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Summary for Fourth Week of 2022 Session

The Georgia General Assembly is well into the 2022 legislative session, and we resumed our work at the State Capitol on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. I want to bring your attention to certain bills, including education and health care legislation that may impact our communities and citizens in House District 149. To start the week, my colleagues and I took up House Bill 385 to help address the recent teacher shortage in Georgia. This legislation would allow retired certified pre-K and K-12 teachers who have obtained 30 years of creditable service to return to the classroom fulltime while receiving their full retirement benefits. After one-year of retirement, eligible members of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia would be able to return to work in an “area of highest need.” If this bill is signed into law, HB 385 would go into effect ahead of the next school year and would sunset after a few school years. We also unanimously passed House Bill 752, or the Psychiatric Advance Directive Act, which would allow competent adults to legally establish their expectations and preferences for future mental health treatment and medication. Through HB 752, our state laws would help bring greater parity to mental health so that individuals who struggle with mental illness will be treated as equally as someone with a physical illness. In an effort to lower prescription drug prices for Georgians, we passed House Bill 867, or the Truth in Prescription Pricing for Patients Act. This bill would specifically address how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) calculate the price for prescriptions that individuals and their health coverage plans pay in a way that is more transparent to consumers. This bill would not apply to state administered health plans, including the State Health Benefit Plan, Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids. House Bill 867 would ensure that PBMs conduct their business fairly and transparently in our state, and ultimately, lower the out-of-pocket costs Georgians pay for prescription drugs. My colleagues and I passed bipartisan legislation this week to help prevent wrongful convictions in criminal trials. House Bill 478 would change the standard for admissible court evidence and testimony in criminal cases to match the standard used in civil cases. This new standard would provide a list of factors that a judge may consider helping determine the admissibility of scientific evidence or witness testimony. Fortunately, HB 478 would raise this standard and act as a gatekeeper to protect the integrity of the scientific evidence and expert witness testimony allowed in our criminal courts. The House also passed a number of other bills throughout this week. We passed House Bill 624 to provide an additional superior court judge to the South Georgia Judicial Circuit, and House Bill 907 was also passed this week. This bill would specify the date for a special election to present a question to voters on sales and use taxes, under certain circumstances.

In other news, the governor announced this week that the state will provide approximately $408 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help provide faster and more reliable internet to homes and businesses in rural Georgia. Georgia has been a major leader in broadband development for several years, and these funds go with our efforts to provide a major boost to rural communities that are without adequate, high-speed internet. I am pleased to announce that the Ocmulgee EMC was a recipient of these funds and will greatly impact Dodge and Bleckley counties.

The bills that were passed in the House this week have all been sent to our counterparts in the State Senate for consideration. As we continue to make our way through the legislative session, I am encouraged by all the feedback I’ve received from many of you regarding upcoming bills and policies that interest you. To discuss your thoughts, you can reach my Capitol office at 404-656-0195, or email me directly at robert. [email protected]

As always, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your state representative.

As the State Representative for District 149, Robert Pruitt serves Dodge County, Telfair County, Wheeler County, Cadwell, and Hazlehurst. During the second week of the 2021 Legislative Session, Rep Pruitt was appointed to serve on the Industry and Trade, Economic Development, and Small Business committees for the next two years. Robert and his wife Kelly have been long time residents of Eastman.

By Rep. Robert Pruitt (District 149)

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