Thursday, March 28, ended our 2024 legislative session. Below you find a quick highlight of legislative action we took to move Georgia forward. While we accomplished far more than what is listed below, here a few measures that we feel will be of great benefit to Georgia and her citizens.

This Update:

House Action


It is no secret that there is a growing fentanyl crisis in our state. To combat this issue, we passed Senate Bill 465, also known as “Austin’s Law.” This bill would create the crime of aggravated involuntary manslaughter when someone intentionally manufactures or sells a controlled substance that contains fentanyl and fentanyl is determined as the sole cause or a contributing factor in a victim’s death. Further, under the legislation, the government would not need to prove that the defendant knew fentanyl was present in the drug in order to prosecute. Bill measures stipulate the following:

  • Felony offenders will be subject to imprisonment between 10 and 30 years.
  • Considered a felony crime for unlawfully possessing, purchasing, delivering or selling a pill press or tableting machine if there is reasonable cause to believe that the item will be used to manufacture a controlled or counterfeit substance.
  • Updates law so that those who sell drugs and counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl are held accountable for overdoses.

This in no way makes up for the loss of Austin but it is a step in the right direction in bringing peace to his family and standing up against this vile act on behalf of Georgians who fall victim to fentanyl.

Our ongoing mental health efforts also saw victory through the passage Senate Bill 480. This legislation would provide student loan repayment assistance to mental health and substance use providers who offer services to underserved youth or practice in geographic areas of the state that lack adequate services. We are hopeful that this measure would incentivize professionals to work in areas of critical need, which would ensure access to these services for Georgians in need in all corners of our state.

Under COVID-19 protocol, families were heartbroken in not being allowed to visit or care for their loved ones in long-term care facilities. To ensure this does not happen again in Georgia, we gave final passage to House Bill 663, the “No Patient Left Alone Act.” This bill requires the presence of designated essential caregivers with patients in long-term care facilities during treatment. Under this bill, both minors and adult patients would have the right to have an essential caregiver to be physically present at all times while that patient remains in the hospital or facility. These caregiver rights cannot be terminated, suspended, or waived by the hospital or long-term care facility, the Department of Public Health or any governmental entity, regardless of emergency declarations by the governor.

House Bill 451 received final passage in support our state’s first responders. This bill requires a public entity to provide supplemental, illness-specific insurance to certain first responders diagnosed with occupational post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Coverage would be available once per an individual’s lifetime, and it would include a $3,000 cash benefit and an income replacement disability benefit provided 90 days after diagnosis, if needed.

Public Safety

Public safety efforts continue through the passage of Senate Bill 493, which would introduce several provisions related to the protection of minors and certain regulations concerning individuals on Georgia’s sex offender registry. Stipulations of the bill are as follows:

  • Makes it a crime for a person to use an unmanned aircraft, such as a drone, to intentionally photograph an individual, particularly a minor, without parental consent
  • Offenders will be subject to a minimum fine of $1,500, and subsequent violations would lead to felony charges and imprisonment between one and 30 years, accompanied by fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
  • Prohibits a person who is on the sex offender registry from knowingly owning or operating a drone used to photograph or observe any person in any way that violates that person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Allows certain individuals on Georgia’s sex offender registry to petition the superior court to be removed from the registry after reaching the age of 80 years old and completing all prison, parole, supervised release and probation for the offense.

Our House body also passed Senate Bill 324 which would create a victim-centered address confidentiality program within the Office of the Secretary of State. This program would allow certified participants to utilize an address confidentiality card instead of disclosing their personal address to governmental entities in order to prevent their confidential address from being published. Confidential records will ensure that victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, human trafficking or sexual assault will remain protected from their perpetrators This legislation also prohibits the court from issuing or approving mutual protective orders in certain instances and would provide for the issuance of dating violence protective orders. We are hopeful this legislation will help victims rest easier in knowing that their information is no longer made public.

We also passed House Bill 404, also known as the “Safe at Home Act.” This legislation seeks to safeguard the rights of both renters and landlords in Georgia. This bill ensures that rental properties meet certain standards for human habitation. Specifically, the bill prohibits landlords from shutting off a rental home’s air conditioning utilities prior to an eviction. The bill would also limit security deposits to no more than two months’ rent and requires landlords to provide a three-business day notice before initiating eviction proceedings for unpaid rent or charges. Further, any eviction notice will be required to be visibly posted on the renter’s door in a sealed envelope.

House Bill 993, which will safeguard Georgia’s minors from online grooming also saw final passage. This legislation imposes criminal consequences on those who use electronic means to groom minors, persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing them into committing sexual offenses or acts of human trafficking. Offenders will face felony imprisonment ranging from one to five years. Further, these penalties apply regardless of whether the crimes occur as long as it involves a minor residing in Georgia.

We also passed Senate Bill 395, which would make opioid antagonists, like Narcan, exempt from classification as a dangerous drug when used for overdose prevention. This bill will allow for visitors and school employees to possess and administer an opioid antagonist if the person believes someone is suffering from a drug overdose on school property or at a school-sponsored activity. As passed the bill outlines the following:

  • Public schools are required to make efforts to maintain a supply of opioid antagonists and notify emergency medical services and the student’s guardian after administering an opioid antagonist.
  • Allows opioid antagonists to be sold and supplied in vending machines. Additionally, harm reduction organizations and people who dispense, supply, and administer opioid antagonists would be immune from liability when acting in good faith.
  • Requires government buildings, courthouses, and schools with automated external defibrillators to provide opioid antagonists to assist in the event of an opioid overdose.

Education/Economic Development

We are pleased to report that Senate Bill 464 set to improve literacy rates among our students and provide financial relief to educators to purchase classroom supplies saw final passage. This bill makes changes to the Georgia Early Literacy Act to require the Department of Education (DOE) and Georgia Council on Literacy to identify up to five universal reading screeners to help identify students who are experiencing literacy problems. These screeners will be made available free of charge for public schools and local school systems. The second part of the bill addresses the ongoing issue of educators using personal finances to buy student supplies needed for classrooms. The School Supplies for Educators Act will establish a program to provide financial and technical assistance to educators to purchase school supplies. Under the bill, the State Board of Education will be responsible for establishing this program for the DOE to allocate funds for eligible educators, to be used at their discretion, for the online purchase of school supplies.

A skilled workforce is critical when recruiting companies to our great state. To meet this growing need, we gave unanimous passage to Senate Bill 440, which works to make revisions to Georgia’s Accelerated Career Diploma program. This program is part of the state’s dual enrollment program for qualified high school students. This bill also simplifies the dual enrollment program and improves academic flexibility to better align with pathway programs. The bill does the following:

  • Introduces the Dual Enrollment ACE (Accelerated Career Education) grant program to provide financial assistance to eligible students participating in the ACE program.
  • Exempts students from the 30-hour dual enrollment cap.
  • Allows dual enrollment funding to be distinguished between academic and technical students.

Those living with disabilities will receive assistance in gaining employment through Senate Bill 384. This bill would make it so that our state government becomes a model employer for hiring individuals with disabilities by encouraging state agencies to consider best practices relating to the recruitment, hiring, advancement and retention of a broad range of qualified individuals with disabilities at all levels and for all occupations. The legislation will create the Georgia as a Model Employer (GAME) Program, which will be implemented by the state’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator. The GAME Program would include the following:

  • Technical assistance and training for state agency human resources personnel for recruitment, hiring, advancement/retention.
  • Assistance with plan implementation to accommodate ADA.
  • Program development/data collection.
  • State agencies are required to submit a plan to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities by September 1, 2025.

Family First / Tax Reform

Parental leave for state employees and teachers will be expanded through House Bill 1010. House Bill 1010 increases number of hours of annual paid parental leave for state employees from 120 to 240 hours, or six weeks, doubling the amount of paid leave that these workers currently receive. This extended leave could be used following the birth of a child or when a child is placed in a home following foster care placement or adoption.

We are pleased to report that through the passage of House Bill 1019, we are able to put money back into the hands of hard-working Georgians. This bill increases the statewide homestead exemption for all ad valorem taxation for state, county and school purposes from $2,000 to $4,000. Individuals would be eligible for the exemption if they reside in the home as their primary residence.

Our continued tax reform efforts continued through the passage of House Bill 1021. This measure will allow each taxpayer to deduct $4,000 from their Georgia taxable income for each dependent. The current allowable deduction per dependent is $3,000.





If you have questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to us directly. As always, thank you for allowing me the honor of serving as your voice under the Gold Dome. May God bless you and keep you, may He continue to bless the great state of Georgia.


Stan Gunter

Representative of Georgia’s 8th District