Georgia Legislature

Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – 02/10/21

This is an informal rundown of the legislative happenings.

The House of Representatives passed the following measures:

HB 105 – Rep. Heath Clark

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58952 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Updates code 38-2-250 — Basis for paying guardsman for active duty
  • Currently, if you volunteer because of a Governor’s order or call, the code section does not authorize or REQUIRE that the volunteers be compensated. If it was challenged in court, the volunteers would not have the code section behind them. This remedies that.
  • This has been an issue with cybersecurity events, which draw more volunteers than other situations. 

CONCERN: None.
Passed 165-1

HB 112 – Rep. Trey Kelley

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58959 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Extends sunset on covid-19 liability protections to July 14, 2022
  • “Allow businesses to continue to operating during the pandemic,” per Kelley, free of liability so long as reasonable precautions are taken to prevent or avoid negligent spreading of COVID-19.
  • Does not impact Workers Compensation
  • Here’s how you voted on it last year when it came forward for a vote
    Passed 99-68
HB 174 – Rep. Marcus Wiedower

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59096 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Annual Department of Public Safety update
  • Codifies federal regulations from 2020 and incorporates them into the state code.

CONCERN: None.
Passed 167-0

HB 205 – Rep. Noel Williams

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59153 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • A framework of regulating the travel insurance industry. — Passed the House the last two years, but was not taken up in the Senate
  • Williams said it “Creates a more level playing field, is a model Act endorsed by NAIC and the National Council of Insurance Legislators” “Protects the consumer.”
  • Applies unfair trade practice laws
  • Prohibits negative action or opt out requirements
  • DOES pertain to cruises 
  • Previously, the Insurance department came to the legislature and asked for it, 8 other states have gone to this system
  • Uniform meanings of the key terms
  • Specifically, the text of the bill:
    • Defines travel insurance under OCGA 33-23-12
    • Also defines ‘Aggregator site’, blanket travel insurance, Cancellation fee waiver, eligible group, Fulfillment materials, group travel insurance, Primary certificate holder,’ travel administrator, travel assistance services, and travel protection plan.
    • These are all terms that weren’t codified but now are under this legislation
  • Applies to travel insurance sold in the state to people who reside in the state 
  • Expands who is eligible to sell travel insurance without additional hurdles 
  • Dictates what documents have to be provided in order to cover travel expenses and for the insurance to be paid out.

CONCERN: Troubling that we are specifically outlining types of groups that qualify under eligible groups. The intention may be good, but the bill creates more government meddling into private contractual agreements between a private entity and a consenting consumer. It’s unfortunate that all of those things are included in a measure that is supposed to make the sales industry component available to more people. So, I guess pick your poison: more codified terms and practices or more people able to sell travel insurance?
Passed 164-0

HB 265 – Rep. David Knight

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59265 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Annual Internal Revenue Code update
  • Takes into account federal code changes and weaves them into the Georgia code
  • This year, in particular, changes are federal regulation tweaks to charitable contributions, deductions, and the removal of floors for some amounts of income.
  • More procedural than real legislative action.

CONCERN: None.
Passed 166-0


The Senate passed the following measures:

HB 80

LINK–> https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58910
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • This is the supplemental amended budget for FY 2021.
    Passed: 52-0
SB 4 – Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick

LINK –> https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58874
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Makes it unlawful for any person to offer a “commission, benefit, bonus, rebate, kickback, or bribe, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind” or a split-fee arrangement for a referral or recommendation to a substance abuse provider
  • Make its unlawful to receive the aforementioned commission, benefit, etc.
  • Makes it unlawful to ‘aid and abet’ in the process of offering or receiving a commission, benefit, etc for a referral to a substance abuse provider
  • Excludes: discount payment programs permissible under federal law, group practice set-ups, actual payments for healthcare providers, commissions to insurance agents, payments to a health insurance company that offers reimbursements of some type, and otherwise lawful insurance gifts.
  • Above crimes that involve 10 or fewer patients would be misdemeanor offenses punishable by up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 fine PER VIOLATION
  • Above crimes involving 10-20 patients would be felony offense with up to 5 years in prison and $100,000 fine PER VIOLATION
  • 20 or more patients is a felony offense with up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine PER VIOLATION.
  • Attorney General and respective circuit district attorneys would have authority to prosecute/determine venue
  • As a second provision in the bill, a new code section would be added prohibiting fraudulent ‘high tech drug testing’ (which is when more than one substance is tested on each specimen, but the insurance or billing practice bills each substance test individually
  • This bill would make it unlawful for any person to fraudulently bill/ bill the insurance provider of “the elderly, the disabled, or any individual affected by pain, substance abuse, addiction, or other disorder”
  • Includes upcoding, billing for things not tested/provided, billing for something covered under insurance, billing for multiple co-payment amounts, and billing for unbundled services which would otherwise be bundled for coverage
  • Makes it a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Passed: 52-0

Both the House and the Senate approved SR 82, which is the schedule and adjournment resolution for days 15 through 25 of the legislative session.
Link –> https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59455

Jessica Szilagyi

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Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.' Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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