2023 Session: Week 11 Update
Last Monday, March 20, the Georgia House of Representatives reconvened under the Gold Dome for our last full week of the 2023 legislative session. Soon we will reach Legislative Day 40, also known as “Sine Die.” It may seem like our official business would wind down in these final days. However, we have ramped up our House efforts to perfect and pass legislation before the session comes to an end. The Soap Box Derby Bill Back on Track As I wrote last week, House Bill 237, which would have designated the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as Georgia’s official derby, was hijacked by a Senate committee to make another attempt at passing a sports gambling bill. With the support of House leadership and members, I was able to attach my bill language to Senate Bill 158, and pass it unanimously out of the House again. I’m confident it will receive a favorable vote in the Senate. Protecting Children from Gangs Senate Bill 44 amends Georgia’s anti-gang statute in several ways. It clarifies that it is unlawful for a person to indirectly recruit individuals to become a member of a criminal street gang or participate in gang activity and increases the minimum sentences if convicted. There will be a further increase in the penalty if a gang member recruits a minor under 17 years old or an individual with a disability to join a street gang.
We passed a bipartisan measure to support Georgians as they rebuild their lives after prison. Senate Bill 218 allows state identification cards to be issued to inmates after they complete their incarceration. Additionally, when an inmate is released from a DOC facility, the individual can request documentation regarding programs he or she completed while incarcerated. These individuals could also request documentation if they obtained a state-approved high school equivalency diploma, other educational degrees, and their institutional work record. Providing this documentation and identification will help these Georgians gain employment and start rebuilding their lives after incarceration. This bill will go to the Governor for his signature.
The House unanimously passed Senate Bill 93 to prohibit the use of certain foreign-owned social media platforms on state devices. This ban would only apply to social media platforms owned or operated by a foreign adversary or by a company which is domiciled in, headquartered in, or is organized under the laws of a foreign adversary. Governor Kemp issued a memo to state agencies in December to prohibit employees from using Tik-Tok on their state-owned devices, like cellphones or laptops. This new law codifies his order with the goal of preventing TikTok from accessing critical, private information or collecting data about our state government’s operations. This bill does not apply to individuals’ personal devices. Expanding Dual Enrollment Last Thursday, the House passed Senate Bill 86 to allow eligible dual enrollment students to take certain career, technical, and agricultural education (CTAE) courses, regardless of whether he or she has reached the maximum credit hour cap. Our goal is to support students who are preparing to join our state’s workforce by allowing them to earn college credit before graduation. Local CTAE courses are crucial to supporting high-demand career fields throughout our state. These funds will help students pay for the necessary training they need to launch their careers. Other Bills We Passed
Other bills passed in the House this week include: Senate Bill 1, which would permanently prohibit state and local governments from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of providing services, accessing a facility, issuing licenses or permits, performing duties and other matters.
Senate Bill 42 revises the penalty for certain businesses that fail to post required signage about the human trafficking hotline. The hotline handles tips about potential sex and labor trafficking and reports the incidents to law enforcement. Recognizing and reporting potentially dangerous situations are the first steps to ending human trafficking in our state. To report suspected human trafficking in Georgia, you can call the statewide 24-hour hotline at (866) 363-4842. Senate Bill 47, which would add the use of electronic smoking or vaping devices to the Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005.
Senate Bill 73, which would allow citizens on the “Do Not Call List” who receive more than one unauthorized telephone solicitation within a year to bring action against the entity that made the solicitations and/or the entity the telephone solicitations were made on behalf of for injunctive relief and damages.
Senate Bill 164, which would create licensure requirements for advanced practice registered nurses; this bill makes it a misdemeanor to practice as an APRN without a license and adds anesthesiologist assistant to the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the Physician Assistants Advisory Committee; SB 164 is also the Anesthesiologist Assistant Act and would create the licensure process and regulation of anesthesiologist assistants through the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
Senate Bill 197, or the “Health Care Practitioners Truth and Transparency Act,” amends the Consumer Information and Awareness Act to prohibit an advertisement or identification by a health care practitioner that includes deceptive or misleading terms or false representation of medical titles that they do not hold; the bill requires advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to verbally identify themselves during each patient interaction and clearly state they are not a medical doctor.
Senate Bill 220, or the “Georgia Farmland Conservation Act,” which creates the Georgia Farmland Conservation Trust Fund to provide matching grant awards to qualified easement holders to support farmland conservation, active farming and food production, or to purchase agricultural conservation easement. Visitors to the Capitol
Two new Toombs County Republican Party officers visited the Capitol last Monday. Trish Poole is the new Chair, and Shari Poole is the new 2nd Vice-Chair.
Bryson and Dalton Henriott, Vidalia Heritage Academy graduates and students at the University of Georgia, visited the Capitol with the UGA Student Government Association.
I failed to mention in my last article that Craig George, Jimbo Partin, and others from Gardens of Hope RCO came to Atlanta to visit with legislators. They specialize in policy advocacy, outreach programs, and peer-based recovery support to help individuals find long-term recovery.
Next week, the Georgia General Assembly will convene for two legislative days before the 2023 legislative session adjourns “Sine Die” on Wednesday, March 29. My House colleagues and I will be hard at work to pass meaningful legislation for our state and its citizens. Before we complete our business for the session, I urge you to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or input on any measures being considered in the House or Senate. I can be reached by email at Leesa.Hagan@house.ga.gov. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.
By Leesa Hagan R-Vidalia (District 156, Georgia House of Representatives)
By Leesa Hagan (District 156, Georgia Representatives)