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Friday, February 09, 2018

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, FEBRUARY 9, 2018

FIRST HALF OF SESSION APPROACHES-MAJOR LEGISLATION PASSING

As the midpoint of the 40 day Session approaches, committees began to consider some of the major legislation in both Houses and some important legislation reached each floor. The Amended Budget is nearing completion as the Senate version will be considered and differences will be worked out with the House. The House is hard at work considering the FY 2019 Budget.

FINAL PASSAGE

--HB 159, The Adoption Bill-- In the Senate's version, the birth mother had 10 days to reclaim a child who has been placed with an adoptive family or if 21 years or older had the option to permanently waive those parental rights at birth. House Amendments remove the birth mother's option to waive parental rights and shorten the 10 day reclamation period to 4 days. At least 6 months state residency is required. Allows for payment of birth parents' expenses and legal fees in both private and agency adoptions. Allows parents to temporarily delegate parental authority through a power of attorney to a relative or approved non-relative.

PASSED BY THE SENATE THIS WEEK

--SB 331-- Lottery winners of over $250,000 can get anonymity if they request confidentiality in writing.

--SB 333-- Allows local governments to create deferred compensation plans for employees and allows automatic enrollments.

--HB 38-- Expands Veterans Licenses to Georgia residents who served in the National Guard and Reserves in any state. Removes a requirement of Georgia residency at time of enlistment.

--SB 118-- Mandates private insurance coverage of autism in children up to 12 years. Caps per policy payout at $30,000 per year and exempts small business with 15 or less employees.

--SB 352-- Establishes a Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery. Felonizes patient brokering− years of imprisonment and monetary fines increase with the numbers of patients illegally brokered. Increases the penalties for insurance fraud when drug testing elderly, disabled, or addicted individuals.

--SB 197-- Prohibits the passage of any type of legislation letting individuals receive creditable service in state retirement systems without paying full actuarial cost.

--SB 328-- Sets an expiration date of December 31, 2018 for three little-utilized income tax credits: federal qualified transportation fringe benefits, private driver education courses, and diesel particulate emission reduction technology equipment.

--SB 338-- Amends the information state agencies must include in a 30-day notice of intent when proposing new rules or regulations. Makes it easier for the legislature to override or postpone new proposed rules or regulations.

PASSED BY THE HOUSE AND NOW IN THE SENATE

--HB 700-- Allows members of the Georgia National Guard enrolled in graduate programs receive service cancelable educational loans.

--HB 728-- Changes effective date to January 1, 2018 for Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation to implement tax credits for private donations. Donations would fund grants for public schools.

--HB 756-- Changes from December 31 to "180 days after fiscal year end" the deadline by which local governments must publish tax proceeds information from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST).

PASSED OUT OF SENATE COMMITTEES

--HB 275-- Removes prohibition on hunting without a wildlife management area license. Requires boats used for body or wake surfing be equipped with a wide angle mirror to monitor the safety of surfers in the wake. Prohibits boats with an outboard, stern drive, or inboard/outboard engine from creating wake for the purpose of body or wake surfing.

--SB 17-- Allows restaurants in cities or counties that allow Sunday sales to sell alcohol starting at 11:00 A.M. instead of the present 12:30 P.M.

--SB 378-- Requires the state auditor to conduct an economic analysis before a tax exemption or tax credit bill can be introduced, amended, or adopted by the House or Senate.

--SB 370-- Increases carve-out of estate value to $25,000 before state seizes for Medicaid repayment. Would be repealed if Federal Agency disallows

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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