Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – 3/30/21

This is an informal rundown of the legislative happenings. These bills are from the most recent legislative day – 3/29/21, or Day 39.

Every one of these bills passed.

SB 42 – Senator Jeff Mullis (Carson)
Passed the Senate: 39-12

  • Working on LC 49 0531S
  • Adds new OCGA 20-2-319.6 under Quality Basic Education Act for home study students
  • Makes qualifying courses for playing sports to include dual enrollment
  • Must attend 1 course in resident schools (where the student would attend if he/she were enrolled), in middle and high school – virtual or face to face (per semester of sports)
  • Requires that the home study student provide proof of satisfactory progress, etc
  • If a student withdrawals from school to go to home study, they cannot participate in extracurricular for 12 months
  • This is the language from Carson’s HB 545 
  • Mullis language: require disciplinary information of the public school to be published annually on website and provided in print to any requester at no charge 

SB 49 – Clint Dixon

  • This is from 2 years ago that didn’t gain final passage
  • allows a building inspection applicant to utilize the services of a private building inspector at the onset of the application process by removing a requirement to wait 30 days for a local government to provide the services. 
  • If an applicant chooses to use a private inspector, half of the fee must be paid to the local government.

SB 59 – Sen. John Albers (T. Smith)
Passed the Senate: 38-15

  • House Committee Substitute: LC 49 0544S
  • Re: Charter Schools, Amends OCGA 20-2-165.1 to add ‘or local charter school’ to any reference of a ‘charter system’ for the purposes of requiring the State Board of Education to administer funds directly to the local charter school (as opposed to through the system)
  • Also requires that local charter schools receive the same FTE funding as a charter school ‘system,’ which is 3.785 percent of the base amount (currently there is no reference to the funding for a local charter school, only a system
  • Adds ‘local charter school’ to the capped funding of $4.5 million per year (same as charter school system)
  • Cleans up OCGA 20-2-880 and OCGA 20-2-910 language to allow charter school teachers and other full-time employees (like librarians) to participate in the health insurance plan
  • Moves the responsibility of administering federal funding meant for the local charter school in OCGA 20-2-2068.1 from the Georgia Department of Education to the local school system 
  • Adds language to allow the local school system and the local charter school to enter into an agreement by which the charter school allows the school system to keep federal funds allocated to the charter school as part of an ‘in-kind donation’
  • Tightens language about local charter schools using facilities owned by the local system, subject to terms and conditions of the local school system 

SB 60 – Sen. Bruce Thompson

  • Pertains to the State Indemnification Fund for public safety officers
  • Revises the definition to include all public safety officers and outline ‘line of duty work’ as nonroutine and strenuous
  • Specifically, work-related to law enforcement, fire suppression, rescue, hazardous material response, emergency medical services, prison or jail security, disaster relief, or any other emergency response…or the training associated with the aforementioned
  • Also adds ‘heart attack, stroke, or vascular rupture suffered by a public safety officer” to cause for activation of state indemnification fund benefits, if it occurred while on duty or on duty immediately following a strenuous a work-related activity, or within 24 hours of the event, unless other medical evidence refutes that the work activity was not the cause of the heart attach, stroke, or vascular rupture.

SB 78 – Sen. Harold Jones II (TP Smith)
Passed the Senate: 46-1 (Kim Jackson)

  • House Committee Substitute LC 41 3115S
  • Amends OCGA 16-11-90 on the invasion of privacy and sexually explicit content
  • Expands the definition of ‘revenge porn’ or electronically transmitting content without the consent of another person to include:
    • Transmits the content to a website, a peer-to-peer file-sharing site, thumbnail gallery, movie gallery post, a linked list, a live webcam, web page, or a message board that advertises or promotes its service as showing, previewing, or distributing sexually explicit conduct;
    • Any other electronic transmission not included in the itemized list in bullet #1 
  • Expands the definition to the same forums for pictures/videos/content that ‘falsely depicts’ a person as well…photoshop
  • Makes a felony to violate the added code sections with a fine up to $100,000. First offense is 1-5 years, second offense is 2-5 years

SB 81 Sen. Jeff Mullis
Rules Sub 81 LC 4905661S – not available online
Original bill pertains to Office of College and Career Transitions

SB 85 – Senator John Albers
Defines hazing as well as puts transparency in process that reporting is happening in college clubs, groups, frats, etc.
→ specifically expands the definition to include the coercing or forcing of consumption of food, drink, alcohol, drugs, etc. risking intoxication, vomiting or unconsciousness
Working off of LC 41 3163S
→ requires the schools to publish policies on reporting hazing and the publishing of hazing related disciplinary acts within 15 days of conviction
→ Requires the school to post information pertaining to a hazing related criminal conviction including date of event, organization and description of the specific hazing event…must remain for 5 years on website

SB 95 – Sen. Frank Ginn (Powell)
Substitute: LC 28 0351S
Vehicle bill – original language was for teleconference in emergency situations, but Section 2 is the COAM clean-up bill earlier in the session. (Coin Operated Amusement Machines)

Alan Powell said in Rules: No changes except Master License Holders agreed to pay 1% more out of profits from 5% to 6% for the Georgia Lottery, they agreed because of the benefit to their industry “Better to pay more”

SB 100 – Sen. Ben Watson (Cantrell)
Passed the Senate: 46-7

  • House Substitute LC 46 0478S
    • The original version as introduced in the Senate was to observe daylight saving time year round.
  • Adds OCGA 50-1-10 and requires the observance of standard time year-round in the event that Congress amends 15 U.S.C. Section 260a to allow the states to observe time this way. 

SB 105 – Sen. Brian Strickland (TP Smith)
Passed the Senate: 53-0

  • Addresses when probation can be terminated early through the Dept of Community Supervision 
  • Addresses behavioral incentive dates and requires the probation officer to report to the prosecutor and the court within 60 days if the defendant has completed restitution payments, has no revocations, and no other arrests/serious traffic violations
  • Once DCS notifies the court, the prosecutor has 90 days to have a hearing on the request to terminate probation earlier but it should be done as soon as possible. 
  • Requires all sentencing to have ‘behavioral incentive dates’ for first time offenders with no prior felony offense and a) a term of less than 12 months in jail followed by probation by the judge OR b) a probation only sentence  
    • Defaults to 3 years from sentencing if the court does not set a specific date 
  • Any time DCS recommends early termination, the prosecutor must be notified and the court must be notified with an order to terminate.  

SB 107 – Sen. Brain Strickland
Passed the Senate: 50-0

  • Sets fees and tuitions for homeless students or in homeless situations as in-state residents for USG and TCSG
  • Waives tuition and fees for housing, meals, and other things associated with campus life for any student who is a foster child with a family, an adopted child, under DFCS care, in an independent living facility so long as they have not reached the age of 28 and are in good status for academics

Am 490026 — Jan Jones said: waive tuition and fees for young people who are adopted out of foster care at age 14 or over, or if they age out- it waives fees and tuition for their GED 

SB 117 – Sen. Butch Miller (Gaines)
Passed the Senate: 52-0

  • House Committee Substitute  LC 48 0427S
  • Defines a ‘person in a position of trust’ a person entrusted with education, supervisory, responsibility of a minor due to an agreement entered in by the parents (teaching, coaching, etc)
  • Adds subsection (b.2) to OCGA 16-6-5.1 to define “improper sexual contact by a person in a position of trust in the 1st degree” — when the person engages in sexually explicit conduct with a minor (supervisory)
  • Adds (c.2) to define the above in the second degree when a person engages in sexual contact, but not sexually explicit conduct, with the minor 
  • Adds (b.2) to the punishment in code for improper sexual contact by an employee or agent – which is a felony with 1-25 years in prison. Current punishment also says prison time OR up to $100,000 fine and this bill makes it prison time AND up to $100k in fines 
  • Adds (c.2 – second degree) to punishment in code of misdemeanor (high & agg) 
    • Second offense becomes a felony with sentencing under OCGA 17-10-6.2 for sex offenders
    • Unless the child is under 16, at which point it is a felony with 5-25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine + sentencing under OCGA 17-10-6.2 for sex offenders
  • Amends OCGA 42-1-12 for the sex offender registry to define ‘Dangerous sexual offense’ for the time period 7/1/19 to 6/30/21 (since it was changed effective that date a few years ago – this way it won’t impact pending cases)
  • Any offense after that date – Beginning 7/1/21 – that is a ‘dangerous sexual offense’ – includes ‘improper sexual contact by a person in a position of trust’ unless that was not subject to sex offender sentencing (which would only be first offense of second degree)
  • Adds improper sexual contact offenses to the list of offenses under OCGA 49-2-14.1 for records checks for certain licensing  

SB 144 – Sen. Lindsey Tippins (Ehrhart) –
Passed the Senate: 36-13

  • pertains to code section on housing authority jurisdiction
  • strikes current language requiring housing authorities to operate within 10 miles of the area of operation/jurisdiction unless they have the authority of the political subdivision into which they’re going
  • Effective 7/1/21, no housing authority can expand beyond its municipal/territorial area of operation without the consent and authority of the local governing body
  • current housing authorities in operation on July 1, 2021 would be grandfathered in
  • Amendment: to require them to adhere to land use 

SB 156 – Sen. Marty Harbin (Kirby)
Passed the Senate: 32-18

  • House Committee Substitute LC 36 4828S
  • Creates a new code section – OCGA 34-2-3.1 under the Georgia Department of Labor codes
  • Creates the office of the chief labor officer with the authority to provide ‘timely’ reports and financial audits to the General Assembly and the officers of
  • Appointed by the Speaker of the House, confirmed by Senate Committee on Gov’t Oversight
  • Requires the Labor Commissioner to give this person the staff and resources needed to carry out the job
  • Through 12/31/22 “unless continued by an act of the General Assembly”

SB 198 – Sen. Tyler Harper (Lumsden)
Passed the Senate:

  • Gives the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety the authority to create per diem expenses for employees
  • Gives the authority to Commissioner to give badge and gun to employee upon retirement
  • Gives DPS commissioner authority to increase salaries of employees based on degrees earned as long as the course and the institution are approved by the Commissioner

SB 220 – Sen. Chuck Payne (Gambill)
Passed the Senate: 45-4 (Dolezal, Jordan, Burt Jones, & Robertson)

  • Calendar says there is a Rules substitute but that version is not available online. Most recent version is House Committee Sub LC 49 0508S
  • Creates new code section OCGA 20-14-95 to establish the Georgia Commission on Civics Education
  • 17 member commission of elected officials, political people, Chamber CEOs, and ACCG + GMA
  • Chairperson appointed by the Governor – who decides when there is a meeting
  • Commission will occasionally meet to examine needs of the curriculum — 2-4 times per year
  • Requires the Social Studies head under GA DOE to report to this commission
  • Commission stands through 12/31/2028

SB 215 – Senator Larry Walker

  • LC 33 8807S which deals with nursing homes, continuing education, competency standards, etc 
  • Expands what certified medication aides can do in nursing homes and reporting that is accompanied with them doing so 
  • Setzler Am 331970 → recognizing long term care facilities (takes language from HB 290) some of positive changes puts in Amendment as part of SB 215

SB 225 – Sen. Ed Harbison (Hitchens)
Passed the Senate: 50-0

  • House Committee Substitute LC 39 3032S
  • Adds Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terrorism vets to the list of veterans eligible for special veterans license plates 
  • So long as the discharge/separation conditions were other than dishonorable 
  • Special license plates can also say ‘allied veteran’ in lieu of the county on the license plate

SB 235 – Sen. Ben Watson
-Addresses offenses of wearing a mask/hood in public
-Updates the language to prohibit masks and hoods to conceal identity but clarifies to say that covering face for the COVID-19 pandemic is OK
-This is likely a solution to Kemp’s previous EO suspension of the statute

SB 236 – Sen. Matt Brass (Carpenter)
Passed the Senate: 36-10

  • Creates new OCGA 3-3-11 to allow restaurants that have licenses to sell distilled spirits to see 2 drinks per entree ordered for off premise consumption
  • Must have a tamper-evident container/no holes/no straw holes and it’s capped at 3 ounces of alcohol 
  • Must be by the person drinking/eating/having the order — no delivery service (Uber eats, etc)
  • Must be transported in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or behind the last upright seat(if there is no trunk)

SB 246 – Sen. Matt Brass (Jasperse)
Passed the Senate: 29-16

  • “The Learning Pod Protection Act”
  • House Committee Substitute LC 49 0522S
  • Parents who voluntarily choose to group their children in learning during K-12 years, but outside of traditional school hours, via remote learning, etc
    • Whether or not it is free or paid for does not change the impact of the bill
  • Bill ensures that learning pods are not subject to the same regulations of local school systems, staff ratios, minimum square feet for instructional space, background checks, child care regulations, etc. 
  • Prohibits state officials and local school systems from conducting inspections of the sites for the learning pods, from requiring registration of pods/pod members, or discriminating against individuals because of pod participation

SB 255 – Sen. Jeff Mullis (Stephens)
Rules Substitute → LC 50 0223S
Attempt to create Board of Regional Tourism Development through grant of One Georgia
Original bill had counties within 10  miles
Line 21 change: 25 mile radius, over and above statewide tourism and development programs 

  • Working off of LC 50 0184, for the purpose of creating the abovementioned Board to keep businesses from going to bordering states and instead inticing them to come here.
  • Allows grant amounts depending on number of jobs offered, economic investment, infrastructure, etc. 

SB 260 – Sen. Tyler Harper (Corbett)
Passed the Senate: 39-15

  • House Committee Substitute LC 44 1739S
  • Amends OCGA 2-12-80 to dictate that products generated solely from forest products are excluded from rules & regulations re: soil amendments
  • Also prohibits local governments from enacting zoning regulations on buffers to soil amendments that are more than 100 feet
    • Farms must provide nutrient management plans that are site specific to the GA Department of Ag (via new subsection (C))
  • Allows the State Board of Examiners for the Certification of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators and Laboratory Analysts to assess a registration fee for board-approved continuing education providers

SR 84 – Harper/Jasperse
Rules Substitute –
LC 39 3042S, which is most recent version on House site →
Creates a joint study committee on airport infrastructure

SR 102 Senator Frank Ginn
Creation of Freight Infrastructure
Per Rick Jasperse “Object here is ‘we need to spend more in this state – $1.5 billion a year’ and before you spend that money, must study”
Joint Session of House & Senate  to study implementing recommendations of previous Freight & Logistics Committee

Jessica Szilagyi

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.'

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