2023 Legislative Update
Monday, March 13 brought the 10th week of the 2023 legislative session. Following our Crossover Day, we have set our focus towards reviewing Senate legislation, now under consideration in the House. In addition to reviewing senate bills, the last days of session will be an ongoing to effort to ensure our legislative agenda passes the senate floor and reaches Governor Kemp for final consideration.
Our efforts to improve infant and maternal health outcomes continue through the passage of Senate Bill 46. If signed into law, the bill would expand prenatal syphilis and HIV testing to be administered throughout a pregnancy, not exclusively following birth. Sadly, pregnant mothers can pass syphilis and HIV to their unborn babies, which can cause serious complications if left untreated. This bill would ensure that providers across the state give pregnant mothers this optional testing at earlier stages of their pregnancy to protect their own health and the health of their baby.
Our efforts to protect our senior citizen community from financial exploitation continues through the passage of Senate Bill 84. This bill would require financial advisors or supervisors to notify the Georgia Secretary of State’s office if they suspect a person over 65 years of age, suffering with mental or physical incapacitation, is being financially exploited. The advisor could also inform a victim’s designated contact if the person is not considered a suspect. Further, the investment advisor has the right delay/deny suspicious disbursement requests, while investigating the activity. Upon discovery, advisors have the option to report these findings to the state, within a certain period.
Last week brought the passage of Senate Bill 3, also known as the “Reducing Barriers to State Employment Act of 2023.” This bill aims to attract more prospective state employees with varying educational and professional backgrounds. The bill removes certain requirements for state employment and reduces red tape for individuals to obtain a state government job. While the bill does not eliminate education requirements for state jobs, it would specifically work to reduce the number of job postings that require a four-year college degree as a condition of employment.
Georgia’s budding young entrepreneurs can now legally pursue their small business dreams as children will be allowed to set up lemonade stands in their neighborhoods without a permit. Senate Bill 55 would allow children to sell non-consumable goods, pre-packaged food items and non-alcoholic beverages, such as lemonade, without requiring permits, licenses or incurring taxes if the annual revenue is less than $5,000.
We are pleased to report that Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 18, the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 (AFY 2023) budget. Set at a revenue estimate of $32.56 billion, this amended budget includes many of our priorities to support economic development projects, public safety initiatives, as well as recruitment and retention efforts to benefit our public workforce. House Bill 18 immediately went into effect upon the governor’s signature and will direct our state spending through June 30, 2023.
Georgia taxpayers will find relief as Governor Kemp also signed House Bill 162 and House Bill 311 into law. House Bill 162 will provide a one-time income tax refund to those who filed returns for both the 2021 and 2022 tax years. Individual tax filers could receive a maximum refund of $250, head of household filers could receive a maximum refund of $375, and married individuals who file jointly could receive a maximum refund of $500.
House Bill 311 will give local governments the option of a temporary tax relief for property damage incurred by a natural disaster. An assessment of the damage would be required before being eligible for the tax relief, and local governments would not be required to implement this temporary tax relief.
Remembering Speaker Ralston
Last week, we also took a moment to remember our former colleague, House Speaker, David Ralston. It was an honor to have Speaker Ralston’s family join us on the House floor as we remembered him on what would have been his 69th birthday. As the longest-serving active speaker of any state house in the nation, Speaker Ralston was a steadfast champion for job creation and economic development, especially for our rural communities. He also cared deeply about improving the health and wellbeing of Georgians and led the fight for historic reforms to address mental health care, maternal mortality, and adoption procedures. There is no doubt that Speaker Ralston’s legacy will live on through his leadership, resulting in a better Georgia for all.
Below is a listing of additional bills passed during week 10:
Senate Bill 21, which would expand the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation board of directors to include seven to 13 board members, and at least four members would be required to have served in the armed forces, National Guard or reserves; the bill would reduce the term of board members to three years, require the board to meet quarterly, as well as allow the Georgia Department of Veterans Services commissioner to appoint a chief executive officer;
Senate Bill 23, which would revise various committee names and state authority titles and repeal several inactive authorities, committees, advisory councils, offices and commissions; the bill also specifies how these entities’ assets should be devolved following repeal; the bill would also remove certain language regarding pre-filing legislation in the Georgia General Assembly;
Senate Bill 27, which would prohibit insurers from requiring ophthalmologists or optometrists to provide a discount on eye services that are not covered in order to receive increased payments, better reimbursements, preferential treatment or any other benefit;
Senate Bill 116, which would limit municipal leases for the operation of an arena, sports field, stadium or other recreational facility to no longer than 20 years; these leases would not be subject to renewal but would be subject to bids or auctions after the initial lease expires.
Senate Bill 120, which would update the Uniforms Carriers Act’s effective date to January 1, 2023, to comply with federal law;
Senate Bill 128, which would allow the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit fund to increase the maximum amount of assets invested in alternative investments from 10 percent to 15 percent; SB 128 has been certified as a non-fiscal retirement bill;
Senate Bill 134, which seeks to streamline some of the procedures in the foster care system by updating evidence codes for juvenile proceedings; specifically, the bill would allow minors to provide unsworn testimony for cases regarding the termination of parental rights; this measure would also make it easier to present medical testimony by shortening the time frame that a medical narrative must be introduced;
Senate Bill 140, which would prohibit Georgia’s medical providers from providing sex reassignment surgeries and hormone replacement therapies to minors under the age of 18 in a licensed institution for the treatment of gender dysphoria with certain exemptions; exceptions would include the treatment of sex development disorders, androgen insensitivity syndrome and some other medical conditions; minors who began hormone replacement therapies before July 1, 2023, would be exempt; licensed physicians in violation would be held administratively responsible by the medical board;
Senate Bill 193, which would allow the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to determine locations that are eligible for state and federal broadband funding.
I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee with these incredible and intelligent individuals. A special shout out to my staff who play a huge role in this committee.
As the final days are upon us, we set our sights towards, day 40, our last legislative day. Our pace will only increase as we work hard to ensure our legislation sees successful passage. It is important to remember that bills not passed prior to our deadline remain active for consideration next year.
Be on the lookout for our final session updates and thank you for allowing me the honor of serving our home under the Gold Dome. May God bless you and yours and may he continue to bless our district and the great state of Georgia.
Representative of Georgia’s 8th District