Georgia Legislature

Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – Feb. 27, 2023

This is an informal rundown of the legislative happeningsThis update is from the most recent legislative day – 02/27/23, or Day 24

All of these bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

HB 122Rep. Lee Hawkins 

  • This is the “Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act”
  • Adds both the commissioner of behavioral health and developmental disabilities and the commissioner of community health to the Board of Directors for the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan Trust Fund (which is under Dept of Administrative Services)
    • Also adds one person who has a disability, who is a parent of a disabled person, or a is a disability advocate 
  • Removes the cap of $325k for the Savings Trust Fund and extends to the “reasonable maximum amount as determined by the board based on current and anticipated education expenses”
  • Eliminates the current Georgia ABLE Program Corporation upon the bill taking effect because the duties and advocates are funneled into this plan
    • Transfers everything to The Higher Education Savings Plan Trust Fund Board of Directors, including contracts, obligations, assets, and real property 

CONCERN: Is it appropriate to give unelected appointed individuals with no accountability to the public the ability to award an amount that is not called by any elected body or person? 
PASSED: 167-0

HB 147 – Rep. Will Wade

  • Creates the “Safe Schools Act”
  • New code section OCGA 20-2-209.1.
    • Requires the PSC to partner with GEMA, DJJ, GPSTC to create an “anti gang endorsement” for certified personnel to obtain a certification, after completing a program in youth gangs activities. 
    • Must be done by end of 2023 
    • PSC must then determine which certified personnel are required to complete the training 
    • Then encourages post secondary institutions that teach teachers to weave this subject matter into their curriculum 
  • Also updates code section ti require public schools to conduct at least one “intruder alert” /active shooter drill per school year
    • The drill must be based on GEMA Guidance 
    • Parents must be given the opportunity to opt their children out of the drill 

CONCERN: This will do nothing to prevent youth gang participation. Gangs are a cultural thing. They can’t be stopped in a school. Additionally, you’re burdening educators with a government-backed plan to identify and “prevent” gangs, as if this program is going to be the most up-to-date information out there. The GGA can’t even keep up with all the bath salts that are produced. Assuming a state agency will be able to keep the intel fresh enough to educate other personnel with even law enforcement consider this a moving target is just misguided.

I know this is the Governor’s initiative and you can’t vote against it but the soap box derby bill will have more of an impact on life than this. 
PASSED: 148-20

HB 220 Rep. Rob Leverett 

  • This allows condo HOAs to seek injunctive relief as a first form of relief instead of the current process
    • Only after they provide notice 
    • Stipulates that notice is not required if the rules/issue violated is a clear and imminent danger
    • Also not required in instances where the relief granted down the road would not be prudent because the issue would be moot by that time.

CONCERN: HOAs and condo associations are dangerous beasts but people choose to opt into them and thus, they get the government they deserve. 
PASSED: 144-22

HB 237 – Rep. Leesa Hagan 

  • Declaring Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as official soap box derby of the State of Georgia

CONCERN: Thank Heavens! I was unsure how the state would keep operating without declaring this so! Only getting a green because it does no harm, not because it’s a good bill or a good use of time.
PASSED: 168-0

HB 254Rep. David Jenkins 

  • Amends Georgia law about designation of legal organ newspapers
  • Further defines the legal organ as 100 paid copies per issue in the county
  • THEN, if there is no legal organ with that circulation:
    • The probate judge, the Sheriff, and the Superior Court Clerk (or a majority of the 3) can designate an “interim legal organ” p
    • If another paper is established and meets the circulation standard, the “interim legal organ” is automatically dissolved. 
  • Increases legal organ publishing prices:
    • Legal ads increases max from $10 to $15 for first 100 words for first 4 insertions
    • Then increases from $9 to $14 for every 100 word insertion after that
  • Creates a new code section – OCGA 36-80-29
    • Allows counties/cities to publish legal notices on conspicuous places on their website or on a common statewide website 

CONCERN: Probate judges in the counties where there is minimal newspaper circulation are often not required to be attorneys, meaning there is no one with an understanding of the law (Sheriff doesn’t count on civil practices) that is party to this procedure. In Screven County, they had to do this and they messed it up royally…then, after designating, had to go back and do it again. The legal organ laws need to be revisited generally, as most counties with issues with legal organs don’t have websites. 
PASSED: 166-1 (Trey Kelley)

HB 268 – Rep. John Corbett

  • Creates a new code section – OCGA 35-6A-16 – which creates new duties for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
  • Presses the CJCC to create a grant program for law enforcement agencies/task forces, if funding is available, to:
    • prevent/reduce the theft of motor vehicle parts
    • prevent/reduce motor vehicle crime
    • Hire personnel to specifically prevent/reduce/investigate motor vehicle-related crimes
    • Purchase relevant equipment and education materials for the aforementioned
  • Award of the grant comes after a recommendation by the Georgia Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Advisory Board
  • Allows the CJCC to accept funding from the federal government to advance this ‘cause’
    • Private donations and gifts, too
  • If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of the Georgia Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Advisory Board, it’s because it is not created until the 2nd half of this legislation
    • It’s basically a duplicate of CJCC boards, Georgia Public Safety Boards, etc….all the entities already doing law enforcement stuff…plus a few car gurus

CONCERN: Creating more government via law enforcement to do something that law enforcement agencies already do is not the solution. Creating more government via an appointed board is even worse.
PASSED: 162-7

HB 440 – Rep. Doug Stoner

  • Defines “Undesignated ready-to-use glucagon”
    • These prescriptions are used for the treatment of severe hypoglycemia in a dosage form in emergency situations
      • nasal administration and by injections
  • Allows public and private schools to establish a stockpile on site
  • Allows the schools to put a person in charge of the stockpile for emergencies 
  • Allows the schools (public and private) to obtain the products from manufacturers OR 3rd party supplies FREE OF CHARGE or at reduced prices below FMV 
  • Then charges the Georgia DOE with establishing rules for maintaining and carrying out these programs for stockpiling, as if bureaucrats have any idea how to identify, administer, or stockpile these prescriptions. 

CONCERN: The state should not be negotiating free/reduced cost drugs for anyone – especially private entities. This will also drive up the cost for other consumers.
PASSED: 169-0

HB 444 – Rep Matt Reeves

  • Addresses code section on lis pendens, which are the official public notices that a property has a pending lawsuit or claim attached to it
    • Bars them from being effective until they are issued by an order of the court
  • Also requies the Clerk of Court to keep a list of active lis pendens (unless they’re a result of domestic relations)

PASSED: 171-0

HB 480Rep. Lehman Franklin 

  • Amends OCGA 34-9-261 on workers’ compensation payouts
    • This raises the weekly max from $725 → $800 
  • Amends OCGA 34-9-262
    • Also increases the temporary/partial disability from $483 → $533/week 
  • Amends OCGA 34-9-265 on workers comp paid out to spouses if the spouse dies
    • Increases the max from $290,000 → $320,000
    • Also adds a stipulation that requires the claimant of the person dying to provide proof that they were a  ‘dependent person’ in order to collect
      • This is only in cases where there is no surviving spouse or dependent child.
      • Living together, financial dependency is not presumed and must be shown
      • The language is ‘continuously and openly” in a relationship 
    • Prohibits payment unless they lived together in this state for 3 months or more AND financial dependency cannot be exclusively for room and board.

CONCERN: Seems like the non-marital relationship collection opens more doors with unintended consequences than it solves.
PASSED: 154-15

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.' Sign up for her weekly newsletter:

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