Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 16, 2016


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 16, 2016

On March 16, 1861, delegates in Savannah unanimously ratified the Confederate Constitution and voted to have a new state constitution drafted.

On March 16, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Illinois Democratic Primary. His spiritual successor President Barack Obama, from Illinois, would visit Carter’s home state of Georgia on March 16, 2012.

Under the Gold Dome











9:00 AM RULES 341 CAP



3:00 PM SPECIAL RULES- Canceled 515 CLOB


HB 54 – Tuition grants; children of officers killed in line of duty who attend University System institutions and meet certain requirements; provide

HB 65 – Education; local boards of education and certain charter schools to hold at least two public meetings on the proposed annual operating budget; require

HB 73 – Public officers; counties and municipalities provide by local law for district durational residency requirements; authorize

HB 100 – Education; date by which a child must reach a certain age in order to be eligible for enrollment in certain educational programs; change provisions

HB 229 – Domestic relations; grandparent rights to visitation and intervention to great-grandparents and siblings of parents; expand

HB 238 – Sales and use tax; tangible personal property used for or in renovation or expansion of an aquarium owned or operated by an organization which is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of Internal Revenue Code; provide exemption

HB 513 – Pleadings and motions; procedure for claims asserted against a person or entity arising from an act which could be construed as an act in furtherance of the right of free speech or right to petition government for redress of grievances; revise provisions

HB 579 – Motor vehicles; operation of certain vehicles upon highways when used in connection with agricultural pursuits; provide

HB 691 – Municipal courts; removal of appointed judges under certain circumstances; provide

HB 726 – Excise tax; tobacco products; clarify certain charges

HB 736 – Special license plates; marine habitat conservation; provide

HB 737 – Code Revision Commission; revise, modernize and correct errors of said Code

HB 765 – Social services; board member appointments may include certain retired individuals; provide

HB 770 – Crimes and offenses; trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude; provisions

HB 779 – Crimes and offenses; regulate use of unmanned aircraft systems and images; provisions

HB 784 – Insurance; advertising and promotional items not exceeding $100 will not be considered an unfair trade practice; provide

HB 800 – Veterinarians; veterinarian-client-patient relationship; clarify scope

HB 801 – HOPE; include certain coursework in computer science as optional rigor requirements; revise provisions

HB 804 – Superior courts; fifth judge of the Clayton Judicial Circuit; provide

HB 825 – “Protecting Military Children Act”; enact

HB 831 – “Protecting Guardmen’s Employment Act”; enact

HB 851 – Local government; annual audit of financial affairs, books, and records of boards of trustees of county law libraries; require

HB 876 – Animals; license and surety requirements of livestock dealers and market operators; update

HB 884 – Insurance; company action level event to include a health organization with certain total adjusted capital levels; revise definition

HB 899 – Commerce and trade; tobacco product manufacturers; revise and add certain definitions

HB 902 – Hospitals and related institutions; educational information on influenza disease to residents of assisted living communities; provide

HB 910 – Health records; provisions relating to costs of copying and mailing patient records apply to psychiatric, psychological, and other mental health records; provide

HB 920 – Health; hospitals and related institutions; restrict civil actions against passive investors in nursing homes and intermediate care homes

HB 952 – “Georgia Professional Regulation Reform Act”; enact

HB 962 – Human Services, Department of; creation, appointment, removal, and duties of a kinship care enforcement administrator; provide

HB 991 – Ad valorem tax; property; change certain definitions

HB 1028 – Natural Resources, Department of; Environmental Protection Division; provide notice to affected localities upon certain events relating to permitted solid or hazardous waste facilities

HB 1037 – Community Health, Department of; certified nurse aide registry to nurse aides who provide services in private residences; expand

HB 1058 – Health; HIV and AIDS; revise various statutes

HR 1312 – Houston County; certain property currently dedicated as a heritage preserve; authorize the change of use


Modified Open Rule

HR 1253 – Local boards of education; instruction on dugout safety to youth athletes participating in baseball; encourage (Ed-Sharper-177th)

HR 1342 – Education; school children; request more recess time (Ed-Douglas-78th)

HR 1382 – Community Health, Department of; create and seek the counsel of a State Health Benefit Plan Customer Advisory Council; encourage (H&HS-Buckner-137th)

SB 243 – Georgia Judicial Retirement System; preservation of rights by certain persons; change certain provisions (Ret-Battles-15th) Hill-4th

SR 1027 – Joint Music Economic Development Study Committee; create (Substitute)(SRules-Reeves-34th) Mullis-53rd

SR 1038 – Joint Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Study Committee; create (Substitute)(SRules-Harrell-106th) Mullis-53rd

Modified Structured Rule

HR 1343 United States Environmental Protection Agency; withdraw the proposed Waters of the United States Clean Water Plan rule; encourage (Substitute)(NR&E-McCall-33rd)

SB 208 Stonecrest, City of; provide for a charter (Substitute) (GAff-Dawkins-Haigler-91st) Ramsey, Sr.-43rd

Legislative Affairs

Here’s your handy link to the list of bills signed by Governor Deal. In the past, the Governor’s Office has done a remarkable job of keeping it up-to-date.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal praised the General Assembly’s passage of House Bill 951, designating sales tax holidays for back-to-school and energy-efficient applicances. From the press release,

Gov. Nathan Deal today applauded the Senate for passage HB 951, which designates tax holidays for “back-to-school” shoppers as well as those purchasing energy efficient products. The bill also includes an economic development incentive aimed at helping Georgia attract major sporting events by waiving sales taxes on those tickets. The measure passed the House last month.

“Consumers across the state will benefit from the passage of this legislation,” said Deal. “I commend the General Assembly for their leadership on this issue and for their action on behalf of Georgians everywhere. This legislation not only provides tax relief for consumers and families, but will help make our state more competitive nationally. I’m confident that the economic impact of this legislation will pay dividends and further cement our reputation as a top state in the nation in which to live, raise a family and do business.”

That bill, as noted, includes the sales tax break for some sporting event tickets, designed to help Atlanta’s bid to host a Super Bowl.

The National Rifle Association has taken issues with concerns Gov. Deal raised about the Campus Carry legislation that has passed both chambers and is on his desk for signature or veto. From the AJC Political Insider,

The National Rifle Association  has weighed in with some harsh words for Gov. Nathan Deal. In an e-mailed statement, the powerful gun-rights lobbying group said:

“Governor Deal’s newfound concerns about this critical campus safety bill are baffling. Two weeks ago he said the existing argument against it ‘lacks validity.’  The evidence is clear, students are safer on campuses that allows law-abiding gun owners to protect themselves and their fellow students. We are urging our members and supporters in Georgia to contact Governor Deal and respectfully express their support for this campus safety bill.” – Catherine Mortensen, NRA Spokesperson

The NRA’s statement opens a rift between the gun rights group and the governor it supported in his 2014 re-election campaign. The group spent at least $610,000 on radio and TV ads, mailers and a phone bank backing Deal over former Atlanta state Sen. Jason Carter.

Likely a finely-tuned team of surgeons and nurses, the Georgia General Assembly is furiously transplanting the guts of dead bills into living donors.

The AJC Political Insider writes that Senate Bill 369, originally a bill about fireworks, has received the vital organs of a bill to allow Fulton County, excluding the City of Atlanta, to decide by referendum to levy a 3/4 penny sales tax for transportation improvements. From the AJC,

The bill would create two regions. The city of Atlanta would be allowed to levy, via a November referendum, a half-percent sales tax that would run concurrent with the present one-penny sales tax, in order to double down on rail in the city. Roughly $2.5 billion in projects could be financed, by one estimate.

North and south Fulton County, outside Atlanta, would be allowed to levy a five-year, .75 percent sales tax, also by referendum. Presumably that would be for roads and bridges. That means a .25 percent tax could be levied in the future, should north Fulton change its mind about rail.

Most importantly, the two-region strategy would eliminate the impasse that had been building over rail in Fulton County — with transit and anti-transit forces able to veto the proposal of the other.

House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, has been in charge of this heavy, last-minute lift.

Expect a continuing parade of zombie bills, and sometimes-unwilling transplant recipients.

Senator Renee Unterman is being blamed for “killing” a bill that would create new rules for the handling of rape kits.

Senator Renee Unterman is chair of the committee that would have to bring the rape kit bill up for it to move to the senate floor. But she is denying requests for a hearing on the issue.

“Our finding shows that there was no reason to write a law that the state of Georgia had received a $2 million grant and the back log is not there,” Unterman said. “I’ve been asking that representative to show me where the back log is, show me where this rape kits are?”

CBS46 spoke with hospital officials at Grady Memorial Hospital who said this time in 2015 they had more than 1200 kits but now that number is down to 150.

I’ll suggest this: there is no question that Sen. Unterman has thoroughly investigated the issue. She held committee hearing on the issue of rape kit backlogs on December 7, 2015, January 6 and 8, and February 3 of 2016 to hear about the issue.

It has been suggested that “politics” is the reason for the bills demise. If you detect the whiff of electoral politics in the air, it may come down to two sources.

First, is that the bill was written and carried in the House by Democratic State Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-DeKalb), who is widely considered to be preparing for a run for Attorney General in 2018. If legislation is conceived by political ambition, it’s hard to complain when it fails in reaction to that legislators ambition. That the entire left-activist community is up in arms over the issue suggests that it was meant as a springboard for Holcomb, rather than as a solution to a problem that appears to be on the bring of being solved.

Second is the consternation our friends on the left that Senator Unterman remains the most-effective champion of pro-life legislation, including the passage by both houses of Senate Bill 308, which would allow state-funded grants to pregnancy resource centers.

Their outrage over this bill has painted a target on Senator Unterman.

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