THE SENATE STANDS ADJOURNED SINE DIE
The Georgia General Assembly closed out the 2023 Legislative Session on March 29, Sine Die. Not only did the Senate work diligently on Legislative Day 40, but we had an incredibly productive session. This past week the Senate passed a substantial amount of bills that will further Georgia being the number one state to live, work and raise a family. Here are a few bills of note:
House Bill 611, carried by Senator Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia), ensures that there is consistency with funds obtained by our state through legal settlements. It ensures that legal settlements will flow through the General Assembly and be subject to the budgeting process to help designated and determine funds. HB 611 passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. The Senate voted to create a conference committee on Senate Bill 13. Senators John Albers (R – Roswell) and Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) along with myself intend to dissect the benefits of Senate Bill 13 and see if any potential risks are worth the reward. SB 13 relates to where and when sales under execution held and change of place of public sales by court order, sales made on foreclosure under power of sale, tax sales, respectively, so as to authorize online public sales under tax levies and executions. Additionally the bill aims to provide a time frame for sales of real estate under foreclosure powers and to provide for procedures for a constable or other levying officer to conduct certain sales. Through the Senate Conference Committee on SB 13, we will be able to best determine the next step forward to improve the lives of Georgians.
On Sine Die, the House and the Senate were able to come to an agreement on House Bill 19, the 2024 Fiscal Year Budget. I want to extend my gratitude to the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Appropriations. I’d like to especially extend my gratitude to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman, Senator Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia), for his hard work and continuously engaging with members of the body to ensure all Georgian’s needs could be met. The 2024 Fiscal Budget comprises $32.5 billion with 74% of the budget dedicated to education and healthcare. The budget increases funding for the HOPE scholarship to cover full tuition costs and make cost-of-living adjustments. The budget further supports mental health care for Georgians and increases salaries for our state’s law enforcement officers. Reaching the budget is no easy task, and I can’t thank the Chairmen of the House and the Senate Committees on Appropriations for the hours they put into this.
Additionally on Sine Die, the Senate voted to agree to the House substitute for SB 133, which creates a uniform process for the DFCS to assume custody of children because of Children in Need Services or delinquency disposition orders, will be vetted by the House Committee on Juvenile Justice. As we previously discussed, there are three ways a child ends up in custody of DFCS, dependency action, delinquency action or a child in need of services action. What this bill does is fill a whole in the current law where we don’t have due process set up for the parents of the child, the child itself or DFCS. SB 133 now awaits Governor Kemp’s signature.
To close, this legislative session has been tremendously successful. I want to extend my gratitude to Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Burt Jones, President Pro Tempore Sen. John Kennedy (R – Macon) and the Majority Caucus for the successful session The Majority Caucus maintained our goals on bolstering opportunity and innovation in Georgia’s economy, cultivating an educated workforce and create safer communities. I look forward to continuing our hard work through Senate Study Committees and continuing to make Georgia the best state to live, work and raise a family in. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Senator Brian Strickland
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary
Authorizing Sales Tax of Tangible Personal Property for the Renovation or Expansion of Aquariums
House Bill 86, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would exempt sales of tangible personal property used for or in the renovation or expansion of certain aquariums or zoological institutions starting July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2026. HB 86 passed by substitute with a vote of 52 to 2.
House Bill 88, carried by Sen. Randy Robertson (R - Cataula), known as the “Coleman-Baker Act,” would revise the definition of cold case to include homicides committed more than three years prior, rather than six. Additionally, it provides that the conclusion of a review of a cold case file by the GBI is subject to judicial review in accordance with the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act. HB 88 passed by substitute with a vote of 51 to 0.
Hazardous Waste Trust Fund
House Bill 31, carried by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), would dedicate proceeds of certain hazardous waste fees to the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund beginning on July 1, 2023 and ending on June 30, 2032. HB 31 passed with a vote of 49 to 1.
Administration of Certain Vaccines
House Bill 416, carried by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia), would authorize pharmacy technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccines under a supervising pharmacist. HB 416 passed by a vote of 49 to 3.
Issuance of Letters of Testamentary
House Bill 91, carried by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia), would require letters of notice to beneficiaries when also issuing letters of testamentary during cases of trusts and the administration of estates. HB 91 passed with a vote of 50 to 0.
State Employees’ Assurance Department Benefits
House Bill 317, carried by Sen. Rick Williams (R - Milledgeville), would provide provisions for assignment of certain group term life insurance benefits under the State Employees’ Assurance Department. HB 317 passed with a vote of 47 to 1.
Authorization of Ungraded Lumber
House Bill 132, carried by Sen. Lee Anderson (R - Grovetown), would require the Department of Agriculture to amend the Georgia state codes to authorize uses of ungraded lumber in the construction of any accessory structure not containing habitable space primarily used for residential or agricultural purposes. HB 132 passed with a vote of 46 to 4.
Wakeboarding and Wake Surfing Guidelines
House Bill 121, carried by Sen. John Kennedy (R - Macon), would prohibit wakeboarding or wake surfing on certain Georgia waters between Sunset and Sunrise within 2 0 0 feet of any moored vessel. These activities are not permitted within 200 feet of docks, piers, or public swimming areas. This measure does not apply to intracoastal waterways, rivers, or private lakes. HB 121 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 51 to 2.
Updating Terminology for Temporary License Plates
House Bill 183, carried by Sen. Chuck Payne (R - Dalton), updates language related to temporary license plates and temporary operating permits. HB 183 passed as amended with a vote of 50 to 0.
Georgia Dangerous Sexual Predator Prevention Act
House Bill 188, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would provide that punishment for certain sexual offenses shall be life imprisonment and shall require such repeat offenders to wear a device capable of tracking the location by electronic means, including global positioning satellite systems. Additionally, it adds that any person who commits aggravated assault with intent to rape a child under the age of 14 years shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than 25 years and no more than 50 years. Any person having been previously convicted of a sexual felony who is convicted for sexual servitude shall be punished by imprisonment for life or probation for life. A person of kidnapping shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than ten or more than 20 years if the kidnapping involved a victim who was 14 years of age or older. Any person who commits trafficking an individual for labor servitude or sexual servitude shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than ten or more than 20 years and a fine not to exceed $100,000. If the same crime is committed against a person under 18 then the punishment shall be imprisonment for no less than 25 or more than 50 years or life imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $100,000. HB 188 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 52 to 1.
Revising Definitions of “Approved School” for Tuition Equalization Grants
House Bill 228, carried by Sen. Max Burns (R - Sylvania), would revise the definition of “approved school” for tuition equalization grants at private colleges and universities. HB 228 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 47 to 5.
Restricting the Disclosure of Personal Information for Non-Sworn Employees
House Bill 139, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would restrict the disclosure of certain identifiable information of non sworn employees of a law enforcement agency who are witnesses in felony and misdemeanor criminal cases. HB 139 would also provide contact information but limit the information of home addresses for non sworn employees and certain law enforcement employees. HB 139 passed with a vote of 50 to 0.
Establishing a Venue for the Offense of Money Laundering
House Bill 219, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would provide a venue for the offense of theft of money held in a financial institution. HB
219 passed with a vote of 50 to 0.
Exceptions When Filing Petitions for Review
House Bill 186, carried by Sen. John Kennedy (R - Macon), would revise certain exceptions for the filing of petitions for review in reviewing courts from lower judicatories. HB 186 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.
Curing Defective Deeds
House Bill 182, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R - McDonough), would revise provisions for curing defective deeds and other instruments by stating that in order to sell as time-share estate for the purpose of paying any or all unpaid assessments and other charges owned by the owner of such time-share estate, an owners’ association, or its managing agent on behalf of the owners’ association, may foreclose its lien for all assessments and other charges assessed by the owners’ association. HB 182, passed by substitute with a vote of 52 to 2.
Authorizing the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Act to be Subject to the Administrative Procedure Act
House Bill 196, carried by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R - Athens), would authorize the location, the dispensing, and the licensing of low THC oil and products to registered patients at Class 1 and Class 2 levels. Additionally, HB 196 would provide that the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission shall be subject to the Administrative Procedure Act and laws governing open meetings and open records. HB 196 passed by substitute with a vote of 53 to 3.
Tax Exemptions for Consolidated Governments for Funding Coliseum. Capital Outlay Projects
House Bill 230, carried by Sen. Max Burns (R - Sylvania), will provide for a tax that may be imposed by certain consolidated governments for a limited period of time for funding coliseum capital outlay projects and their costs HB 230 passed by substitute with a vote of 43 to 11.
Journal and Newspaper Designation for Online Publication
House Bill 254, carried by Sen. Lee Anderson (R - Grovetown), creates an alternative procedure for designation of the official legal organ. Additionally, it increases the current maximum fees for publication of legal advertisements and allows for publication by website. HB 254 passed with a vote of 53 to 0.
Establishing Offenses Related to Criminal Interference with Critical Infrastructure
House Bill 227, carried by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R - Athens), would provide for the offense of criminal interference with critical infrastructure to state that anyone who knowingly and without authority interferes with any property in a manner so as to endanger human life either by force of violence by electric means and interferes with the proper operation of any critical infrastructure or any vital service and is convicted of the offense of criminal damage to property in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment of no less than one nor more than ten years. HB 227 passed by substitute with a vote of 52 to 1.
Special Training Program Tuitions and Definitions and Award Amounts for Needs-Based Financial Aid Programs
House Bill 249, carried by Sen. Max Burns (R - Sylvania), will provide for tuition-free training programs for the operation of a commercial motor vehicle for veterans. HB 249 would also provide for the definition and the maximum amount awarded for needs based financial aid programs. HB 249 passed by substitute with a vote of 51 to 1.
Temporary Restraining Orders
House Bill 302, carried by Sen. Ben Watson (R - Savannah), would allow for courts to grant temporary or permanent restraining orders and protective orders. HB 302 passed with a vote of 52 to 0.
Revising Provisions for Insurance Contracts by a Ceding Insurer
House Bill 294, carried by Sen. Larry Walker (R - Perry), would provide for the administration of contracts reinsuring life, disability income or long- term care policies or annuities issued by a ceding insurer that has been placed into liquidation. HB 294 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 49 to 0.
Protection of Late Charges from Insurance
House Bill 295, carried by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), would protect patients from late charges from insurance companies. Additionally HB 295 would ensure that emergency medical services shall pay for such emergency medical services regardless of whether the healthcare provider or facility furnishing emergency medical services is a participating provider or facility with respect to emergency medical services. HB 295 passed as amended with a vote of 52 to 0.
Rules Regarding Cost-Sharing Requirements
House Bill 315, carried by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta), would provide further guidance for rules and regulations regarding cost-sharing
requirements for diagnostic and supplemental breast screening examinations under the office of the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance. HB 315 passed with a vote of 48 to 1.
Income Tax Limitations
House Bill 412, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would repeal a limitation on the types of partnerships that may elect to pay income taxes at the entity level. HB 412 passed by a vote of 48 to 1.
Office of Charter School Compliance
House Bill 318, carried by Sen. Shelly Echols (R - Gainesville), would reestablish the Office of Charter School Compliance under the State Charter Schools Commission. HB 318 passed as amended wit a vote of 50 to 3.
Abolishing the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation
House Bill 319, carried by Sen. Max Burns (R - Sylvania), would abolish the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation and revise additional titles. HB 319 passed as amended with a vote of 53 to 0.
Establishing Daily Duty-Free Planning Periods for Educators
House Bill 340, carried by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R - Dallas), would provide for daily duty-free planning periods for teachers in grade six through 12 in hopes of improving the conditions of employment in elementary and secondary education. H B 3 4 0 passed as amended with a vote of 49 to 1.
Record of All Lis Pendens
House Bill 444, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R - McDonough), would ensure superior court clerks record all notices of lis pendens on real property filed with them. Additionally HB 444 would provide for recording fees, provide for entry of dismissal, settlement, or final judgment, provide for when an action may operate as a lis pendens in cases involving domestic relations matters and nondomestic relations matters and to require issuance by a court. HB 444 passed by a vote of 46 to 0.
Regulations of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
House Bill 374, carried by Sen. Shawn Still (R - Johns Creek), would prohibit local regulations that create differing standards that distinguish gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment. The measure also prohibits governmental entities from adopting any policy that interrupts the connection or reconnection of any utility service or sales of certain fuels based upon the appliance used by a customer. HB 374 passed by substitute with a vote 32 to 20.
Ambulance Service Licensing Fees
House Bill 453, carried by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta), would repeal the requirement for ambulance services to pay annual licensing fees that are deposited to the Indigent Care Trust Fund. HB 453 passed by substitute a vote of 41 to 10.
Enactment of the “Georgia Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act” and the “Georgia Online Third- Party Delivery Service Transparency Act”
House Bill 528, carried by Sen. Elena Parent (D - Atlanta), will enact the “Georgia Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act” and the “Georgia Online Third-Party Delivery Service Transparency Act.” The “Georgia Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act” ensures that certain automatic online renewal offers and online continuous service offers are considered unlawful. The “Georgia Online Third-Party Delivery Service Transparency Act” would stop the practice of third-party delivery services of taking orders for or arranging for the pickup, transportation, or delivery of ready-to-eat food from a food service establishment and from using such establishment's name, likeness, registered trademark or intellectual property without prior written consent from said food service establishment. HB 528 passed by substitute with a vote of 49 to 1.
Certified Medication Aides
House Bill 497, carried by Sen. Shelly Echols (R - Gainesville), would authorize the use of certified medication aides in penal institutions. Their employers must also annually conduct a comprehensive clinical skills competency review of each certified medication aide employed at one of these institutions. HB 497 passed with a vote of 51 to 0.
Housing Regulation Transparency Act
House Bill 514, carried by Sen. Mike Dugan (R - Carrollton), would provide for the length and renewal of certain moratoriums related to zoning decisions. Additionally, it authorizes local governments to levy and collect application, review, and other fees associated with the exercise of their zoning powers and the issuance of permits related to the exercise of such powers. HB 514 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 42 to 12.
Authorization of Physicians to Delegate Authority
House Bill 557, carried by Sen. Larry Walker III (R - Perry), would authorize physicians to delegate the authority to advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances. HB 557 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 53 to 1.
Activate Joint East Point and South Fulton Hospital Authority
Senate Resolution 250, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D - Atlanta) would urge the City of East Point and City of South Fulton to jointly activate their hospital authority to build a new hospital in the area. SR 250 adopted with a vote of 52 to 0.
Competent and Impartial Jurors
House Bill 543, carried by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R - Athens), would provide that in all civil actions in state courts, each party may demand a full panel of 12 competent and impartial jurors from which to select a jury. HB 543 passed by substitute with a vote of 51 to 0.
Georgia Early Literacy Act
House Bill 538, carried by Sen. Billy Hickman (R - Statesboro), will provide for the “Georgia Early Literacy Act,” which would require the Department of Early Care and Learning to provide for evidence-based literacy instruction training requirements for certain teachers. Additionally the act would require the State Board of Education to establish a uniform standard for measuring literacy, approved high-quality instructional materials for grades K-3, and universal reading screeners for public school students in grades K- 3. HB 538 would also require the Department of Education to develop training for K-3 teachers on the science of reading, structured literacy and foundational literacy and for all public school teachers to complete said training. Lastly, this measure would require that Department of Education will release annual reports of reading levels for students in grades K-3, for local boards of education to approve instructional materials for reading and universal reading screeners for students in grades K-3, for intervention plans for students unable to read at the screening level, and for the Professional Standards Commission to revise the standards of teaching certifications. HB 538 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 48 to 1.
Revision of ACT Scores for “Zell Miller Scholarship Scholar”
House Bill 607, carried by Sen. Max Burns (R - Sylvania), would revise the definition of the “Zell Miller Scholarship Scholar,” which would change the ACT score required to qualify. The Georgia Student Finance Commission would be tasked with the minimum ACT score needed by January 1 of each year and would choose the score based off of nationally recognized standards, such as the College Board and the ACT concordance tables. HB 607 passed with a vote of 50 to 0.
Disposition of Funds from Legal Settlements
House Bill 611, carried by Sen. Blake Tillery (R - Vidalia), would provide for the disposition of all funds paid to the state from legal settlements. HB 611 passed by substitute with a vote of 51 to 1.
Changes to Provisions Relating to Judgments Deemed Directly Appealable
House Bill 126, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R - McDonough), would change a provision relating to judgments deemed directly appealable. H B 126 also provides for an out-of-time remedy for certain types of post judgment relief in criminal cases and a time frame regarding the withdrawal of a guilty plea. Additionally, it amends certain Code Sections related to reading of indictment or accusation, answer of accused to charge, recordation of "guilty" plea and pronouncement of judgment, withdrawn guilty pleas, and pleas by immigrants. HB 126 passed by substitute with a vote of 46 to 7.
Road Dedications Resolution
House Resolution 256, carried by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R - Cumming), would dedicate roads to honor the the lives of Ms. Sophia Ruth Fisher, Mr. John E. Brown, Sergeant Eddie Thomas Terry, Dr. Barbara Pulliam, Mayor William “Pete” Bridges, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Deputy Emory A. Rowland, United States military veterans, Deputy Marshall Samual Ervin Jr., Mr. E. Raybon Anderson, Mr. Lamar Eugene “Gene” Evans, Senator Stephen B. Henson, Mr. Chester ‘Coach’ Forsch, and Mr. Sean P. Kornacki. HR 256 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 50 to 0.
Abolishing the Georgia State Indemnification Commission
House Bill 437, carried by Sen. John Albers (R - Roswell), would abolish the Georgia state Indemnification Commission and transfer its duties and functions to the Department of Administrative Services. HB 437 passed with a vote of 54 to 1.
Revisions to Coin Operated Amusement Machines
House Bill 353, carried by Sen. Clint Dixon (R - Gwinnett), known as the “Georgia Lottery for Education Act,” would amend various portions of Title 50, related to coin operated amusement machines, non-cash awards, and provide for a system for handling certain disputes that may arise, regarding certain licenses and location owner and operators. HB 353 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 50 to 5.
Revising Tax Exemption for Projects of Regional Significance
House Bill 408, carried by Sen. Chuck Hufsetler (R - Rome), would change the applicable end date of a tax exemption for competitive projects of regional significance to December 31, 2026. HB 408 passed with a vote of 43 to 6.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
House Bill 529, carried by Sen. Larry Walker III (R - Perry), would provide for a minimum amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage that transportation network companies must maintain. HB 529 passed with a vote of 52 to 2.
Issuance of License Plates for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, State Constitutional Officers and Members of the Public Service Commission
House Bill 175, carried by Sen. Nikki Merritt (D - Grayson), would provide for the issuance and design for license plates for state constitutional officers and members of the Public Service Commission. HB 175 also provides for the issuance and design of license plates to honor and support the members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. HB 175 passed by substitute as amended with a vote of 51 to 0.
Amends Financial Stability Requirements for Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Communities
House Bill 309, carried by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta), would revise provisions relating to financial stability requirements for applicants and licensees of personal care homes and assisted living communities. HB 309 passed by a vote of 48 to 2.
Amending Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Dependency Determinations
House Bill 480, carried by Sen. Larry Walker III (R - Perry), would amend workers’ compensation benefits related to the surviving spouse dependency determinations for eligibility and termination of benefits and increases the compensation benefits for temporary total disability, partial disability, and the total compensation payable to a surviving spouse as a sole dependent for the death of an employee. HB 480 passed with a vote of 52 to 3.
In 2023 the Georgia State Senate District 17 will encompass parts of Walton, Newton, Henry, and Morgan with over 150,000 registered voters. Brian Strickland entered his third full term in the Georgia Senate in 2021. Brian, his wife Lindsay, and their two children reside in McDonough, GA. Through Brian’s leadership position at the capitol where he fights for District 17, and all of Georgia, he has impacted Georgia for the better through various executed actions. Not only did Brian support the First Responder bill which aids police, firefighter, and EMS personnel but he was a key player in the passing of the Georgia Criminal Justice reform bills and Georgia Surprise Medical bills. Above and beyond that, Brian labored to bring funding to Southern Crescent Technical College making it one of the top technical schools in Georgia and is constantly raising the bar in the fight against human trafficking.