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Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 11

They say Thursday is the new Friday, and the State Senate took the sentiment to heart today, quickly convening, dispensing with procedural business, and adjourning into a three day weekend. The House Rules Chairman encouraged his chamber to stay a bit later, scheduling three bills for floor votes, including HB 873, the much-debated, Republican-led redraw of Gwinnett County’s commission districts, which passed 96-70. The House also approved HB 752, Representative Sharon Cooper’s (R-Marietta) Psychiatric Advance Directive Act, by a 165-0 vote, and, HB 867, Representative Mark Newton’s (R-Augusta) “Truth in Prescription Pricing for Patients Act,” by a 166-1 vote.

While most House members headed home after adjournment, some senators stuck around for a smattering of committee meetings to round out the week. Details on those meetings and new legislation in this #GoldDomeReport.

In this Report:

  • Committee Reports

  • New Legislation

  • What’s Next

Committee Reports

House Rules Committee

Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) called the Rules Committee to order and discuss several measures. The most notable were the following bills, but these were not placed on the House Rules Calendar for Monday:

  • HB 60, by Representative Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), establishes the “Georgia Promise Scholarship Act” in Chapter 2B of Title 20, creating a promise scholarship account program for students. Representative Cantrell tailored his quick remarks to the students who would qualify and how much a student would receive. Students with a family income below 400% of the federal poverty level, in foster care, with active military parents, with an Individualized Education Plan, with a rare disease, and enrolled in a school system that is not offering 100% in-person learning for at least one semester qualify to apply. The approved students would receive 95% of the state-wide average for full-time equivalent to attend the school of their or their parent's choice. The committee took NO ACTION on this bill.
  • HB 430, by Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), is a licensure bill in Chapter 26 of Title 43 so as to license Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. The bill was sent to and approved by the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council. This would allow nurses to apply for the special license, and it would enable APRNs in the list of healthcare providers to issue handicap parking placards. Georgia is one of the few states that does not have this distinction. The committee took NO ACTION on this bill.

Senate Rules Committee

Chairman Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) called the Rules Committee to order. The Committee took no action on the following bills.

  • SB 340 is authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta). This changes the definition of a teaching hospital to include some of the rural hospitals to receive accreditation.

  • SB 352, by Representative Bruce Thompson (R-White), expedites licenses for spouses of firefighters, law enforcement, and healthcare providers who relocate to Georgia as long as they are in good standing in the previous state and pass examinations.

  • SB 358, also authored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, provides tuition reimbursement for former military personnel who enroll in law enforcement courses.

  • SB 364 is authored by Chairman Mullis. This bill would prevent the state from contracting with companies operated by the People’s Republic of China.

Senate Regulated Industries

Chairman Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) and the Senate Regulated Industries Committee devoted a bit of time this afternoon to look further at legalizing marijuana in the state of Georgia.  The Committee heard from a number of individuals in the following proposals but no action was taken on any of these this afternoon:

  • SR 165, by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), seeks to add a constitutional amendment to the Georgia Constitution at Article III, Section VI so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for the legalization and regulation of marijuana; to permit persons 21 years of age or older to purchase marijuana for personal use; to provide that fees and tax proceeds from the sale of such marijuana be dedicated equally between education and transportation infrastructure purposes; and provide for tax exemption of marijuana used for medical purposes.

  • SB 264, by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), seeks to repeal the Low-THC Oil Patient Registry in O.C.G.A. 31-2A-18.  It also aims to create the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Relief Act in O.C.G.A. 43-34-120 et seq.
  • SB 263, by Senator Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), seeks to enact the “Georgia Retail Marijuana Code.”

Jeff Breedlove, with the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, spoke as a representative of the Council but also from the perspective of an individual in recovery.  He noted that marijuana stays in one’s system for 30-35 days and indicated it would be absurd for one to think that marijuana use is not a gateway drug.  He noted that 1.5 million Georgians are now in active addiction.  The proposal, SB 263, if enacted, seeks to utilize sales and use taxes on sales of marijuana products for the purposes of education and transportation infrastructure - Mr. Breedlove indicated that transportation does not need the funds.  He urged the Committee to make decisions based upon academic institutions’ findings or other independent institutions’ conclusions and not those from the industry.  Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) testified about his own investigation, which included remarks about a trip to Colorado and visits to retail stores in that state. He noted that there are varying levels of THC which can be purchased.  Dr. Greg Raduka spoke about his concerns, noting in particular consideration on age minimums for use of marijuana for certain conditions. He stated that SB 264 has no “potency limits” and those should be considered.  Paul Smith, the Executive Director of Citizens Impact, urged the Committee to review the CDC’s website and the pages that it had on the effects of marijuana.  Mark Parnell, the Executive Director of the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, also opposed the legislation - and urged the Committee to keep Georgia the number one place in the nation to do business and not let it go “up in smoke.”

The Committee will meet again on Tuesday of next week.  Its focus will be on powering electric vehicles.

New Legislation

The following legislation of interest has been introduced in the House:


Parents' Bill of Rights; enact

GA Rep. John Carson (R-GA-046)



Right to Repair Act; enact

GA Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-GA-155)



Labor and industrial relations; prohibit employer from seeking applicant's salary history

GA Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-GA-063)



Parents' Bill of Rights; enact

GA Rep. Josh Bonner (R-GA-072)



Criminal procedure; increase time allotted to try a criminal case in judicial emergencies; provide

GA Rep. Stan Gunter (R-GA-008)



Education; college entrance exam to public school students in grade 11; require administration

GA Rep. Al Williams (D-GA-168)



Guardian and ward; ward's right to communicate; provide

GA Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward (D-GA-109)



Speech-language pathologists and audiologists; revise licensing provisions

GA Rep. Penny Houston (R-GA-170)



Sales and use tax; exemption for certain high-technology data center equipment; extend sunset

GA Rep. Noel Williams (R-GA-148)



Social services; treatment services under Medicaid to persons with HIV; provisions

GA Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-GA-043)



The following legislation of interest has been introduced in the Senate:


Courts; reestablishment of the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board as an advisory board to The Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia; provide

GA Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-GA-050)



Law Enforcement Officers and Agencies; peace officer in this state who lawfully arrests an individual with or without a warrant or as the result of a traffic stop shall check such individual's citizenship status; provide

GA Sen. Butch Miller (R-GA-049)



Education; protection of the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their minor children from undue infringement by a state or local government entity; provide

GA Sen. Clint Dixon (R-GA-045)



Education; administration of a nationally recognized college entrance exam to public school students in grade 11 who choose to participate; require

GA Sen. Sheila McNeill (R-GA-003)


What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 12 on Monday, February 7, at 10AM.

The House is expected to consider the following propositions on Legislative Day 12:

  • HB 780 - Retirement and pensions; membership of full-time judges of the state-wide business court in the retirement plan established for appellate court judges; provide

  • HB 891 - Banking and finance; financial institutions; provide for numerous updates

  • HB 899 - Contracts; legal effects of the discontinuance of LIBOR; provisions

  • HB 961 - Torts; authorize apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits; provide for evidence of fault of nonparties.

  • HB 1055 -  Motor vehicles; revise definition of all-terrain vehicle

The Senate is expected to consider the following propositions on Legislative Day 12:

  • SB 257 - Georgia Crime Information Center; criminal history record restrictions for certain persons cited with or convicted of certain criminal ostanffenses; provide

  • SB 326 - State Flag, Seal, Symbols; placement of a monument in honor of the Honorable Clarence Thomas within the capitol building or grounds; provide

  • SB 338 - Medicaid; postpartum coverage under Medicaid from six months to one year following birth; increase

  • SB 342 - Insurance; annual reporting regarding mental health parity in healthcare plans; provide

SB 363 - "Fair Business Practices Act of 1975,"; class action suits and for damages for violating the requirements for solicitations for corporate filings

Copyright ©2022 Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 34

About this Author

Stanley S. Jones, Jr. Government Relations Attorney Nelson Mullins Atlanta

Stan practices in the areas of healthcare law, governmental relations and public policy, and administrative law.

Helen L. Sloat Legislative Consultant Nelson Mullins Atlanta
Legislative Consultant

Helen is a legislative consultant and Georgia Registered Lobbyist. She is an advocate for various clients including healthcare providers, insurers, and child welfare providers. Helen tracks federal and state legislation, conducts research, drafts bills and amendments, and lobbies for legislative initiatives' introduction and passage. She has experience with Georgia's budgetary process.

George S. Ray Government Relations Attorney Nelson Mullins Atlanta

George focuses his practice on Georgia government relations, state and local administrative law and regulatory proceedings, and business litigation. Representing education, healthcare, nonprofit, and other business entities before the Georgia General Assembly and State agencies, George works with clients to develop and implement strategies at each stage of the legislative and regulatory policy processes. He also helps clients resolve Georgia business, regulatory, and procurement disputes.