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Volume XIII, Number 82


March 23, 2023

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Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 14 (2023)

2022 National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II presents baseballs during recognition by the State Senate on Tuesday. Photo: Georgia Public Broadcasting

The General Assembly pivoted from honoring a brave World War II veteran on Monday to recognizing an Atlanta Brave on Tuesday. Joined by his parents, 2022 National League Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II was feted on the Senate rostrum before presenting Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones and Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) with autographed baseballs. Harris was honored with Senate Resolution 78.

Legislation continued to churn through the Committee process on Tuesday afternoon. Details inside this #GoldDomeReport

In this Report:

  • Floor Action

  • Committee Reports

  • New Legislation

  • What’s Next

Floor Action

The Senate took up the following measures on the floor on Legislative Day 14:

  • SB 1 - State Government; automatic repealer on the prohibition on state and local governments from requiring proof of COVID vaccination for government services; remove (Substitute) (H&HS-27th). The bill passed by Committee Substitute with a vote of 31-21.

  • SB 26 - State Government; meetings and public hearings of development authorities and community improvement districts to be held by teleconference; permit (ED&T-27th). The bill passed with a vote of 52-0.

  • SB 36 - Pimping and Pandering; penalty provisions; increase (Substitute) (PUB SAF-29th). The bill passed by Committee Substitute with a vote of 33-16.

  • SB 37 - Sheriffs; qualification requirements for the office of sheriff; (PUB SAF29th). The bill passed by with a vote of 45-5.

Committee Reports

House Public Health Committee

The House Public Health Committee, chaired by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), was called to order with a prayer and considered the following measures:

  • HB 129, authored by Representative Soo Hong (R-Lawrenceville), amends Chapter 4 of Title 49 of the O.C.G.A. to expand Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”) to include pregnant women. TANF focuses on helping families through tough economic times with a $280 average monthly benefit. This is coupled with a work requirement. Representative Hong noted that this was one of the governor’s priorities. Representative Michelle Au (D-Atlanta) asked about the current TANF benefits and eligibility for a family of three in relation to the federal poverty limit. The income cut-off is $780 in gross income per month with $1000 or less in assets. Representative Au noted this bill's goal is to impact perinatal outcomes positively and pointed out that currently, according to these numbers, Georgia is not helping 70% of people living in poverty. Representative Hong noted that she did not think everyone should remain on welfare for long periods and jump from program to program. Representative Shelly Hutchinson (D-Snellville) asked about the four-year cap. The TANF representative clarified that a person qualifying for TANF receives funds for only 48 months. Representative Soo Hong noted that the work requirements are federal requirements. Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) asked how many families received TANF. Currently, there are 5,343 active cases, with 4,800 being child only cases and 479 with adults receiving benefits. How many pregnant women will be added in your estimation? Representative Hong was unsure. Chair Cooper asked how pregnant women would find out about this. This will be added to their website. When people apply for other forms of assistance, they automatically apply for all forms of assistance because it is one application.

Ife Finch Floyd with Georgia Budget Policy and Research Institute and Callan Wells from the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students expressed support.

The measure unanimously passed.

  • HB 143, authored by Representative Danny Mathis (R-Cochran), to Article 7 of Chapter 4 of Title 49 of the O.C.G.A. to change the coverage for glucose monitors from a medical benefit to a pharmacy benefit under Medicaid. This would increase patient access to monitors because access to a pharmacy is more accessible than to an endocrinologist. There are roughly 65 endocrinologists in Georgia. A representative from Dexcom clarified some finer points. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation and be sent to the House Rules committee.

  • HR 95, authored by Chair Sharon Cooper, designates the fourth Wednesday of February as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Awareness Day. Representative Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) made a DO PASS recommendation.

House Juvenile Justice Committee

The House Juvenile Justice Committee, chaired by Representative Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), was called to order on Tuesday for an organizational meeting. The committee members provided brief introductions and passed their rules with no changes.

House Governmental Affairs Committee – State and Local Government Subcommittee

The State and Local Government Subcommittee of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired on Tuesday by Representative Steven Sainz (R-St. Mary’s), considered one bill:

  • HB 193, authored by Representative Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia), amends Title 36 to increase the limit that a local government may spend on public works construction contracts without a competitive bid from $100,000 to $250,000.

Representative Anderson presented the bill to the Subcommittee, explaining that the $100,000 limit dates back to 2000 and has never been increased. Mark Woodall of Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Kathleen Bowen of ACCG, Kelvin Lewis of Macon County, and Ryan Bowersox of the Georgia Municipal Association appeared in favor of the legislation. The Subcommittee recommended the bill DO PASS and be sent to the full Governmental Affairs Committee.

House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee

The full committee of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee was called to order on Tuesday by Chairman Don Parsons (R-Marietta).

  • HB 73, authored by Representative Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), amends Chapter 3 of Title 46 of the O.C.G.A. to protect consumers in the solar panel market. With the lack of policing in the industry, this measure requires suppliers to receive a certificate of authority (“COA”), employee background checks, requires adequate capital, creates a complaint process, disclosure to customers, and requires the Public Service Commission to publish an informative video on the process. Representative Gloria Frazier (D-Augusta) asked about penalties for bad actors. Representative Gullett noted once enacted the PSC will regulate this industry and there are civil penalties. Representative John Carson asked if the Attorney General’s Office was monitoring this issue. Representative Gullett noted that they had discussed some issues around this issue but not directly gone after bad actors that he was aware of. Representative Ruwa Romman (D-Duluth) asked if the PSC had enough time to set up their infrastructure on this issue. Representative Gullet has been assured by the PSC they have enough time.

Chairman Parsons recognized Representative Mandisha Thomas (D-South Fulton) because she brought the issue to light in the last legislative session and thanked her for her work. The bill (LC 36 5433S) received a DO PASS recommendation.

  • HB 92, authored by Representative Houston Gainse (R-Athens), amends Title 46 of the O.C.G.A. to increase the investor cap which was set in place over 20 years ago. This increase moves the cap from 15 to 30%. This measure previously passed the House but failed to receive passage in the Senate. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

Senate Joint Education & Youth and Higher Education Committee

The Senate Education & Youth and Higher Education Committees met jointly on Tuesday afternoon to hear a number of presentations related to literacy.

Amy Jacobs, Commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning, opened testimony with an overview of her department and its literacy efforts. DECAL runs Georgia’s Pre-K Program, which enrolls over 73,000 students with a waiting list of nearly 3,000 children. Commissioner Jacobs also highlighted DECAL’s Quality Rated Child Care program, which has rated nearly 3,000 childcare providers in the state. DECAL’s LITTLE Program supports literacy learning, as does the Quality Rated Language and Literacy Endorsement, a year-long professional development program. Children and Parent Services (CAPS) currently serves 60,000 students per week with COVID relief funding, which will reduce to 50,000 students when the federal funding is exhausted.

Joy Hawkins of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and Kristy Kueber and Kathy Matthews of Metro RESA presented on the Growing Readers program. The presenters began by discussing three models of reading instruction: The Simple View of Reading (1986), Scarborough’s Rope (2001), and The Active View of Reading (2021), all of which build on one another. Growing Readers is focused on helping teachers implement the lessons of these models and research, and nearly 800 K-3 teachers have received training.

Arianne Weldon of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership presented on the Get Georgia Reading campaign.. Weldon explained that high school graduation rates are positively correlated with reading ability by third grade. The Get Georgia Reading campaign considered factors that affect literacy like family literacy, preterm birth, quality childcare, school climate, and health barriers to learning. The campaign has four pillars: language nutrition, access, positive learning climate, and teacher preparation and effectiveness.

Stephen Pruitt, President of the Southern Regional Education Board, closed testimony with lessons learned in improving education, pointing to examples from Mississippi, where substantial improvement has been seen. Mississippi’s focus on literacy goes back over 20 years with deliberate efforts that have continued ever since. From 2009 to 2022, Mississippi’s NAEP scores for fourth grade reading increased from 22% to 31%, rising to near the SREB and U.S. national averages. Dr. Pruitt also highlighted the Alabama Reading Initiative; the Carolina Education Cabinet; Ready, Read, Write, West Virginia; the South Carolina Read to Succeed Act; and the Tennessee Literacy Success Act. He encouraged legislators to set ambitious goals related to literacy, acknowledge the funding necessary to achieve the goals, constantly assess progress, and change direction when the data indicates.

Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee

The full committee of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, chaired by Senator Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), was called to order late Tuesday afternoon to hear one measure.

  • SB 73, authored by Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), amends Part 1 of Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 46 of the O.C.G.A. The measure allows Georgians to seek injunctive relief should they receive telephone solicitations even though they are on the ‘do not call list.’ There are 53 signers to the measure. The bill passed through the Senate during the last legislative session but did not reach the Governor’s desk. Currently, the law allows any Georgia business to contract with out-of-the-state third-party call centers to skirt the ‘do not call list’ without penalty. The measure would penalize the Georgia business in this circumstance if they did not try to avoid calling the ‘do not call list.' The measure was passed with an amendment.

New Legislation

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


Minimum wage; provide increase

Rep. Dewey McClain (D-109)


Georgia Driver's Education Commission; violation of traffic laws or ordinances under Joshua's Law; provide additional penalty

Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-161)


Coweta Judicial Circuit; superior court; provide eighth judge

Rep. Lynn Smith (R-070)


Minimum wage law; preemption of wage and employment benefit mandates adopted by a local government entity; repeal certain provisions

Rep. Stacey Evans (D-057)


Fair Business Practices Act; maximum interest rate of six percent on obligations or liabilities incurred by active military service members; provide

Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-027)


Courts; limiting sheriffs to one additional salary for serving as sheriff of multiple courts; repeal provisions

Rep. Jason Ridley (R-006)


Education; needs based financial aid program; provide definition

Rep. Chuck Martin (R-049)


Civil practice; prohibit censorship by social media platforms

Rep. Steven Sainz (R-180)


Crimes and offenses; offense of drug-induced homicide; provide

Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-017)


Civil practices; alternative procedure for designation of official legal organ; provide

Rep. David Jenkins (R-136)


Joint Study Committee on Censorship by Social Media Platforms; create

Rep. Steven Sainz (R-180)


Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education; 20 years of service to the State of Georgia; commend

Rep. Butch Parrish (R-158)

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


'Georgia Secure Automated Vehicle Enforcement (SAVE) Act'; enact

Sen. Randy Robertson (R-029)


Professional Standards Commission; the commission's standards and procedures for certification programs shall be neutral; provide

Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-031)


Local Boards of Education; local board of education members from discussing individual personnel matters with school officials; prohibit

Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-031)


Certificate of Need Requirements; exemption for acute care hospitals established in rural counties that meet certain criteria; provide

Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-027)


Unsecured Judicial Release;  limitation of unsecured judicial release in certain circumstances where the accused has a prior conviction for the offense of bail jumping or failure to appear; provide

Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-050)


Nurses; provision relating to the administration of anesthesia by certified registered nurse anesthetists; revise

Sen. Larry Walker (R-020)


Multi-Agency Alliance for Children; honoring

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-036)


Visiting Nurse Health System; honoring

Sen. Ben Watson (R-001)

What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 15 on Wednesday, February 8, at 10:00AM.

The House is expected to consider the following measures on Legislative Day 15:

  • HB 35 - Georgia Ports Authority; provide for powers; expand arrest authority of officers (PS&HS-161st)

  • HB 52 - Transportation, Department of; amend notice provisions relative to meetings for election of board members; provisions (Trans-21st)

  • HB 55 - Banking and finance; provide for definitions; provisions (B&B-112th)

  • HB 77 - Dougherty Judicial Circuit; superior court; provide for a fourth judge (Substitute) (Judy-154th)

The Senate is expected to consider the following measures on Legislative Day 15:

  • SR 65 - Greater Georgia Action Inc.; former United States Senator Kelly Loeffler; recognize (Rules-18th)

Copyright ©2023 Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 39

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.