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Friday, July 14, 2017

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, JULY 17, 2017

LAWS OF THE LAND PART II

Last week this column looked at laws going into effect on July 1. Since that is the date most legislation goes into effect, there are a large number of new laws or altered laws due to legislation passed this past Session.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

HB 249 - Permits certain persons to obtain Naloxone, a prescription-only opioid antagonist, pursuant to a statewide standing order imposed by the state health officer. Transfers the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide electronic data base, from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health. This bill also requires all prescribers prescribing Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances to register with the PDMP by January 1, 2018.

Beginning July 1, 2018, it also requires prescribers who prescribe opioids, opiates, opioid derivatives, opioid analgesics, or benzodiazepines to seek and review information from the PDMP before issuing a prescription to a patient for the first time and at least once every 90 days thereafter, unless:

The prescription is for no more than a three-day supply and no more than 26 pills;

The patient is in a hospital or health care facility, including but not limited to a nursing home, an intermediate care home, a personal care home, or a hospice program, which provides patient care and prescriptions to be administered and used by a patient on the premises;

The patient has had outpatient surgery at a hospital or ambulatory surgery center and the prescription is for no more than a ten-day supply of such substance and no more than 40 pills;

The patient is terminally ill or under the supervised care of a hospice program; or

The patient is receiving treatment for cancer.

HB 241 - Authorizes the Department of Public Health to conduct newborn screenings for Krabbe disease, a rare but fatal disease in infants. Optional for parents with a fee of between $3.00 and $5.00.

HB 206 - Increases the personal needs allowance of nursing home residents to $70 per month.

SB 16 - Keeps THC concentration at 5% but expands the medical conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed. Includes now autism, severe Tourette's Syndrome, end of stage Alzheimer and severe peripheral neuropathy. Also allows out of state persons to possess low THC oil if they have registration cards issued by another state.

HIGHER EDUCATION

HB 37 - Prohibits private colleges and universities from becoming "sanctuary campuses" and those violating the provision could have state funding withheld.

INSURANCE AND LABOR

SB 201 - Requires employers of 25 or more, who presently provide sick leave, to allow 5 of those days of earned sick leave for the care of an immediate family member per calendar year. Employees are bound by the terms of the sick leave policy. Does not require sick leave to be offered by the employer sick leave policy.

SB 206 - Requires health insurers to offer hearing aid coverage for children 18 and younger who have impaired hearing. Limited to $3000.00 per ear or $6,000 total. Exempts health plans of employers with 10 or fewer employees.

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB 160 - The "Back the Badge Act" increases penalties for assault and battery on a peace officer. Requires mandatory prison sentences for certain aggravated offenses on a peace officer and allows juveniles committing assault on an office to be tried as an adult. Creates felony obstruction of a peace officer violation as well as creating a felony for throwing bodily fluids on public safety officers.

JUDICIAL

SB 176 - Part of criminal justice reform, this bill specifies that individuals who failed to appear in court for traffic citations will not have their licenses revoked until they receive a notice of that failure to appear and fail to appear a second time. Bill also changes current law applying to habitual violators convicted of driving under the influence convicted prior to July 1, 2015.

HB 261 - Allows first offender status retroactively to crimes committed between 1968 & 1982.
STATE INSTITUTIONS AND PROPERTY

SB 104 - Bill contains several bills combined at the end of the session. Designates motor vehicle hijacking as a first degree crime. Creates new crime of hijacking in the second degree. Requires government entities to post human trafficking hotline notices in government buildings. Increases punishment for conviction for creating or selling false insurance or counterfeit proof of insurance. Clarifies as a violation the crime of "upskirting" or taking photos under a female's dress.

TRANSPORTATION

SB 219 - Establishes some regulation of driverless cars or automated driving system (ADS). Establishes that the owner/passenger must report an accident and is responsible.

VETERANS, MILITARY AND HOMELAND SECURITY

SB 108 - Establishes within the Department of Veterans Services a Women Veterans' Office. The purpose is to increase awareness of benefits to women veterans, assess specific needs of these veterans and review programs, research projects and other initiatives.

HB 245 - Provides temporary certification by the Professional Standards Commission (by July 1, 2018) process where military member's spouse can be temporarily certified to begin to teach after military member has been transferred to Georgia.

HB 322 - Extends the period of service where a disabled veteran from wartime service is qualified for care in the Georgia War Veterans home. Extends eligibility time to August 1, 1990.

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. The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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