Mental Health Parity Act
This week the House Health and Human Services Committee considered HB 1013, sponsored by Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). This legislation increases patient access to behavioral health care services, ensures mental health parity for patients and providers, expands transparency and accountability for consumers, and invests in health care workforce development.
The legislation would permit law enforcement to take a person directly to services without charging him or her with a crime. It includes law enforcement co-responder programs where a mental health professional and mental health consumer accompanies law enforcement as well as several provisions to reorganize the oversight of child and adolescent mental health services. The bill would also allow community-based organizations to identify to a probate court for those who may be involuntarily committed for mental health care. The bill was heard before the House Health and Human Services Committee, but no vote was taken.
Critical Race Theory
SB 377, sponsored by Sen. Bo Hatchett
(R-Clarkesville), seeks to prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts” within the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia, local boards of education and local school systems.
Any postsecondary institution found in violation shall be subject to the withholding of state funding or state administered federal funding. This may also include funding for scholarships, loans and grants. The bill was heard for the second time before the Senate Education and Youth Committee, but no vote was taken.
HR 650, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Gambill
(R-Cartersville), would create the House Study Committee on Literacy Instruction. In 2019, only one-third of Georgia fourth graders could read at or above proficient levels in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The committee will be tasked with determining the definition of evidence-based instruction, the impact of low literacy on Georgia’s economic and workforce competitiveness, and the extent of different programs in Georgia that work in birth through retirement literacy instruction. The resolution passed the House Education Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
Student Technology Protection Act
HB 1217, sponsored by Rep. Chris Erwin
(R-Atlanta), will require that schools promote the safe and appropriate use of technology. By October 1, 2022 there must be policies adopted with the purposes of preventing and prohibiting any computer or network from accessing obscene materials. The bill passed the House Education Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
Georgia Data Analytic Center
SB 374, sponsored by Sen. Blake Tillery
(R-Vidallia), would take the Georgia Data Analytics Center and make it a part of all executive state agencies for the purpose of sharing government information. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 53-0 and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 461, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon
(R-Buford), would specify that only a Superior Court of Georgia can set a bond for a human trafficking offense. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 54-0 and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Criminal Gang Activity
HB 1134, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration
(R-Dacula), provides the attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction with prosecutors for certain criminal gang-related crimes across the state. The attorney general may also employ peace officers for investigative purposes. The bill passed the House by a vote of 101-56 and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 1034, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), extends the sunset provision for a sales tax exemption on certain sporting event tickets through 2031. The bill proposes a 9-year extension which is necessary to secure major events like the Super Bowl, World Cup, and other professional sporting events. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
Pari-Mutuel Betting on Horse Racing
SB 30, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach
(R-Alpharetta), would create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission and allow for pari-mutuel horse racing in the state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers. SR 53, sponsored by Sen. Beach, proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for pari-mutuel
betting on horse racing. The bills were heard before the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, but no vote was taken.
SB 379, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland
(R-McDonough), would establish the High
Demand Career Initiative Program to promote the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs. The Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Office of Workforce Development would create a list of high demand jobs. Training could begin when students are 15, typically when they are a sophomore in high school. Governor Brian Kemp has proposed $1.2 million in the FY 2023 budget beginning July 1 to fund the effort. The bill was heard before the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee but no vote was taken.
Parents Bill of Rights
SB 449, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon
(R-Cumming), would give parents access to the instructional material being used to teach their children in Georgia’s public schools. Principals or superintendents who receive a request for information from a parent would have three working days to provide it. If the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they must provide the parent a written description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days. The bill passed the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
Stalking and Bullying
SB 316, sponsored by Sen. Jason Anavitarte
(R-Dallas), provides that a person 18 years old or older who commits the offense of stalking against a minor shall be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor. The bill also requires local boards of education to provide notice to students and parents of students that some acts of bullying and cyberbullying can constitute criminal violations. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 33-21 and has been assigned to the House Education Committee.
Military and Veterans Affairs
HB 1064, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea
(R-Savannah), would create a tax exemption for military income retirement. This legislation would exempt up to $17,500 in military retirement income from state income taxes for retired service members under 62 years old. If a military retiree continues to work and earns up to $17,500, the retiree would be eligible for an additional exemption up to $17,500 in state income taxes for a total exemption of $35,000. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
City of East Cobb
HB 841, sponsored by Rep. Matt Dollar
(R-Marietta), authorizes a local referendum for the creation of the city of East Cobb. The referendum, by call of the Cobb County election superintendent, will be on the ballot in a special election on the date of the 2022 General Primary. The bill was signed by Governor Brian Kemp on February 15th
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 19: The House and Senate will convene on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 10:00am.
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