Campus Carry Hearing
HB 859, was heard this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow anyone with a weapons carry permit (must be 21 years of age and passed a background check) to carry a firearm anywhere on a public college, university, technical school, vocational school or other institution of postsecondary education, except for dormitories, greek housing or athletic events. The committee heard testimony from more than forty people speaking both for and against the bill.
Chancellor Hank Huckaby testified before the committee that the USG position remains unchanged from previous years and believes current law which preserves the school safety zone is sufficient, while affording those individuals who are carry users a safeguard location. “It is important to note that students and faculty at our institutions are served and protected by trained, POST certified police forces. These uniformed officers go through the same training requirements that our local law enforcement officials do, with a more specialized focus on the campus environment and our student population. Our campus police officers will tell you that allowing students to have firearms on campus makes their job extremely challenging, particularly if an extreme emergency were to occur” said Huckaby. The bill is expected to be voted on by the committee Monday, March 7.
Casino Gambling Dead
House Speaker David Ralston made it official late Monday when he informed the House that the two casino measures on the calendar, HB 677 and HR 807, would be deferred to the next legislative day. Monday was crossover day, which means that bills must pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to remain in consideration for this session. The bills would have allowed for up to 4 casino resorts in the state, overseen by the newly created Georgia Casino Gaming Commission. Two casinos would be allowed in metro Atlanta and two in other parts of the state. State revenue derived from gaming would go to fund education programs such as the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K Program.
HB 957, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Abrams
(D-Atlanta), passed the House this week by a vote of 170-0. This bill would require all probate courts to publicly post information regarding the availability of the Pauper’s Affidavit to ensure all caregivers are aware of this resource when filing for guardianship. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.
HB 934, passed the House by a vote of 167-0. This bill authorizes the Department of Human Services to provide a separate link or portal on its website specifically for kinship caregivers in order to provide information on public assistance benefits. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 229, sponsored by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough), expands the grandparent’s visitation statute to include great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. A great-grandparent, aunt or uncle may seek visitation rights when a child custody case has gone before a court or in cases where the parents are no longer living together. In order to be eligible for visitation rights, a great-grandparent, aunt or uncle must prove that they have a relationship with the child through clear and convincing evidence, that the health and welfare of a child will be harmed without such visitation, and that the visitation is in the best interest of the child. The bill passed the House by a vote of 164-4 and has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 727, passed the House by a vote of 165-8. This bill regulates where and when fireworks can be exploded and sanctions the collection of a one percent excise tax to be used for public safety purposes. It changes the time in which people can detonate fireworks from midnight to 10 p.m., except on select days specified for celebrating the New Year and Independence Day. The bill also allows fireworks to be sold from a temporary consumer retail sales facility on certain dates surrounding New Years and Independence Day. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee.
HB 54, passed the House this week by a vote of 168-0. This bill provides financial assistance in postsecondary education for children of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, and prison guard employed by the state or other public employer and Highway Emergency Response Operator who was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. This allows the Department of Revenue to establish a contribution method in which Georgia residents can deem part of their tax refund to go towards financial assistance. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
HB 976, would modify the retention schedule for law enforcement surveillance cameras, body worn cameras and in-car cameras. It would require that recordings from police surveillance cameras be stored for 30 days; and recordings from body worn cameras and vehicle mounted cameras be stored for 180 days, except in the following situations: if the recording captures an arrest, use of force by an officer, or a vehicular accident, the video must be stored for 30 months, or if there are other investigations or pending litigation, the recording must be kept through final adjudication. The bill passed the House by a vote of 164-0 and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 1037, passed the House this week by a vote of 170-2. This bill amends the nurse aide registry established and maintained by the Department of Community Health to include nurse aides who provide services in temporary or permanent private residences. Additionally, the registry should provide a method by which the public can submit inquiries or complaints about these nurse aides. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 944, would allow a physicians assistant, nurse practitioner, or a registered professional nurse to pronounce the death of a patient in a nursing home if the patient dies of natural causes. It would also allow a physicians assistant, nurse practitioner, or a registered professional nurse employed by a hospice to pronounce the death of a patient in hospice care. The bill passed the House by a vote of 153-1 and has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
HB 722, passed the House by a vote of 152-8. This bill allows for the shipping and transport of low THC oil to a person properly registered with the Department of Public Health in Georgia. It also expands the list of conditions for which low THC oil can be administered by including autism, epidermolysis bullosa, HIV, peripheral neuropathy, tourette’s syndrome, terminal illness, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Intern Spotlight: Kadedra Caldwell
Kadedra Caldwell is a junior in the Honors College at Georgia State University, majoring in political science. She became interested in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program because she was eager to learn more about the legislative process and how it works.
Although the session is an extremely busy time, Kadedra finds that talking and networking with the many influential staff and legislators is very easy. “I am gaining professionalism, communication skills and learning how to build great relationships,” says Ms. Caldwell.
Kadedra is assigned to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee, as well as the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee. Her duties include handling constituent concerns, attending and setting up agendas for committee meetings, and running errands. After graduation, Ms. Caldwell plans to attend law school.
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at ** www.legis.ga.gov (http://www.legis.ga.gov)
Day 32: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, March 7.
Legislators are scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of next week.
Government Affairs Team
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director