criminal Alien Tract and Report Act of 2024.’ The bill would require that Georgia law enforcement officials work in conjunction with federal immigration authorities and to send, receive and maintain information relating to the immigration status of any individual as reasonably needed for public safety purposes. Any sheriff’s office or law enforcement agency of a local governing body that acts in violation would be subject to the withholding of state funding or state administered federal funding other than to provide services required in subsection (d) of O.C.G.A. 50-36-1. As a condition of funding, the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Transportation or any other state agency that provides funding to local governing body would require certification of compliance with requirements in Code Section 50-36-4 for submission of annual immigration compliance reports. Any funding withheld from a sheriff’s office would be remitted to the county. The legislation would provide standard procedures for booking of aliens and foreign nationalists and would require jailers to prepare quarterly reports outlining several categories of information for each jail jurisdiction. The bill would provide that a first violation of the requirements in this Code section would be a misdemeanor. Any second or subsequent violation would be a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature;
  • House Bill 1115, which would amend current law relating to limitations on local sales and use taxes by eliminating the current limit of two percent on local sales tax, as well as exceptions that would allow local government entities to go beyond the limit. The bill would provide for local sales tax to be levied up to three percent, with only two exceptions: an additional one percent each for an education-related special purpose local option sales tax and transportation-related sales and use taxes. The bill would current law relating to restrictions on levying taxes, to eliminate a provision preventing a local government entity from levying both a local option sales tax and a homestead option sales tax. HB 1115 would create a new local option sales tax to be titled a “flexible penny local option sales tax,” or FLOST. Following passage of a local bill by the General Assembly and voter approval via a referendum, a one percent sales tax could be collected for the purpose of providing property tax relief. The state could retain one percent of proceeds to offset the costs of administration. The bill would require the commissioner of the Department of Revenue to not certify the tax digest of a political subdivision that is not in compliance with specified uses of taxes levied in this bill;
  • House Bill 1116, which would amend current law relating to tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures to extend the sunset for the credit for residential historic structures to January 1, 2035. After January 1, 2029, no credits related to this program would be issued for certified structures other than historic homes. The maximum aggregate amount of credits would be increased from $30 million to $60 million for certified structures other than historic homes. The bill would provide that if the credit allowed exceeds the total tax otherwise payable by the taxpayer for that year, the taxpayer may apply any excess credit until either the full amount is used or the expiration of the fifth taxable year after the certified rehabilitation was completed;
  • House Bill 1122, which would amend current law which outlines specific funding criteria based on student enrollment for state charter schools to earn a superintendent and state and local charter schools to earn principals. HB 1122 would include part-time teachers and paraprofessionals as allowable employees to enroll a student in a school other than the student’s residence if the student’s parent works at the school;
  • House Bill 1123, which would require direct attorneys to establish an Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team, so long as it would be funding through the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of the State of Georgia. The bill would create the elder justice coalition, which would be required to meet at least twice each year, to create a law enforcement protocol, train officers when responding to instances of abuse of disabled adults or elder persons, conduct training related to disability, partner with state agencies/organizations to promote awareness of holistic care and provide a report to the governor and General Assembly outlining areas of opportunity and recommendations to prevent and respond to abuse of disabled adults and elder persons;
  • House Bill 1125, which would remove the ability of the state Department of Labor to offer exemptions to the minimum wage laws. Further, no employer would be permitted to utilize a certificate issued by the U.S. Department of Labor that would allow the company to pay individuals with disabilities below the minimum wage. If a company currently utilizes a federal certificate, then that company must pay individuals with disabilities at least half of the minimum wage between July 1, 2025, and June 30, 2026. Starting on July 1, 2026, those employers would not be able to utilize those certificates to pay individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage;
  • House Bill 1127, which would add definitions in the Georgia Hemp Farming Act for “consumable hemp product,” “contaminants” and “full panel certificate of analysis.” The bill would outlaw the sale of consumable hemp products unless a processor or manufacturer has contracted a full panel certificate of analysis within the past 12 months. Random inspections of consumable hemp products would be conducted by the Department of Agriculture to ensure compliance. HB 1127 would outlaw the ability to sell hemp products directly, or indirectly through another person, to any individual under the age of 21. Proper identification must be presented to confirm that a purchaser is of required age;
  • House Bill 1138, which would add the consideration of the demographic makeup of the state to the list of factors that must be considered in selection of venture capital funds;
  • House Bill 1146, which would allow an individual, given authority by the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, to provide consumable water within coastal aquifers of the state without a letter of concurrence from any public entity or local government, given certain conditions are met. This Code section would be repealed on January 1, 2029;
  • House Bill 1149, which would require the annual audit reports of counties and consolidated city-county governments to include the financial statements of the supplemental official income of each county officer under the county governing authority;
  • House Bill 1165, which would replace the chairperson of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families with the commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council;
  • House Bill 1172, which would amend current law by removing direct references to the public trust doctrine and stating that by the common law, citizens have an inherent right to use for passage and for hunting and fishing all navigable streams from low-water mark to low-water mark. Entry upon privately owned land adjacent to navigable streams would not be permitted;
  • House Bill 1180, which would amend current law relating to income tax credits for film, gaming, video or digital productions to make changes to the program’s structure as follows: the bill would amend the definition of “base investment” as funds invested and expended by a production company on expenses incurred in the state and directly used in a single state certified production. HB 1180 would establish an aggregate base investment of $10 million for all state certified productions for a production company to qualify for the credit, in addition to the existing base investment requirement of $500,000 for a single production. The bill would change requirements for an additional 10 percent credit to require a production to meet four of the following criteria: at least 50 percent of a production’s crew are Georgia residents; at least 50 percent of a production’s vendors are Georgia vendors; the production incurs at least $30 million of production expenditures in Georgia; at least 50 percent of photography days occur in underutilized counties; at least 50 percent of studio photography days occur in Georgia studio facilities, and the production company makes capital improvements to Georgia studio facilities approved by the Department of Economic Development or enters into a long-term lease with a Georgia studio facility with at least 100,000 square feet of production space; the production company agrees to contract with Georgia vendors for 20 percent of postproduction expenditures or contracts with Georgia vendors for 20 percent of visual effects expenditures; the production company participates in a Georgia workforce development program such as a Georgia Film Academy program; the production includes a qualified Georgia promotion or approves alternative marketing opportunities with the Department of Economic Development; or the company contracts for the recording of at least one song or track in Georgia to be included in a certified productions music score or soundtrack, licenses music from a Georgia resident or company or contracts with one or more Georgia residents for the composition or performance of music. Conditions for which a credit may be transferred or sold would be amended, including setting a maximum amount for transfers or sales to be limited annually to 2.5 percent of the governor’s revenue estimate for the related fiscal year. If the annual limit is exceeded, the commissioner of the Department of Revenue would allow any unused credit that may be transferred or sold to be utilized in the next calendar year;
  • House Bill 1181, which would amend current law relating to income taxes to change carry-forward periods for select tax credit programs to three or five years and would sunset select tax credit programs after five years, or December 31, 2029;
  • House Bill 1182, which would amend current law relating to tax credits for qualified low-income buildings to revise the limit of the credit to 80 percent of the federal housing tax credit unless the related project is a targeted community project, in which the credit could equal 100 percent of the federal housing tax credit. A “targeted community project” would be defined as an affordable housing project that is at least one of the following: located in a rural area; reserves or prioritizes a majority of units for seniors or first responders; prioritizes units for veterans; provides access to high frequency transportation; is a primarily rehabilitation or renovation project; or is owned by a housing authority;  
  • House Bill 1185, which would allow for a statewide homestead exemption that local governments may optionally approve by local ordinance without action from the General Assembly. The measure would also have to be approved by voters via a referendum. The homestead exemption would be equal to the amount the current year’s assessed value exceeds the previous adjusted base year value. The bill would also require the commissioner of the Department of Revenue to create a standardized method for determining annual inflationary index rates;
  • House Bill 1188, which would require that when any peace officer employed by one agency is hired by another agency within 36 months, the hiring agency would be required to reimburse the training expenses to the agency which initially paid for the training of such officer;
  • House Bill 1190, which would authorize the division director of the Office of the Secretary of State to issue a license when a professional licensing board has not made a determination on whether to license an applicant within 60 days of receipt of the application. All information and documents must be submitted with the application to qualify for this provision;
  • House Bill 1192, which would amend current law relating to exemptions from sales and use tax to require the commissioner of the Department of Revenue to stop issuing new certificates of exemption related to certain high-technology data center equipment, effective July 1, 2024. Any high-technology data center or high-technology data center customer that is in an active contract prior to July 1, 2024, would be exempt from this provision. The bill would amend the definition for “new quality jobs” to include employment located in the state, has a regular work week of at least 30 hours, is not a job already located in Georgia and pays at least 150 percent of the county’s average wage. The Special Commission on Data Center Energy Planning would be created, and the commission would renew existing electric grid and energy supply and make recommendations for data center location;
  • House Bill 1197, which would amend current law relating to revitalization zone tax credits to define a “certified historic residential structure owner or investor” as a person who owns or acquires and develops a historic residential structure within a designated revitalization zone or who has been certified by the Department of Community Affairs commissioner as eligible to receive the credit based on certain criteria. The bill would define a “historic residential structure” as one that is located within a revitalization zone designated as a historic district pursuant to the Georgia Historic Preservation Act or the National Register of Historic Places, individually designated as a local, state or national historic landmark or is at least 50 years old and provides more than one residential unit for lease. The bill would allow the commissioners of the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Economic Development to extend a designation of a revitalization zone for two additional years if the zone has demonstrated success. The bill would provide that an area can be redesignated as a revitalization zone if two years have passed since its expiration, and that no new designations would be made after 2032. HB 1197 would require that the feasibility study of potential revitalization zones include the housing needs which can be supported in the targeted area. The Department of Revenue commissioner would be authorized to share aggregate information with the Department of Community Affairs commissioner on qualified rehabilitation expenditures and job tax credits claimed for each revitalization zone each year for reporting purposes;
  • House Bill 1218, which would revise current law regarding notice to beneficiaries of a testate estate (one with a will) so the first personal representative of an estate would have a duty to notify estate beneficiaries of the probate of the will within six months of the personal representative assuming that responsibility. When a trust is a beneficiary of a testate estate and each trustee is also a personal representative of the estate, notice would be given to and may be waived by the trust beneficiaries;
  • House Bill 1223, which would update the Georgia Soil Amendment Act of 1976 to prohibit the distribution of soil amendments when the site is currently under consent orders by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when a notice of violation has been issued by the EPD of the DNR regarding contamination as a result of soil amendments and when the department has notified the owner of said site and the person who applied the soil amendment to the site;
  • House Bill 1231, which would allow students who are concurrently seeking a baccalaureate degree and a first professional degree and students who meet achievement standards and commence a graduate program at an eligible institution within 18 months of earning a baccalaureate degree to use the full number of hours of HOPE scholarship eligibility;
  • House Bill 1233, which would authorize the governing bodies of each county, municipality or political subdivision of this state to levy and collects fees related to local fire departments;
  • House Bill 1237, which would revise the “producer” definition as it relates to agricultural commodity commissions;
  • House Bill 1239, which would create a definition for “miniature on-road vehicle” and would provide several characteristics that distinguish the vehicle. For the consideration of this new definition, the bill would further amend several Code sections relating to compliance with federal emission and safety standards, license plate design, issuance of license plates, annual license fees and assembly standards. Miniature on-road vehicles would be permitted to be operated on highways or other municipal or local street system unless local ordinance outlaws such operation;
  • House Bill 1240, which would provide amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code and update its terminology. It would update the Uniform Commercial Code to deal with a new category of digital assets known as “controllable electronic records” (CERs), which would include virtual currencies and non-fungible tokens and would enact rules that determine the rights of persons who receive CERs and how to perfect a security interest in a CER. HB 1240 would also update the definition of “money” to include virtual currency authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government, regardless of whether the currency existed prior to being adopted by a government as its currency. The bill would include provisions related to innocent parties who accept in good faith digital assets and electronic money in exchange for value without knowledge of any other property claim to the assets. Provisions in the bill would address security interests in commercial tort claims and when those interests may attach, even if the claim is not described in the security agreement. The bill would include amendments to definitions to update terminology in light of modern forms of transactions or changes in how transactions are conducted. The effective date of the bill would be July 1, 2024, with existing perfect security interests would remain valid until July 1, 2025. After that date, security interests would remain enforceable only if perfected in accordance with the new Uniform Commercial Code;
  • House Bill 1247, which would allow an interest in real estate to be transferred through a transfer-on-death deed, permitting a deed to transfer ownership of an interest upon death of the record owner. The transfer-on-death deed would be executed, acknowledged and recorded in the office of the clerk of superior court of the county where the real estate is located prior to the death of the record owner. A transfer-on-death form would be provided in the bill. A record owner who has titled the interest may revoke or change the designation of the beneficiary at any time prior to the death of the record owner through the same process as it would be to execute a transfer-on-death deed. If one or more of the designated beneficiaries dies prior to the death of the record owner, the transfer to the beneficiaries that predecease the record owner would lapse. The record owner who executes a transfer-on-death deed would remain the legal owner until their death and would be considered an absolute owner with regard to creditors and purchasers;
  • House Bill 1251, which would transfer the responsibility of reviewing, approving and processing superior court judge travel expenses from the state auditor to the Council of Superior Court Judges;
  • House Bill 1253, which would create a new district category within counties known as a “special rural district.” The bill would provide for the membership, training and filling of vacancies of regional commission councils;
  • House Bill 1255, which would revise state law regarding transcripts of evidence and proceedings so that an appellant files the notice of appeal with the clerk of the court, the appellant requests the transcripts from the listed court reporter and the court reporter files the transcripts with the clerk of the court;
  • House Bill 1260, which would be known as the ‘Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act.’ The bill would require the attorney general, in consultation with the Department of Revenue (DOR), to develop a directory for registrations of vapor nicotine products, which would be defined as those products already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and those products that have filed applications with the FDA and are pending. The registration for each brand would require information such as the manufacturer’s name, license information, principal place of business of the manufacturer and type of product. A fee of $1,000 would be required for the initial registration of each nicotine vapor product, although renewals would be required annually with a $250 fee. The attorney general would provide manufacturers who submit registrations with deficiencies an opportunity to cure prior to removing the products from the directory. If a product is removed from the directory, then each dealer and distributor would have 30 days from the date notice is received of the removal to sell that product in its inventory or return the product to the manufacturer for a full refund. After 30 days, it would be unlawful to sell the product if it is not on the directory. A dealer or distributor who sells a nicotine vapor product that is not listed in the directory would be subject to a civil penalty based upon the number of products available for sale. After a fourth violation of any quantity, the license of the dealer or distributor would be revoked. A manufacturer whose products are not listed in the directory and that cause the products not listed to be sold in Georgia would be liable for $10,000 per day that the product is offered in violation. Any products offered for sale in violation would also be subject to civil forfeiture. The attorney general and DOR would be required to report on the status of the directory, the products included on it and the enforcement activities undertaken in the first year after the bill would become effective. HB 1260 would be effective upon a specific reference in an appropriation bill that an appropriation would be made for this bill;  
  • House Bill 1264, which would authorize the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists and the Georgia Board of Nursing to establish a professional health program that would provide for monitoring and rehabilitation of impaired healthcare professionals;
  • House Bill 1267, which would provide enabling legislation for creating the Georgia Tax Court, subject to ratification of a constitutional amendment by voters at the November 2024 general election. The chief judge and clerk would serve five-year terms, appointed by the governor and subject to approval by the Senate and House Judiciary committees. Actions may be commenced before the court on and after September 1, 2026, with actions requiring the filing of a petition with the court naming the state revenue commissioner as respondent in their official capacity. The Georgia Civil Practice Act would govern proceedings before the Georgia Tax Court, and trials in proceedings before the court would be without a jury. A small claims division of the court would be established, with court judges sitting as judges of that division. A taxpayer may elect to have the small claims division have jurisdiction over their case, provided the amount in controversy is less than a threshold amount determined by court rules. A salary for a judge of the court is provided in the bill. Additional conforming language related to moving from the Georgia Tax Tribunal to the Georgia Tax Court is also included in the bill;
  • House Bill 1274, which would adjust the eligibility and loan forgiveness amounts for the veterinary education student loan forgiveness program;  
  • House Bill 1283, which would clarify that aggravated assault with a firearm would be included within the definition of “Class A designated felony act” in the Juvenile Code;
  • House Bill 1292, which would require an individual presenting a deed or other interest in real property to produce a government-issued photographic identification card to a clerk of the superior court for recording. The clerk would make a photocopy of the card and document on the photocopy information relating to the specific deed or instrument. The photocopy and information would be treated as confidential and released only in response to a subpoena, to peace officers when investigating potential crimes, to an individual who holds a recorded interest in the real property in question or to an individual named as a grantor or grantee on the instrument. This procedure would not be applicable to a person licensed to practice law or to a licensed agent of a financial institution or credit union. An owner of real property may bring an action against an individual who knowingly filed a false or forged deed or instrument. The owner could recover actual damages caused by the fraudulent filing or $5,000, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees;
  • House Bill 1294, which would add a paragraph to expand what can be considered an “environmental facility” under current law to include vessels that store, supply and distribute natural gas. A definition for “natural gas facility” would also be added to this Code section;
  • House Bill 1303, which would create a specialty license plate honoring the Shepherd Center. Funds raised through the sale of this license plate would be disbursed to the Shepherd Center, Inc.;
  • House Bill 1312, which would extend the effective date of SB 146 from the 2023 session relative to the regulatory authority of the Department of Agriculture and the taxation of electricity used as motor fuel and electric vehicle charging stations to January 1, 2026;
  • House Bill 1314, which would declare emergency medical services as essential services in Georgia;
  • House Bill 1318, which would amend current law by revising committee names and authority titles while repealing specific inactive authorities, committees, advisory councils, offices and commissions. The bill would specify how assets of certain entities would be developed following repeal;
  • House Bill 1322, which would revise provisions within the ‘Georgia Hemp Farming Act’ to add in definitions for “attractive to children,” “consumable hemp product,” “Delta-9 THC” and “Delta-9 THCA.” Further Code sections would be created to prevent consumable hemp products from being attractive to children, and to restrict retailers from distributing consumable hemp products to consumers within 1,000 feet of a K-12 educational institution;
  • House Bill 1326, which would update the list of controlled substances and their associated schedules;    
  • House Bill 1335, which would require personal care homes to have at least two on-site administrators or direct care staff at all times. For personal care homes and assisted living communities, a staff person would be required to be on every occupied floor unless the facility has implemented a medical alert system;
  • House Bill 1341, which would designate the white shrimp as the official crustacean of the State of Georgia;
  • House Bill 1344, which would revise provisions related to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council. The commissioners of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Department of Early Care and Learning, Department of Community Health, Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Corrections, Department of Community Supervision, Department of Community Affairs, Technical College System of Georgia, Department of Labor and the State School Superintendent would be authorized to attend or send a delegate to attend meetings. The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists would waive experience requirements for licensure applicants from other jurisdictions when their license is in good standing for at least two years;
  • House Bill 1361, which would create the offense of criminal trespass involving a wild animal. The first degree of the crime would occur when a person enters a zoo cage or area where a wild animal is housed, when the person knows they have no legal right to be there, harasses an animal, and that animal suffers an injury or death. The penalty for the first degree would be a felony and imprisonment for between one and 10 years. The second degree of the crime would occur when a person enters a zoo cage or area where a wild animal is housed and knows they have no legal right to be there. The penalty for the second degree of the crime would be a misdemeanor and imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months. A person who commits this crime would also be liable for restitution for the injury or death of the animal. The bill would add the offense of computer-generated obscene material depicting a child. A person who knowingly distributes, solicits possesses with intent to distribute a visual depiction that is obscene, appears to be of a child, involves sexually explicit conduct, and was created through the use of artificial intelligence, would be subject to felony punishment of between one and 15 years and potential reporting requirements if the sentence is probated. Two affirmative defenses exist for use in higher education or medical purposes;
  • House Bill 1363, which would require the Georgia Department of Community Health to engage an actuarial consulting firm to conduct a study and prepare a report on the fiscal impact to the state health benefit plan of implementing drug reimbursements based on the national average drug acquisition cost. This report would be completed no later than December 1, 2024. Should the actuarial analysis project cost neutrality or a potential savings, the national average drug acquisition cost or a professional dispensing fee would be used for drug reimbursements beginning July 1, 2025;  
  • House Bill 1371, which would hold a land owner not liable for injuries arising from third-party criminal activity where the third-party criminal activity giving rise to the injuries was not reasonably foreseeable, the land owner exercised ordinary care in keeping the premises safe from reasonably foreseeable third-party criminal activity, or the kind of harm suffered was not a reasonably foreseeable result of the land owner’s failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe. In addition, a land owner would not be liable when a claimant comes onto the land owner’s premises for the purpose of committing a crime punishable by more than one year of imprisonment, excepting coerced acts, or when the land owner lacks actual knowledge of similar, prior criminal activity. Alternatively, HB 1371 would hold a land owner liable for injuries arising from third-party criminal activity when the claimant shows that the land owner has reason to anticipate the third-party criminal activity giving rise to the injuries, the land owner failed to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe from reasonably foreseeable third-party criminal activity, and that kind of harm suffered was a reasonably foreseeable result of the land owner failing to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe. In addition, a land owner would be held liable when he or she had actual knowledge of prior third-party criminal activity similar to the injuries suffered by the claimant and failed to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe from known third-party criminal activity. A land owner may meet the duty to exercise ordinary care by providing feasible safety measures that, under the totality of the circumstances, would reasonably keep the premises safe. A land owner would not be required to exercise extraordinary care to satisfy the duty to keep the premises safe. The fact that the premises is located in a high-crime area would not be, on its own, sufficient to establish a duty to keep a premises safe, but may be considered regarding reasonable foreseeability. HB 1371 would also amend law relating to the statute of limitations for tort actions by including actions brought by surviving relatives of a victim in a wrongful death action;
  • House Bill 1407, which would provide guidelines and requirements for the development and implementation of local government service delivery strategies by counties and municipalities. The bill would revise the mediation and arbitration processes related to service delivery strategy negotiations;  
  • House Bill 1409, which would pertain to the legal liability of inpatient mental health providers in the delivery of care to individuals under the age of 21 and are in Department of Human Services (DHS) or determined by DHS to be in need of mental health care. Mental health care providers would not be held liable unless there is clear and convincing evidence of gross negligence. In such cases, the jury would be instructed to consider the patient’s medical history, previous provider-patient relationships and circumstances surrounding delivery of services;
  • House Bill 1410, which would establish a separate classification in the State Housing Trust Fund and all funds appropriated, donated or received for the specific purpose of state housing accountability programs must be used exclusively for those programs. The bill would detail qualifications for organizations and agencies to participate in state housing accountability programs and includes criteria such as: providing voluntary, immediate and stable housing to a homeless person; limiting the length of residency to 18 months or whenever the tenant can find affordable housing, whichever is earlier; and providing ongoing assistance to each resident for obtaining long-term affordable housing. The housing accountability programs must require residents to show proof of residency, participate in relevant job training/educational opportunities, search for employment and submit to regular drug/alcohol testing, among other requirements. Currently, the governor appoints seven of the nine members of the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless Commission. In the bill, the seven members appointed by the governor would now be three members appointed by the governor, two members appointed by the lieutenant governor and two members appointed by the speaker of the House. The state auditor must conduct a performance audit of spending on homeless programs in the state, including expenditures by the state, expenditures by municipalities and counties with substantial homeless populations and the expenditure of federal funds allocated to the state on homelessness by December 31, 2024;
  • House Resolution 302, which would propose a constitutional amendment that would require all funds derived from any legal judgements or settlements awarded to or entered into by the state after January 1, 2025, to be appropriated by the General Assembly. Any excess, changed or unanticipated federal funds in excess of $75 million received by the state would be continually appropriated by the General Assembly through a method or manner prescribed by general law or held in the state treasury to be appropriated by the General Assembly through supplementary appropriations;
  • House Resolution 598, which would propose an amendment to the Constitution to allow the Georgia Tax Court to exercise judicial power in the state, with the court exercising state-wide jurisdiction. Georgia Tax Court judges would serve four-year terms and be appointed by the governor subject to approval by the House and Senate Judiciary committees;
  • House Resolution 854, which is the House’s annual road dedication package;
  • House Resolution 901, which would authorize the Department of Administrative Services to pay Daryl Lee Clark $1,840,715 in the form of an annuity paid in equal monthly installments over 10 years beginning one year after an initial lump sum payment of $607,435;
  • House Resolution 902, which would authorize the Department of Administrative Services to pay Joseph Samuel Watkins $1,620,986.27 in the form of an annuity paid in equal monthly installments with interest over 10 years beginning in 2025 after an initial lump sum payment of $535,000;
  • House Resolution 1021, which would amend the Georgia Constitution to allow for a local government to adopt an ordinance to allow senior citizens to claim an additional homestead exemption in exchange for volunteer work defined by the local entity. The measure must also be approved by a majority of the electors located in the political subdivision. The total value of the exemption may not exceed $500, and the rate the credit can be earned may not be lower than $10 per volunteer hour or the state’s minimum wage, whichever would be higher;    
  • House Resolution 1022, which would amend the Constitution to allow local governments to provide an optional state-wide homestead exemption from ad valorem equivalent to the difference between the current year assessed value of a homestead and the adjusted based year value of a homestead, provided the amount exceeds the inflation rate;
  • House Resolution 1042, which would create the Joint Study Committee on Judicial System Compensation, which would seek to examine the current state of how public employees in the judicial system, such as state judges, county judges, prosecutors and public defenders, are compensated and to discuss potential legislation on establishing a more uniform compensation system. The committee would consist of eight members: four senators and four representatives;
  • House Resolution 1113, which would authorize the State of Georgia, acting through the State Properties Commission, to grant easements over certain state-owned properties in 17 counties;
  • House Resolution 1116, is a conveyance resolution for properties located in five counties, and would convey property owned by the State of Georgia or amend those conveyances;
  • House Resolution 1133, which would urge the U.S. Congress to pass the Kidney Patient Access to Technologically Innovative and Essential Nephrology Treatments Act of 2023 (known as the ‘Kidney PATIENT Act of 2023’, HR 5074) that would ensure patients continue to have access to oral-only medications;
  • House Resolution 1164, which would dedicate the interchange of Interstate 185 at U.S. 27 Alternate/Manchester Expressway in Muscogee County as the Honorable Richard H. Smith Memorial Interchange;
  • House Resolution 1215, which would dedicate the portion of State Route 5/McCaysville Bypass in Fannin County as the Speaker David E. Ralston Interstate Connector. The new bridge over the Toccoa/Ocoee River in Fannin County would be dedicated as the Speaker David E. Ralston Memorial Bridge, and SR 52 in Gilmer County from the Murray County line to just south of its intersection with Aaron Road as the Speaker David E. Ralston Memorial Highway.

With Crossover Day now behind us, the House of Representatives will shift its focus to reviewing legislation that has passed by our counterparts in the Senate as we move through the final weeks of the session. We will also be tracking the progress of House legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process in the Senate to ensure final passage of our House bills. The House will return to session for Legislative Day 29 on Monday, March 4. As we move forward, I encourage you to schedule a phone call or arrange a visit to the State Capitol to discuss matters that are significant to you and your family.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

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