Going Into Sine Die

Scott Holcomb

Dear Friends:

The legislative session is nearing its conclusion. April 2nd is Sine Die, the final day. Here is an update on some bills that have passed, stalled, or are still alive as we head toward the session's conclusion.

Bills that have passed both chambers:

State Budget

The state budget was passed by both the House and the Senate on the 38th day of the legislative session. It includes a $3,000 raise for Georgia teachers. It also includes $150 million to replace Georgia's outdated voting system with a system that cybersecurity experts caution is not secure and vulnerable to hacking. Highlights of the budget can be found here. Here is an article about the budget.

Heartbeat Bill (HB 481)

This bill would make abortion illegal after the sixth week of pregnancy, which is before many women know they are pregnant. It also mandates that victims of rape or incest report to the police before seeking an abortion. It passed the House and Senate, and Governor Kemp has said he will sign the bill into law. This law will be challenged in court and, absent a major change to our nation's jurisprudence, will be deemed unconstitutional.

Health Care Waiver Bill (SB 106)

This bill has passed both chambers and has been signed into law by Governor Kemp. This measure allows the Governor's office to pursue two different waivers from the federal government to increase healthcare access for Georgians. However, it will cost more and cover fewer Georgians (by hundreds of thousands) than full expansion of Medicaid. In short, Georgians will spend more and receive less. Moreover, the state must pay $1 million in consulting fees just to draft the waivers—money that could have been used to provide healthcare coverage. Keep an eye on who gets hired to prepare the waiver. Most Capitol observers believe it will be Tom Price, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, who was fired for his excessive use of private planes at taxpayer expense. Here is an article about this bill.

5G (SB 66)

The House passed a bill that would allow 5G to be developed in Georgia. This bill would increase technological development and increase internet speeds across the state. 5G is 100 times faster than 4G technology. Here is an article from the AJC.

Recess Bill (HB 83)

This bill would require recess for Georgia students in K-5. It ensures that kids will have unstructured activity time every day, with a preference for that time taking place outdoors. It has passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor's signature. Here is an article about the bill.

Georgia Hemp Farming Act (HB 213)

This bill outlines the parameters for hemp cultivation in the state of Georgia. It would require a state-issued license in order to work with hemp within the state. It is a bipartisan bill but has been critiqued for being too restrictive. Here is an article about the bill.

Marriage Age (HB 228)

This legislation, which I co-sponsored, changes the minimum age for marriage in Georgia from 16 to 17. Additionally, any 17-year-old who wants to marry must be emancipated.

Certificate of Need (CON) (HB 186)

CON is a regulation that protects public hospitals by requiring the state to certify a need before any hospital is built. Without a CON requirement, private hospitals would be able to choose their patients and would only serve those with insurance and large profit margins, leaving uninsured patients to public hospitals. Through this bill, the legislature has decided to remove CON restrictions for the private hospital company Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Additionally, the hospital provider fee, which fills a $1 billion hole in the state Medicare Budget, was renewed. Here is an article about the bill.

Dyslexia Screening (SB 48)

This bill would require all elementary school students to be screened for dyslexia. It will also increase the support that dyslexic students receive in Georgia schools.

DeKalb School Zoning (SB 53)

This bill would make it so that the boundaries of an independent school system do not change due to annexation of new areas.

"Georgia Measuring Success Act" (SB 119)

This bill would require that any bill relating to tax incentives must go through substantial financial analysis by the bill's author working with the state auditor.

"Georgia Tax Credit Business Case Act" (SB 120)

Very similar to the Georgia Measuring Success Act, this bill requires economic analysis of certain bills relating to income tax credits.

Voting Machines (HB 316)

This bill would replace Georgia's 27,000 voting machines with new touch screen machines. I introduced legislation for hand-marked paper ballots and voted against this system because of its security vulnerabilities. It's more expensive and less secure than hand-marked paper ballots. Here is an article from the AJC about this bill.

Bills to watch on Sine-Die:

Airport Takeover (SB 131)

This bill started in the Senate as a way to transfer control of the Atlanta airport to the state from the city. It received a great deal of criticism, and the House completely changed the bill to reduce the state's power and add a jet fuel tax break. It is also a rural transportation bill because of funding for rural airports. The changed bill has been passed by the House, and now must be reconsidered by the Senate. Here is an article about the bill.

Hate Crimes (HB 426)

This bill would give sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. It was passed by the House but stalled in the Senate. I am a co-sponsor. Here is an article about the bill.

Medical Marijuana (HB 324)

Notably different from the hemp bill (you can read more about the difference between hemp and marijuana here), this bill would legalize certain oils with low THC content. It will additionally allow up to 28 dispensaries and 4 growing licenses for medical marijuana. Versions of the bill have been passed by the House and the Senate, but they have not yet passed the identical bill, which is necessary in order for it to be sent to the governor. Here is an article about the bill.

Out of Network Medical Care Coverage (SB 56)

This bill would protect health care patients who are

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