Legislative Update

4.27.2021
Staff


Greetings:

The General Assembly concluded at the end of March. Overall, I found the session to be challenging and demanding. The divisions that are so prominent in American politics are magnified at the Capitol.

That said, I worked very hard throughout the session. I served on nine committees: Rules, Ways and Means, Appropriations, Judiciary, Higher Education, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs, Juvenile Justice, and the Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System.

As I have for a number of years, I focused some of my legislative efforts toward additional reforms to improve the state's response to sexual assault. I am pleased to share that House Bill 255, which would create a statewide sexual assault tracking system, passed both chambers unanimously.

I hope that you and yours and staying healthy. If you have not been vaccinated yet, please do. The CDC issued new guidance today on masks and vaccinations. You can find it here.

Lastly, if there's anything I can help you with that involves our state government, please let me know.

Take good care,
Scott

Session Summaries
From the House Budget & Research Office
From the AJC

State budget:
The FY 2022 budget was finally passed late on sine die. The total is $50B: $27.3B in state funds and $22.5 B in Federal funds. In addition, there are $4.6B relief funds for Gov. Kemp to designate and $6.8B for schools. Not included in the budget, however, are full restoration of $2.2B in cuts made at the start of the pandemic, including $382M in school funding; the much-needed expansion of Medicaid; nor sources of new revenue such as an increase in the tobacco tax.
Here is a good analysis of the budget: https://gbpi.org/overview-of-georgias-2022-fiscal-year-budget/

Highlights of certain bills:

HB 479 repealed Georgia's citizen's arrest law.

SB 105 eases the process to end probation.

HB 458, which I co-sponsored, will require the state's physicians and medical board members to be trained on physician sexual misconduct and to report other doctors who have sexually abused patients. The board itself will be required to report on its handling of sex abuse cases. Here is some coverage of that bill:

Excerpts from a news articles on the subject:
"I view this legislation as a beginning of the process, and what I mean by that is there may be additional efforts to prompt and provoke even more transparency once we get some data from this," said Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, a co-sponsor of HB 458, who had introduced similar legislation in recent years.
https://www.ajc.com/news/investigations/legislation-to-require-transparency-reporting-of-doctor-sex-abuse/GEUZ6OOTKZHIRNQV63RJLCESNE/
Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, a co-sponsor of HB 458, said he wants to know more about the board's handling of cases.
"The question I have is whether this is an accurate rating, which means Georgia's doctors have exceptionally low rates of misconduct, or is the medical board not adequately addressing issues that should result in discipline?" Holcomb said. "If it's the latter, then that's a problem that must be addressed."
https://www.ajc.com/.../georg.../I76AND6GEZFSXL6AJ6TXSJAPYQ/

Parental leave:
HB 346 provides for parental leave for state workers.
https://www.ajc.com/politics/georgia-state-legislature/georgia-house-approves-parental-leave-for-state-employees/SRSTSSX7TFEK7HBOD54G6455DI/

Year-round Daylight Saving Time
SB 100, permanent DST, must also be approved by Congress.
https://www.ajc.com/politics/permanent-daylight-saving-time-bill-signed-into-law-in-georgia/DOPFBXICMZEMRN6VKND3DVZROY/

Suspending the pay of indicted government officials
SR 134 will appear on the 2022 ballot as a referendum. https://www.ajc.com/.../georg.../I76AND6GEZFSXL6AJ6TXSJAPYQ/

Voting:
Last, but certainly not least, much energy this session was devoted to election bills. SB 202 is a lengthy omnibus bill that includes numerous changes to Georgia's election laws. I found the bill to problematic and voted against it. The primary reasons for my opposition include that the legislation itself was premised on falsehoods (specifically, that Georgia's elections were flawed or inaccurate), the increased politicization of voting (by increasing the legislature's control over the State Election Board and ability to suspend county election officials, and provisions that make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.

Here is some coverage on SB 202:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/02/us/politics/georgia-voting-law-annotated.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/02/us/politics/georgia-voting-law-annotated.html
https://www.ajc.com/politics/bill-changing-georgia-voting-rules-passes-state-house/EY2MATS6SRA77HTOBVEMTJLIT4/

https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/03/27/what-does-georgias-new-voting-law-sb-202-do

https://www.ajc.com/politics/georgia-state-legislature/election-laws-how-georgia-stacks-up/KYO7CBZFVFAC5HFUT4XHZURKWI/








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