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Friday, February 24, 2017

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, FEBRUARY 24, 2017

The legislature whizzed past the halfway point of the 40 day session and bore down on "crossover day," the 28th day. Legislation must pass one of the two bodies by the 28th day.

LEGISLATION PASSED BY THE SENATE THIS WEEK

SB 6 - Creates the Georgia Regional Transit Council, which would work to develop a statewide strategic transit plan based on performance data that emphasizes efficiency and coordination between different levels of government. (Passed 48-0)

SB 8 - Combats "surprise billing" by requiring health providers to notify covered patients if any physicians or specialists are outside of their network before services are provided. Also creates a dispute resolution process and Out-of-Network Reimbursement Rate Workgroup appointed by the Governor (Passed 52-0)

SB 47 - Exempts sports teams' physicians visiting from other states to provide care from licensure requirements. (Passed 47-0)

SB 50 - Specifies that direct primary care agreements between doctors and patients are not considered insurance. (Passed 49-0)

SB 71 - Extends the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy to include assets in health savings accounts and medical savings accounts. (Passed 51-0)

SB 96 - Authorizes the pronouncement of death by registered professional nurses, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants, of patients in nursing homes or hospices, even if the deceased is an organ donor. (Passed 52-1)

SB 102 - Establishes the Office of Cardiac Care within the Department of Public Health, which will designate emergency cardiac care centers and award grants encouraging the establishment of these centers. (Passed 48-0)

SB 106 - Allows certified registered nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia at pain management clinics. (Passed 49-2)

SB 108 - Requires the Commissioner of Veterans' Services to maintain a Women Veterans' Office to improve awareness of eligibility for federal and state veterans' benefits and services, and to conduct assessments of the specific needs of women veterans. (Passed 52-0)

SB 109 - Establishes an Interstate Compact to facilitate interstate movement of Emergency Medical Services personnel through legal recognition of EMS personnel based on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians examination. (Passed 54-0)

SB 128 - Allows sharing of driver's license information by Department of Driver Services with the Department of Natural Resources for use in the detection and prevention of fraud in applications for licenses, permits, and registrations. (Passed 52-0)

SB 137 - Requires payer to pay the full fee of $25 required by the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, instead of the child support recipient paying half the fee. Applies to recoveries by the Division of Child Support Recovery Services. (Passed 53-0)

SB 141 - Requires carnival ride owners to submit a once a year engineering evaluation as part of their permit application to local government. (Passed 53-0)

HB 42 - Authorizes election superintendents to correct mistakes and omissions on ballots for a primary or election. (Passed 46-0)

"BACK THE BADGE DAY"

The Senate passed four pieces of legislation increasing penalties for attacks on law enforcement and honoring their service.

SB 154 - Increases penalties for the offenses of aggravated assault and aggravated battery on a public safety officer engaged in his or her official duties, to jail time and a fine of $5,000.00.(Passed 47-7)

SB 155 - Creates the Local Law Enforcement Officer Compensation Commission to perform an ongoing review of the salaries of local law enforcement officers using data provided by governing bodies of counties and municipalities. (Passed 54-0)

SB 160 - Grants the superior court exclusive original jurisdiction over the trial of any child aged 13-17 who is accused of aggravated assault or aggravated battery on a peace officer engaged in his or her official duties. (Passed 40-12)

SB 169 - Creates a specialty license plate honoring law enforcement, with funds going to the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit fund. (Passed 54-0)

PASSED BY HOUSE, NOW IN SENATE

HB 37 - Would cut off state funds to private colleges who adopt sanctuary policies for immigrants. (Passed House 112-57)

HB 86 - Expands the definition of sexual abuse to include sex trafficking. (Passed House 168-0)

A number of visitors from the Fourth came to the Capitol this week including leaders from Evans county, teachers with Page, physicians and mental health advocates from Bulloch County, as well as pharmacy students.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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