End of 2018 Legislative Session

4.4.2018

The 2018 legislative session adjourned last Thursday, March 29th. Below please find a summary of some of the bills that were considered during this session. You can look up legislation by bill number, author, or sponsor here.

Bills that passed: Each of the bills that were passed will now be considered by the Governor for signature:

2019 Budget: Passage of the budget is the one requirement that the Constitution requires the General Assembly to fulfill each year. Among other things, this year's $26 billion budget fully funds our Quality Basic Education formula for public education, ending a long period of austerity cuts. There will be an additional $167 million for grades K-12, with sizable benefits to both DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties, portions of which I represent. A summary document with highlights of the budget that was prepared by the House Budget and Research Office can be found here.

Domestic violence victims: Many of you know that one of my main legislative priorities was to help victims of domestic violence. For more than a year, I worked on legislation that would make it possible for victims of domestic violence to break their leases if they were in a bad situation. The legislation requires a court order and is modeled off laws that have passed in 27 other states. Because of some political gamesmanship, another legislator copied the bill that I authored, HB 745. I supported her bill, HB 834, because I care more about the policy than the bill number that gets passed. This legislation will save lives. Here is a story about it in the AJC.

Distracted driving: HB 673 requires drivers to use only hands-free technology when driving. Drivers won't be allowed to hold their cell phones while driving, even when stopped at a light. Here are the details of what drivers will and will not be allowed to do.

Transit: HB 930 sets out a plan to create a regional transit board, the Atlanta-region Transit Link (ATL) to oversee transit funding and construction throughout the 13-county metro region. It will allow these counties to impose a sales tax of up to 1% for mass transit. This may advance economic development and reduce congestion. You can read more here.

Internet sales tax: Sales tax will be charged on purchases made from online retailers who make at least $250,000 or 200 sales a year.

Medical marijuana: Post-traumatic stress disorder would be added to the list of conditions covered by Georgia's medical marijuana program.

State charter school funding: HB 787 would raise the per-pupil allotment for charter schools that are approved by the State Charter Commission to add local dollars to those provided by the state.

Tax-credit scholarship program: HB 217 raises the cap on contributions from $58 million to $100 million for the next decade.

Bills that did not pass: I heard from many constituents on each of the following bills:

"Hidden Predator": HB 605 would have allowed a victim of childhood sexual abuse to sue the perpetrator and entities that concealed the abuse from the current 23 years of age to 38 years of age, and also would have offered a 1-year window to sue for individuals of any age. The House and Senate could not agree on the provisions (the Senate's were weaker), and the bill died.

Immigration: SB 452 would have required local police, prosecutors, and courts to assume responsibility for federal immigration enforcement. It also would have required anyone charged with a local ordinance, traffic ticket, misdemeanor, or felony to appear before a judge before bail could be issued.

Voting System: As you may know, prior to the session I did extensive work on a bill with the goal of replacing our severely outdated and hackable voting machines. We are one of the last five states to rely on electronic voting machines with no independent paper backup. Election integrity groups favor voting systems that rely on voter-marked paper ballots. I was part of conversations to move the state forward, but ultimately we ran out of time. We will keep working on this important issue. More information can be found here.

Surprise billing: This occurs when individuals receive medical care at a hospital believing the services to be within their network, only to receive a separate bill for out-of-network services. There were competing versions, but none of them passed. I expect this issue to be revisited in the 2019 session.

I want to thank my Chief of Staff, Ann Abramowitz, and Legislative Aide, Nuala Hutton, for their excellent work this session.

It is an honor to serve you at the Capitol. If I can be of assistance on a state matter, please let me know. I can be reached at scott [at] repscottholcomb [dot] com.

Many thanks,

Scott



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